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NUS needs a fighting leadership
Members of the National Union of Students (NUS), the only UK-wide collective organisation students have, must decide at NUS national conference this week whether NUS will take serious measures in the fight against attacks on our education or vanish into bureaucratic irrelevance.
2010's 52,000-strong London demonstration on 10 November showed the potential NUS has to mobilise the student movement. The wave of occupations which followed showed students wanted more. But as with the anti-war movement in 2003, a demonstration was never going to be enough.
The NUS leadership was and is lacking. It is bound to the Labour Party at the throat and waist. NUS leadership squandered the opportunity to build on 10 November by committing to support trade unionists, even our own lecturers, in their own ongoing fight against public sector cuts.
This September will see the overwhelming majority of university students paying tripled tuition fees. College students, already cut off from the financial support provided by EMA, now face cuts to bus passes as local councils join the game of passing on the cuts to ordinary people.
An unliveable minimum wage has fallen further behind crippling inflation while the million unemployed young people are set to be joined by thousands more over the summer.
I am standing for the NUS national executive, with Lizi Gray. Lizi told the Socialist: "I'm standing for the NEC as an FE student currently seeing and experiencing the brutal effects of Con-Dem austerity in our classrooms and communities.
"When the government first announced it was scrapping EMA and tripling fees, I immediately began work organising in my college to fight these outrageous attacks. I was one of the many thousands of students who walked out and protested even after the NUS leadership had succumbed to the cowardice of refusing to organise action.
"Since then, I've continued fighting for ordinary young people. As a member of Youth Fight for Jobs I recently took part in the 300 mile 'Jarrow march', highlighting the scandal of mass youth unemployment. I've organised Newcastle 'Slutwalk' taking up the disgusting culture seen in much of the establishment of 'blaming the victim' in cases of rape or violence against women.
"I'm standing in this election because I want to see an NUS leadership as determined to fight as its members. As a socialist, I stand for a society run for and by the 99%.
"I say that there is enough money to fund free, high quality education for all, with EMA and living grants available, the problem is that it's currently in the hands of the 1%.
"In contrast to the likes of Labour Students, I don't accept that 'some pain is necessary' or 'cuts have to be made'. I say make the rich pay for their own crisis. We deserve a future!"
Vote Edmund Schluessel #1 and Lizi Gray (FE) for Block of 15 for a fighting NUS.
Socialist Students calls on the NUS leadership to:
- Organise and build for a mass national demonstration in defence of education in the autumn.
- Use this demonstration as a springboard for the launch of a huge campaign organised around the following demands:
- Scrap university fees
- Stop all cuts and privatisation
- Reinstate EMA
In The Socialist 18 April 2012:
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Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
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