Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/528/3993

From The Socialist newspaper, 9 April 2008

NUS conference report: Struggle still essential

Newly elected National Union of Students (NUS) president Wes Streeting, claims students will lose influence on the government if they protest and demand free education. Apparently students only have to ask for the 3,000 cap on fees to be maintained and the government will listen.

Matt Dobson, Socialist Students national organiser

Disgracefully Labour Students and the rest of the right wing leadership opposed a call for a national demonstration to put pressure on the government and spoke against organising a mass campaign against fees and for free education in the run up to the review of the cap on top-up fees in 2009.

But Wes's tactic is not having much 'influence' as vice chancellors and universities are already budgeting for the increased income from higher fees.

This ludicrous argument was answered during the conference debate by Mia Hollsing from Cardiff Socialist Students. Mia argued that the most effective way of defeating fees and forcing the government to properly fund education is by "mobilising students into action and linking up with workers who are fighting attacks on their pay and conditions in a mass campaign".

Arran Cottam, from University of the West of England Socialist Students, received enthusiastic applause when he proposed NUS support for the teachers' industrial action on 24 April. He called on students to support picket lines and demonstrations but the NUS bureaucracy would not allow Socialist Students to propose an emergency motion.

But students also won a victory at the NUS conference. A proposed new constitution, which would have removed any potential for the NUS to represent and fight for ordinary students, was defeated.

The New Labour-backed NUS leadership attempted to force through undemocratic structural changes such as allowing student unions to opt out of mandatory cross-campus elections for delegates to NUS conference and replacing the current national executive (NEC) with a senate and board that would have allowed unelected 'experts' to veto any campaigns or actions proposed by elected student representatives.

The constitution was rejected on the basis of a higher turnout of students to NUS conference than in previous years. Despite attempts to pressurise delegates to vote in favour, Labour Students and others on the right narrowly failed to get the two-thirds majority they constitutionally needed to push through the attacks.

Socialist Students members contributed to the defeat of the right wing by organising opposition to the review in many student unions and mobilising ordinary students (ie those who are not seeking to carve out a career in politics seeing NUS as the first step!) to the conference.

The NUS leadership are already contemplating organising undemocratic extraordinary conferences (possibly in the summer when students are not on campus!) to push through their unwanted constitution.

Socialist Students explained that a democratic and campaigning NUS can only be defended by involving the mass of students in campaigning against fees, cuts, privatisation and other New Labour attacks.

There was a significant minority of activists at the conference, particularly from Further Education colleges who responded positively towards Socialist Students with many delegates buying copies of The Socialist and signing up to find out more.

However, because of the grip of the New Labour right-wing clique that runs NUS conference, the majority of ordinary students on campuses across the country are not involved in the structures and events of the NUS. This means that the majority of delegates to conference are not fighters or campaigners, but people looking to build political careers.

Fightback needed

Arran Cottam, Socialist Students candidate for the NEC, put forward a socialist fighting strategy for building links with workers and fighting back against New Labour during the hustings but missed out on a position on the NEC.

The right wing have a majority on the NEC (as well as New Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats were elected) and will continue to use the bureaucratic structures against campaigns.

The left are in a minority on the NEC with Student Respect having two representatives on the part time 'block of 12'. The most effective use of their positions will be to go out to ordinary students and other activists and campaigners to democratically build effective mass action against fees.

Socialist Students and the Campaign to Defeat Fees has shown what is possible by organising a wide range of action against university fees, including days of action with over 50 coordinated protests around the UK.

This gives a glimpse of the anger that exists on campuses and in the colleges, and shows the potential for campaigning against fees and privatisation. It also shows the potential support for a genuine left campaigning alternative to the current NUS leadership.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 9 April 2008:

Perks for MPs - Bonuses for the bosses - Cutbacks for us!


Socialist Party election campaign

London elections: working class alternative needed

Socialist Party: a clear difference from 'free market' policies

Exposing daylight robbery in Lincoln!


Socialist Party workplace news

NUT strike: No more pay cuts!

Defend the 4: Defend democracy in Unison

Unison health conference: Reject the pay sell-out!

Why should workers pay for the crisis?

Tube strike called off after winning concessions

Museum strike in Wales

NUJ conference

News in brief


Socialist Students

Struggle still essential

Get active and fight back!


Post Office closures

Winchester: 'We need our post office'


International socialist news and analysis

Zimbabwe: Mugabe plans to steal election

Olympic Games: Chinese regime fans the flames of protest

Ireland: "The most cunning and devious of them all" finally goes

Israel - Palestinian Land Day demonstration


 

Home   |   The Socialist 9 April 2008   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

NUS:

triangleHow students can fight and win

triangleLincoln Uni NUS disaffiliation: a question of on-campus democracy

triangle'Reforms' hollow out the NUS

triangleReject the rotten NUS 'reforms'

triangleSocialist Students LJMU victory

Students:

triangleYoung people who voted for Corbyn's manifesto will now ask... How can we win those ideas?

triangleClimate strikes: Students and trade unionists protest together

triangleUCU strikes: more determined than ever

triangleStudents and workers united in struggle

Fees:

triangleNorth London Socialist Party: How can Corbyn's policies be implemented?

triangleStudents and workers unite against fees, low pay climate change

triangleTheresa May admits tuition fees system is broken - but plans new attacks on students

Socialist Students:

triangleSouth East London Socialist Students & Socialist Party: After the election - perspectives for 2020

triangleResist attacks against free speech on campus

Labour:

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

Education:

triangleCarlisle election meeting: Education - time to make the mega-rich and corporations pay

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

15/1/20

Young people

Young people who voted for Corbyn's manifesto will now ask... How can we win those ideas?

15/1/20

Scotland

Massive Scottish independence demo marks new stage in struggle

15/1/20

London

London: Protesters return to oppose Middle East war

15/1/20

Government

Cladding scandal: Government steps up defence of landlords

15/1/20

Nottingham

Nottingham: Youth protest against Barclays 64 million fossil-fuel investments

15/1/20

Strike

Westex Carpet strike reaches two month mark

15/1/20

Newham

Stop gentrification in Newham: "We are here, you have consulted us and we're not going anywhere!"

15/1/20

Socialist Party

Socialist Party national committee meeting

15/1/20

Hackney

Hackney school bus workers win pay increase following strikes

15/1/20

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland: Thousands of nurses continue to strike for better pay

15/1/20

Buses

London bus drivers ballot to strike

15/1/20

PCS

PCS: Time to rebuild the left

15/1/20

Union

Union lawyer arrested on security guards' picket line

9/1/20

Unison

Unison national executive members challenge validity of nomination for Keir Starmer for leader of the Labour Party

8/1/20

Unions

Build union resistance to Tory attacks

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999