Socialist Party
| Print

2 May 2012

NUS conference Support for left and for action

Ian Pattison, Socialist Students national chair

The National Union of Students (NUS) conference is usually the place to see undemocratic manoeuvring by unelected bureaucrats and New Labour careerists. But this year it was different!

In an unprecedented showing, the left won almost every major debate and vote on policy. There were whopping majorities in favour of a national demonstration this autumn term against the brutal government attacks facing education, and for a national college student walkout to demand the reinstatement of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).

These votes were despite the NUS leadership's failure to build for the 14 March walkout against education cuts and privatisation. Socialist Students was the only organisation that genuinely built for the 14 March walkout.

Edmund Schluessel, UCU (lecturers' trade union) member and Socialist Students, argued for unity between students and education workers to defeat the attacks on education. He called for student backing of the joint strike action by UCU and other public sector trade unions on 10 May over pensions.

Delegates also voted in favour of a robust anti-cuts strategy, and a 'defend the right to protest' motion that criticised the repressive role of the police and the use of 'kettling' on demonstrations.

One of the highlights of conference was the election of left-winger Vicki Baars to the position of Vice-President for Union Development. Vicki is the first left-wing vice-president in eight years. Even 'The Delegate' (a right-wing NUS conference bulletin) commented: "Such an inroad could in the years to come prove to be the opening of the NUS floodgates for left-wing candidates". Vicki won by a strong margin, beating the second placed candidate by 60 votes.

But the right-wing won every other leadership position and is likely to retain control of the NEC. Incumbent NUS President, Liam Burns, a New Labour supporter, was re-elected, pushing the 'left' candidate into fourth place.

However, left-wingers on the NEC and Vicki as vice-president can give confidence to student activists to hold the NUS leadership to account on their promise of a national demonstration and a walkout in the autumn term.

Usually at NUS conference left-wing delegates talk about the issues that affect ordinary students, while the dominant faction, the National Organisation of Labour Students (NOLS) turns the whole event into a farce.

But this year, even right-wing candidates felt compelled to talk to the left.

Former sabbatical officer at Leeds University Union and now NUS Vice-President for Higher Education elect, Rachel Wenstone, devoted almost her entire election speech to taking credit for the work that Leeds University Against Cuts had done during the 2010 student movement; even though she had made a key speech last year against NUS holding a national demo!

This year's NUS conference represents a sea change in NUS. The radicalisation of a big layer of students during the 2010 student movement has finally had an effect on the leadership of our union.

Socialist Students stepped up our campaign work in NUS this year. Socialist Students stood Edmund Schluessel from Cardiff University and Jarrow Marcher Lizi Gray from Newcastle College to the Block of 15 open NEC places.

Edmund and Lizi gave the best speeches, where their strong campaigning record shone through. The results are announced on 3 May.




http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/14442




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

triangle21 Jul Socialist Party conference reaffirms the CWI's historic approach

triangle17 Jul Transport strike - blockade foils employers

triangle17 Jul NSSN conference 2019: at the heart of trade union struggle

triangle17 Jul Greece elections: Syriza ousted amid voter disillusionment

triangle17 Jul Miners' Gala: Strength and history of unions on show

triangle17 Jul Socialist change to end climate change

triangle17 Jul Stop Boris - General election now

More ...

WHAT'S ON

triangle24 Jul Cardiff West Socialist Party: How apartheid was overthrown in South Africa

triangle25 Jul Caerphilly Socialist Party: Do trade deals threaten the NHS?

triangle31 Jul Cardiff West Socialist Party: Review of the Socialist paper

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: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

What we Stand For

About the Socialist Party

Our 2015 election manifesto

Joining the Socialist Party - what will it mean for you

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999