Showing posts with label NUS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NUS. Show all posts

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Aaron Porter's Message to All Students

"I'm stuck between the rock of never having the political career I dream of, and the hard place of actually having opinion..."


The Third Estate

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Pressure Mounts on NUS President Aaron Porter

This letter landed in TB's inbox this morning and he is sure that the ringleader of yesterday's fun and games - the President of the National Union of Students - Aaron Porter a) did not sleep well last night, and b) will face the wrath of those students who wanted to protest peacefully.

Aaron Porter's appalling planning of yesterday's protest has left the already bruised reputation of the NUS in tatters and to suggest that Mr Porter could be allowed to oversee another such demonstration is laughable.

He was in charge, and as soon as it went wrong he did a runner, sending a mere tweet, spinning that it was just a
couple of bad eggs
. The truth is there were thousands of students he could not control.

It was immediately clear that he could not, and had not, properly briefed the police with exactly who he had invited, and in many cases bussed in, to his big day.
Aaron Porter
President of the National Union of Students
4th Floor 184-192
Drummond Street
London NW1 3HP

Andre Walker
████ █, ██ ████████ ██████
████ ███

10th November 2010

Dear Mr Porter,

I want to bitterly complain about the behaviour of yourself and your staff. I attended today’s protest as a civil servant and a Birkbeck College student. My efforts to join you were met with abuse and threats of violence. I think the level of violence and intimidation is well known to you so I will not elaborate further.

In my view, you should resign as you failed to properly control your event. I am appalled by the fact that you left the scene and spent time conducting media interviews while you should have been taking responsibility for the violence and hatred you unleashed. It was also sad to see that your cowardice in this matter was followed by your stewards, all of whom had retreated when the risk to the public was greatest.

I think that in this difficult period real leadership is best displayed by having the decency to admit you were wrong and accept the consequences. Can you imagine the NUS limping on with you in charge?

Should you wish to discuss this with me personally my number is 07███ ███ ███.

Yours in sadness,

Andre Walker
Birkbeck College Student
Postgraduate Journalism
TB feels it could be a tricky day for Mr President, he spoke to him briefly yesterday in the Sky News studios and Mr Porter was adamant he was not going to blame the police. If that is the case then who else could possibly be responsible for such a spectacular cock-up? The police say they were not warned. Why not Aaron?

Can Aaron Porter be sure that no NUS hacks were involved in the destruction of Millbank Tower and 30 Millbank?

Monday, 6 April 2009

NUS shifts to the right?

Whenever TB mentions the NUS it always starts the age old argument of how involved should Conservative and conservative students be? The current CF administration have made their thoughts perfectly clear, but that didn't stop some rogue hacks throwing themselves in the deep end. Though he didn't get elected to the NUS,
Benjamin Gray
offers some interesting insights to this years conference, away from the bar, and blows the whistle about what has become increasingly obvious in the last few months- Labour know the election is almost a forgone conclusion and now the NUS is terrified that under a tory government they are going to be frozen out and sent into the wilderness. Rejoice!! some will cry but do we really want them to shift to the hard left?

You can read all of Ben's thoughts
, but these bits are key:

The response of delegates who knew I was Conservative Future-affiliated was not hostility, but curiosity, and in some cases outright support. In private many believe that the Conservatives are going to form the next government, and want to know what we would offer them. They also want CF involved so that they can have a means of making their case directly to the party. As I’ve said elsewhere, there are a lot of independents who go to NUS conferences, and are more than willing to support and listen to Tory candidates. A fair number of them will go on to get actively involved in politics. It’s worth being there to show them that Labour Students do not hold a monopoly on worthwhile political activism. Additionally, it gives our activists a way of contributing and gaining experience beyond what the regular CF branch can offer.

Of particular interest is how the Trots are waning in influence. Although this was doubtless helped by many of their membership wanting to go off and smash up a bank window or two during the week, their presence was minuscule. Their candidates got trounced in every election bar one. Both their members of the National Executive Committee were censured for their stage antics at Wolverhampton. Their proposals were defeated by overwhelming margins. So weak were they this year that I was able to stand in the middle of their bloc on conference floor and stir things up without being in much danger. The NUS has moved to the right, and it’s time the Right moved towards the NUS.

Whether or not you agree with the last sentence it is interesting to note the waning trot influence and the fact that Labour Students are privately flapping about the change in government.

If the NUS would like to butter up this tory hack and get him to start writing nice things about them,
would be a good place to start.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Here we go again...

TB would rather chop of his right paw then sit through another one of these
Unless anyone is up for causing some trouble...?

Thursday, 20 November 2008

NUS Debate: Guest Post

Richard Holloway
says no to NUS:

The question of Conservative Future's involvement with the National Union of Students feels older than the bible story. In fact the tale of David and Goliath would be apt if the NUS could be toppled with a single stone. Alas it is a larger and altogether more resilient beast than the Philistine army was.

Every few years a half-hearted attempt is made to gain NUS delegates, or to put up a Conservative candidate for NUS president. This year it appears to be Owen Meredith who is pushing the age old 'don't let down the students' line. I loved your freshers campaign Owen, it was excellent, but on this, you're wrong. 

Your argument rests on the premise that those who advocate leaving the NUS to its own devises are somehow letting down students by doing so. We wouldn't walk away from the country you say, so why should we walk away from students? We wouldn't walk away from the country for one simple reason, it is worth saving.

Students on the other hand are a transient bunch. Sure they're worth saving, but what are students? Their priorities have changed from activism to getting a good degree and then a good job. Most are at University for three years, in that time there isn't a great deal of opportunity to cement large scale changes at their University. You get one year to find out what the hell is going on, another year to realise that you can do something about it, and the final year to try and do it. One year is not enough time to effect massive change. Speak to anybody who got involved in student bodies across the country and they will tell you where the real power in their Union lay, with the managers. They are there for the long term, seeing students come and go. They set the boundaries and the scope of what can and can't be done in your term. It's the reality of the situation.

The point of contesting an election is to gain power. Tell me (because I really don't know), what on earth does the NUS actually have real power over? (All they seem to do at the moment is 'campaign' for a series of minority groups, commission silly polls and hit their head against the wall of tuition fees).

Lets say for a moment that you had control of the NUS. What would you do? What good would it do the country? Or for that matter what good would it really do for students? The NUS is an irrelevance. For all the blood, sweat, toil and tears, what actual power would you be gaining? Can you control individual Uni's? No. Can you set policy? Yes, but what is the point if you have no ability to put it into action? It's worse than that though, remember that it's the Nation UNION of Students. It would be a bit like the Conservative Party trying to get more activists as members of UNITE, or the NUT. There are plenty of Conservatives in these organisations, teachers are advised to join for example, but there is no call to try and take them over. Why not? Because there is no point. There must be a place for the leftists to have their fun. Do read 
David Aaronovitch's column in the Times.
 In it he talks about how the BNP can never make itself respectable. However it is his concluding remarks that are relevant to this NUS debate.
Simon Smith, the disgruntled anti-Semite, decided that the BNP was “being managed as a state safety valve”, and some might argue that every society could do with a legitimate far-right group to channel the activities of those who hate foreigners. Some may ask, doesn't every good country need a Nazi party? Just so long as it has absolutely no influence and does absolutely nothing is my answer.”
Doesn't every country need a group of naive young people who believe that Marx was right? Or that Che Guevara is an appropriate pin-up for your wall, and Livingstone is a living god? Just so long as it has absolutely no influence and does absolutely nothing.

The NUS I think most would agree fills this roll valiantly. Let's imagine for one final time the idea of a Conservative controlled NUS. Where would all the young left wing nutcases go for their communal fix? Out on the campaign trail, under the 'respectable' guise of the Labour party. Many already do, why on earth would we want to encourage more to do so?

David should put away his stone, leave the Philistines to their own worthless existence, build a catapult and prepare for the far more important war with the Babylonians (Labour).

NUS debate: Guest Post

Benjamin Gray
offers another voice in the NUS debate...

I'm basing this argument on the premise that the new constitution for the NUS gets ratified.  If it doesn't then disaffiliation may well become necessary, and I will be proposing it in my union.  It is also comforting to know that I am a masochist; political involvement is not about personal comfort.

We should first dispense with the notion that the NUS is some EU clone.  It is not.  The NUS has virtually no ability to dictate the policy of individual unions, and acts instead as an umbrella organisation to represent their interests.  It  bears closer resemblance to the LGA than Brussels.  The idea that it is "bloated" is also a myth; in the past few years the organisation has undergone drastic efficiency drives and downsizing to balance its budget, to the point where they sold off their headquarters building.  It has a budget far smaller than some of the unions it represents.

Far from being a mere collection of unwashed, unshaven, oppositionalist placard-wavers keen on demonstrating about whatever it is trendy to be against this month, the NUS performs roles that are vital to many student unions.  It provides training and a forum for sabbatical officers to share ideas that many individual unions simply could not afford.  Through NUSSL and NUS Extra it helps provide services to and discounts to unions and their members.

When those on the Right are organised, we have successes.  It may surprise some to learn that the NUS has had two CF members on their executive in recent memory.  We don't know if we could get more on because we haven't tried.  When the Right are on top of their brief and in command of the facts, we are able to make valuable contributions to the debate.  The fact that our ideas are neither the empty rhetoric of the left, nor the stereotype expected of the right, gives us a distinct advantage in discussions.

Though the idea that a CF defeat in the NUS would affect our party's standing in a general election is absurd, there is the genuine possibility of the NUS becoming the focus of future opposition to a Conservative government on education policy.  The only way to reduce such knee-jerk automatic hostility is to have people inside the Union making the case for such policy.  Even if the NUS retains a left-wing slant, which it will for the forseeable future, better that their ideas encounter stiff opposition than the unanimous approval of an audience unaware of any alternative.

It has always been something of a bogeyman to demonise the NUS as the front group of a band of revolutionary Trotskyites.  Though disproportionately represented, they still remain in a minority.  That minority is shrinking year on year, as witnessed at the last annual conference, where they suffered a major rout from the NEC.  A vast swathe of delegates belong to no faction whatsoever, and are willing to vote on the merits of the argument.  We owe it to them, as well as the students we represent, to make that argument.

The idea that we should spend more time and effort organising and campaigning on campuses is indeed a laudable one, but it does not come at the exclusion of conservatives organising for and within the NUS.  Part of the reason the hard left are disproportionately represented is because on many campuses they run the strongest campaigns.  Were CF members to offer organised, sustained, issue-focused opposition we could reap similar rewards.  The divisive politics of the hard-left are off-putting for many students.  We are in an excellent position to offer a viable alternative.

Fundamentally, the idea of organised national representation for students is a good one.  We cannot simply keep out of the organisation that does that because we disagree with its current policies.  Conservatism, if it means anything, is about working within flawed systems to reform them, rather than seeking to overthrow them in a utopian fantasy or fit of pique.  A new rival to the NUS isn't going to come along.  Education policy is currently severely flawed; we have to remain in the NUS to explain why, and how we would improve it.  We have to remain in to make sure that left-wing dogma does not go unchallenged.  Above all, we must remain in because to leave would be to silence ourselves.

Over to the anti bunch...

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

NUS - Guest Post - Owen Meredith

Continuing with the NUS debate, after a very amusing chat in the

comments on Blaney's Blarney
, Owen Meredith has
into the argument:
"Now don’t get me wrong, I dislike the NUS as much as the next person. In fact, I brought a disaffiliation motion to Keele University Students Union just over a year ago. The NUS doesn’t function properly, it doesn’t represent students adequately and it doesn’t represent anything near value for money.
However, where my views disagree with some of those raised by others over the weekend is that they because of everything I have just mentioned we should walk away, and I believe that is exactly why we should stay and fight.
Look at it this way, I believe this country doesn’t function as well as it should, I believe this government doesn’t represent people well enough, and I believe this government doesn’t represent value for money. But would any of those advocating walking away from the NUS advocate walking away from this country? I think not.
They would stand up and fight for it back!
Surely as Conservatives we owe it to students to give them a conservative choice in NUS elections? Hundreds of thousands of students are represented by the NUS, and by surrendering that national voice to the left, we are letting down hundreds of thousands of people.
As a Conservative I fight battles on a basis of ideology and ideas, I don't run away from the ones we "cannot" win.
If we walked away everywhere we cannot win, then there would be tens of local councils where 10 or 15 years ago we would have stopped fighting, but now we are in control. We have to see the big picture and play the long game. By doing so we can win.
In a bizarre claim, the argument has also been put that in loosing an NUS election the Party would in some way be damaged. This is ludicrous! We loose elections all the time where we are not expected to win, by-elections recently in Glenrothes and Glasgow East are prime examples. They did no damage to the Party, and if anything standing up and fighting when you are expected to loose shows the public we are a Party of principal and a party that cares about people, not about winning. We cannot win everything and nobody expects us to. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t offer people a choice.
And while we are on this, lets be honest for a moment; a Conservative win of the NUS Presidency would hardly be a big news story of the day, so loosing certainly wouldn’t be. (And for all those statistic hacks - since we haven’t stood in years, the swing too us will inevitably be a positive one which is always good news!)
I’m more than happy to have this debate on disaffiliation CF from the NUS. But we need to have an academic debate, rather than an emotional one. Yes, we need to fight locally and win sabbatical positions. Yes the NUS is a filing organisation. And yes, we should be pointing out to students that the NUS is wasting their money. But we also need to be fighting in unions up and down the country to win NUS delegates and start the process of change.
We’ve allowed the left to dominate the NUS for too long. It’s time to take it back! 
Fight for it!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Exec meeting minutes released...

You can now read the "full" minutes of Saturday's meeting of the Conservative Future national executive


Keeping with today's theme of debate around the NUS, this watered down line of what was actually discussed caught TB's eye:

"NME discuss possible NUS President candidates but rejected the idea of supporting those candidates. NME agreed to field official Conservative candidates at NUS national elections, and begin a process of application and approval of candidates immediately."

So do you think you have the NUS-Factor?

Never a man to mince his words...

TB wants to kick start the debate about Conservative Future and the roll it should play within the NUS. Further to some NUS conference fall out last week, this post by

Donal Blaney
deserves reproducing in full, as a right-of-reply from those who feel the NUS should be avoided like the plague:

"The National Union of Students: A memorandum to Conservative Future:

Word reaches me that the perennial chestnut of engagement or disengagement with the National Union of Students is being earnestly discussed by the Conservative Future National Management Executive. While the majority of CF activists nationwide want little, if anything, to do with the NUS there remains a handful of misguided NUSophiles who seem to think that it is in CF's - and the Conservative Party's - interests to spend time, money and effort on attempting to wrest control of the NUS from the hands of ideologically driven leftists.

The NUS is, to most students, an expensive irrelevance. It is a playground for those who seek aggrandisement and who wish to pontificate on national and international affairs on behalf of hundreds of thousands of disinterested and apathetic students in whose name they purport to speak.

Rather than focusing their efforts on fighting (and in all probability losing) NUS elections in the Spring, it would surely make far more sense for CF activists on our campuses to focus on taking power in their own students' unions and using that position to deliver real and valuable change to their fellow students. Many universities are, of course, in key marginal constituencies. Were overtly Conservative sabbaticals and officers to manage their own students' unions effectively and on budget, the Conservative Party stands to reap the rewards locally and nationally.

Those who bleat that by engaging with the NUS they might change its direction and worldview are as deluded as Europhiles who think that by placing Britain at "the heart of Europe" we will somehow reverse the inexorable tide of EU federalism. History shows this to be a false hope. The comparisons between the NUS and the EU are stark. The same cry that Eurosceptics shout should likewise be shouted from the rooftops of every campus of every university that has the misfortune of still being affiliated to the bloated, politically correct and rabid NUS...

Better Off Out."

If you feel you have something to say on the matter then send Tory Bear 3-400 words and you might just see it here.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Something's going on...

The Conservative Future executive met yesterday and from what TB can understand so far, a lot was covered. Expecting a statement tomorrow.

Seems the reform issue has been settled, in a way. It also seems a decision on a course of action with the NUS has been established. TB reckons that the full and frank debate about CF and the NUS he has been calling for might just happen now.

Come back tomorrow for more information, it's been like trying to get blood out of stone tonight and seems all the NME members have been sworn to secrecy over what was discussed yesterday. Must be something big or fishy going on...

Come back tomorrow for more details...

Incidentally TB had his most hits ever today... not a particularly big news day and a Sunday. Very odd.

CF and the NUS

Edward Keene - a seasoned CF hack and member of the Student Life committee has written a rather insightful piece on last week's NUS conference. Although TB tries to keep his posts slightly shorter, this is well worth a read. The National Union of Student should be in CF's sights and this is why...

NUS Extraordinary Conference November 2008 & 'Voluntary Student Unionism'

Quite unexpectedly, I found myself travelling to another NUS conference earlier this week, my fourth in less than two years. Now representing the College of Law of England and Wales, I attended mainly to see where the new constitution, arising from the earlier constitutional review, was now going after its defeat at National Conference last Easter.

For those unfamiliar with my previous writings on NUS matters or the constitutional review, the sum of it is this. Like most dysfunctional, pointless, irrelevant organisations, the NUS has become increasingly introverted recently, arguing more and more about petty personal politics (yes, I’m looking at you, access breaks…). As part of this, the main dividing line in the organisation (I use the term advisedly) is between those who want to keep the old constitution and those who want a new one. Rather pathetic really. The former
group, the ‘radicals’, consist of the sort of people who only crawl out of the woodwork at NUS conferences – the most unpalatable, absurd, and ridiculously left-wing dogmatists in the country. Actually, many of them are not even of this country, but uber-lefties shipped in from Columbia, and other fashionable South American backpacker destinations. The bulk of the latter group are only marginally better, many being overtly careerist Labour Party hacks (vis NEC). A bare few of us would identify ourselves anywhere on the right side of political centrism.Extraordinary Conference this time round (less than 12 months since the last one) was convened in lovely Wolverhampton, one of the treasures of Staffordshire.
Fortunately, registration was much faster than in Leicester, but events did not start until two and a half hours after the hall opened. I spent the half hour I was waiting around reading up on the changes made to the proposals from last time. I was thoroughly disappointed to find substantial concessions – several pages of them in fact, from the retention of National Conference, to lesser professional oversight of finances. The new ‘new constitution’ is a watered down, half hearted, remake. A bit like a film sequel – except in this case, the original was never on general release! There is none of the edge and boldness found in the earlier, discarded version. The chance to do something a bit adventurous has gone, it seems. New NUS President Wes Streeting in fact openly stated “We’ve compromised”, but in doing so, he has *been* compromised. Aside from the massive concessions, I was also struck by the substantive increase in the managerialism of the register of language in conference documents. References to ‘stakeholders’, ‘priority objectives’, and so on was everywhere. This is the language of puff, not of reality. It emphasises the organisational pointlessness of the NUS. A third observation is the rather less refined political stage management of the new administration. I have commented in previous notes on the level of perfection to which President Tumelty brought this fine art at conference time. Her successor, it seems, needs practise. The parade of nodding heads on the NEC platform was more embarrassing than it was supportive. Also to note, Dave Lewis’ (National Treasurer) sense of style has gone out of the window, inveterate radical and ‘Res-pec’ faction leader, Rob Owen is getting plumper, and all the other conference delegates are getting younger. Very depressing!

I was too put off by the sweeping compromises made to the radicals and the unusually slow pace of debate (up to amendment 3 of 15 by 2:30pm) to stay to the bitter end, so left before the traffic around the West Midlands metropolis of Greater Birmingham got bad. I am informed by a comrade-in-arms from UEA that the motion passed, as expected. But it really was a Pyrrhic Victory. The will to make a real break with the past and start anew with NUS has gone, felled by that crucial 1% margin at National Conference last year. In all honesty, I have ceased to really care. I probably did get a little swept up with the heady momentum of promised, long awaited change last year, but I am now resolutely returned to my prior opinion that NUS is an utterly defunct, nasty, and unhealthy organism long past its sell-by date and ripe for everything short of execution and burial.

A vision of this very process was helpfully provided by Angus MacFarland, the President of NUS Australia who provided ‘fraternal greetings’. He looked like a reasonable person, but after a few sentences of his address at the start of conference, it became apparent he was merely another left-wing basket case. In some ways it is heartening to know some things never change – like NUS spending students’ money on flying other loony-lefties around the world and giving them free tours of the so-called ‘student movement’ in the UK (N.B. *THERE ISN’T ONE*). MacFarland spoke initially of the “outrage” that Australian students had been made to pay a little of their own tuition fees at university. Lord forbid that Australian students should pay for goods and services like everyone else! In MacFarland’s words “You had Margaret Thatcher, the US had Ronald Reagan, we had John Howard…[who led] a rampantly conservative and neo-liberal government.” He described these three like a triad of pure evil, nefariously pulling the strings of the ‘global system’ (which Marxists so love to theorise over) to the ruin and destruction of all civilisation. I personally take great pleasure from the knowledge that in a hundred years time Thatcher and Reagan will be remembered as two cold war warriors who defended the freedom of the west, threw out the rot of socialism at home, and defeated abroad the communist machine which had taken over 100 million human lives in the twentieth century. Soppy neo-leftists like Blair and Australian PM Kevin Rudd meanwhile will have as their only legacies meddling items of constitutional change and bloated, inefficient bureaucracies.

Most intriguingly, MacFarland spoke passionately about issue of ‘voluntary student unionism’. Legislation of this description was passed in Australia in the twilight years of the last Liberal Party government, changing Student Unions from ‘opt-out’ organisations which students much actively seek to leave if they so wish, to ‘opt-in’ ones which students must actively seek to join. This brought Australian student unionism into the 21st century, and in line with other forms of unionism, primarily in trade. Comparable legislation is desperately needed in the UK, where the vast majority of students are unwittingly members and tacit supporters of political bodies which often hold positions very much at odds with the majority. This, more than any constitutional change in the NUS itself, would herald a new era in student life.

MacFarland criticised the policy principally on the basis that it contravened the ‘collegiate’ atmosphere of university – that it negated the ‘collectivism’ and shared spirit of university life. This is a clear fallacy. Student unionism is perhaps the main barrier to collegiality, which flows not from divisive, politicised, disconnected, and amorphous student unions, but from relational bonds of scholarship, academic endeavour, and learning between all members of a college, whether student or lecturer, professor, or chancellor. Student unions are incarnations of opposition to, and headstrong rebellion against, natural order and constitute a distracting alternative focus of loyalty and belonging in university communities. I have long held this to be the case and was very pleased to hear from the incensed MacFarland that a third of Oz SUs went under in the first year of this legislation.

I have thought a little on how this legislation would be introduced in the UK and this seems a fitting place to expand on the matter. Clearly, we can learn from what seems to have been a bit of a bungled process in Australia. Firstly, universities could easily take over the administration and funding of student activities (clubs, societies, and so on), retaining, with the assent of both parties, most of the existing staff who currently work for SUs. In competitive arenas, students would play in teams and individually wholly for the honour of their university once again, not for the dubious prestige of their student union. Moreover, participation in college activities would be more freely available to other members of the community, further fostering the ideal of true collegiality. Second, colleges and universities could easily fulfil more commercial functions on campus, with bars and shops – perhaps retaining student boards or forums to oversee and advise on management issues. Third, for the sake of tradition and continuity, a directly elected student president could be retained by institutions, with a set index-linked pay from the university, whilst systems of course and faculty representation could seamlessly be taken entirely in-house. The abolition of de facto opt-out student unions would be complete. Students would be free, like all free people, to join unions should they so choose. Such optional unions would be the continuing members of the NUS, but would be much reduced in scale and purpose from their present overblown proportions, especially at the larger universities and would at last be truly representational, containing as members only those who have made a conscious decision to be party to them. Consequently, NUS’ income would be all but discontinued, forcing it to become a very different animal. It is possible that it would also gain competitors in a truly free market for effective national student representation.

Despite my…er…constructive criticism, I would still recommend NUS conference to those who want, for whatever reason, to observe rampant leftism at its very best. Truly, it is good for little else than as such a menagerie.

Can we launch a coup please?

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Diary of a conference virgin...

With due trepidation Tory Bear printed his e-ticket, packed his pillow and boarded the NUS bus hand in hand with the Labour Student posse. Leaving at midnight and driving the length of the country through the night on a booze free bus was quite the experience. The National Union of Students "safe place" rules were read as we boarded - everyone's opinion had to be respected and no one was allowed to be mean to each other, this apparently meant that a token Tory didn't quite pick up the abuse he might have expected on such an occasion.

Apparently last year's bus ended rather messily so TB's hipflask plan went out the window and it was a very long and sober journey of broken sleep down to Wolverhampton. Arriving on the outskirts of the city as the sun was coming up the very lost bus driver decided to take us on a detour past a 24 hour McDonalds and quite possibly the biggest Dreams bed warehouse ever, neither of which we were allowed to stop at despite the whimpering.

The NUS Scotland crew were the first to arrive and TB had the pleasure of watching as an assorted range of socialists, militants and apparently "right-wing" Labour Students poured into the hall. With all the organisational skills of a party planning company in a brewery things finally got going at around 11.30. Grrrrh. There was a smattering of Tories in attendance, TB counted five, hardly a powerful voting block we could be if CF organised themselves to a greater extent. The morning was spent in a Nuremberg style round of speeches praising the glory of "our union" and poor John Howard was attacked for a good ten minutes by the visiting President of NUS Australia. The fun and games didn't kick off until after lunch...

The vicious debate that has surrounded the Governance Review of the NUS over the last eighteen months was the only item on the agenda. Labour Students and the far left have been arguing over the proposed changes to the constitution for years and literally millions of pounds have been wasted on consultancy fees and special conferences that have seen the new document hammered out. TB couldn't help but feel it was inevitable that this time it would go through as the unions across the country seemed to have done a very good job and stamping out people against the changes from attending this conference. If TB had broken mandate he would have lost his expenses, been made to pay all for all his travel - a pretty good way to make sure the delegation voted in line with union policy. An free trip to Wolverhampton is one thing, being made to pay to go there is quite another...

The usual parade of dyed hair and piercings were on display on the opposing side and the ever smooth Labour students argued this case rather well. The line that really swung it for TB was the fact that the President Wes Streeting told the conference that if the review didn't pass he would go home and shoot himself in the face. The governance review has pretty much been designed to stamp out the ridiculously left wing elements of the NUS that are apparently hampering its progress as a fighting organisation. Although in the short term it seems that power will remain in the hands of Labour, to be honest this is better than some of the nutjob, militant left-wing elements of NUS being anywhere near what could be considered a level of authority.

Though don't get the wrong end of the stick, TB hasn't been swept up in the euphoria and become a fan of the NUS. It wasn't all fun and games. Toward the end of the afternoon an amendment was put forward by UEA - the brainchild of CF member Paul Wells that called for the NUS policy of No-Platform to be removed from the new constitution. No-Platform basically stops the BNP and other extremist organisations from attending conferences or standing in elections. While TB despises extremism on the left and the right it seems ridiculous to force it underground when openly humiliating it in debate would be a far more sensible option. As a Tory TB's feelings toward the NUS and what it stands for went against 98% of the people there but looking around that room there is no point denying that TB saw people who, right or wrong, passionately cared about what they believed in and were willing to fight for those beliefs at every opportunity. Why then are they so scared of debate? They know extremism is wrong, why not defend that view? Running away from extremism and pretending it does not exist will not make it go away. The only way to stamp out the BNP and the Communists (who incidentally are allowed at NUS, funny that,) is to openly fight it and confront it. NUS No-Platform makes a mockery of the entire organisation and undermines any good work that they do.

So the Governance Review passed this time, it still has to be ratified and the organisation is in exactly the same place it was a year ago. It has to go through another one of these glorious Extraordinary Conferences or through the Annual Conference, where it fell last year. The saying goes that any organisation that spends it's time talking about reform, or navel gazing (cough,) is in serious trouble and no truer is this spoken than about NUS. TB can see the logic of Tories opposing the Governance Review as without it the NUS would continue to be the chaotic and weak organisation that it currently is, held to ransom by the far left but at the end of the day it's wasting your money as students and this new constitution will go some way to stop the organisation literally pissing millions of pounds every year up the wall. That is why TB voted for it...

And so back on the bus, 24 hours later to the minute TB arrived back up north. After McDonalds for breakfast and Burger King for supper, along with broken sleep and unhealthy blast of type 1 socialist exposure, TB felt decidedly ill. Not sure whether this will be an experience he is ready to repeat any time soon but worth it to see how the organisation works and where it's problems really lie.

Since the formation of the Student Life committee there has been an internal debate going on within CF about what it's views on NUS should be. If we wanted to, it would not be hard to get forty odd delegates elected around the country to these conferences and actually be a pretty powerful little block... Not all will agree, but for the time being, or at least until the new constitution is ratified TB reckons we should give it the benefit of the doubt and create some mischief. Not long ago a conservative candidate was just one vote off being elected as treasurer and with a little organisation a Tory in one of the top spots is not out of the question. It's a debate that CF needs to have properly, so why not start it here...

What do you all think?

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Off to Wolverhampton..

Blogging will be light for the next 48 hours as TB spends most of it in a minibus and the rest at NUS conference...

Will try post some updates..

If any Tories attending haven't already got in touch please email your mobile numbers to asap!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

The blue-scholar vote...

from The Economist shows that all of the hard work CF campus branches and University Associations (if you go to a proper university,) have been doing is starting to pay off:

Tories really are a force once again on campus.

While TB does not want to seem to be taking credit for the national swing, he can remember the days when to be a Conservative at a student union event sparked a similar reaction to walking in with wearing a mac and holding a sign saying "I touch children!".

University Cons have played a vital role in decontaminating the brand...

Things a defiantly shifting and student CFers have a lot of political capital to play with in the coming academic year.. let's not waste it...

NUS take over anyone?