Richard Hollowaysays 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).