THE DELEGATE 13th April 2011
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THE OTHER WINNERS
The delegates have voted, the count has been verified and the results have been announced. Liam Burns is NUS President for 2011/12. Two days seem to have really taken it out of the normally energetic Scotsman. While obviously jubilant he looks more subdued than when The Delegate interviewed him on Monday evening. “There’s that small thing of the Scottish elections that we have on our doorstep” he replied when asked what he would be doing next, “so my focus will swing firmly back onto Scotland postConference.” That’s not to say that he will wait until he officially takes over on July 1st to get the ball rolling on his manifesto pledges. “After May 6th I want to start getting a move on getting an authoritative stance on not just how institutions should be funded but how students should be funded.” He’s also thinking about the long game and is planning to meet with the TUC so they can start building towards 2014 together. Burns is not the usual NUS President, he certainly describes himself as the anti-establishment candidate. While he is taking on the mantle of the 55th President of the NUS, he is only the 13th to come from the Nations. His victory is also a bit of a coup, with even Burns himself admitting that Shane Chowen was the favourite coming into the Conference. He identified what he thinks was the turning point: “I think it was that people rec-
LIAM BURNS: THE BIG INTERVIEW ognised that while I think Aaron has achieved some amazing things and that the organisation has made so many right calls, there have been some that we made wrong. I think what delegates saw was that I was being honest about that and trying to tackle that head on. Shane simply was part of those decisions.” It’s been an unusual election for Presidency this year, with what is traditionally seen as a mere coronation, being too close to call right up until the end. Burns has nothing but praise for his opponents: “Every single candidate on that stage was credible. I don’t agree with everything that was said, but in terms of their legitimacy, and that made the election a positive and enjoyable thing.” Burns thinks there are a lot of great ideas he can take from his opponents, he is particularly excited about Chowen’s idea of a young people’s commisision and his vision on how to turn NUS into an organisation directed by it’s individual members rather than Union officers. His victory was secured by the left, it was the second preferences he received after Mark Bergfeld was excluded that pushed him over the top. “What I think people like Mark recognise is that I’m someone who will respect them, who will want to hear their views. We’ll have robust discussions, we won’t always agree but what’s different now is that there’s far more common ground in the issues we’re working on that we now need to occupy than there was ten years ago.”
Burns has talked a lot this campaign about how he doesn’t think there are the parliamentary mechanisms in place to bring about major changes, but there are certain things he is determined to achieve; an authoratatitive position on student support and a more united movement: “I don’t want to be to-ing and froing in the pages of The Guardian between Michael Chessum and myself week on week. I hope that we will demonstrably have show that the public are still behind us in our campaign to reverse the decisions made both in public funding and also the fees regime that we currently have.”
VP FUTHER EDUCATION VP HIGHER EDUCATION VP UNION DEVELOPMENT
Hirsh - 46 Pearce - 125 Morton - 38
Ali - 314 Chessam - 123
Marsh - 592 Pinto - 119
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Conducting this interview in a Dannie Grufferty shirt, Liam has a clear idea of who he wants in his team. He is backing Ed Marsh for Union Development, Usman Ali for Higher Education, Grufferty for Society and Citizenship and Toni Pearce for Further Education. “Equally exciting is the Liberation Officer elections that are coming up in the next few weeks. There are some brilliant candidates going for them. It will be a while before I see who the whole team is but I’m sure there will be some great talent.” Will we be seeing more t-shirts with Liam’s name on next Conference? “I honestly don’t know if I’ll re-run. I’ll have to think long and hard about the timing because you could give a President a run-up to the general elections if I didn’t run for another year but if there’s anything I learnt off Aaron it’s that twelve months can change a lot.”
13th April 2011
BLOCK OF 15: THE CANDIDATES SAM CREIGHTON STUART HEWITT Mark Bergfeld would fight for another national demonstration and support strikes against cuts. Bergfeld has been prominent in the recent student fees protests and helped found the Education Activist Network.
Charlotte Gerada would like to see a campaigning, participatory and democratic NUS. Charlotte was instrumental in negotiations with LSE’s Director to return the £300,000 donation from the Gaddafi foundation. Ruby Hirsch is a FE activist who promises to be an authentic voice for FE students on the NEC.
Nes Cazimoglu wants to get students more directly involved with NUS. The VP for Campaigns and Democracy at Reading University would set up regional training events to coach students in activism.
Taylor Kane wants to facilitate FE institutions to network within their local communities. Examples of Taylor’s experience are having re-written MKCSU constitution and doubled the unions block grant.
Michael Chessum would fight for a living wage for all staff in education and defend part-time students. The former Vice President of UCLU also co-founded the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts.
Aaron Kiley is campaigning on issues of challenging racism and bigotry, international peace and justice and anti-fees and cuts. Joshua Mckenzie aims to get more FE students involved in NUS liberation campaigns. He is a also president of Harrow College Students Union.
Christopher Clark promises to continue development of Student Unions Awards schemes and campaign for effective use of National Student Survey. Daniel Cooper is a “grassroots activist, anti-cuts campaigner and socialist” who is opposed to a graduate tax and in favour of a living grant for all students. Lauren Crowley would link up HE and FE activists through regional training events and provide more focus on supporting unions to fight against local cuts. Matt East would fight for a more accountable NUS and better represent the diverse membership of the union. He vows to visit unions in his region at least once a term. Lee Gavin believes that NUS is guilty of ignoring small specialist HE and FE institutions.
Joe Oliver believes that the current block system does not work and would radically review its raison d’etre. Joe would also work on NUS’ public relations profile with his “mandelsonic” abilities. Ian Pattison would fight to reinstate EMA, ALG and other incentives to learn, including grants to university students He would also bring all private degree-awarding institutions under public ownership. Surya Prakash Bhatta, who is running under the slogan ‘Unity first, politics later’, believes colleges don’t want strong student associations. Mary Prescott promises to be a strong voice for regions and help increase knowledge of how regional NUS operates in the nations.
Liam Preston promises to fight for Sports Sabbaticals across the country and for uni’s publish full costs of studying. David Radford wants NUS to sponsor a web based remote representation project which FE unions could deploy. Zahid Raja wants the NUS to protect part-time officers, champion liberation and participate in evidence based activism. Sophie Richardson focuses on Post-Grad students, widening participation, feedback and assessment and a more accessible NUS. Josh Rowlands wants to create active links between universities and their partner colleges. Mo Saqib will fight for better academic representation, supporting the widening participation agenda and protection humanities subjects. Daniel Stevens is campaigning on a strong International ticket. He wants to help unions understand how to engage with international students. Rachel Wenstone focuses on fighting racism and fascism, providing more support for individual Students’ Unions and fighting to protect SU funding. Stevie Wise focuses on fighting education cuts, widening access and transparency for International and Postgraduate fees. Lori Wheatman pledges to campaign on education funding, student activities and student charters. Rahul Sahni pledges to fight cuts, support liberation campaigns, hold NUS to account and fight for other minority groups.
COMMENT: Take Drug Policy Seriously ASHLEY BULLARD How can students campaigning for drug legalisation expect to be taken seriously? Students are already renowned for their reckless binge drinking - why on earth would students waste their time campaigning on such an issue? Students for Sensible Drug Policy UK was formed in response to the complete lack of representation on drug issues within the NUS. The purpose of drug policy is and always has been to protect society and the individual from the harms associated with drug use. Somewhere along the annals of history we lost our way - while the Daily Mail reading parents of middle England continue to get into paranoid hysterics over drug use among their privileged children; an
actual drug war wages on around the world, within the communities of the inner cities of the UK, the streets of Juarez in Mexico and as far afield as the plains of Afghanistan. For the last few decades, the governments of the world have sought to wage a war on their citizens in the name of reducing the harm of drug use. Since then the world over has witnessed an unprecedented explosion in organised crime - the system of criminalising drug supply and use has abdicated the control of markets in dangerous substances to people who make them more dangerous. Drug prohibition does not just harm the user who risks criminalisation or poisoning through contaminated drugs cut by unscrupulous dealers aiming for higher profit
margins. Pushing users under ground also encourages unsafe practises such as the sharing of needles, for example, the Russian Federation has very few needle exchanges and virtually no methadone provisions, they have in the region of 1 million injecting drug users living with HIV/AIDS yet for ideological reasons the Kremlin has no desire to open up better harm reduction services which would save countless lives. If caring about the human rights of society’s most vulnerable members, wanting to improve the lives of people caught up in the violence of the underground drugs trade, protecting patients who use cannabis from prosecution or wanting to reduce the spread of HIV means we are irresponsible radicals then we are guilty as charged.
The gloves are off A bought worthy of billing by Don King is set to take place tonight. Aaron Porter and Clare Solomon have clashed this year in their respective positions of NUS President and ULU President. Porter’s preference for lobbying will be pitted against Solomon’s advocacy for direct action. Violence & Vandalism – Does Direct Action Achieve Its Aims starts at 8:15pm in Hall 2.
Motion of censure to be discussed Motion of censure to be discussed at 9am tomorrow morning There was an announcement in Conference Hall to say that an NEC member will face a motion of censure tomorrow morning. Twitter rumours suggest that the censure is against Mark Bergfeld but at the time of going to print this was unconfirmed.
The need for electronic voting RYAN WAIN Every count we have on conference floor wastes around 25 minutes. We have had 4 count votes so far, taking around one and half hours away from debating motions. An electronic voting system would cost around 11k. Surely this is a price worth paying for accurate democratic debate that saves time. I hope to see a motion to this effect brought to the next National Conference.
Motions Rundown FE and HE Union Proposals Development 301 Passed 301a Passed 301b Passed 301c Passed 301d Falls 301e Falls 301f Falls 301g Passed 202 Passed 203 Passed 203a Passed 303 Passed 204 Passed 304 Passed 205 Passed 305 Passed 206 Falls 306 Passed 207 Passed 307 Passed 208 Passed
501 Passed 502 Passed 503 Passed 504 Passed 505 Passed Welfare 601 Passed 601a Passed 602 Passed 603 Passed 603a Passed 604 Passed 604a Passed 604b Passed 605 Passed 605a Passed 605b Passed 606 Passed 607 Passed 608 Passed