Posts Tagged ‘NUS’

Smashing things doesn’t prove you’re more angry, just more violent

12/11/2010, 09:00:50 AM

by Jonathan Walker

I’ve been surprised at the number of left-leaning people who seem to celebrate the violence in London this week.

Personally, I agree with the NUS and the Labour party that “the vandalism and violence that we saw on Wednesday is completely unacceptable”, to quote Ed Balls.

But many people I’ve spoken to (including quite a few journalists) seem to believe that violent protestors were representative of the protestors as a whole and even, echoing Guido Fawkes and other right-wing bloggers, that the NUS is secretly pleased about the while thing.

Unlike Guido, however, they don’t mean it as an adverse criticism. They enjoyed watching Tory HQ (actually the reception of a building used by a number of organisations) get smashed up.

One argument used by apologists for the violence is that it got people’s attention.

But getting attention doesn’t always help you win the argument.

The demo prompted earnest debate about the failings of the metropolitan police, not the correct level to set university tuition fees or the merits of a graduate tax. (more…)

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The old cancer at the heart of the student riot

11/11/2010, 09:00:18 AM

by Luke Akehurst

THE SAD lesson of the hijacking of part of Wednesday’s NUS demo – by a small minority who turned it into a mini-riot – is that some of the iron laws of left politics from the last time there was a Tory PM still hold true.

The mainstream left, whether that’s the Labour party, its affiliated trade unions, NUS or other organisations campaigning against the cuts needs to know that the bad guys are not all to our right on the political spectrum.

Idealistically, we might have thought that the sheer horror of the cuts being proposed by the Tory-Lib Dem government would mean all forces on the left in Britain could unite to protest and fight to protect key public services and benefits.

Wednesday’s behaviour killed that idealistic dream as it probably killed the political enthusiasm of some of the 50,000 ordinary students on the march.

On the plus side 49,000+ of them marched peacefully. By any stretch that’s a remarkable political mobilisation. The entire membership of all the student political organisations in the UK plus non-student supporters and non-partisan student union activists does not get anywhere near 10,000 people. So 80% or more of the marchers were “real people” driven to political protest by the government, not long-term political activists.

This should therefore have been a marvellous opportunity to get an entire new generation involved in politics, inspired by participation in a powerful protest that would have got their case all over the media and put fear in the hearts of the Lib Dem MPs who betrayed their erstwhile student voters. This should have been the start of a campaign that would have seen those 50,000 marchers go back to their colleges and work to either stop a government policy in its tracks or failing that contribute to mobilising their fellow students to evict Tory and Lib Dem MPs in university seats in the next general election. (more…)

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Moving the goalposts on higher education will leave scars on our society, says Aaron Porter

18/08/2010, 12:30:14 PM

As A-level results day approaches it is already clear that over 150,000 students with both the grades and the desire to study at university this year will be left without a place.

Crucially, this limit on places is not one of necessity; the restrictions on university places are being achieved through an entirely arbitrary cap on student numbers which is itself being enforced through the government’s threat to fine any university which ends up oversubscribed.

Michael Brown, vice-chancellor of Liverpool John Moores university said last week that the government fines for over recruitment mean that some universities will even have empty spaces despite turning qualified applicants away, with government fines preventing universities from accounting for inevitable drop-outs before the start of term by slightly oversubscribing courses at this stage.

This is both morally unacceptable and economically short-sighted. It is morally unacceptable that students who have worked in order to achieve grades that would normally be sufficient to study at university will – for reasons entirely out of their control – find that the goalposts have been drastically moved. These young people are being denied the opportunity to study at university, with all the intrinsic value that holds, together with the increased work and career opportunities that affords.


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