Sunday, March 18, 2007

The fringe nutters of student politics

Normally I would avoid giving such views the oxygen of publicity but the Student "RESPECT" group have released a campaign video on YouTube for the forthcoming National Union of Students elections. And it shows just why they never get elected:

Now I don't wish to denigrate the anti-war movement. I believe that most people in it are good well meaning people, and like them I opposed the Iraq War. (I do, however, disagree with the idea of an immediate pull out of Iraq as I believe this will only make the situation even worse and the chaos will spread into other countries.)

But what I cannot understand is why a small (let's be clear about this - the likes of Student "RESPECT" are in no way anywhere near the mainstream of those involved in student politics) but determined group routinely seem to think it is the role of students' unions and the national student bodies to go trying to change the country's foreign policy. All it does is harm both the organisations and the activists' causes. The students' unions/NUS wind up looking ridiculous even for obsessing with issues not of direct relevance to students as students, and thus undermining their ability to be effective on matters more within their remit, whilst the activists wind up wasting their efforts and energies trying to hijack the student movement, when they could be a darn sight more effective in joining the campaign directly.

So I say this directly to Student "RESPECT": If you think the most important matter is putting an end to the Iraq War, stop wasting time trying to capture students' unions and the NUS and go and it spend it campaigning against it. You are far more likely to win support for the cause if you do this, than by seeking to divert organisations established with other purposes. The Stop The War campaign bodies are the best vehicles for stopping the war. Students' unions and the national student bodies are best at focusing on the issues that directly affect students, and for which there are no other vehicles. Don't destroy one in a counter-productive attempt to seek support for the other. Use each body for what it is there for.

And for the rest of the world, please don't ever assume that Student "RESPECT" is typical of students. Hardly any students' union election is ever won on a manifesto such as this.


Paul Burgin said...

In any case many Labour students were also against the Iraq War, which added to the offence of labelling them "The dark side"
Was intrigued by the use of classical music (something I have not known fringe parties to do before), still I suppose there was no copyright on that

Gracchi said...

Indeed you are absolutely right- this is about the most ridiculous advert for a political group I have ever seen. The other thing is that most students do not vote in NUS elections or student union elections or vote for their friends. Great post though- well done for finding this.


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