Moving forward with the NUS, how we can save the sinking ship.

No NUS
(source – thebackbencher.co.uk)

If I was to say the NUS was in dire need of reform I would be in with a chance of winning the prize for understatement of the year. If you will excuse my French (better not say that too loudly or the NUS will no-platform me for being an evil colonialist!), the NUS is a fucking shambles. From vacuous statements of solidarity with about as much impact on the state of international relations as my dog barking at a cat in the back garden, to collaborating with the dubious to say the least group CAGE, the NUS has managed to irritate the vast majority of the student population. Quite understandably then, many students are calling for their respective student unions to either disassociate from NUS, or for the NUS to be dissolved completely. What I hope to do with this piece, however, is argue the sinking ship that is the NUS can and should be saved. It won’t be easy, to be blunt I am being hopelessly optimistic, but to call for disassociation and the dissolving of the NUS would be to surrender to a toxic bastardisation of feminism fused with blatant Stalinism, a vile, regressive ideology that is becoming more and more prevalent on the student “left”. We cannot relinquish any more ground to this regressive left. We must reclaim the NUS from anti-semitic Stalinists and Islamists content on stoning women for adultery (how so-called feminists in the NUS can defend these people is utterly beyond me), and reform it into the organisation it was intended on being, a union of student unions, ensuring the concerns raised to those student unions can be represented and organised around on a national scale. To do this ultimately we must take control of NUS’ main conference back, using internal democracy to ensure the regressive left do not get a foothold and that the issues that actually affect British students are being discussed, rather than another hack thinking their incessant whining will stop ISIS murdering Kurdish civilians (that is hoping these hacks aren’t so regressive they support ISIS).

 

The first thing to address is why we need to save the NUS. As students we need Student Unions on two levels. At the lower level (in the political pecking order of civil society) we need our own institutions’ Student Unions to ensure our voices are represented across our respective university/college. The vast majority of students are represented on this level, and have easy access to direct engagement and influence. The important level of representation that this post will address is representation at a national level, a role only effectively filled by a union of Student Unions. This is what the NUS was founded as, and what it fails to be today. We need representation on a national level as we need a body capable of national organisation to actually ensure meaningful political action. Sure, many Student Unions are fantastic at addressing local issues and making meaningful change for their own students, but what about national issues, such as the status of post graduate loans? A lone Student Union, no matter how effective it is on a local level, will hold much less influence over national policy. One could argue “surely in these situations Student Unions could organise together?”. Well, yes, they could, but the amount of time spent organising across the entirely of the UK would be much better spent campaigning on the issue itself (that is assuming that organisation like this will even be effective), and that’s where a body like the NUS would come into play. If you have a body that has the resources to analyse a piece of government policy and then draw up a campaign plan to send out to all affiliated unions, you will have cut out a significant amount of time wasted in organisation, which can now be used for campaigning on the actual issue, and you will have a body that can maintain these links, rather than having to reforge them with each new issue and with each new sabbatical officer team. We need a union of Student Unions to ensure our voices are effectively represented beyond the local reach of our individual Student Unions.

 

The second reason we need to save the NUS concerns ideological factors. As I type this blog post, the NUS is currently overrun with a swarm of terrorist sympathisers, anti-Semites, misogynists and homophobes, strutting around under the guise of being “left wing”. This regressive left, their entire worldview warped by intersectionality that has descended into “who is the most oppressed?”, fused with a Stalinist motion of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, are content in forming allegiances with Islamists seeking to build a world in which a woman can be stoned for adultery, in which  LGBT+ people would be thrown off tall buildings and in which women would be forced to live as second class citizens with no rights. Furthermore, these Islamists are people who actively support the anti-Semitic and genocidal Hamas, and garner sympathies, if not downright support for violent Jihadi rats like ISIS, both murdering innocent civilians in their thousands. The so-called “feminists” and “socialists” (they should really look up what actually constitutes those two ideologies) of the NUS are not only apologising for these disgusting viewpoints, but in forging these alliances they are legitimising them, and doing so IN OUR NAMES! It is no wonder then that the student body is viewed so lowly by vast swathes of society when they see incessant cucks strutting around on stage alongside the likes Moazzam Begg, a man who thinks in an “ideal world” a woman can be dragged into the street in front of a jeering crowd of men and pelted with stones until she is killed. We should not stand here and have such barbarism espoused in our names. Furthermore, since one of the main criticisms of the NUS is that it doesn’t properly address issues concerning UK students, let us look at the effect that the regressive left’s various stances has on the UK population. The legitimising of the views of Islamists, and the vast amount of exposure these views receive in process, negatively tarnishes all Muslim students. How better to feed into the narrative of groups like Britain First if the most prominent muslim figures of one of the largest unions in the UK are Islamists like CAGE? Such an allegiance will only serve to intensify the unjust hatred towards, and marginalisation of, regular muslims students. Furthermore, justified gripes with the state of Israel have been twisted by the regressive left, fermenting into completely unjustified anti-Semitism towards Jewish citizens. The NUS, with its incredibly vague solidarity motions with Palestine and allegiances with Islamist groups seeking to legitimise Hamas and Hezbollah (who have repeatably stated their goals are to murder the entire Jewish population), is doing nothing to help this dire situation. Jewish students are now facing increased cases of anti-Semitism across the UK, and the NUS pretending it is the United Nations is doing absolutely nothing to help. It beggars belief that so-called “socialists” and “feminists” are not just content with, but actively aiding, greater marginalisation of both muslim and Jewish students. We must reclaim the NUS from this toxic regressive left, and ensure no further collaboration with Islamist scum like CAGE.

Islamist placard
(the regressive left summed up in a single picture. Source – Maajid Nawaz’s excellent article on Islamism and the regressive left on thedailybeast.com)

So how exactly do we reclaim the NUS when the situation looks so dire? Fortunately, the mechanisms of internal democracy within the NUS are actually pretty sound. Sure, they could certainly be improved or at least streamlined (dear god I am not looking forward to having to sit through the embarrassment that is the procedural committee elections this year. I signed up to NUS conference, not Britain’s Got Talent for hacks), but on the whole they are pretty good (do I win an award for finding something decent in NUS?). So the simple advice I can give on how to improve the NUS is to engage. Run for election for NUS delegate in your local Student Union elections. As “Oh Well Alright Then” have proven in Oxford University, it is perfectly possible for those highly skeptical of the NUS’ current positions to win delegate places, and there are many more who have won delegate positions wanting change within NUS. If if people run and don’t win, simply campaigning will raise the issue over the current state of the NUS to the wider student population, which will inevitably lead for more calls for change. Delegates to conference will have the power to decide who the next team of sabbatical officers are, thus the more people desiring change within the NUS that run for, and win delegate places, the less of a foothold the regressive left will be able to hold on the officer team. Furthermore, delegates can help ensure that important motions such as post graduate loans and opposition to changes in NHS bursaries can be bought to the front of conference, rather that empty trash like the solidarity motions or motions containing nothing but rhetoric. Finally, to highlight the obvious, delegates are the ones who vote on these motions, the more delegate positions those who want meaningful change hold, the more likely the important issues that actually affect UK students will be passed.

 

So imagine next year those sympathetic to the cause for change in the NUS win a significant number of delegate positions, what next? How do we sort out the other issues within NUS? The first thing we need to do is reform conference. Conference is too short and has too many motions. Last year there were 70 motions, of which far less were actually discussed, and this year there are many more. The result is that motion are “debated” (I struggle to call it an actual debate) for about 5 minutes if you’re lucky, then voted on. That is assuming hacks haven’t loaded the agenda with procedural motions disrupting everything, and any left over motions are shipped off to the NEC to decide on after conference. In order to improve on this and turn conference into a means that can actually build substantive campaigns around important issues for meaningful change, conference must be greatly reformed. The number of motions discuss must be dramatically cut, to 10, 15 at an absolute push. To cut down to this number of motions the NUS will have to completely discard motions that do not directly influence UK students. All solidarity motions must be cut, as should all rhetoric motions, like “the NUS supports education”. These motions mean absolutely nothing and have no impact on the present state of affairs for UK students. Motions should be debated in a number of smaller, seminar style rooms, rather than the main conference floor, for much longer (an hour would produce far greater results). This would allow for the intricacies of the issue to be discussed in far greater detail, and for actual campaign plans to be drawn up, rather than for just rhetoric to be enforced. These plans can then be compiled into a greater campaign plan, that can be sent to all affiliated Student Unions. Finally, the ability for delegates to use procedural motions should be GREATLY restricted, these motions are designed to ensure the smooth running of conference and to uphold the standards one would expect at an event of this size, not as a means to stagnate the order of things and to push one solidarity motion above another. Once these have been implemented and NUS conference is laying the foundations for effective campaigns through longer debates we can explore the idea of a longer conference. At present, however, a longer conference would ensure only more of the same rubbish. In the status quo the issue is the noxious substance itself, not the dosage.

 

I hope from this piece I have been able to prove that ultimately, we need a body like NUS. We need there to be a means for out Student Unions to project our voices onto the national stage. We could build another body to achieve this, but not only would this be time consuming, but as we speak the regressive left are legitimising Islamism that is marginalising muslim, Jewish, LGBT+ and women students (so much for intersectionality!), and doing so in our names. We mush reclaim the NUS from these fools using its internal mechanisms, and then push for a conference that focuses on quality rather than quantity. Less motions, discussed in far greater detail, focusing on actually building campaigns and ensuring all delegates have the ability to voice their opinions and concerns. Only then will we have an effective NUS we can be proud of. Yes, I am being hopelessly optimistic. This is an uphill battle on the side of a vertical cliff, but it is a battle we must fight. All students, “left wing” or “right wing”, have a duty to reclaim the NUS from the toxic regressive left and the Islamist scum that they’re in cahoots with so we can ensure a better deal for muslim, Jewish, LGBT+ and women students. All students, “left wing” or “right wing”, have a vested interest reclaiming the NUS to ensure we can effectively push for better post graduate loans, push for better funding for both higher and further education, and push for better funding for research within these institutions, and push for all the major issues that affect us today. It’s in our interests to reclaim the NUS, and the means are right in front of us, so let’s get to it.

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