A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Plus ca change

As a recovering ex-student politician I am gradually, having reluctantly given up my NOLS card and given my last leaving speech in 1996, letting go of my interest in the internal machinations of NUS (I've now got to the stage where I can only just name the current President (though I've worked out from her presence at Compass conference last year that she is a) politically offside and b) politically stupid) whereas a few years ago I could have recited the entire Block of 12 NEC Members, their factions, and roughly how many transfers they got at each stage of the STV ballot that elected them).

However, I occasionally suffer relapses prompted by coverage of matters NUS in the mainstream media such as today's letter in the Guardian:

"On April 1 the National Union of Students leadership will ask its annual conference to vote on the governance review in the name of "modernisation" and "democracy". Like Tony Blair's reform of the Labour Party, the review will destroy the remnants of NUS democracy in favour of spin-doctors, full-time "professionals" and an old boys' network of sabbatical officers. We will not allow our union to be shut down without a fight.
They want the NUS reformed back to the 1950s, when it was little more then a network of rightwing students associated with the CIA. In 1974, the NUS transformed itself into a mass campaigning movement capable of launching a national grants campaign, coordinating occupations and leading 40,000 students to march on parliament. Under a leftwing leadership, the NUS managed to challenge the government and turn itself into a real national union.
Labour Students and Labour "independents" have spent the past 20 years running down our union. Their unwavering support for the Labour government has confined resistance to Labour policy. Now the leadership wants to ditch all principles in the run-up to the government's 2010 higher education funding review. New Labour's love of business and its immoral foreign policy have created a new generation prepared to struggle for a better world. The left has won the leadership of several local students' unions and will continue to challenge for national leadership.
Rob Owen NUS national executive
Dominic Kavakeb president-elect, Essex University Students' Union
Claire Solomon copresident, SOAS SU
Assed Baig, NUS black students' committee
Jennifer Jones Goldsmiths College SU"

A quick bit of googling reveals all of the signatories are in or allied to the SWP. Now there's a shock.

I am so enthused by the idea of getting "the NUS reformed back to the 1950s, when it was little more then a network of rightwing students associated with the CIA" (though I suspect there may be a hint of hyperbole in the SWP's rhetoric) that I am tempted to sign on for a basket-weaving or motorcycle maintenance course at an FE college so that I can go along and vote for this dastardly reform package.

Personally whilst I would have been well up for going "back to the 1950s, when it was little more then a network of rightwing students associated with the CIA" when I was NOLS National Secretary, I couldn't find the CIA under C in the phone book, and they were a bit too busy arming the Taliban at that stage to fund the student branches of British political parties, who had to make do with standing in the mud as stewards at the Reading Festival to pay for our activities.

The letter concludes "The left has won the leadership of several local students' unions and will continue to challenge for national leadership."

The number of signatories tells you exactly how many student unions the left has won the leadership of: three. Hey, a promising start as there are only, what, 600 student unions in NUS.


Anonymous Chatham Ward Hoody said...

Do you ever blog anything remotely connected to the London Borough of Hackney where you are a councillor?

10:26 am, March 27, 2008

Anonymous Ho Ho Ho Chi Mihn, he had all the trots done in! said...

What i thought was remarkable was that they dated the year of glory in NUS as 1974 when, if memory serves the presidential election was won by someone in the CPB(M-L) - what did Mao do with the Trots? I bet it wasn't pleasant (for the Trots, that is).

Of course real anoraks know that the left took control in 1969 under the leadership of Comrade Jack Straw and other greats include Trevor Phillips and David Aaronovich and, of course, Charlie Clarke.

10:34 am, March 27, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Dear Mr Hoody
Yes quite often if you check back through the archives. However,
a) like all Labour councillors nation-wide I have to clear public comments about my own authority with my Group press officer, which isn't conducive to the immediacy of blogging
b) most of my readership are not Hackney residents so they are more interested in what I have to say about national stuff
c) I'd prefer to just get on with being a good ward councillor rather than write it all up here (the people I do casework for know I've done it and that's what counts)
d) Hackney Council has improved so much there isn't very much of controversy or interest to write about it (back when it was a hung council there would have been a post a day to write about Lib Dem scandals or cuts)

This is very definitely not a "councillor blog". It's a blog by someone active in Labour politics, one of whose forms of activity happens to be being a councillor.

10:48 am, March 27, 2008

Anonymous Adam Lewis said...

Labour Students are supporting Wes Streeting for the NUS presidency this year. If they bothered to look, they'd see that Wes's manifesto (found at www.wes4pres.co.uk) includes campaigning to:

• Develop alternative proposals to the government’s elitist, market-driven funding system in consultation with students’ unions
• Fight for grants that cover living costs and a national student bursary scheme – support based on what you need, not where you study
• Demand an end to up-front fees for part-time students and increased student support
• Re-launch a broad coalition of students, lecturers, trade unionists and political parties and create a War Chest to fundraise for the largest campaign that NUS has ever led
• Organise a national demonstration before any vote in Parliament, alongside mass campus action, major town hall-style debates across university towns and cities

This would be something of an inconvenient truth for the SWP, who would love to paint us as a passive organisation of government 'Yes' men. The reality is that Labour Students are anything but.

Adam Lewis
Chair, University of Liverpool Labour Students & Labour Students National Committee (elect)

11:01 am, March 27, 2008

Anonymous Adam Lewis said...

Just to clear up, since on re-reading it seems confusing... By 'they' in the first paragraph, I mean the SWP - not Labour Students!


11:02 am, March 27, 2008

Anonymous Tom M said...

All the signatories of that letter would like to keep NUS in its current state because even though it is ineffective, it gives the hard left an opportunity to posture and make speeches all day long.

My favourite was one candidate in an election devoting the entire speech to the class struggle which the NUS should ignite... absolutely mental!

11:14 am, March 27, 2008

Blogger Miller 2.0 said...

And the next president, with whom I am more than sure you are acquianted, is also 'politically stupid' (i.e. 'right').


11:58 am, March 27, 2008

Blogger Miller 2.0 said...

"The number of signatories tells you exactly how many student unions the left has won the leadership of: three."

And of course, they lost their 'flagship' at Manchester

12:04 pm, March 27, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

When the CIA ran the NUS - was that before they ran WRP, RCP and SWP?

1:14 pm, March 27, 2008

Anonymous Murder Mile said...

Whats Diane Abbott doing about this one ???

Teenager dies in Stamford Hill street stabbing

A teenager who was found stabbed in the street has died.
Officers found the victim, who is thought to be aged in his late teens, with serious injuries in Stamford Hill, north London, on Thursday morning.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said he was taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance but died about an hour later.

Officers have cordoned off a section of Stamford Hill, near to the junction with Ravensdale Road, to allow experts to examine the area.

2:42 pm, March 27, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

What a bizzare question "Whats Diane Abbott doing about this one ???"

I would have thought that what the police are doing is rather more likely to be important when someone has been stabbed than what local politicians are saying.

Politicians set the policy and legal framework e.g. who can buy and carry a knife, and the funding e.g. how many police, PCSOs, CCTV etc are there in an area. They can also provide community leadership that might hopefully discourage violence, which Diane has been very active on e.g. peace marches. They don't directly prevent or investigate individual crimes and in fact I think there are occasions when hasty commentary by politicians not in possession of all the facts immediately after crimes are committed can actually be counterproductive to the police's work.

3:03 pm, March 27, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Do I care about the NUS, does anyone really care? Apart from cheap entrance to museums and cinemas what is the NUS good for.

More people are going to Uni but less are inclined to have strong political ideals or views. The people I know who went to uni in the 1980s lived in squats and shopped in Oxfam. They went out there and protested against the Poll Tax, Student Loans and nuclear weapons. Can't remember the last time I've seen British people mobilized in that way. Might be something to do with NuLabour taking away the right to protest, strike or even have an opinion.

8:22 pm, March 27, 2008

Anonymous Lord Amherst Tyssen Amhurst said...

Sounds like you post on Hackney when it suits you. Shameful really and it looks like you are ashamed to be a councillor in Hackney

You don't live on Blackstock Road do you? 600 police officers were needed today to deal with a road full of criminals

Raid on street in crime crackdown

Hundreds of police officers in riot gear flooded the road
Hundreds of police officers raided 19 premises on a London street as part of a crackdown on crime.
Some 600 officers sealed off part of Blackstock Road in north London to carry out the raid on Thursday.

Surveillance showed evidence of drug dealing, the sale of stolen goods and a trade in forged documents, police said.

Earlier, 500 officers raided 37 addresses across the country, as far north as Leeds. There have been more than 70 arrests in the two operations.

Blackstock Road, on the borders of the London boroughs of Islington, Haringey and Hackney, is a popular shopping street

8:46 pm, March 27, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Correct, I don't live there and it isn't in my ward.

My colleagues in Brownswood Ward have written about the raid here:

I'm very pleased that the police are putting such heavy resources into the problems in that street.

I do post about what "suits me" because that's what a blog is - an online personal journal where you write about what you want to.

If you want a local news service, buy the Hackney Gazette instead.

9:45 pm, March 27, 2008

Anonymous De Beaver Toff said...

The Olympic Torch Relay is not visiting "Host" borough Hackney on April 6 it's skirting past in a bus for it's own safety!!!!!

1:36 pm, March 28, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"d) Hackney Council has improved so much there isn't very much of controversy or interest to write about it"

Ahahahahahahahahahahaha. Hahahaha. Haha.

Oh stop, the tears are running down my legs.

Do we have to remind you why Hackney, safe Labour Hackney, was hung in 1998? Or can we trust you to redirect yourself to the real Akehurst blog?

7:49 pm, March 28, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

If my memory was correct it was hung because some very nasty people were expelled from/defected from the Labour Group on Hackney Council.

Part of the reason why the borough is now doing so well is that although this was dreadful for Labour in the short term at the 1998 elections it meant in the long term we were rid of the mad, bad and in at least the case of Cllr Liebowitz, criminal, elements that had got involved in local politics in Hackney.

I don't think ordinary voters in Hackney see the difference between council services and finances now and in the hung council days as a laughing matter, unless of course they are laughing with relief.

8:25 pm, March 28, 2008

Blogger bob said...

The odious Jennifer Jones, one of the signatories of that letter, is standing in the GLA elections tomorrow. See here

5:52 pm, April 30, 2008

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