“Only one candidate can be the next NUS National President, but they all want to win” the voice blares out the tannoy. The candidates adopt their places, firmly in the spotlight. As introductions go, Liam Burns probably musters the greatest reception.
Q1. What 1 thing has NUS done wrong in the last year?
Thomas Byrne: Has been to friendly with Labour party and argues to much focus on direct action as well as oppossing hike in tuitin fees (get massive boos)
Shane Chowen: Percieved position which started at Millbank. NUS appeared to condemn those that occupied, which was not neccessarily correct. We need a fresh start in this movement.
Mark Bergfeld: It stated when Porter called 5,000 a dispicable minority. That was not violence. The violence is from the police. What is a few broken windows at the Ritz compared to £9,000 tuition fees. Error on Nov 10, failed to put resources in but had glowstick vigil for 2000 students. Ignored his proposal on that day.
Liam Burns: Smashed windows lost us support from swathes of the public (biggest cheers yet). The problem is that we treated radical action as disconnected. Next mistake, decoupled how student is funded from how institution is funded. Finally, in danger of turning clever bluff into dangerous tatic. Should not let fall into trap of value for money in sports etc.
Q 2: How would you justify that working class worker should subsidise middle class student
SC:It is a universal good. HE is not for the priveliged few. It is for a community of learner for people to come together.
MB: You have right to education for your life. We need to put forward no cuts whatsoever.
LB: HE is not a burden, it is a whopping advantage. I fully back a graduate tax. It is not universal system. It is not the NHS.
TB: Wants a system that works for students. Liam who works in Scotland has worst dropout rate.
Q3. How are you going to deal with policy makers.
MB: David Willets was going to do a radio debate with me but refused. We should have not negotiations with the Tories at all. If you do then you have given in. Why should be begging on our knees, begging to these millionaire scumbags? I think what I have put forward here is a common sense argument.
LB: I have no time for people telling me that sitting round a negotiation table does not do good for students but we have been too quick to slam door in faces of those that practice direct action. Need to spend less time arguing in pages of the Guardian.
TB: We did not get in there on the negotiating table and now we are paying the price. If I am President then I will be on the negotiating table at every opportunity.
SC: Does not think it would have won EMA concessions. We cannot stand outside with our principled opposition. It is not enough to save jobs. We need to be on negotiating table and be on streets when time is right too. We need both.