Lembit Opik is a former NUS NEC Member and current Lib Dem politician and has been welcomed by NUS as a guest speaker for conference 2011. Opik begins by saying it is an honor to return but a shame that his party let so many Students down. Opik began, “I pay tribute to every single one of you to come to Gateshead to talk about these issues and i hope you carry on being involved in politics long after.”
Lembit Opik, runner up of NUS President on two occasions created the original block of twelve, now developed into the block of fifteen. More recently, Opik lost his seat in may 2010 and spoke of the pain in loosing but how it is important to have wilderness years and to look at things from an outside perspective. He said, “the lens of power distorted the view for some of my colleagues. I didn’t expect anything from conservatives but I expected more from the Lib Dems.”
“When you sign a pledge and promise it to the entire student population of the united kingdom, the least you can do is be expected to keep it”, this was followed by a resounding cheer from the conference floor.
Opik went on to speak about the damage that has been done to the relationship between the government and the student population. He believes that what is needed is to start rebuilding a relationship that is heavily abused.
Gathering cheers and support from the conference floor, Opik went on to state his plans for the future. “As an individual, I will do all I can to try and create an alternative grouping.”, he continued, “If we don’t make higher and further education affordable, the country will pay far more in the long run. What is wrong with the country when they think that the entire value of education can be measured by your income when you graduate?”
Opik finished with encouraging NUS students to never give up and never surrender. “It might not look like a great time right now, but its better to be outside looking up with pride than inside and looking down with shame.”. He told students to add him on Facebook and to invite him to their universities and colleges to continue fighting to make the 21st century a better and more peaceful place to live. He reiterated that it would be an honor to play his part.
By Beth Bridewell