Has the NUS finally gone too far?
All tyrants, petty or otherwise, eventually go too far and overextend their vast authority. Maybe they get cocky. Maybe they surround themselves with so many Yes Men that they lose the pulse of the people. But inevitably, somehow or other, they will at some point find themselves overextended, and see their exalted position threatened as a consequence.
It is delightful to see such a thing now happening to the National Union of Students, that censorious, moralising platform for embryonic leftist politicians and demagogues, which long ago gave up any pretence at advocating for students, preferring to exercise paranoid control over them instead.
Now, some students are fighting back. A number of smart, more liberty-minded students have realised that since most Student Unions derive their democratic “legitimacy” from a vanishingly small slice of their respective student populations, it should be relatively easy to mount a small insurgency of their own to topple the Social Justice and Identity Politics cultists in charge, and make their local unions work for the students rather than simply trying to control their thoughts, behaviour and speech.
Hence the brilliant NUS disaffiliation campaigns now springing up at campuses around the country.
Spiked’s Tom Slater reports in The Spectator:
In a move that has left student union politicos across the country clinging to their therapy dogs, the University of Lincoln Students’ Union has voted to disaffiliate from the NUS. Springing from the new, anti-NUS sentiment that is brewing on campuses across the country, Lincoln students voted 881 to 804 to leave.
This was a big breakthrough, putting wind in the sails of disaffiliation campaigns currently being fought at York, Oxford, Exeter and Manchester. And though this was all sparked by the election of new NUS president Malia Bouattia – the overgrown student fond of waxing lyrical about the ‘zionist-led media’ – the gulf between NUS leadership and its members has been growing for years.
After Lincoln’s vote, outgoing NUS president Megan Dunn said she was ‘sorry this decision was made by such a small number of students’. Which was a bit rich, seeing as she was elected in 2015 by a whopping 413 NUS delegates, and turnout at campus NUS elections – which select those delegates – is notoriously low.
Lincoln’s vote is significant. Not least because so many felt so detached from the NUS they didn’t even turn out to vote. And, in an interesting twist, Lincoln SU’s own president appeared to approve of the move, telling the Independent that ‘for some time… the NUS has been far removed from the issues our students tell us are important’.
And now Newcastle University has followed suit:
Newcastle University Students’ Union (NUSU) has become the second to announce it is to disaffiliate from the National Union of Students (NUS) following a controversial National Conference in Brighton last month.
The move has come as a double blow for the national student campaigner after Lincoln University announced on Monday it, too, will be breaking away from the NUS at the end of the year.
NUSU confirmed on Thursday that 1,469 total votes had been cast in the referendum by Newcastle University students, with a majority of 67 per cent voting in favour of disaffiliation.
Brilliant. While this blog contends that the power and influence now wielded by the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics can only be truly broken when those with most authority – professors and university administrators – finally rediscover their backbone and begin to defend academic freedom and free speech rights, it is heartening to once again see students in the vanguard of the resistance.
For in truth, it is in the interests of almost no students – save the Identity Politics priests who derive power and influence from policing the culture of their institutions and the behaviour of their peers – to allow the NUS to continue along its present, authoritarian path. As Tom Slater argues in The Spectator, students deserve local unions which fight for their interests as students, rather than a union which wastes its time fighting a culture war and playing off different groups of students against one other based on an arbitrary judgement over how “oppressed” they happen to be.
The growing NUS disaffiliation movement should be encouraged and helped to spread like wildfire, burning through the rotten foundations and (ideally) causing the whole organisation to topple. And now is the time to strike, when the enemy is dangerously overextended, making very specific and highly controversial claims (pro-censorship and the identity politics agenda) on behalf of all students when in fact they speak only for a small but noisy illiberal minority.
First Lincoln, then Newcastle. Who will be next to throw off the puritanical, totalitarian shackles of the National Union of Students?
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Disaffiliation: there’s a word that brings back a few memories for me.
As a student in the early 1980s I was involved with a campaign to disaffiliate our local students’ union from the NUS. Unfortunately we lost, due to a combination of student apathy and disinformation by the pro-NUS side. Among other things, they claimed the union would have to close if it disaffiliated. So I’m glad to hear the students at Lincoln and Newcastle have been more successful than we were, and wish them well with their new-found independence.
More generally, my involvement with student politics taught me that students tend to be more left-wing than the general population – but not that much so. But the leftists had an impact out of proportion to their numbers by their endurance. They were willing to sit through meetings until late in the night, long after the more moderate students had got tired, given up and gone home. As a result, when it came to a vote, their opinions prevailed, even when they did not reflect the majority of the students.
Hmm, rampant scaremongering and resorting to lies and misinformation about an impending apocalypse – almost sounds like another, non-student related campaign taking place right now 😉
Shocking, though, the extent to which the NUS went to scupper your own disaffiliation campaign back in the 1980s. I think the NUS leaders know that they are sitting on a powder keg irritation and fury with the direction in which they drag their organisation, and that allowing just a few dominos to fall (in terms of local unions disaffiliating) could cause a chain reaction. Perhaps especially in this uniquely anti-establishment times (and yes, censorious student behaviour monitors in the NUS are definitely an ideological wing of the establishment).