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student newspaper stereotypes, by Nick Paton Walsh

London Student Staff

 

 

The National Union of Students: an apology (kind of)

THIS NEWSPAPER, IN COMMON WITH ALL others, may have inadvertently given the impression that the National Union of Students was a bloated, overly bureaucratic organisation which squandered millions of pounds on advancing the careers of cynical Blairite Stepford children without an ounce of political nous or conscience between them, and was incapable of organising a piss up in a brewery or hitting a barn door with a banjo.

We now recognise that, in the wake of a genuinely successful series of demonstrations against tuition fees, NUS probably could organise the brewery gig. But the jury's still out on everything else.

Credit where credit's due: our national union has genuinely been doing quite a good job since July's release of the Dearing Committee report. Suddenly, overnight, the union stopped acting like the government's chief apologists in the education sector and started to fight back. Better late than never, we say. Others even more cynical than us postulate that the whole thing's a charade - that NUS President Douglas Trainer doesn't mean a single word of it and he's just providing some entirely fake opposition for the sake of being seen to do something.

It's nonsense, but the fact is that there's a lot of sympathy among the student community with the view that NUS has, before July's Damascene conversion, been at least partly responsible for the fees row kicking off in the first place. After all, accepting the principle of the abolition of grants before any government had actually proposed it was fairly stupid: the political equivalent of writing 'WELCOME' over your chest and lying down in the front door at Number Ten.

But the proper time and place for making Labour Students pay for their ineptitude is April, and at NUS Conference in Blackpool. Unions like Leeds', trying right now to organise an emergency conference to oust Trainer and company, are equally in the wrong at this moment in time. Any political activity by any student union which is not directly related to fighting the new Education Bill is a criminal waste of time, energy and - worst of all - students' money. It's us that's paying for these people, after all.


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