Along with voting on NUS policy, the other major role of National Conference is to elect the leaders that will carry through and realise those policies.
Below are my feelings on and preference for the candidates standing this year.
These are pretty much based solely off how the candidates present themselves in their manifestos, and so most of what is written below is instinctual, stream-of-consciousness, subject to change, open to challenge etc.
Your feedback is particularly welcome here, so for any objections or suggestions, comment below or email me at email@example.com
For an intro/recap on Conference in general + all the motions click here.
For the Education Zone motions summary click here.
For the Society & Citizenship Zone motions summary click here.
For the Union Development Zone motions summary click here
For the Welfare Zone motions summary click here
For the AGM proposals summary click here
Note: Will update this/check for coherency when I wake up, hold tight.
Hit em up as well if you feel strongly about particular candidates or their intentions.
The positions up for election are:
President, Vice President (Further Education), Vice President (Higher Education), Vice President (Union Development), Vice President (Welfare), Vice President (Society & Citizenship)
-Samuel Gaus (Inanimate Carbon Rod)
I’ll be voting Vicki Baars for President.
Foremost, Vicki stands with the principles of free and funded education/anti-cuts but she also dedicates a decent amount of her manifesto to her commitment to leadership accountability, honesty and cooperation and so avoids coming off as just an ideologue.
While they seem pretty evenly matched on credentials and experience within NUS and the student movement, Vicki comes out over Toni for me simply because she highlights the issues facing UK education and promises action against them through a campaigning NUS.
Toni has a solid and cohesive vision for the role of students and education in society in the long-term, and while what she says is appealing her manifesto is distinctly lacking on an action plan – while she correctly identifies that just having the NUS campaign against issues rather than for an objective is myopic, her overlooking the need for a robust campaigning NUS in this current climate is concerning.
If she expects that she can hope to realise any or all of her vision without directly confronting the barriers put in place by recent governments, then that at best indicates a political naiveté that would likely be her undoing. At worst it predicts what would be the NUS’ further undoing, in another student leader consigned to a legacy of unrealised ambitions and another year wasted on meagre concessions.
Peter Smallwood’s manifesto is even more devoid of action – his general favour for a more representative and inclusive NUS and locally-minded Unions might work (might have worked) on the level he’s worked on so far, but is not befitting of a National President right now.
Vice President (FE):
Edit: Have had clarification that as a HE delegate I can’t vote for the FE position anyway.
I’m undecided here.
In terms of the basic criteria all the candidates identify the issues of funding support facing FE learners, the bias towards HE by NUS and government, the problem of non-engagement with FE Unions within NUS, the unique problems facing Apprentices, and all commit to campaigning for better funding.
Roshni seems to have a more established and systematic strategy to address these issues individually, which goes beyond the Bring Back EMA campaign that Matt focuses much of his manifesto on in favour of comprehensive financial support and FE Union development.
Matt seems to be pressing Liberation aspects more though, bringing up the issues of Racism and Fascism against students and the disproportionality of welfare cuts on disadvantaged groups, linking that to a more outward-looking approach to FE education that the other two lack.
Joe again brings focus to the FE sector more specifically and mentions the structures and measures he would implement to improve it.
Will need to hear more from the candidates at Conference but seems to be between Roshni and Matt for me.
Vice President (HE):
I’m voting Naomi.
Her manifesto is direct and runs on a platform of anti-fees/cuts and comprehensive Liberation and anti-discrimination – supporting diversity in academia to full-time Liberation Sabbatical officers – as well defending protest rights and staff redundancies and postgraduate work conditions.
Whilst she doesn’t go to lengths to describe her specific plans, her understanding of the issues facing the HE sector is evident in the range of her aims, and this is a holistic understanding that should lend itself well to a strong HE campaign by NUS next year.
Tomas’ manifesto shows he is clearly aware and knowledgeable about the problems facing HE too, and he spends most of it illustrating them in a pretty discursive style, but we’re left with very little in terms of plans or strategy beyond a cliche vision of Union militancy.
So, poetic in its prose; bit prosaic in its vision.
Rachel has the experience as VP Education 2012-13 behind her but fails to identify much of a cohesive or principled action plan either, and her work last seems to follow a pattern of small achievements (not insignificant) over more macro gains; this approach has its merits but I reckon the NUS needs to move beyond this next year.
Vice President (Union Development):
I’ll be voting James McAsh for this position, his manifesto stands clearly above Raechel’s and he has a reputation that precedes him here.
The two candidates here seem pretty distinct in their visions of what Union Development is – James has ideas to develop Unions in structure and democratic process to be better representative of their membership, including fully autonomous Unions; Raechel is more concerned with how Unions as institutions can develop their membership through student activities and training.
James’ approach seems more appropriate for a National position, and given all the issues with the General Meeting we’ve been having this year his guidance would be welcome.
Vice President (Welfare):
-Al Hussein Abutaleb
I’m undecided here.
Al Hussein and Rosie both put a particular emphasis on Liberation, which is a necessity for the Welfare Zone; Al Hussein rightly extends that out to the struggles of International students currently but otherwise neither of the two differentiate themselves well beyond that.
Colum takes a different approach by focusing on housing and healthcare as the primary issues of student welfare. No doubt they’re important, but I still think Liberation should be a primary concern for Welfare officers, so Colum would only get my 3rd preference.
Vice President (Society and Citizenship):
I’m voting Shereen here.
Dom’s approach to Society & Citizenship appears to be very literal, and he seems to be more experienced and most concerned with getting the NUS to support social justice and allowing grassroots activity to blossom, while taking a more holistic approach to student integration in society.
Shereen is more direct and picks out racism, austerity and political policing as the issues that NUS needs to fight against to allow students to function as active citizens within society.
Dom seems more suitable for local governance, Shereen more suitable for NUS.