Note the views of the NUS Womens’ Officer (taken via Twitter last night): “Was busy sorting out quotes by Muslim women student leaders, but then got dragged back into the mess that awl and ncfac have created. Contrary to what their BS website says NUS Black Students Campaign stands in solidarity with Kurdish people against ISIS. This was made clear at the meeting, and progress in forming different motion with Kurdish students have been in motion. Whats on the NCAFC website is lies and slander and is hurting people. Stop quoting it as fact and for pete’s sake do journalism properly.”
On the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts website former ULU Vice President Daniel Cooper published a critical reaction to the day of discussion at the NUS.
Cooper wrote: “The motion then fell as large numbers of NEC members either abstained or voted against (including the bulk of the political left on NEC). I think this says a lot about the current state of the student movement.”
He added: “There is a stranglehold of ‘identity politics’ on the student movement… essentially the idea is widespread that if a liberation officer opposes something, it must be bad.”
The controversy surrounds a motion that advocated a show of solidarity with the Iraqis and Kurds whose lands are currently being occupied by medieval extremists with Twitter accounts. You can read the unedited motion here (yeah it’s the Tab but it’s the best I’ve got).
Malia Bouattia, NUS Black Students’ Officer, who led a bloc to oppose the motion, said: “We stand in complete solidarity with the Kurdish people against the recent attacks by ISIS and join many others in condemnation of their brutal actions.”
“In doing so we recognise that condemnation of ISIS appears to have become a justification for war and blatant Islamaphobia. This rhetoric exacerbates the issue at hand and in essence is a further attack on those we aim to defend.”
“The NUS Black Students’ Campaign will be working with Kurdish students and the International Students Campaign to raise this issue within the NUS. A motion will be taken to the next NUS National Executive which truly reflects the situation.”
“This motion will pose a condemnation of the politics and methods of ISIS as well as unequivocal support for the Kurdish people. It will in no way pander to Western imperialistic intervention or the demonisation of Muslim peoples.”
The motion was voted down.
I take no joy in writing that this is, without question, the final disaster for the NUS – rounding a series of catastrophes that began long-before I enrolled as a student in the autumn of 2011.
The NUS, allegedly composed of liberals, recently banned Ukip members from speaking at its events. True liberals would challenge its circus show views, not cower behind the curtain of censorship. Toxic rhetoric, at the behest of its wisest, has turned student politics into something of a niche; a glorified playground clique in which only those who prescribe to a highly refined form of leftthink could hope to infiltrate.
It must be made clear, however, that under the strong leadership of Toni Pearce the NUS was looking towards effectively engaging the student vote ahead of the next General Election. Writing in the Times Higher Education in September, the president hinted the student movement must shift its tone in order to motivate the disillusioned youth whose faith in politics had been smashed by the lies of Westminster bureaucrats. She changed my views on the NUS. Yes. We shared the same objectives. I became optimistic. Until last night.
Now, in the eyes of students reading such sensationalised headlines as NUS refuses to condemn ISIS terrorists… because it’s ‘Islamophobic’, any hint of progress has been soiled, with a smile at that.
It isn’t quite as straightforward. But in its fruitless effort to uphold a set of moral standards with which many on the left would struggle to find issue, the NUS has not only thrown away any traces of credibility that it once retained but has set the course for its own capitulation.
A dangerous mixture of the deluded, the self-gratifying, the ideologically-uncompromising, the power-mad, have commandeered this once vital cog of the student movement, and turned it into a rancid caricature of the out-of-touch organisation that could have, until now, relied on the innocence of anonymity to excuse itself from its shortcomings.
An extremist faction, akin to those that perpetuate the very worst of Stop the War’s rhetoric, have spat from its dainty conference halls an inexcusably damaging stance that aids no cause but to fuel the responsibility-free self-righteousness of those involved.
Why am I so angry? Many would fairly point out the implications of the motion are null; that the controversy is non-existent beyond a bubble propped up by student politics fanatics such as myself. They would be correct. From a purely objective position, neither passing nor blocking this meaningless piece of legislation would do anything for the Yazidis, the Kurds, the Iraqis, the Syrians, being butchered and pillaged and raped.
But those who pride themselves on flaunting a particularly potent strain of non-negotiable non-interventionism, as intelligent and influential as they are, must recognise that the situation in the Middle East, independent of its cause, demands urgent action from those with power to eliminate the threat of harm to those without, regardless of the way in which such power manifests, or how it was attained.
The most conflict-reluctant President in modern US history has brought together an unlikely coalition of over sixty sovereign nations; has united the Middle East for the first time in over thousands of years of internal dispute; together with the West; to fight a ruthless death cult that plagues the world’s most beautiful and culturally-rich planes. The NUS would cling to its morals.
That these individuals can maintain any shred of influence is debatable. That these individuals have the audacity to insist on representing the UK’s 2.5 million students is reprehensible.
The plausible deniability of being ‘out-of-touch’ is no longer any straw this bestial Duma can snatch at, as it flings itself off the cliff of rational thinking. But its fall will not shake the earth. Such is the microscopic significance of the NUS, most students better identify this damned contingent by the Extra cards they carry in their back pockets. I’m angry because students need a legitimate political union to represent their needs when politicians continue to refuse. Barely a soul knows this far left fringe even exists – and they’re better for it.