What is happening at the next NUS National Executive Council (NEC)?
Next Wednesday, the 4th March, the NUS National Executive Council meets in London at the Unison trade union HQ for its fourth meeting of the 2014/15 academic year. NCAFC NEC member Daniel Cooper gives a breakdown of the motions.
What are the motions that are being put to the national council? Dear reader, I won’t include every motion in this summary and I won’t comment on each of them. For the full NEC documents, which include NUS full-time officer reports, see the document below.
I shall write a report after the meeting, which will consolidate thoughts on the last December 2014 meeting.
There are two separate groups of motions: firstly, motions that NEC will submit to National Conference 2015, and, secondly, ‘regular’ motions to be debated at NEC.
- NEC motions to National Conference
“A New Politics for the Next Generation”
The National President, Toni Pearce, submits to national conference that “there are just 16 days left until a verdict on the current coalition government will be given at the general election on Thursday 7th May 2015.”
On the current government, Pearce states that “it has since presided over growing inequality and intolerance” for which it should be “condemned”.
Pearce’s remedy to the challenge is that “we need a New Deal for the Next Generation.”
The motion puts forward a series of proposals:
“In the new Parliament, work with those who commit to and deliver significant political reform – including a right of recall, online voting and extensive devolution to the nations and within England.”
“To ensure all students and young people are eligible and registered to vote for every future election; delivering Votes at 16, citizenship education and integrated voter registration.”
Moreover, it resolves that “within six months of the election of the new Parliament, (to) hold a national lobby of politicians at all levels, taking our demands for political reform to the very centre of power.”
Shreya Paudel, the NUS International Students’ Officer, proposes a motion entitled ‘European Union’. The motion is supported by the entirety of the “leadership” of NUS, that is, the political ‘right’ of NEC and the student movement.
The motion contends that “the UK should remain a member of the EU to promote universal human rights, peace, stability and free movement within the EU and around the world.” And, furthermore, for NUS “to campaign for the UK to remain a member of the EU in any EU referendum.”
I agree that NUS should campaign for the UK to remain in the EU. However, the motion is forgiving of the EU institutions and its policies. The EU is a highly undemocratic structure serving the interests of the wealthy in society, as shown recently by its “negotiations” with Greece. That is because of the nature of the states and governments that constitute the EU. I would suggest that withdrawal from the EU wouldn’t necessarily solve those problems. Instead we need to fight to level up social provision and rights across Europe, for the replacement of bureaucratic institutions with democratic ones, and for a united Europe serving the interests of the majority.
I had hoped to put an amendment to the motion but it turns out that one cannot amend NEC motions to National Conference. I’m unsure as to why this is.
‘Black students are not the problem, institutional racism is’
Malia Bouattia, the NUS Black Students’ Officer advises in the motion that “the ethnicity attainment gap is a national crisis which in reality, begins the second a Black child enters the education system.”
Bouattia also indicates the following:
“All this is coupled with the fact that Black communities are dealing with being 7 times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police, and even killed in police custody5, 50% youth unemployment, and an overrepresentation in prisons and psychiatric wards.”
She argues, rightly in my view, that the Black students campaign should be “adequately support(ed) by allocating funding to research and produce regular briefings and reports into the attainment gap “.
- Regular NEC Motions
I, and other NEC motions, have proposed a series of motions.
This is a clarion call for NUS UK to support the Greek social movements and working class. It notes the response of such movements to the vicious austerity of the last five years in which “workers, students and others organised a huge wave of struggles between 2010 and 2013, including numerous general strikes, militant direct action and mass occupations of city squares.”
The motion recognises that “the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn has also burgeoned since 2010, has carried out repeated violent attacks on migrants and its opponents on the left, and came third in the last election.”
Lastly, it believes that we should make “solidarity with the student and workers’ movements in Greece, including by demanding that Greece’s (and other poor countries’) debt is cancelled so the Greek government can carry out the will of those who elected it by ending austerity. We must oppose attempts to expel Greece from the Euro or EU if it refuses to back down.”
The motion acknowledges that “Saudi blogger Raif Badawi has been sentenced to ten years in prison and a thousand lashes for criticising the Saudi government.”
Additionally, that the British government “is very friendly with the Saudi regime because of “business interests”, particularly oil.”. It ultimately advocates for NUS to “condemn the imprisonment and flogging of Badawi and demand his immediate release and the dropping of all charges.”
“Continuing the fight for free education”
The motion notes “the huge success of the National Demo for Free Education on November 19 2014 that had a turnout of over 10,000”.
It remarks on the prospective government’s proposals for higher education that “the Labour Party’s proposal of a graduate tax would be inadequate in solving the problems of education funding and would lead to students continuing with a life of debt”.
It appeals to NUS to “support the National Demo in March taking place in Birmingham, being held to protest the inadequacies offered by the Labour Party and to put pressure on them to have a free education position that includes living grants for all students”.
“Wales and Northern Ireland need a postgraduate loan system”
The motion starts by noting “the recent announcement in the Autumn statement by the UK Government proposed the introduction of loans of up to £10’000 for students domiciled in England studying postgraduate courses anywhere in the UK.”
Additionally, the “current independent review into education funding and student support (also known as the Diamond Review) is currently examining postgraduate education funding as part of its terms of reference.”
It resolves to “lobby for a flexible financial arrangement for devolved nations to allow the respective government to introduce a complementary postgraduate loan system. “
The postgraduate students’ officer, Sai Englert, has a motion offering unity with the Mexican student movement, which has faced horrific attacks over the recent period.
Mexico, he states, is “in the middle of a humanitarian crisis; since 2006, at least 22,000 people have disappeared and in roughly 40% of these cases there was no criminal investigation.”. He notes “the recent disappearance was of 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Teaching School on the 26th of September 2014. It is clear that the students were abducted by the police and handed to criminal cartel organisations.”.
Full NEC documents: