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30 January 2008

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Student elections: Not just a 'beauty contest'!

Students can't go anywhere in February and March without being bombarded by people handing out leaflets, with 'Vote for Robbo' or 'Sharon for Pres' on their t-shirts, not to mention the odd person dressed as a furry animal.

Iain Dalton, Bangor Socialist Students

Yes, it's student elections time. This is a time for student union people to crawl out of their hiding places and attempt to talk to students. Desperate for votes, they try everything from free sweets to outright harassment!

Nonetheless most students don't bother to vote at this stage. Why should they? Many candidates don't talk about the real issues such as tuition fees, rip-off accommodation and course cuts.

Instead manifestos typically consist of pledges to be fair and to listen. But in my experience they all say that and nothing changes.

For Socialist Students, elections are not only an opportunity to challenge for leadership of student unions. We contrast our ideas to those of the right wing and build support for our campaigns.

Our approach is different to that of the careerists who often run student unions. Our manifestos put forward demands that address the real needs of students, emphasising the fight for free education as well as important local issues.

The most important thing for us is to explain our ideas and put forward a strategy for building a student movement which can defend education from cuts and privatisation.

Elections can mean there is an increase in students thinking about how the student unions are run and, on the basis of our leaflets and posters explaining what we stand for, some students will campaign with Socialist Students. We can also put pressure on the union to campaign more when they see our support.

Canvassing halls of residence can be quite scary at first, but it gives you an opportunity to discuss issues with students where they feel comfortable. Holding a public meeting on your main campaign can be useful too.

Make sure the meeting is advertised on your election materials. Hustings or candidate question times are an opportunity to challenge other candidates' ideas.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 30 January 2008:

End this market madness

No more school closures!


Education

Teachers' union calls strike ballot on pay

Anti-war protests save teachers

Labour councillors anger parents and tenants


Socialist Party news and analysis

New Labour attacking our vital benefits

Incapacity benefit cuts hit the sick

Hain resigns but stink of sleaze remains


International socialist news and analysis

Jail break from Gaza

Suharto: "One of the 20th century's biggest killers and greatest thieves"

US elections: The Barak Obama mirage


Socialist Party NHS campaign

NHS in crisis


Debt and Housing Feature

Debt and housing slowdown threaten Britain's time bomb economy


Socialist Students

Student elections: Not just a 'beauty contest'!

College students seek socialist ideas

Reality of London students' debt trap

More foo than fight as rockers agree to cross picket line


Marxist analysis: history

How Hitler came to power


Global Warming

Global warming, climate change and human activities - Part 2


Socialist Party workplace news

Burslem postal workers march back to work

Giving the real facts on Burslem strike

National Shop Stewards Network meetings

Police march for pay

PCS suspends strikes


 

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Related links:

Students:

triangleYork students demand democratic control of schools

trianglePimlico Academy protest demands elected governors

triangleUniversity funding reform: Fight for free, fully funded education for all

triangleStudents and unions must resist misnamed 'free speech' bill

triangleAction marks the way for a national student movement for free education

Socialist Students:

triangleStudents in action: Protest on 21 April

trianglePolice invade student homes

triangleBuild for the day of action on 21 April

Article dated 30 January 2008

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