Socialist Worker

Plans to gut NUS democracy are scuppered at conference

by Rob Owen, NUS executive (pc)
Issue No. 2095

The right wing project to 'reform' the National Union of Students (NUS) into oblivion was defeated yesterday when its backers failed to win the necessary two thirds support for the plan at the NUS's national conference.

The defeated NUS 'governance review' proposed that the union be gutted of its democratic structures and transformed from a campaigning organisation into a 'professional' lobbying group.

These constitutional changes were originally forced through at a highly undemocratic extraordinary NUS conference last year.

But they required ratification by two thirds of elected delegates at the NUS's national conference. In the event the right narrowly failed to secure this, pulling in 692 votes in favour versus 355 against.

This is a significant blow for the right wing that has left them demoralised and reeling. It comes at a time when students are radicalising, with grassroots movements springing up on campuses against war, racism, climate change and many other issues.

The defeat of the governance review opens the door for the left to fight to integrate these new movements on campuses into the structures of the national union.

Left wing students, organised through Student Respect, and Muslim students involved in the anti-war movement have been central to this new radicalisation.

This was reflected in the NUS vote, with delegates from Student Respect and the Federation of Student Islamic Societies being central to defeating the governance review.

Nevertheless the closeness of the vote shows that there is no room for complacency on the left.

There is a lot of work for student activists to do to ensure the political transformation that is taking place on campuses begins to have a real impact on the national union and beyond.

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Article information

Wed 2 Apr 2008, 13:16 BST
Issue No. 2095
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