January 27, 2006

Oh dear, it's election season

I remember last years general election, which was accompanied with a series of thoughtful, intelligent entries on Warwick Blogs.

I also remember last years student elections, which caused around 1000 Wacky Madcap Bastards™ to either dress up in funny costumes, invent side-splittingly awful slogans, or otherwise generally devalue an already petty process.

Already this year I've seen an Ali G (full marks for cultural relevance in 2006), but worse still I've seen some joker who Warwick Young Conservatives (ever charitable) have let be their official candidate. He pledges to listen to the students, which apparently hasn't been done this year. As well as listening to "da yoof" (the demographic that the Conservatives wish to target), he pledges to support the government on top up fees and the university on its zero tolerance policy concerning cannabis.

Um, that doesnt sound like listening to the students very much.


- 11 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. hetty Wainthrop

    "which was accompanied with a series of thoughtful, intelligent entries on Warwick Blogs"

    I don't believe that, I don't think there's ever been thoughtful, intelligent entries on warwick blogs

    27 Jan 2006, 18:21

  2. Barry the Baptist

    infact your mistaken. there have been plenty of thougtful, intelligent entries on warwick blogs. its the comments that is letting the side down

    27 Jan 2006, 19:05

  3. thomas d

    At least he's standing – where are the other parties' candidates?

    27 Jan 2006, 21:53

  4. Whingebag

    "I don't think there's ever been thoughtful, intelligent entries on warwick blogs"

    But there's always plenty of embittered old Sabbs around to moan about how much they hated the place…

    27 Jan 2006, 21:54

  5. At least he's standing – where are the other parties' candidates?

    This is hardly an election that needs to be/should be fought on party lines.

    27 Jan 2006, 22:12

  6. Seems feasible that the some of the principles a political party stands for could apply to the running of a university. I see the clash between saying you'll listen to the student body, then proposing ideas which go against the general consensus. Still, it’s not a strict contradiction if students in general have conflicting desires. For example, the support of tuition fees may be a response to demand for a better library, better quality staff and a general improvement in the competitiveness of British universities. Whether tuition fees are the best way to satisfy those desires is up for question.

    27 Jan 2006, 23:35

  7. Dave Sparrow

    I think it's fine political parties standing in these elections, at least you know what you're voting for whereas these vague "I'll represent you" type candidates mean very little. How are you going to represent me? Who are you going to listen to, the first person who comes to you, the person who comes to you the most or your own ideas which you didn't write down for fear of losing votes?

    Being Apolitical is a very political statement.

    27 Jan 2006, 23:54

  8. thomas d

    This is hardly an election that needs to be/should be fought on party lines.

    Union elections always used to be fought by party political candidates – then some independent came along and started a fad thats lasted 20 years !!!!

    I agree with Iyobosa, why shouldnt party politics apply to the union as well as on a larger level?

    btw, Damian King is also standing as a party candidate – Respect – for Deputy President.

    28 Jan 2006, 00:16

  9. Personally I feel that standing as a candidate for a political party is primarily a move to attract the votes of those who would vote for the party at a general election. This isn't particularly helpful or relevant when it comes to university politics, although the value of university politics itself has taken a bit of a battering recently at this university. If a candidate wants to adopt the policies of a particular party then they're free to do so, but I don't see the neccesity of actually standing as the candidate of that party, other than to attract votes.

    The attractiveness of this as a vote winner is obvious, but I don't like it. To me it just reinforces the notion of the student elections as a situation where students play at being politicians.

    I agree though that vague, "I'll be good yeah I'll help students and be good innit" types don't exactly add anything to the proceedings either.

    28 Jan 2006, 00:31

  10. Bill Rees

    Hmm, 6 comments had been made before I wrote this, and now it is on 9 oh well here is an answer anyway:

    One reason I am standing is to generate a little bit of interest in party politics, and if my candidacy on party political grounds is already being talked about (even if it is in jest) it is beginning to achieve a desired outcome, and there are still 7 days to go!

    It is true that Warwick University is rather apolitical – I think if you added up membership of political party societies on campus you could probably get to a figure of about 100. However, I would say 2 things in response; firstly I am informed that this is a recent phenomenon – during and before the early 90s the president of the SU used to be elected on party lines and membership of all political parties on campus were in the several hundreds; secondly many other universities elect their presidents on party lines.

    It is very easy to understand what someone's fundamental principles are when they stand for a political party. People will understand that a Conservative looks for market based solutions to problems, while a Labourite looks for government solutions… people will understand that Conservatives believe strongly in the proper enforcement of law and order and the rule of law whilst Labour believe the emphasis more on tackling inequality through redistribution as an attempt to stop people committing crimes. etc. So to apply that to union politics, take the example I have set out – when it comes to the issue of drugs people will understand that I believe that to remove illegal drugs from our campus we must set very strict guidelines (by supporting the university) to give people a proper disincentive not to take drugs…. and so on.

    On the issue of top up fees: Our higher education system is in financial crisis in a big way. We can stop the increased number of people going to university (but that isn’t going to happen with this gov), we can increase taxes (but they are too high already and higher taxes would add extra strain to this flagging economy causing the economy to virtually stop growing resulting in less tax revenue and hence lower spending on higher education in the long run), or we can introduce top up fees. Top up fees are the only serious viable option, and they do not contradict the principle of fairness because there will be bursaries available for people from less privileged backgrounds. Furthermore they will provide at least part of the extra boost needed for universities to catch-up with the excellent quality of education students achieve in Ivy League Universities. More importantly to my campaign however, top-up fees are already on the statute books, so every second we spend campaigning against them is a second that the union could have spent addressing issues which it could have an effect on. It would be better to work with the government and the university on top up fees to ensure the best possible solution for students is achieved within the legislated framework.

    On another point raised, if I were union president I would listen to the students, and if I was elected on the ticket of anti-drugs, pro top up fees, pro-environment etc I would have a mandate to carry out those policies! I would also spend much time listening to students on the day to day issues such as welfare, education, union pricing etc.

    Ok, I don't expect to win (this is supposed to be Red Warwick after all). The last time someone stood on a Conservative ticket was in 2003, Simon Baker, and he achieved 40 votes and lost to RON by 5. However I do believe the number of Conservative minded people on campus will have grown somewhat and I reckon we will have made progress if we can get 80; and furthermore we will have achieved our goals if people talk just a tiny bit more about party politics as a result of this rather jolly campaign.

    28 Jan 2006, 00:58

  11. The reason most candidates for Union positions don't stand as representatives of political parties is that those who do never win. The only time I remember someone standing for an uncontested position being rejected (Re-Open Nominations or RON won) was when they stood as a party member. This doesn't mean that those who stand are necessarily apolitical or not members of political parties. It's not that unusual for a candidate to stand, and to tell anyone who asks what their political views are, and win in a situation where the same candidate, who stood on the same platform, but as the candidate of a political party would loose.

    Whilst I'm a very political person (I'm only not a member of a party because there isn't currently one I could stomach joining), I don't really think this is a bad thing. If we had candidates standing on party lines we would basically have our Union Officers being picked by whichever was the most popular political party amongst students who bother voting in Union Elections. I do think it would be much better if more candidates actualy made clear what their political views were when they stood, as these views can frequently effect the decisions they take in post, but I'm well aware that doing so would probably loose votes.

    28 Jan 2006, 13:22


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