February 10, 2008

TOMMO is the next President

“Tommo” Stuart Thomson is your next student President. With 1712 votes, he managed to beat all his other contenders in round one of the elections. Tommo managed to trounce Peter Ptashko’s “Nuts about Students” campaign with high profile publicity in places ranging from posters in buses to signs on roads. As a result, Ptashko, who’s this year’s current Union Education Officer ended up with just over half the votes Tommo received – 972. The other contenders, James Berragan – “The Right ‘Direction” and Phillip Woolley were much further behind with 290 and 267 votes respectively. Although an exit poll carried out by RaW indicated that Tommo was going to comfortably win, the size of his margin was not expected. In fact, he managed to poll more votes than the other three candidates put together, testament to a vigorous campaign. In the interview with RaW after his win, he said that that the campaign had been draining and he defended his election literature on the need to publicise himself.

However, Tommo who is this year’s President of Warwicksnow, was not joined by his two friends and fellow society members Nick Swain and James Marvin. Nick Swain had stood for Welfare Officer and had campaigned in his banana costume but this is believed to have caused a backlash amongst students, who decided to award Steph Jones the position instead, albeit after stage three of the single transferable voting procedure. As for James Marvin, his broken jaw that can’t have helped him in his quest to be Communications Officer was eventually beaten by his sole contender Mike Pidgeon, despite his entertaining silent campaign video. Pidgeon, who decided to feature a bird in his campaign managed to pull through with 26% more of the vote than Marvin.

There were other upsets in the night as well. It was widely believed that Zaw Erskine would win the post of Education Officer, but he was beaten by the Joe Kirby admirer but perhaps more substance over style driven Mohammed Surve – “Here to Surve”. RaW was told earlier in the evening that Surve was ready to concede defeat before the announcement. As it turned out, after polling 1257 votes against Zaw’s 857 in the first round, it wasn’t until stage 4 when Surve was finally declared winner with a margin of 456. Whilst Peter Thomas, who was one of the other candidates might be only mildly disappointed for taking fourth place, Ty Hayes, who stood for President last year, did not manage to improve on his performance, and must be devastated when he just about took third place in round one with 368 votes, miles behind the two frontrunners. In the financial world, Andy Glyde comfortably beat Ross Palmer to the Governance Finance Officer position. Glyde, having been this year’s Chairman of Union Council might be the needed continuity on next year’s Sabbatical team.

The post of Societies Officer was won by Lucy Reynolds, who bizarrely had come third place in the first round behind Dave Hodge and Matt Polson, but then went on to win after taking voters’ latter preferences. Finally pulling through in stage six, the girl who wants to ‘Change your socs’ has become next year’s officer who wasn’t particularly popular, but wasn’t divisive either. As for next year’s Sports Officer, Terry Marshall can content himself in a more emphatic first round win, although he wasn’t declared winner until stage five. It seems that students were willing to trust Marshall with their ‘balls’ as he requested in the Union Officer position with the most contenders.

Despite pledges by some of the candidates to get rid of Flirt, the atmosphere in the Union built up on Saturday’s election night. With the dress code for the Elections party Black tie, and RaW’s comperes Elections group on stage in the marketplace to present the results, there was a real attempt to bring some glamour to Union democracy – a real contrast to the Union AGM, when around 70 people turned up. Indeed, Tom Callow and the Elections Group can be pleased with the fact that they managed to increase turnout this year by 16%. However, this is still in contrast to the days of Union democracy when the Shadow Home Secretary David Davis was here. He said that 1,000 out of the small population of 1,800 students would vote compared to 3,000 out of 20,000.

There has been some controversy during the campaigns, with the University supposedly displeased by Tommo’s road signs telling people to vote for him (amongst his other slogans where he indicated he wanted to ‘crush some nuts’ and wanted ‘to make a good thing great’). What’s more, it has been rumoured that some of the candidates were close to being disqualified for breaking Union election rules – some were close to the £20 fine limit.

As for coverage of the election, student media was at hand to report the results live. RaW was played in the Union with live video feed until 10.30pm when the Flirt DJ took over. People were able to text in with their comments and watch the coverage on the Sports screen in Cholo. WTV also had a setup in Rococcos with a television screen both organisations had web streaming on their websites.

All eyes will now move to next year’s Sabbatical team, but with Joe Kirby and his crew still only half way through their tenure, they won’t be in control for a long time yet. Whilst there were some unexpected outcomes on the night, all the candidates can console themselves with the fact that nobody was beaten by their good friend R.O.N.

Sam Shirley
Head of News

Click HERE for the RESULTS Please note that they are provisional.

Please leave your comments below. What were you doing on the night? Were you a candidate – should you have won? What do you think of union democracy?

- 18 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. Shona

    The voting figures are pretty shocking – roughly 20,000 students in the SU and only 1712 making a winning vote? I don’t think the candidates should be proud of their campaigns at all.

    10 Feb 2008, 12:36

  2. Banana Boy

    1712 is the highest number of votes for an individual in Warwick SU elections history. Not bad at all if you ask me.

    10 Feb 2008, 14:35

  3. Andrew O'Brien

    It is an improvement but nothing to write home about, we have a serious problem with our Union Democracy and it is not going to be solved any time soon it would seem.

    10 Feb 2008, 15:09

  4. 1987

    Past results aside: slightly more than 10% of students voted. 1712 out of 20,000 equates to under 10%. It’s really not something to shout about.

    11 Feb 2008, 04:12

  5. Anon

    It is worth notiung that continuity is also provided by Mo Surve and Steph Jones, both of which have served on the union executive committee this year.

    11 Feb 2008, 20:47

  6. Charlie

    Hoorah! Let’s hope that Tommo sticks to his guns and brings us cheaper on-campus accommodation, cheaper drinks, an end to delayed building work, a brand new e-mail system, a selection of crushed nuts and of course – an end to the printer front cover fiasco.

    What are the chances that any of these promises are met?

    12 Feb 2008, 01:49

  7. 1987

    Did he really promise that?

    It’s a bit sad how some people believe Sabb candidates who promise things they cannot possibly guarantee to deliver. Sabb candidates work for the Union – not the University, Sabbs don’t set Warwick Accommodation prices and they can’t guarantee new university email/printing systems… Can’t they stick to realistic promises on things within the Union that they have a chance of being able to deliver on? Th

    12 Feb 2008, 18:17

  8. Democracy is a fallacy… but ‘the people’ (all 1,700 of them) have spoken… too bad they’re idiots.

    12 Feb 2008, 18:30

  9. 1987: For President over 3300 students voted (and Tommo got 1700). 3300 is 16.5% of the student body. But as Andrew said there is little to be proud of.

    Puneet: I disagree, Democracy is not a fallacy, elections are (although arguably it means the same thing)

    12 Feb 2008, 21:44

  10. Tommo

    Perhaps my critics should wait until after I actually start the job before they sharpen their knives. I would like to make something clear regarding my manifesto promises, as President one of the roles I shall carry out is to campaign to improve students welfare. Previous presidents have often focussed their attention on national issues such as tuition fees and abortion control, my aim is to focus on issues which affect Warwick students and as such many of my campaigning issues are aimed at the University of Warwick. I am indeed aware that I have no direct control over issues such as accommodation costs but I do endeavour to hold the university to account for any price increases they should make. With regards to those who claim elections are a fallacy, does this not have something to do with the fact that they simply did not go in your favour?

    13 Feb 2008, 13:17

  11. I’ve always believed elections are a fallacy. They reward popularity not competence. That is a general statement and does not mean that I am more competent than the others because I lost. actually I believe Sami is very competent and will do an excellent job as Executive committee officer. I do not know Felix that well so I cannot say anything about him.

    A random selection of 600 persons is more representative of the People than their MPs who have gone through an election. there are various practical issues associated with such a method but in an ideal world sortition is better than election for choosing the Legislature.

    In the case of the Judiciary there is a consensus that judges should be appointed for their competence (and I am sure you agree with me in saying that Judicial elections in some US states are wrong)

    For the Executive it is harder. Picking someone randomly is probably worse than an election. The issue of competence comes in but there is also the fact that two candidates will have two opposite policies and so the people must have a say. I can’t think of a way better than elections in this case. I still however believe that elections are a fallacy.

    13 Feb 2008, 13:46

  12. as for those who want Tommo (and the other sabbs) to respect his promises: stand in Union Council elections in October and hold the sabbs to account

    13 Feb 2008, 14:04

  13. HH88

    “The great masses of the people will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.”

    “Sooner will a camel pass through a needle’s eye than a great man be ‘discovered’ by an election.”

    13 Feb 2008, 15:39

  14. Anon

    Voter turnout this year was actually 18.6% (it was 16.5% average for Sabbatical posts). The most appropriate comparison is to benchmark Warwick SU against other HE Unions. I don’t expect anyone here has actually done that, but we are essentially above every other Union.

    As for national comparison, the most recent national figure is 61.4% for the UK General Election in 2005.

    I know critics here may be fans of direct democracy, but I would argue that we would at best achieve only a mild consensus at Warwick if we revolutionised our student government by using this method of decision making, which would be unlikely to get a much higher turnout than about 20%.

    In my opinion, democracy is not the problem. Democracy is the structure; it is the framework for interaction. The problem as I see it is that there very few issues that students on mass are actually passionate about and feel they can achieve real change. It seems most students only feel strongly about cheap drinks and cheap events. However, the complexities of a commercial operation that is also trying to support a massive number of societies and clubs, provide free advice and welfare services for its members and represent them on academic issues means that these two issues are almost the two least likely to be resolved.

    We are faced with more and more global problems that are eminently unsolvable by students, or any group for that matter. Back in the time of ‘Red Warwick’, students were campaigning about miners’ strikes and the Poll Tax (but Unions spending money on campaigning on such issues was outlawed by the Education Act 1994).

    My contention is that the Students’ Union currently employs the most appropriate form of government, although I expect this to provoke an inordinate number of Churchill-attributed quotations…

    15 Feb 2008, 19:29

  15. We have some elements of direct democracy: the AGM. But then we can never get quorum. I do not believe direct democracy will work with the student body we have at Warwick.

    And yes it is true we are better than other unions. But is not enough and personally I am far from satisfied by the turnout. A lot of students can’t even give the name of the current president of the SU (Joe Kirby) and a lot did not know about the elections.

    Tommo won by a landslide but when you think about it only 8% of the students voted for him (and for the other officers it is even lower).

    15 Feb 2008, 22:15

  16. Anonymous

    Everyone here has forgotten one very important point. Students here at Warwick are here to get a degree. Any involvement in the Union is a by-product of that.

    When students are not voting, we have to take into account that they have other things to do. This is, for me, the most obvious reason why turnout among postgraduates is so low.

    It is very easy to whinge about turnout and just state that it should be higher. But if the Union were to go down the extreme road of having manditory participation then it would actually harm the interests of students at a time when many students have deadlines and exams to think of.

    We have to put this all in perspective. How important is the Union to students compared to an academic qualification that many are paying £3,000 a year to achieve?

    26 Feb 2008, 16:09

  17. Rob Glass

    Anonymous: If all you are here to do at Warwick whilst paying £3000 for the privilege is get a degree, then there is something very wrong. It’s all very well coming along to get a degree, but I think that University is also about SO much more.

    There is no other time in your life where you will spend time with so many intelligent people and have the spare time to get involved in so much. Whether it’s through sports clubs, socieities, debating world events or even just dancing the night away, University is not just about getting a degree.

    Iif you’re after a job with one of the large graduate employers, it’s this outside course experience that employers are looking for as it shows organisation, drive, teamwork and that there’s something about you that gives you the x-factor. You may not want to do this, so if that’s the case, please carry on and dedicate yourself to your essays and deadlines. However without the Union at the heart of your extra-curricular University activities, you’d miss out!

    Maybe there’s a certain amount of apathy amongst most students about who some of the sabbatical officers are going to be. Finalists largely won’t care as they’re not going to be around. The figures for numbers of students include a lot of part-time students and Masters students who may not be involved in the Union at all. However all of the above should not stop the union trying to maximise the numbers of people who do vote and get involved.

    01 Mar 2008, 23:24

  18. Tom Callow

    Here here Mr. Glass! A welcome and accurate comment from a respected member of our alumni!

    16 May 2008, 15:41

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