direct action

Following the fun and games of the vote in the House of Commons on the proposed tripling of tuition fees on the 9th December, 2010, Sean Rillo Raczka has very kindly written a model motion to put through your union general meeting/council/executive to bring about a motion of no confidence in Aaron Porter, NUS President. The reasons for doing so are included in the motion below.

Talk about no confidencing Aaron has been bandied about since the 10th November protests when Aaron spent more time condemning his own side than talking about why ordinary students (and significantly, they were ordinary students) felt the need to destroy property in frustration at the futility of the political process. He’s been losing credibility ever since, and I think this has been regrettably demonstrated by the near total absence of the NUS from the recent protests.

Size of the NUS demo on the 9th December:

The UCU NUS demonstration on Victoria Embankment.

Who's the minority of fringe protesters now?

I was in a pub on Whitehall when the vote on tuition fees passed by 21. As Aaron has rightly pointed out, we nearly achieved the impossible: nearly the entire backbench Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Party voted against, and two ministers resigned rather than vote for. Even more significantly, a Tory resigned and six voted against. That is a phenomenal lobbying achievement – and it still failed. Aaron Porter just wants us to try again. And people are surprised that the massed crowds waiting outside took their anger out on the Treasury’s windows?

Size of the Parliament Square demo on the 9th December:

And what did Aaron Porter do? Have a go at the protesters, again. Never mind that we have people in hospital. In fact, if you watch the video of the policeman who fell off his horse below, if you watch the people behind him holding each other, you will notice that just for standing there they were batoned and hauled off by eight policemen (one of whom falls over his own fallen colleague in his hurry to assault the protesters). Those people were from Manchester University and were detained for five hours before they were even allowed to see a doctor, despite having been batoned on the head and passing in and out of consciousness. Does Aaron give a crap about that?

So, below is the motion, and for those of you who hope he’ll just go away. it turns out that Aaron Porter wants another year in power anyway. You can pass this motion through any union decision making body, be it general meeting, council, exec or whatever – please encourage all your unions around you to vote on it as well. FE colleges are especially good for this. :)

“This is a suggestion for a model motion of No Confidence in Aaron Porter to put to your SU meetings or Council. You can change (add or subtract) it or write your own. Points 4, 4.1 and 4.2 MUST be included in any motion though, they are the important points. Have this motion sent to NUS (contact me if you need details) by your Sabbs asap once passed, and let me know too.

Basically if we get 25 Unions to pass this, we get to have an Extraordinary Conference where we can put the motion of no confidence and present the case. All Unions can send delegates to this conference; it does tend to be full of sabbatical officers, and therefore less likely to take action against the leadership.

If the motion passes at this conference the Deputy President (Shane Chowen, VP FE) would become President. However, the idea is to make sure the NUS centre/centre-right knows we won’t put up with their spineless leadership. We will be demanding a National Union that can live up to its member at this crucial time.

Any questions please ask.

Sean Rillo Raczka
Birckbeck SU and NUS NEC (pc!)

Motion of No Confidence in Aaron Porter:

1 This Union Notes:
1.1 That on the 9/12/10 over 30,000 students marched from the University of London Union (ULU) to Parliament in a protest against fees and cuts on the day of the vote the raise tuition fees.
1.2 That the National Union of Students organised a candlelight vigil and rally in Victoria Embankment with under 1,000 attending.
1.3 That the NUS NEC, in a proposal made by NUS President Aaron Porter, voted NOT to back the march from ULU.
1.4 That Aaron Porter stated he was ‘not at all proud’ of the ULU protest.
1.5 That the co-ordinators of the NUS Rally at Victoria Embankment urged those in attendance to return home immediately afterwards and not to join the protest in Parliament Square.
1.6 That violent police tactics including kettling, horse charges and the use of batons were deployed by the Met, leaving over 43 protestors injured or hospitalised, including one life threatening injury.
1.7 That the NUS has not put out an official statement condemning the police violence towards students on the 9th of December, standing up for their right to protest and not be illegally kettled or charged by horses.
1.8 That Aaron Porter recently visited the UCL Occupation where he stated that the NUS would provide support for those in occupation, as well as calling a National Demonstration on the day of the fees vote.
1.9 That at the UCL Occupation meeting Aaron Porter admitted that the NUS had been ‘spineless’ and ‘dithering’ in response the student occupations.
1.10 That Aaron Porter has reneged on both promises mentioned above (1.8).

2 The Union Further Notes:
2.1 That emails leaked to the Daily Telegraph show that the NUS had put models of alternative cuts to Ministers, outlining where cuts could be made to the Higher Education budget without raising tuition fees. These plans included cutting grants to the poorest students, and immediately charging a higher commercial rate on interest on student loans.
2.2 That the NUS response to this leak is to admit that they had ‘met with ministers and officials to discuss and model various potential impacts of cuts to Higher Education’

3. This Union Belives:
3.1 That the National Union of Students should not be in the business of modelling cuts for the ConDem Government or discussing possible ways of cutting grants from the poorest of student.
3.2 That the NUS National President should keep his promises.
3.3 That the NUS should organise another National Demo, and officially supporting and coordinating other demonstrations and protest.
3.4 That the NUS should give practical support to occupations and students affected by police violence.
3.5 That Aaron Porter, given his failure to assist students & occupation, and to coordinate or support further National Demonstrations against the cuts, and because of his helpful emails to the government, is incapable of leading the student movement.

4 This Union Resolves:
4.1 That we have no confidence in Aaron Porter as NUS President.
4.2 To call for an Extraordinary Conference to hear this vote of no confidence.


We will not stand for cuts, or people who won’t stand with us!

Sean’s motion available here.

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With a Vodafone sign outside the now closed shop.

We like our tax bills to be paid, yes we do.

As you may remember, the Vodafone protest on the 30th October went well except for the security guard who was incredibly rude and unprofessional to myself and a colleague. When we emailed the Arndale centre, the General Manager gave us a prompt reply saying he would investigate the matter. Four weeks, one reminder email and one vaguely threatening one, we have received a reply:

“Dear Sarah

Thank you for your reminder note last evening. I apologise for taking a while to return to you but as this related to the conduct of an employee you will understand that we wished to undertake a full and proper detailed investigation into this matter.

The protest were, as you will appreciate, a very unusual occurrence for us and there are certainly aspects of how we managed it that we could have done better. These are being addressed and we will communicate lessons learned to all our members of staff. I appreciate the feedback which you have given in this regard.

We have spoken to the member of staff concerned and now consider the matter closed. However, I note from your further comments re a proposed blog entry, particularly the reference to a photo. She is ordinarily a hard-working and conscientious persons and I am sure you would not want her to be distressed by publication this way. I hope that you will reconsider your proposal.

Finally, may I thank you for making me aware of your democratic protest this weekend.

Yours sincerely

Glen Barkworth
General Manager”

This is obviously not much of a reply, but as over 300 people have now read about this incident since it was published, I think the point has been made.

The demonstration originally happened to protest against the disparity between cutting public services at the same time as allowing international corporations to evade their tax responsibilities to the tune of billions. It was very successful, and there is now a follow-up day of action if you would like to attend.

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