Labour and Co-operative Member of
Parliament for Kemptown and Peacehaven

Reclaim the left

by Lloyd on 18.05.08
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Education Not for Sale (ENS) and its incarnation as the broad platform is something of much debate at the Reclaim the Campus conference at Birkbeck College.
On Saturday about 50 students from around the UK representing radical students from up and down the college gathering to work out the terms of engagement for their next steps after defeating the Governance review at the NUS conference (see my earlier post)
However in the rush to make an organisation that is ready to fight the neo-liberal incursions of the NUS leadership the principle of a broad, left wing, even socialist body was again somewhere lost.
Some members of AWL (Alliance for Workers Liberty) which has in the past been a dominant force in, put forward that idea the ENS should become a membership organisation. Although this was defeated the end result was still a constitution which put at its heart a system of centralism, dividing people rather than coming to common consensual view points.
The groups which where there was a group of individuals, anti-capitalist greens, revolution, AWL and CPGB (Communist Party of GB) with observers from the largest left faction outside of ENS which is Student Respect (SWP). Half was through the conference, after discussing our principles and voting down a plan to make us Marxists in our founding principles the CPGB declared that they would be withdrawing from the debate and pulling their motions. They would not be joining ENS but would be looking to work with the organisation.
Organisation is I guess where for me the problem lies. I don’t want part of another organisation. I don’t want something the suffocates how we can react and go about our work. We need rules of engagement don’t get me wrong, even in some anarchism rules of engagement, be it unwritten sometimes, are still important parts of how we interact. By a Constitution, an Organisation, and a committee smacks to me as something that will only end up going wrong.
I like broad coalitions, where agreement is reached through consensus, where it can br found we all work together and are stronger, where it can’t we go our ways. How I cry can a collation work if you are voting other members down. If we have policy that we establish but not everyone is on board. All that happens is you create another origination, not one that encompass brining people together but ones that brings only splits it’s the old two trots three view argument.
There was a moment in the proceeding when we started to talk about the name of us, in a “People’s front of Judea, Judean Peoples front” moment we where arguing not on what we should do but a new name for this “newly established organisation.
I think that working together is important, and that the founding principles of ENS are something that I whole heartedly support, however with now procures rules and a constitution, do I have the energy to engage in this as well.
Part of my main problem with NUS is that is takes you away from you students too much, with trustee boards, corporate trainings or other conference activities one barley gets time to just work in the Union transforming students lives for the better. Will the ENS just be another body to get tied up in and sap ones energy away. I truly hope not!

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Labour and Co-operative Member of
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