Britain’s left-wing National Union of Students (NUS) is being criticised for its latest attempt to grab power from local university student unions. Students fear the NUS is seeking to impose NUS returning officers for elections.
The move has already caused uproar at a number of university campuses across the UK, and the Backbencher website has noted that the move may cause “future conflicts of interest between individual student representatives and the NUS”.
Documents reveal that that the NUS’s Head of Membership Emma Powell, has “new nationwide over watch powers on registered Union elections”, and the Backbencher states that “the NUS is widely considered to be completely incapable of being independent and an unbiased adjudication”.
Having NUS officials counting and arbitrating over elections that might involve anti-NUS candidates is evidently troublesome for some candidates including Jennifer Salisbury-Jones, who Breitbart London can now report has resigned over the issue.
Salisbury-Jones wrote in a letter to colleagues: “I am truly disappointed by the acceptance of the NUS’ decision to act as returning officer for its constituent unions. I am shocked that they have been given ultimate control over internal elections. The NUS is an opaque and self interested body, I cannot imagine a scenario in which they would be able to maintain independence if faced by candidates with previous links to the NUS.
“Though I am not standing myself, if I were, would an NUS employee seriously give me fair hearing given that I have publicly called for the abolition of their employer?”
“I had voiced my concerns regarding conflicts of interest a number of times. I feel that I cannot stand by this decision. I am therefore resigning from the Democracy and Standards Committee with immediate effect.”
Salisbury-Jones told Breitbart London: “The NUS seems less and less interested in representing students and appears to see democracy as little more than a mild irritation to be ignored wherever possible”.
NUS documentation claims that the organisation “sees its role in supporting students’ union elections as a vital part of its membership offer”. The NUS claims that “Students’ unions are able to ensure their elections are free and fair through the support of an independent national body, with experience of the often unique nature of students’ unions elections”, even though the NUS is not independent.
Peter Smallwood, of the NUS national executive council, told Breitbart London: “All elections should be fair and transparent. Students should have the power to choose where their returning officer comes from. We should make sure our practises are open, fair and democratic. If this is not the case then the process should rightly be questioned”.
In 2008, David Orr, then president of Edinburgh Student Union said: “From a representational perspective, the NUS is dominated by Labour students and this diminishes the ability to address student issues in an impartial fashion.”