BULS Supporting Michael Chessum to be VPHE of NUS

Following careful consideration, BULS has decided to support Michael Chessum’s campaign to be VPHE of NUS and we ask Birmingham delegates and Labour students nationally to do the same. We believe that Michael is the most competent candidate, and will achieve the most for students now, and in the future.

He has been the only candidate to continuously fight against the Tories’ fee regime and its further marketisation of our education system. Michael has been instrumental inthe organising of two national demonstrations, mobilising thousands of students across the country. Such demonstrations proved highly successful, gaining the support of Labour Students, and the general student population, nationally.

As Labour students we should be fighting against the current coalition government’s outrageous, and damaging, policies concerning higher education fees and their on-going commitment to severe austerity measures. Education is a public good and, at Birmingham, we believe that education should be universally accessible and publically funded. Michael Chessum is the only candidate for VPHE who we believe shares our values and will fight to defend them.

Furthermore, Michael is the only candidate committed to opposing Theresa May’s regressive and racist visa changes, which will have a detrimental effect on International Students who contribute so much to our higher education institutions and country as a whole.

Michael’s past record shows that he knows when and how to use direct action tactics, whilst his pivotal role in founding NCAFC proves his dedication to fighting the government’s austerity measures.

We need a VP Higher Education that will offer a robust defence against the coalition’s stark attacks on education. We wholeheartedly believe it is time to put factional divides behind us and unite in our support for Chessum, as the candidate most able to deliver.

Catie, Ed, Ellis, Areeq, Alex, Sam and Dan

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The Death of the ‘Labour Sabb’

This year, in the Guild of Students Officer elections, for the first time in a very long time there were no ‘Labour’ candidates. Something which has become quite a regularity at students unions across the country is the domination of particular sabbatical officers that are there to simply ‘Bring Labour values of collectivism to campus’. This is not an attack on previous Sabbs who were party members, it’s a critique on the idea of the ‘Labour Sabb’. Which is something that has bugged me greatly since joining the party, so here is a blog to have a good old rant about it…

In November, I attended the annual Labour Students Political Weekend. I thought i’d give it a go. What I will say is that the message I got from NOLS was a very narrow minded one. A one of a one size fits way of thinking, which couldn’t have highlighted how out of touch they are any better. ‘Let’s campaign for Ken in London’ was high on the agenda, while absolutely no mention was made to campaigning locally in other key elections happening this May, including Birmingham. ‘Let’s get as many of you elected onto the NUS and in Unions so you can be our puppets’ was also another common theme of the talks. Or one of my personal favourites, ‘Lets all pretend to talk to our Vice Chancellor and tell them they should pay cleaners more money, which they will then amazingly easily agree to’. The weekend really could have been summarised into those three snippets.

I believe that Labour Students attempt to have too much involvement in Union politics. It’s a well known fact that they ship supporters around the country to illegitimately boost support for their candidates (http://abercourier.com/2012/03/labour-troubles-tarnish-election-campaign/). They also offer training to their candidates and successful elects before they take office, to… well I imagine to tell them the policies to push onto their students. This is not what they should be doing! And this is not what the student movement is all about. Edd Bauer, current VPE at the Guild wrote during his time as EEO about this very issue on his blog, and I think he got it spot on. I’d definitely recommend giving it a read (http://edwardbauereeo.blogspot.co.uk/2010/07/leaving-post.html)

I am currently a Labour member and supporter, and that’s fine. I have my ideological beliefs and i’ll never claim to not have them. There is no denying that we all have a position politically, because we all have an opinion. However, the problem arises when you push your party’s policies onto students. Abusing your position as an elected officer to ensure the party you support, and probably want to work for in future years gets a foot in with students on your campus. Sabbatical officers are not there to influence the students they represent. They are there to serve them. They are there to make the time that their students spend at their university as enjoyable as possible. I believe it is that simple.

As you may be aware, I was elected as Vice President (Activities & Development) in those very guild elections just a few short weeks ago. And next year, I will be tasked with helping every single student society at the Guild and I can’t wait to get started. Because it doesn’t matter what your political beliefs are, what matters is that you want to do something and celebrate what you love doing. That is why I ran for it and why I didn’t ever want to run as a ‘Labour Sabb’, because to do so would to betray what I believe is truly important in student politics. Yes, you guessed it, STUDENTS.

So this will be my 3rd and very last blog I post on BULSonline. My membership to the party expires in May and I will be letting it do so. I’m doing this because I simply have to be as neutral as possible. I represent BUCF as much as BULS and to do so whilst being a Labour party member I feel would be unprofessional. I have no idea if I will rejoin after my term in office, I guess it will depend on how the next year goes for the party and for Mr Miliband. And it will most certainly depend on whether the party (and it’s affiliated organisations) can stop being so narrow minded and unaware that a single solution will not solve all their problems.

The next year is crucial for us all, I’m just looking forward to the journey.

@OllieCosentino, Former BULS Secretary

The Future of LGBT Labour

I joined the Labour Party in 2008. This was before I was prepared to accept my sexuality. I have now come to realise that it was joining the Labour Party, and learning of all of Labour’s achievements in Government in striving for sexual equality that helped me on my way in accepting myself. Being proudly gay and proudly a member of the Labour Party can and should be mutually reinforcing. I will always be thankful to Labour for this.

Whilst we can look back proudly on all Labour achieved in equality – and there is no need to list these here – ending legislative homophobia is not the same as ending homophobia engrained in society. Top-down measures can only work so far. Greater acceptance of homosexuality as being ‘equal but different’ to heterosexuality can only be achieved through increased exposure of what it is to be gay, i.e., being capable of loving someone of the same sex. At its most basic this can include couples walking down the street holding hands. Unfortunately, we are not yet at a stage where this simple statement of homosexuality is uncontroversial. There is still a need for gay couples to act as pioneers. I can speak from experience that some members of society are not ready to witness such sights.

Labour is at its best when fighting for the rights of minorities within society, championing the fundamental need for equality. However, whilst I am well aware that homophobia remains an issue, the greatest issue of inequality relates to income. The lack of equal opportunity in the world of work adversely affects women, the BME community and disabled people more than it does the LGBT community. With this in mind, the LGBT Labour needs to rally round and support those who also fall under the umbrella term ‘minority’. Liberation Campaigns and caucuses are vital in recognising and celebrating our differences (note the very discourse of the word ‘Pride’ in our annual Pride Marches, and the rightful presence of Labour at these marches), but our shared difficulties and experiences need to be at the forefront of our campaigns.

This is, I believe, should be the next step of LGBT Labour in Britain, standing up for the voiceless in society, speaking for those adversely affected by the Government’s draconian and ill-balanced cuts. Even if we do not self-define as members of a particular caucus, Labour needs to unite and continue the fight for equal opportunity for all.

By Dan Harrison, Outgoing BULS Chair

AGM 2012

Now confirmed to be Wednesday 22nd February 3-5pm (unless there’s any change), every Committee position bar Fresher’s Officer and CLP Liason Officer will be up for grabs. This will be held in the Guild Council Chambers.

Everyone is encouraged to stand for any position and please feel free to contact us at committee@bulsonline.org if you have any questions. We would recommend writing a short speech to read and if anyone wants flyers or manifestos printing then send them to the BULS account and we’ll sort it. However, this is optional and we would want to reiterate that we encourage anyone to stand and get more involved! If you can’t physically  make the meeting and wish to stand for a position, email us at the above email address and someone will read it out on your behalf.

Preliminary position descriptions:

Chair

The chair liases with the National Organisation of Labour Students as well as the Guild of Students.  Organises events and chairs committee meetings and full member meetings.  Organises speakers and writes speaker-request forms.

The Chair is a financial signatory on the clubs accounts.

Vice-chair

Assists chair in organising events. Organises transport for all events necessary, eg. Trains to national events. Assumes duties of the chair if the chair is temporarily unable to carry out his or her duties or if a complaint is made against them until it is resolved.

The Vice-chair is a financial signatory on the clubs accounts.

Secretary

This Secretary takes charge of the organisational side of the club and, along with other members of the committee, helps to organise events.  Assumes duties of the chair if the chair and vice-chair are temporarily unable to carry out their duties or if a complaint is made against them until it is resolved. Also writes the minutes for full member meetings and committee meetings.  Writes the risk assessments for events.

The Secretary is also a financial signatory on the club’s accounts.

Treasurer

Has full-responsibility for the management of accounts.  Decides on levels of subsidies when appropriate.  Organises fundraising and Workers Beer Company summer work.

The Treasurer is a financial signatory on the clubs accounts.

Communications Officer

Writes weekly email, to be sent to all members.  Uploads member email address onto email account at start of term (with assistance if needed).

Website Editor

Has editorial responsibility over the website; http://www.bulsonline.org also jointly responsible for updating the pages on the website along with the Communications Officer.

Women’s Officer

Elected in a seperate caucus (i.e. chosen by Women only). The Women’s Officer has the job of liaising the views and grievances of all Women of the BULS ot the committee. The Women’s officer is also encouraged to organise campaigns on women’s issues such as eqaulity in the workplace, maternity leave, etc.

Black and Ethnic Minorities (BEM) Officer

Elected in a seperate caucus (i.e. chosen by Black and Ethnic Minorities only). The BEM’s Officer has the job of liaising the views and grievances of all Black and Ethnic Minorities of the BULS ot the committee. The BEM’s Officer is also encouraged to organise campaigns on Black and Ethnic Minority issues such as rascism, equality, etc.

LGBTQ Officer

Elected in a seperate caucus (i.e. chosen by LGBTQs only). The LGBTQ’s Officer has the job of liaising the views and grievances of all LGBTQ of the BULS ot the committee. The LGBTQ Officer is also encouraged to organise campaigns on LGBTQ issues such as discrimination, right to marry same sex marriages, etc.

Disabled Officer

Elected in a seperate caucus (i.e. chosen by Disabled only). The Disabled Officer has the job of liaising the views and grievances of all Disabled members of the BULS ot the committee. The Disabled Officer is also encouraged to organise campaigns on Disabled issues such as discrimination, etc.

Speech for David Miliband event

The Dear Leader has requested that his speech from David Miliband’s launch for the Living Wage Campaign at the University of Birmingham from the 28th October be published:

Hello and welcome to Birmingham University Labour Students launch of the Living Wage Campaign with David Miliband. I’m Daniel and I’m Chair of Birmingham University Labour Students.

Many of us in this room are members of National Labour Students, and I hope many others are soon to become members. I believe that National Labour Students are a really important wing of the Labour Party; in mobilising for Labour at elections, hosting national events and workshops, but most importantly National Labour Students proud history of campaigning, against the extortionate rise in tuition fees, in the liberation campaigns, fighting for the rights of women, disabled students, LGBT students and BAME students, rights that other students may take for granted. And now in the Living Wage Campaign, taking place on campuses across the country in Kent, Cambridge, Leeds and Leicester, and today starting here in Birmingham.

The Living Wage is the minimum hourly rate someone has to earn to afford everyday basics like housing, food, childcare. A wage as the name suggests, that you can live on, not merely exist.

In London the current rate is £8.30 an hour. In Birmingham the current rate is £7.20.  £7.20 is a target that is not only morally right, but financially achievable.

I am proud to be a member of a party who when in office introduced the National Minimum Wage. This was a huge step. The Tories said it was economically unsound. It wasn’t. The Tories said it would cost jobs. It didn’t. The same arguments are made against the Living Wage.

It is great to see in the room…

Now, I know David doesn’t need much of an introduction. David was elected to Parliament for South Shields in 2001, and in 2006 was Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs where he oversaw the Climate Change Bill, before becoming the Foreign Secretary in 2007. But more important than that, Political Top Trumps gives him a ‘fanciability’ of 84.

Boys and Girls, David Miliband.

David Miliband

I’ve just got back from the double David Miliband event, and just wanted to write a report.

I thought the crowd during the first part (In Conversation with David Miliband – in the great hall) was fairly tough, there were questions about Palestine, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria and Guantanemo Bay. One of the best questions was “What would you say to David Eastwood about the Browne Review?” and David replied in a very diplomatic manner, ending with the comment that he didn’t think it was “all Professor Eastwood’s fault”. I for one hope that Eastwood noticed the resentment in the room and the general jibes against tuition fees and millionaires.

The second part (The Living Wage Launch with David Miliband) was more relaxed and entertaining. Luke asked a great question about solidarity with potential allies and recognising the real enemy. David replied “kicking Lib Dems is pleasure, kicking Tories is business. Politics is business”. He also highlighted the work of his “Movement for Change”, responding to comments that it seemed similar to the Big Society by stating that society is our turf, we have always been known as socialists not statists, and the Tories are only developing policies to promote society because they are terrified of being known as the “there is no such thing as society” party. I’m sure many of us can see through their Big Society strategy to a purely Thatcherite idealism, and recognise that grass roots activity and community organisation always has been and will remain a Labour policy area.

In conclusion, congratulations to the BULS members who helped to organise the talks, and I hope those who missed out come to the upcoming great events!

Suzy

Election results

Apart from an amazing visit by the Shadow Policing Minister, Vernon Coaker, BULS played host to a serious of elections for various positions. And the results are as follows:

Women’s Officer-Viki Hemmingway

Fresher’s Officer-Lottie Rowling

Constituency Labour Party (CLP) Liason Officer: Ed Gilbert

Congratulations is in order and comiserations for those who ran against them. We look forward to working with this ‘New Generation’ of BULS.