People are saying that the student movement is dead. And I wish I could disagree fully, but this stupid factionalist infighting is getting us nowhere. To be clear- I don’t intend of making any sweeping generalisations about who belongs to what political party in this post. I’m not into lazy labelling. All of us in the student movement are fiercely opposed to cuts and higher fees, but the Porter hunt is getting in the way of that.
Today’s action in Glasgow just looks like intimidation and bullying tactics. The consequent laughter and jeering on twitter and facebook was embarrassingly vindictive. People comparing Porter to Hosni Mubarak is mind-bogglingly ridiculous. On the 29th, I was in Manchester when Porter was chased, and as the reports came in my heart sank because I knew those of us who were there but weren’t involved in it would be held to account by people who tar all students with the same brush. NUS’ national conference is coming up in the next couple of months, which means those of us who are actually students can get elected to conference, represent our SUs and vote for the next NUS president. This ‘authentic’ student specification may seem an arbitrary binary, but, whatever you think of him, Porter was elected amongst the student population, not by the supporters of students. March, occupy and protest with us if you like, but the democratic process should really be left to students and students only.
I digress. One of the student movement’s brightest assets is also one of its biggest downfalls. We’re young; we’re determined, enthusiastic, and vibrant. But with youth often comes accusations of naivety, idealism, and- dare I say it- a lack of self-awareness. I don’t think this is true. I’ve been at organising meetings where students debate intensely about press coverage which is great. But the student movement isn’t centralised, there’s pockets of us planning all over the country, and whilst some care about how we appear from the outside, it looks like others don’t.
Reflection is important. Press coverage matters because public support is one of the key factors in orchestrating a successful campaign. Right now we all look like idiots squabbling amongst ourselves.
The student movement isn’t dead- and I have a feeling that various branches of the anti-cuts movement will gather together for one big fight back against the coalition’s cuts. But this Porter hunt is hindering us.