11 November 2010

Bye Aaron

I've never quite seen this level of headline feed (from Guido, but repeated elsewhere)

Porter Must Resign - Mark Wallace
Porter Must Resign – Nadine Dorries
Thank You and Goodnight -Niall Paterson [Unrelated]
Porter in Oct: “We’ll be More Militant than Ever” – Indy
Tory Twitter Stoning Joker Arrested - BBC
NUS President in Serious Trouble – Tory Bear
Were the Law Properly Briefed? – Dizzy Thinks
NUS President Should Resign Over Protests – LBC

That is a level of high-intensity pressure that even Brown was not subjected to...and this is the president of a toothless little bunch of activists, not a seasoned politician with an office of spinners to throw phones and printers at

Flash in the pan it may be, but we're talking about a relatively unknown upstart who has bugger all public standing and will quickly be served up to the tabloids without hesitation

The NUS have zero power or influence in the real world - they can get a few thousand to protest the 'cuts', and there were always a few activists who wanted to whine about fees, or more likely climb the ladder from student politics, at my uni, but that's about it - the five million-strong membership are effectively coerced into joining and simply carry their discount card around...which they now have to pay for (I refused at that point...proper little rebel, me)

In truth, they are a weak, virtually pointless organisation that do nothing but provide a step up into (Labour) politics and now charge a membership fee to do diddly squat but serve the interests of their 'elected' officials - of which Mr. Porter is a prime example

Frankly I'm glad I won't have to see him making inane comments about his 'members' (who mostly do not give a monkeys about anything except cheap beer) on Newsnight every time a student issue pops up... I watch and wait to see where he pops up again - Labour PPC I'd wager

And if any fresh young things about to apply to uni, or head off next year, here's some advice for you - in the heady days of Fresher's Week your Union, and possibly a bunch of annoying militants, will encourage you to join the NUS, with it's discount card, for a mere £10 fee...don't

You get a nice card, with some discounts in high street stores - but that's it

Your university provides support if you need it, you are a member of both your university, and student union, automatically, and for free (aside obvious tuition fees), this gives you a student card and everything your local union has to offer

This free card is valid to prove your position as a student and will take care of all your needs, including many, many discounts that are simply offered to students as a matter of course, or law (such as banks, transport, virtually all services, and usually even cinemas), hell, it will even work in the NUS-funded discount chains, either because the checkout staff are typically dopey or the companies don't mind, I never knew, all I do know is I never used the NUS thing for the one year I did have it (students really should look beyond the expensive high street chains, anyway)

Student politics is pointless, sometimes it's fun to practice what is a student tradition and have a good protest, but unless you want to climb the greasy pole into politics then there is little point to getting involved with voting and the dirty world of popularity contests student elections, you're just helping career politicians, the NUS is solely an umbrella group for all unions - it does nothing for you but that discount card*

So in short, unless you really want to get that ten quid back by shopping at an outlet of Topshop or Boots that won't take your regular student card for some reason, and you don't mind paying to prop up the 'union' who are paying these companies with that cash, simply so you are 'incentivised' to join in the first place, a scheme that nearly bankrupted them (hence the new fee), then don't bother

*I am not ragging on student unions, far from it - but the NUS itself, many people cannot distinguish between the two - I must declare a personal interest here and say I was heavily involved with my student union, societies and groups are great fun, but I came to despise the little Hitlers that supposedly ran it and would subsequently go on to work in the NUS and politics - the people actually running the functions of the union are normal people engaging with other students doing things they enjoy because they have the time they won't get once they graduate - the elected leaders are usually people with zero business sense and will likely turn your student newspaper into their own personal propaganda machine

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