Student unions are about cheap beer, not politics

This is straight out of the normal Trotskyist playbook. Have an organisation that does a little bit for lots and lots of people, then make sure that you carve out a little slice of said organisation only for the anointed, those who ThinkRight. Then it can be claimed that the twitterings of those who ThinkRight are representative of the deep thoughts of those lots and lots of people. So it is, as it has been for generations, with student politics.

Student Unions are not representative of actual students:

One million students join calls for vote on Brexit deal

No, that’s not true, not in any manner at all. One million students aren’t calling for anything.

Student organisations representing almost a million young people

No, that’s not true either. There is no useful manner in which student union politics represents the views of students.

studying at UK universities and colleges are today joining forces to demand a referendum on any final Brexit deal, amid growing fears that leaving the EU will have a disastrous effect on their future prospects.

Predicting a young people’s revolt over the coming months, student unions – representing 980,000 students at 60 of the country’s leading universities and colleges – are writing to MPs in their areas this weekend, calling on them to back a “people’s vote” before a final Brexit deal can be implemented.

Student leaders said last night that they were planning action that would dwarf protests held in 2010 against the coalition government’s plans for student fees, and that they would not rest until they had been granted a say on their futures.

They argue in the letter to MPs that there are large numbers of young people – estimated at 1.4 million – who were too young to vote in the June 2016 EU referendum but who are now eligible to do so, and that this group deserves a say.

You also didn’t get a say on the lowering of the abortion limit from 28 to 24 weeks. Shall we run that vote again?

The demand is itself absurd, isn’t it?

But we should go further here. To be a student at a British university is to be a member of the student union of the college or university being attended. With very few exceptions all of those individual unions are part of the national students union.

That individual membership makes reasonable sense, as it’s the student union which gains some cash from the fees being paid in order to provide the bars and dependent upon time and place some other bits and bobs. Clubs, sports teams an so on.


But at every such place there are those into politics, of course there are – scum are ever present. This ends up being three Tory Boys and 50 various shades of Trot shouting at each other. Student politics is thus reliably and consistently stridently left wing. Even Far Left, to the extent that Jezza has left that with any meaning. Voter turnouts in the elections to the various student bodies are always low. And who wins is almost always decided beforehand in the conclave of whichever faction of Trots have brainwashed the most first years. That’s just how the system works.

So, what we’ve got here in this demand from 1 million students is in fact something a little different from what is being claimed. Actually – as is that standard Trotskyist entrysim in action – we’ve 20 people from each of a goodly number of the nation’s colleges making this demand. There being only 20 people at each of the colleges who get to claim the political interest of the students more generally.

The reality is that student unions are about cheap beer not any larger political questions. We should thus ignore what these people are shouting about. For what is being demanded is not something that 1 million students have even thought about let alone insisted upon. It’s the political clique doing the shouting. And as for political cliques, well, bugger them, right?

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  1. “There are large numbers of young people…who were too young to vote — There are after any vote! Of course we would like “young people to have a say on their futures” — We would also like for issues to be able to be settled. What is missing from the Guardian article is deep analysis of Leave versus Remain, beyond a mention of “the rights and protections that the EU affords us all” and other false choices. It is mostly another echo of the Labour call for a do-over. (

    I remember my own New Student Orientation, objecting to the “activity fees,” and arguing with the Public Interest Research Group, which wanted to bleed me further. Thanks to Tim for describing what student unions are all about: Learning to speak in someone else’s name.

  2. Student Unions should be opt-in. A chunk of your student loan is paid to these Trots to peddle their nonsense. If you want to join the SU you should pony up your own cash when you get there. It should not be compulsory and is the last union closed shop in Britain.

    • I don’t think that it is compulsory everywhere (or at least it wasn’t in my day). When I was at university I was able to get a student identity card whilst not joining the student union. There was a great deal of rigmarole behind it, and cajoling as to why I shouldn’t be doing it, but I took a stand against the people who supposedly “represented me” by not allowing them to pretend to represent me, and not funding them to do so.

      • Again, I was able to get out of funding PIRG, but the “activity fee” was obligatory and was frittered around by the Student Senate (“student council” sounding grade-schoolish here). I was a write-in Senator one year, part of a two-Tory bloc, outnumbered just by the Senators appointed by a half dozen race-based student organizations. Getting on the Senate involved knowing a lot of kids or convincing your fraternity it would be cool — not on deep discussions of national politics.

  3. Okay, swinging the lamp, pull up a sandbag, TINS…

    Thirty years ago, young student Jason Lynch, reading mechanical engineering at Loughborough, signed up to become Officer Cadet Lynch in East Midlands Universities Officer Training Corps (leading, within weeks, to the Berlin Wall coming down, the Warsaw Pact breaking up, and the West’s victory in the decades-long Cold War).

    However, more relevant for this story was that a year before, Loughbourough University’s Student’s Union had branched out from the usual herd behaviour of “ban all Nestle products because they sell powdered milk for babies in Africa, the bastards!” and “no branches of Barclay’s Bank on campus because they work in South Africa, and as good Leftists the idea of making a Boer rooinek explain to a black banker why he was a good credit risk was racist…” to try to declare the campus a “demilitarised zone” where the Officer Training Corps, the Air Training Squadron and the Univerity Royal Navy Unit would not be permitted to recruit, nor their members admit their existence.

    In typical Student Union fashion, this motion passed unchallenged by the usual handful of Trots and Maoists who bothered to attend the meetings (the rest of the student body having lectures to go to, beer to drink, desirable people to pursue, paint to watch drying, all of which was more useful and interesting than sitting through the tedium of student politics) However, because so few were at the meeting, it had to “not be voted down” at the next meeting to actually become campus law.

    And because someone noticed, at the next meeting most of the Loughborough contingent of EMUOTC turned up, with a few wannabee crabs from the ATS – getting on for a hundred students.

    “Right! Motion to demilitarise the campus! All in favour… ten, fifteen, eighteen… all against! Hundred or so?I think that’s voted down! Now, motion of no confidence in the current President! Proposed by me! Anyone seconding? Thank you! Those against… ten, fifteen, eighteen. Those in favour? Hundred or so! Next! New President of the Student Union! Volunteers! Anyone! Come on! Anyone? Ellwood, you’ll do. Toby Elwood for President. Proposed? Seconded? In favour? Passed!”

    Hence a military coup at Loughborough, and the start of then-2Lt Tobias Ellwood’s political career? He was a bloody good Student Union president, though – cheaper beer in the bars, better bands on Thursday concert nights (in the Steve Biko Auditorium in the Nelson Mandela Building), working washing machines… the stuff that most of the students actually gave a fµck about, and none of the lefty crap we didn’t. Didn’t waste time and money renaming buildings or other ping-pong “changed as soon as he’s gone” stuff, just kept the noise down and stuck to “if it’s not directly helping students it’s not our problem”.

    But as Tim says, any time wannabee politicians claim “I represent a million students…”, knock three significant figures off their claims as a charitable starting estimate for the number of students who would actually turn down a chance for a good gig, a party with mates or a hot date to support This Chosen Cause.