Liberal Youth: What we contribute to politics
Traditionally Liberal Democrats have rarely influenced student politics, at least with regards to forums such as the National Union of Students. Instead those institutions have been filled with labour careerists, middle class Trotskyites and eco-fascists. One need only look back to the presidency of Phil Wollas to recognize that the NUS has long been a training ground for future giants of the labour party. Outside of the incestuous world of sabbatical officers however, it is true that the liberal democrats have made an impact on the politics of students, if not students’ politics as such. Liberal Democrats were at the forefront of campaigns against the war in Iraq and the introduction of top up and tuition fees under labour governments.
I remember with fondness forge press circa March 2010 when articles on such matters regularly turned into slanging matches between liberal democrat and labour students fighting for every vote in the then marginal Sheffield central. Our brush with government has revolutionized this however, whereas once Liberal Democrats were forever standing on the concourse handing out leaflets promising such things as free university tuition for all, government has forced us to change tack. Had a Conservative government increased tuition fees rather than a coalition, one could easily picture Nick Clegg standing sanctimoniously in front of the students union attacking both main parties with aplomb.
The role of the Liberal Democrats in student politics is now much diminished. Everyone from Aaron Porter to Clare Solomon now regularly attack Clegg’s mendacity and Simon Hughes’s obfuscation, and do little to challenge them. As the labour party has slunk back into opposition once again, the natural order has been restored. Although ‘Red’ Ed Milliband refused to address the rioters in Whitehall after promising to, we can see that the two are made for each other. Liberalism it seems will generally have nothing more than a two-bit part in student politics, which is perhaps for the best.
Article by Duncan Ayles, member of Liberal Youth.
Edited by Vicky Shreeve.