Our new BULS women’s office, Katherine Rowlands, attended her first national Labour Students event this weekend. In her first blog she here gives her take on the events at National Council, from the perspective of a first time attendee…
Firstly and foremost I am quite inexperienced in student politics, I don’t fully understand the inner workings of the institutions that run our student politics, however after Labour Students National Council last weekend I gained a better insight to the inner workings of the National Labour Students, and instead of feeling enlightened and engaged I felt disheartened and angry.
The whole weekend appeared to be a complete sham. Instead of being an event where Labour Students from across the country can meet to discuss policy it is a weekend in which the outcomes are decided long before we reached London.
National Committee members, who as far as I could understand we didn’t have much choice in electing, dominate the National Labour Students Conference. There were eleven motions to be voted on, yet the only one with any direct relevance to the working of this body, Representative Voting, ended up way down the list of priorities. Why was this?
We lost the chance to discuss Representative Voting on the National Committee because the motion proposed before on CLPs was held up, quite obviously by those not wishing to discuss the following motion. A huge amount of the CLP motion were proposed to be taken out which would clearly cause controversy and several arguments for and against. As Brigid already mentioned in the previous blog this was completely unnecessary and the motion was left with very little substance, yet their underlying motive had been achieved, to waste time and avoid discussing the Representative Voting Motion.
The division in the room was key to the order of the motions and the decisions made on them. It became more and more apparent to me, who voted in which way, and whatever the arguments were made; the result had already been determined. Another frustrating element of the motion debating process was that the National Committee always had the final say. The National Committee do not just quietly indicate their position on a motion on the paper in front of you, instead they get an allocated time slot for a speech just before it goes to the vote. Explain to me how this is not biased? Surely they should only be able to express whether they support or reject a motion and if they insist on having a speech then surely there should be one last chance for an opposing speech?
My final grievance comes over the caucus elections, which I assume are the same across the board. I myself attended the women’s caucus, and although we were presented with a very good candidate in Katy Curtis it was annoying not to have another choice. You have two options to support or reject the candidate on the paper. What kind of choice is that? Of course you are going to support the candidate on the paper because the only other option is R.O.N and what does he offer you?
The weekend left me with a sense that things need to change to make the National Labour Students more democratic. There needs to better representation throughout the Council and the set up needs to be altered so elections are fairer and people are more likely to vote for what is right then to just tow the party line. The question is how do we make this change when those who have the real power to change are the ones in power?
Katherine Rowlands is the BULS women’s officer.