Sheffield election campaign- Round 2 report

By Laurie Smith

Communist Students stood two more candidates in the second round of elections to the Sheffield Student Union executive. As reported in the WW712, our first round candidates Huw Groucutt (Education) and Laurie Smith (President) received just over 5% of the first and second preference votes, and I was elected as a delegate to NUS conference, equalling our result last year. Our candidates for round two were Michael Copestake, standing for Finance Officer and Jamie Tedford, standing for Activities Officer. Having the elections split in two has not helped us in maintaining our campaign, but we have been flyposting, leafletting, and distributing the fifth issue of our paper, Communist Student, every day.

CS on the campaign trail

There was one other left candidate, close to the Student Broad Left (sic) and running for Women’s Officer, who we voted for while being openly critical of her sub-reformist platform. The other candidates were largely apolitical this time round, and even more existentially drab if that were possible. CS comrades Jamie and Mike performed well at the election hustings in front of a mostly hostile crowd. Attendance at the hustings was even lower than in the first round- the assembled students were essentially the candidate’s friends and the union bureaucracy. Our comrades proceeded to denounce this laughable show of democracy, where candidates are given a minute’s speech and one-minute responses to two questions, and only 5% of students bother voting at all. At the end of his speech, comrade Mike challenged the other candidates to a debate- an offer met with embarrassed silence. In response to a question about one-party states, the comrade retorted that the Stalinist USSR was ‘not exactly my idea of a good time’ and put forward CS’s vision of a free, democratic, and international communism.

The hot topic on campus is the defeat of the right-wing’s governance review at NUS annual conference earlier this month. The Sheffield SU Council, in common with other councils at several universities, had mandated all conference delegates to vote in favour of the governance review- a so-called ‘democratic’ mandate on delegates elected by an open student vote, several of us on openly anti-governance review platforms. Five Sheffield delegates, myself included, broke this mandate to vote against- and while the SC did not follow through it’s threats of having us removed on the day, we are now facing a disciplinary hearing which will at the most remove our expenses, a purely vindictive affair which has an added twist of irony coming from an executive dominated by members of the Christian Union. Current Women’s Officer and member of SBL, Bryony Shanks, was one of the rebels and has since been suspended from her duties as punishment. Whatever happened to turning the other cheek?

Our unconfirmed first preference votes from this round are: Michael Copestake- 125, Jamie Tedford- 179. These are about the same as our first round results, and it is likely turnout was even lower this time. Our main focus of work will now be building for the second Communist University North, which is at Sheffield on 3rd-4th May. We have been intervening in a ‘Worker’s Rights Coalition’ initiated by the AWL, and there may also be a campaign here to try and repeat the success of students at UCL, who recently voted to boot the military and it’s officer training programs off campus. We are also trying to get a HOPI branch off the ground in Sheffield. More on these soon. For more on Communist Students visit our website:

www.communiststudents.org.uk

For full results from the elections visit:

http://www.shef.ac.uk/union/student-voice/elections08/part-1-count.php

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