Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage

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This article was written on 25 Mar 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.

The NUSisation of politics

The NUS has gone from an earnest but occasionally useful organisation, to a public laughing stock. They do good work, but it’s drowned out by a blizzard of idiotic initiatives from no-platforming people who happen to think differently from, well, the NUS, to having jazz hands instead of applause in case anyone finds that difficult. The most recent piece of witless idiocy concerns the NUS LGBT+ campaign, which has decided that gay men are responsible for misogyny, transphobia, racism and biphobia. Oh, and they aren’t oppressed enough.

However, the NUS will crack a chubby about those things if they come from an Islamist because Muslims are being oppressed and their oppression seems to trump anything else. In 2014, they famously refused to condemn ISIS because of the wording of the resolution in which they were asked to do so, and various bubbleheads have spoken out against working to stop radicalisation as that would be working on the same side as, oh, I don’t know, The Man or something. It doesn’t matter if people die, because the NUS has the moral high ground. Or it thinks it has.

Politicians used to use the NUS as a sort of training ground for a future life in politics, as something they could put on their CV that would prove their interest and engagement with a world beyond themselves. I seriously doubt that anyone would even want to put that they were a member on their now as it’d be proof positive that they found common cause with people who can’t think their way around a problem and whose conclusions about said problem are signs of mental derangement. Gay men are out, but the people who would smile on their murder are in? This is self-evidently stupid.

There needs to be an alternative to these fuckwits and there needs to be one soon. What I have in mind is a proper trade union that campaigns on behalf of its members’ interests instead of making witless pronouncements about whatever is happening in countries halfway around the world or deciding that some people shouldn’t really talk because the people who want to kill them are much more oppressed. This isn’t a trade union. It’s a cabal of halfwits who have exceeded their brief by a long way. Campaign on housing, on tuition fees and on access to HE and FE. For the rest of the time, SHUT THE FUCK UP.

As an aside, the reason I left the NUJ, aside from them being utterly shit when I was seriously depressed, was that I saw the union banner in the Iraq war march. I didn’t agree with the Iraq war, but I know some people who did. Fair enough. This is an open society and people can think what they want, but putting an NUJ banner out there says that all journalists think the same. And they really, really don’t. Similarly, with an article in the union news which the author tried to hammer his notional cock as far up Hugo Chavez’ arse as it would go. How is Venezuela relevant to the lives of its members as they are lived? Well, it isn’t. But it’s a faintly left-wing cause, so it’s probably okay.

Except no, it isn’t. It is, once again, miles away from its members’ interests. So here’s a simple test. Is what you’re doing helpful to the lives of your members, or is it just you trying to be some tinpot reactionary? Relevant is in, reactionary is out. If that’s the guiding rule of the new trade union, then I think it’ll go far because, fuck me, I don’t give a tuppenny bollock what the union thinks about other countries, but I really want to know how they’re going to make my life easier.

And when it comes to ‘no platforming,’ I mean… what? You’re at university which, last time I looked. meant that you were in a sort of free-floating cauldron of ideas where all was up for grabs and what mattered most was your ability to build and structure an argument, not clamping your hands over your head when someone looked as though they were going to disagree with you and combating it by banning them from the campus. If you disagree, argue. But that involves letting them speak first. If people would be threatened by it, they can – bold idea this – not go and do something else instead.

Maybe this new trade union which actually gives a shit about its members and doesn’t soil itself when someone says something it’s not sufficiently secure in itself to argue with, will do great things. Perhaps other people will join in and what we’ll end up with is a giant, powerful voice for people who don’t have one now, like the homeless, the low waged and people who life has kicked in the fork, which can campaign on their interests and, when someone says, “What do you think of what’s happening in X country” replies that it isn’t relevant to its members’ interests and so they have no formal opinion at all.

There is power, as Billy Bragg said, in a union. There is absolutely no power whatsoever in some fuckwits trying to outdo each other with fuckwittage. In fact, it’s negative power, because it allows people to disregard whatever good you do and lets people focus on the insane reactionary bilge. Represent your members, allow free speech. All else flows from that.

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