When I began my Chairmanship at the end of May, one of my primary aims was to reach out across the political divide in the University, particularly to BULS and encourage a climate of co-operation. The impression I got from the blog and from members of both BUCF and BULS was that relations between the two societies was at a low ebb. It was and remains my firm belief that student politics should not be so entrenched and petty at this early stage in our political development. There is plenty of time for punch and judy politics.
However the actions of BULS in recent weeks has confirmed the scepticism and caution I recieved from many members of BUCF when I informed them of my intentions to reach out to BULS. This blog and the BULS blog has, in the words of Tony Blair, been the platform not for academic or cordial debate but ‘low scullduggery’ and petty squabling. Both socieities had cause for hope in the weeks following the arrival of 2 new committees. Initially it seemed that Guise had the same entusiasm for a closer working relationship between the two societies, but the business with the Guild has all but destroyed any chance of that.
When BUCF announced that we were to temporarily leave the Guild until we had consulted our membership for a final decision, BULS reacting in a heated, negative and un-neccessary manner cancelling all proposed joint events. I made it abundently clear to Tom that should he have any issues before he reacted rashly he could get in contact with me personally and I might be able to clarify a few gray areas. This seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
Relations between the guild and previous committees of BUCF had been at record lows when I took over and the new committee, it appeared, were being tarred with the same brush. I got word of ultimatums and negative attitudes coming from the guild and this allied with the fact that I was well aware of the level of hostility to Guild politics within the BUCF ranks led me to take the decision to let the members decide whether they wished BUCF to remain in the Guild.
Frankly BUCF’s membership of the Guild of Students is nothing to do with BULS. It is a matter for BUCF and BUCF alone yet out Labour counterparts have taken it upon themselves to engage in petty and pointless squabbling over an issue that doesn’t concern them. I emphasised when we announced our withdrawl that the ultimate decision would not be mine or the committees but the members. I also emphasised that we would not hold a referendum until all our options have been weighed up. BULS seem to have conveniently ignored all these statements, preferring to paint this image of me acting in a dictatoral fashion and censoring opposition.
I am disappointed and frustrated that BULS saw fit to involve themselves in a matter that had little if anything to do with them or their society. They could have quite easily ignored this issue particularly as it remains unresolved. In the ‘so called spirit of cordiality’ that was emmerging one would have hope they would have had this in mind before engaging in such critcisims. Instead their actions have only served to cement the vast majority of the BUCF membership’s, and committees past and present’s belief that guild politics is shambolic and petty.
I believed that a spirit of co-operation between political groups could serve to encourage debate, remove the liklihood of personal attacks in political debates, present both societies with greater understanding and make for interesting joint events. Our successful event with David Cameron encouraged this idea. Sadly BULS seem have resorted to underhand and unneccessary jibes and criticisms over a trivial issue that they could have expressed any concerns they had to me or the committee personally before publishing rash posts and engaging in character assassinations.
Maybe one day BULS will understand that they are not members of the House of Commons yet, they do not have to entrench themselves in the ‘all Tories are evil’ rhetoric and then maybe just maybe student apathy and indifference toward guild politics and politics in general can begin to change.