NUS LEAK: More questions for Aaron PorterPosted on November 11, 2010
Following last week’s post about Aaron Porter, NUS President, I’ve been sent an account of an NUS event that raises yet more questions about the Union’s culpability in last week’s riot.
Essentially, the document is a brief summary of a briefing day held by the NUS on 1st September, titled “The Road to the National Demo”, and is written by someone who was in attendance.
The author alleges that senior NUS officials drew direct comparisons with the deadly riots in Greece and even said there was a “case for breaking the law”.
If true, this is serious stuff – and it makes it harder and harder for Porter and the NUS to pretend they have no responsibility for the violence that blew up on the day.
I should emphasise that this is single-sourced. Unsurprisingly, it’s proving hard to find other people who were present who are happy to talk to an anti-NUS blogger about it! It seems worth publishing, and if the NUS have a record of the event that proves this untrue I’d be interested to hear it and happy to retract.
Anyway, here it is for your delectation…
“During this briefing day Mark Bergfeld [NUS Exec member] told the room, with Usman Ali [NUS VP, Higher Education] and Aaron Porter [NUS President] present, that NUS should look to the ‘student movement in Greece’ when responding to government cuts. He recalled something Derek Simpson had once said to Bergfeld about the nature of the British people. Simpson stated that it wasn’t in the nature of the British people to “cause havoc”, as far as Bergfeld was concerned, this wasn’t the case and said that NUS should encourage people to “cause havoc”. Bergfeld finished his little speech by saying “perhaps we will learn Greek one day” in reference to the Greek riots. A student then questioned Bergfeld on his language and the use of Greece as an example and the view of the panel (Including Bergfeld, Porter and [NUS VP Further Education, Shane] Chowen) was that it wasn’t wise to use this as an example if it would upset students. Also, during the day there was a session about ‘campaigning effectively’ and Susie Rabin, Campaigning effectiveness Manager, NVCO and Davinder Kaur, Partnerships and Training Officer, NVCO were asked if ‘There was a case for breaking the law’ at this demo. They said that in specific circumstances that it was right to break the law but that Student Union’s should “Inform students of the risks”.”
So there it is. If this account is accurate, Aaron Porter has more and more questions to answer by the day.
If his own exec members were urging activists in his presence to cause “havoc”, why did he have no doubts about the event? Did he discipline Bergfeld for his remarks?
Did he know his own campaign officers were apparently using NUS briefings to condone criminal action at the NUS protest?
Most importantly, if such trouble was so obviously brewing in his own outfit, why did he not alert the police who were preparing for the event, as the Public Order Act requires?