Will the new NUS President fail the fire extinguisher test?Posted on January 1, 2011
The politics of the Far Left is like a lava lamp – pointless, out of date, but still fascinating to watch. The arrival of a Government which is starting to do something (though only starting) about the huge deficit problem has flicked the switch, and the Left is bubbling away again in the most interesting way.
At the minute, pressure seems to be building for a leftist coup within the NUS – to throw out current President Aaron Porter and replace him with someone even worse. For those of us in the real world, who have long despaired at the absurdity and insanity of NUS politics, it is easy to forget that in the eyes of the loony Left, Porter and other recent so-called student leaders are “right wing”. (Check out this interesting piece at Left Futures for a bit of an insight.)
The SWP and the usual nutjobs have played quite a clever game – by accident or design. By turning the student protests from mass lobbies of Parliament into violent riots, they first brought Porter under pressure from the mainstream media and wider, law-abiding society.
Now, they are demanding that he back their extremism by supporting further protests, or be sacked. For reasons that are obvious to any sane and civilised person, Porter is loathe to lend his or the NUS’s institutional backing to protests that – on previous form – are likely to descend into riots.
That’s the right – indeed, the only – decision. However, it may well cost him his job.
The intriguing question will be who will take over, and who they will be representing. This wouldn’t be a move from a representative, mainstream NUS to a loony lefty one. It is already an unrepresentative, loony, lefty body – the question is whether it is about to become a lot more loony – and a lot more violent.
You could call this the fire extinguisher test: for all his other, manifold sins, Porter thinks that it was wrong and criminal for Edward Woollard to throw that fire extinguisher off the top of Millbank. If the hard Left take over, Porter’s successor could well be someone who thinks Woollard was a hero and that more people should behave in the same way. If that happens, it won’t be pretty.