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YESTERDAY IN HUSTINGS: NOVEMBER EDITION

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YESTERDAY IN HUSTINGS we saw candidates for NUS Delegate, Mature Students Officer, and Council Lay-member give speeches to those running for NUS Delegate, the Mature Students Officer, and Council Lay-member.

In what was a pathetic turn out, which should be expected for the November elections, we at least saw a first. There were four competent – well, when compared to Council anywhere – prospective Councillors. That, however, is where the change ended.

There were actually five people standing for the position, Mohsin Salim, Jackie Abhulimen, Georgios Koundourakis, Mohammed Lunat and Kostas Karafoulidis. As usual, somebody wasn’t there … Mr Koundourakis was in Paris.

As usual we went through the standard opening speeches promising greater transparency with the same naïve promises that they can change the entirety of Council, the union and university and misunderstandings that Council is important in union affairs that read as if they are from the laughable statements produced by the union’s democracy committee – after all, can Council get rid of an unelected trustee who actually runs the union? No.

Other illuminating comments of the day include that from Mr Lunat; he said that “my journey began about a month ago when we were at a BDS [Boycott, Divest, Sanction] Conference, I was with a Sabbatical Officer and some people from the university and we saw the presence of certain companies on campus that weren’t good for backing the cohesion of students and we decided they should be people on campus who could back the students, but not only back the students but somebody who could make a genuine difference”.

So, his vote will be in favour of a Sabbatical Officer because he is, it seems, their puppet. So much for holding them to account – yet further proof Council is pointless and will continue to be pointless.

He went on, “I decided to run based on my manifesto” … so, he didn’t write it? “But people will vote for me”, he said, so it is all right.

Others said things about Team Bradford ad nauseam, the fact they are Greek and relevant experience is that they have is secondary school and how involved they are in the union to various degrees.

The most grounded speech of the evening was from Kostas Karafoulidis. Despite essentially threatening to spit in your pint if you don’t vote for him (“I work at the Sports Bar”) he pointed out “first and second year students don’t even know” what the union is and then promptly wishing everyone good luck – recognising the futility of talking to nobody.

The Colours award for ‘Obviously Rigged question of the Day’ goes to Mr Salim. Asked “What does Council do?” he riffled through his notes and began reading exactly what the Council does – as you would expect. Despite him being first and giving an excellent, obviously scripted, answer the others unbelievably continued to get it wrong.

Miss Abhulimen just said that it was ‘what the other guy said’ followed by the trademark-ending of an incredibly fast “thank you” at the end of her speech, Mr Lunat proved he was living on some strange world where the union had any significant influence over the university and stated it was responsible for all the university and Kostats Karafoulidis just said “I don’t need to answer anything new” with a tad of elaboration and then walked off.

The favourite question to catch people out is to ask if they had read the constitution. Shock, nobody had.

It was clear the candidate with the most potential in Council was Mohsin Salim. His performance was shaky, but that is to be expected, and he was more likely than not put forwards by a sabbatical officer in a vote-bloc but he was already slamming Council and its complete lack of transparency. “The last minutes of the meetings are on the 24th September 2013” he astutely noted (without notes then, too). He won’t be able change anything, but the thought is there. He also knew how long the constitution that is, which is more than everyone else. It is clear we have someone who can prepare when he needs to and Council is already full of big-talkers who can shout someone down but put absolutely no thought or preparation into anything and go along for their bloc-vote, CV and the free pizza. He may be welcome change – but then again a majority of these candidates are.

NUS DELEGATES

Students who do not realise that the National Union Students died off the instant a Labour government introduced Tuition Fees, brought back to life by the Liberal Democrats only to be ruthlessly slaughtered live on television in a sacrifice the to the Osborne family as students threw fire extinguishers off the roof of Milbank at other students continue to go to conference in the deluded belief that they can change it.

This year, these candidates are Sam Majunga (who was not at Hustings), Hayden Strawbridge, Aadam Siciid Muuse and Jason Smith.

All of the candidates registered their disgust at the NUS, yet all when asked how they would vote in an In/Out referendum said they would vote to stay in.

But the funniest event of the evening was the blatant admission that two candidates (Mr Strawbridge and Mr Smith) were running on the same platform – a slate. Both running under the ‘Socialists Students’ banner, which was obvious from their posters with the logo of the party on and from their badges they wore on the day.

Strawbridge couldn’t bear contain this open secret for the entirety of Hustings, let alone the elections. “Me and Jason” he said, as if he just wanted to get kicked off the election after realising he had better things to be doing in his life like cutting his toe-nails or sending in poorly-written complaints to the Bradford Student.

This just further highlights why the Union needs to reform rules regarding slates, and it needs to do so before the next election cycle. It is overwhelmingly obvious all Sabbatical Officers have run in slates and that anyone who is not planning to run in a slate has lost already and should just continue to complain to the Tech Team. It would be completely anti-democratic to kick people off for this, leading to yet another uncontested election elevating a candidate who doesn’t have to do anything to get in (Liam Barker, Chair of Council). Hardly democratic, is it?

There was also questions about the NUS’s hypocritical commercial services division, what the NUS actually does and the fan-favourite about transparency.

Subira Ismal, who is standing for the Women’s position, spoke about how it is her priority to ensure that the unions voice is heard at a national level, that she would not be afraid to challenge the NUS and how as the Black Students Officer she has, apparently, the tools needed to “scrutinise, legitimise and hold accountable the right people in the NUS”.

Setting aside the bulk buying of alcohol that apparently fuels ‘Lad Culture’ whilst simultaneously holding countless conferences about, funding reports about and generally disliking the apparent rise of ‘Lad Culture’ there could come a point where essentially forced Women-short lists become problematic for the organisation – recently the European Court of Human Rights issued guidance making it very clear that they are illegal. They then went to issue this statement,

“We do not believe that it is lawful to address under-representation by longlisting or shortlisting only female candidates to the detriment of male candidates”

MATURE STUDENTS OFFICER

The only candidate for mature students officer, Eithne Barker, had a solid performance throughout Hustings and clearly knew her brief and what her position entailed.

THE REAL STORY, THE SLOW LEGITIMISATION OF SLATES?

Unfortunately for this authors amusement, all of the candidates are of a passable standard this cycle, especially compared to their elected counterparts. There is still the usual tactics of trying to form vote-blocs, Sports and Societies deluding themselves into thinking they are important enough to be able to dictate elections and Sabbatical Officers trying to subvert Council because their fragile egos are terrified of criticism. Fortunately, however, they have not repeated the mistake of last election where they fronted candidates who mumbled into a microphone about how their experience of being able to swim qualified them for council.

The November elections are as boring as expected and the real headline at the end of it could be the slow legitimisation of slates. Surely, if two candidates are openly allowed to do it here how could Elections Committee then not allow it come May? If the Committee takes no action, when they are told to take action in the Sabbatical Officer elections it will look even more politically motivated, even more undemocratic and even more backhanded than it already is.

The elections are open today. A full list of candidates, as well as their speeches, can be found on the UBU website.

UPDATE: The elections are now closed.

Bradford East LibDem Wipeout

WIPE-OUT-DW-560LORD ASHCROFT has released polling data that suggest that if an election was to be held tomorrow the Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East, David Ward, would lose his seat to Labour after an 11.5 per cent swing away from his party.

Further polling data shows that the LibDem vote in several key constituencies has halved, with Brighton Pavilion, home of the only Green MP Caroline Lucas, being much closer – with a 1.5 per cent swing to Labour.

Bradford East data also suggests UKIP roughly in line with the national average, suggesting much broader support nationally than many would like to admit.

 

Typically you would expect to see a swing back towards the party of government as we approach a general election. Circumstances this time, however, are very different. Firstly, will is happen again this election? Crucially for the LibDem’s, will it happen to them? After all, they have been saddled with the unpopular decisions of the coalition government and not been able to take credit for popular measures – something all European parties know very well, where coalitions are much more likely.

But this is a snapshot. The Liberal Democrats have proven in the past that they are excellent at both organizing campaigns and getting the vote out. With them no longer being the protest vote of choice – UKIP now fills that void – I expect that the share will increase but a Labour gain.

BRADFORD WEST – THE GALLOWAY AFFAIR
ANOTHER question which will not be answered until next year is if Bradford West MP, George Galloway, will choose to stand again. There has been speculation, which has been fuelled by Galloway him self on many occasions, that he will run for mayor of London.

It would not be impossible for an independent to win, especially one such as Galloway. With the first election the former prime minister, Tony Blair, and Ken Livingston had a public dispute which led to Livingstone been forced out of Labour and having to campaign by himself. And, as you will know, Livingstone won the election and was soon brought back inside after the humiliation was over.

There has been no polling of the constituency, but it is unlikely that Galloway could pull it off again. The Respect Party has had its fair share of trouble and it would be almost impossible to bring local support to the levels that were present in the byelection because it is no longer there. Furthermore, Labour would not be willing to take the risk again of losing (or failing to win, now) a constituency that should be a Labour strong hold.

Furthermore, a huge amount of tactical voting will take place. Few like Galloway outside of the Respect bubble, which would suggest that the odds are stacked against him even more than last time; a battle that he will be unwilling to fight for such little reward.

The polling was performed between 11th and 21st of June with a sample size of 1000. The full data is available on Lord Ashcroft’s website

Are the Scottish Conservatives really that unpopular? No.

Alex Salmond

THE Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) has increasingly pushed the line that the Scottish Conservatives are more unpopular than standing on a plug in the middle of the night; but, as with many SNP lines it is, in fact, somewhat of a miss-truth.

As was pointed out at Political Betting sometime ago, the Scottish Conservative Party are not as unpopular as you would think if you followed SNP-propaganda in the run-up to the referendum. When you look at the results in percentage terms for both the 2010 General Election and the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections you discover that they are merely a victim of First Past The Post in the Westminster elections and have similar levels of support with the Scottish Parliament elections, too.

 

6th May 2010 – General Election (First Past The Post)

Labour – 41 seats (n/c) – 42% (+2%)

Liberal Democrat – 11 seats (-1) – 18.9% (-3.7%)

SNP  – 6 seats (-1) – 19.9% (+2.3%)

Conservative – 1 seat (n/c) – 16.7% (+0.9%)

 

5th May 2011 – Scottish Parliament (List System)

SNP – 46 seats (+23) – 45.4% (+14.5%)

Labour – 44 seats (-7) – 31.7% (+2.5)

Conservative – 15 seats (-5) – 13.9% (-2.7%)

Liberal Democrat – 5 seats (-12) – 11.3% (-3.4%)

 

Another fashionable line to tell as anti-Union propaganda is that Scotland never voted for the governments Britain got, it does not get a fair voice and by leaving the United Kingdom they will have a ‘progressive government’.

What this means, essentially, is a huge shift to the left with the SNP dominating politics in what critics claim would be a quasi-dictatorship.

A point against would be to highlight that before arch-nemesis for all Scotts, David Cameron, the past two prime ministers have been Scottish … even if one sounds far from it.

Secondly, it can be argued if they continue with the list system (which ensures that leaders will never face the humiliating situation Portillo, and almost Ed Balls, found themselves in and wipes out the proper protest vote as seen spectacularly with George Galloway in the Bradford West byelection) they will never be able to eradicate sub-par MPs or even hold them to account under a parliamentary recall system the Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith has proposed, a move I would suggest is quite progressive, very-SNP. I would suggest that this completely anti-democratic, flying in the face of what the Nationalists have been preaching since the 1970s.

As the debate over Scotland continues it will only become more Americanised. With the level of polarisation already splitting families apart, according to ICM polling, whatever the result there will be an irreparable fracture. The only question is, will it also tear a country in two?”

Imran Khan’t

Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 2013

  • Khan Misses Another Graduation
  • Yet Another Failure of Chancellor to Attend a Ceremony in Bradford

THE chancellor of the University of Bradford, Imran Khan, has failed to attend any of the graduation ceremonies in December which marks yet another graduation season where the chancellor has failed to make an appearance on campus.

The Bradford Student understands that the last time Mr Khan attended the university campus was the December 2010 graduation ceremonies – therefore this makes six consecutive graduation ceremonies where he hasn’t been present at the graduation.

Last summer Mr Khan was in the United Kingdom as part of recovering from his fall off a podium in the Pakistani election campaign. On the evening of one graduation ceremony he was giving an interview to Channel Four News about the Pakistani elections, the success of the PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) and his fall but never mentioned this institution. One former student told this publication that they “were really disappointed” that he did not attend the university or even send in a video-message for their graduation; he did, however, send an email statement to all students explaining the situation in May of last year.

In December 2011 the university released a statement from Mr Khan along with a message claiming that they “were most grateful for the time our chancellors’ give in support of the university” and that it “is not usual for chancellors to attend all award ceremonies” and that “Imran gives most generously of his time”.

In the statement released by Mr Khan on the 2nd December 2011, it said, “I am sorry that I will not be able to be at your award ceremonies next week.

“You may be aware what a difficult time it is at the moment in my home country, Pakistan. I am involved in critical talks about the country’s future and there are meetings next Wednesday and Thursday in Pakistan which I need to attend. This means I am not able to join you in Bradford for ceremonies this time”.

However questions were then raised by students regarding how Mr Khan was able to attend the Oxford Union to give a speech on the 23rd February of last year yet was apparently unable to come to the winter graduations or make an appearance on campus.

The vice-chancellor, Brian Cantor, has told the Bradford Student that he is “aware of the issues” that have been raised.

Throughout his first three months he tells us he has “given a lot of thought” to the current situation and that he “hope[s] to meet with him in the near future to review his role and how it goes forward”

“I have tried very hard to meet with Imran Khan over the last couple of months, but due to the ongoing political situations in Pakistan this has proved impossible”, Mr Cantor says.

The vice-chancellor also wishes to “appeal to the better nature of our student body to be more supportive of the work Imran has to carry out as a politician”, adding “He is faced with challenges which directly impact on the lives and existence of those living in Pakistan.

“I would hope that any student in Bradford who might find they are they are faced with similar challenges would be as courageous and committed as Imran is to improving the lives of others through education and policy changes, at the same time as handling threats of terrorism and armed conflict”

Mr Khan, who is leader of the opposition party PTI in the Pakistani National Assembly, has “a major political role in Pakistan” according to the vice-chancellor.

He says that whilst it is frustrating for students regarding his attendance record he urges students to be “sympathetic to the situation in Pakistan and the responsibility Imran has to improving the state of the country”.

Despite being unable to arrange a meeting in the past three months Mr Cantor is hopeful of being able to actually meet with the chancellor, saying, “when I meet with Imran we will discuss his role as chancellor at Bradford and how that sits alongside his role as leader of the opposition in Pakistan”. It is understood that dates for an eventual meeting between Imran Khan and the university are currently been discussed.

Imran Khan has been chancellor the University of Bradford since 2005 and is currently the second longest serving chancellor in the institutions almost fifty year history. The longest serving was former prime minister Lord Harold Wilson.

Originally published in February’s edition of The Bradford Student. 

Yesterday in Hustings – 5/3/14

YESTERDAY IN HUSTINGS candidates for LGBT Officer, School of Management Officer, Environment and Welfare Officer, Women’s Liberation Officer and Council answered questions, some better than others.

The Environment and Welfare Officer position was where the evening really begun, with the LGBT Officer role only having one candidate, Taz Gibbins-Klein, and the School of Management hustings being split into two because one of the candidates was late.

Zakerias Haileselassie and Rosemary Ellingham are both currently part-time officers and played upon this experience. Haileselassie was slower to warm up than expected, with him committing the cardinal sin of reading off his manifesto in his opening speech but once the questions started he used his incredible oratory skills which would usually destroy any other candidate. Ellingham, though, proved an equal match with no clear victor.

Their roles as either Black and Minority Ethnic Students Officer – Mr Haileselassie – or as LGBT Officer – Miss Ellingham – did begin to make the debate somewhat polarised. At points it seemed like they were just expressing what they have done leaving a huge gulf where they could have explored what they want to do in the role, something which when they did do they both did on a far better scale than any of the candidates of the evening by some margin.

Then the potential Women’s and Liberation Officer. Current officer, Steffy Bechelet, against Diko Blackings and Samayya Afzal.

This debate followed a similar trend of clichéd questions that anyone could have written. But there were some that were suspiciously written, almost as if they were planted. For instance, a 24 hour hotline question which seemed suspiciously like it is central to Miss Blackings’ campaign and was by far the best answer she gave all evening. I’m sure it’s just a pure coincidence that this question came up, though.

Miss Bechelet was the surprise winner of the evening. Past public speaking engagements have proved to get the better but it seems when the pressure is on she is a capable performer and the only candidate with perfectly timed and performed opening and summation speeches. It wasn’t the evening for Miss Afzal, though, who didn’t seem to be able to match the other candidates strong performances.

The cringe-induced bloodbath of the evening came with, as you would expect, with the nominees for Council Lay-member. A role that has historically been filled with sub-par, wannabe politicians forced into it by their society under the delusion that it expands their influence. Like years gone by, the event failed to disappoint and the candidates were lined up against the wall and committed what would in a functioning democracy be career-suicide.

One question was “who do you want to represent?” which should illicit a rather obvious response. Everyone wants to, shockingly, represent everyone. One candidate, though, must have been so startled by the flash of the newspapers camera that they forgot where they were and started talking about events that they want to hold.

“I want to hold tailor made events, not just for, but for like everyone even post-grads and errm, international students”, one candidate drivelled on about … perhaps it should be worth informing her that the Media and Entertainments Officer hustings were yesterday.

The repetitive drivel continued with one candidate answering and then the majority of other candidates parroting what was just said. “Buzzword, buzzword, students, buzzword, vote for me” was the formula of the day.

The public humiliation only got worse when the comparatively difficult questions were asked. Firstly, how would they reform council? The first person declared that she alone could make it more efficient, and then mumbled about making more publicity for council. Guess what the next answer was. “I’d like to … can you repeat the question … I’d like to make people more aware of what the council is wand what we can actually do for students on council”. And then the same. It went on. Most of the panel who will become your councillors fail to understand the conversation that has gone on in council regarding reforms, no candidate with a clear plan and about two candidates who have the ability to act properly within council.

In the same barrage of questions, one about how to increase the transparency of council. One candidate didn’t understand what transparency meant. A majority of the others ignored what was said and answered their own questions with only one expressing how maybe the union should release the minutes publicly, something they have failed to do for the past year.

Laughing at the complete and utter incompetence is a somewhat childish pursuit once you realise these are the people that are meant to be representing you in what is meant to be a legislative body and is part of a mechanism that holds the Sabbatical Officers to account. It’s completely outrageous that two candidates completely failed to submit a manifesto and is perhaps more egregious that they are allowed to continue in the election.

Hustings, historically known for its coma-inducing nature, became more interesting yesterday. There was more than one candidate in some of the positions, which is always nice for a democracy, and the usual public humiliation of wannabe politicians which always brightens the mood.

Today candidates for NUS delegate, Community Engagement Officer, Disabled Students Officer, International Students Officer, International Students Officer, Academic Affairs Officer and Development and Democracy Officer will be taking selected questions from the floor.