Conservative Diary

Uni and SU

6 May 2008 18:10:25

Student wing of CF launched

Conservative Future has this week announced the launch of Student Life – the student wing of Conservative Future that will coordinate the work of Student Conservative Future groups across the country.

The committee will be jointly chaired by National Executive Member, Patrick Sullivan and Sam Rozati, the only Conservative on the Executive of the National Union of Students'. Patrick will champion Student Life within the National Management Executive and sit on the Student Life Committee to ensure consistency with Conservative Future's wider activities.

Rozati will chair Student Life on a day-to-day basis to provide support to student groups in colleges and Universities across the country. The membership of the Student Life Committee will be announced by shortly.

If you are a student and would like to be considered for a position within the Committee please contact Patrick by 5pm on Thursday.

31 Oct 2007 17:12:00

Willetts salutes the work of SUs

David_willetts David Willetts, Shadow Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, gave a speech in Sheffield today about the student experience. He advocated universities treating students more like consumers by publishing more detailed information and their performance, and also called for the Government to bring forward its review of tuition fees (without coming down on either side of the fees debate).

Interestingly he also touched on the important role Students Unions have to play in the social responsibility agenda, basically saying that although we might often disagree with what is said within SUs, the money and resources they provide are worthwhile:

"Student unions are often viewed by wider society as the place where Marxist-Leninists have hard-fought ideological battles with Leninist-Marxists.  There are still some union members who use them as an opportunity to posture.  There are new threats as well; radical Islam has emerged on some of our campuses - and student unions cannot be expected to deal with it on their own.  However, this is not typical. These days, students are more likely to have posters of Boris Johnson than Che Guevara.  The social interaction and fiery political debate that went on when I was an undergraduate was – and still is – important. But students’ unions offer so much more to students and to the communities they live in. Welfare and advice services provided by students, for students, are at the heart of what student unions have to offer."

"Participation in student societies is, nowadays, a feature of the ambitious graduate’s CV. Students’ unions nurture these societies, which, regardless of whether they seek to promote the Conservative Party (or to destroy it) all help students to learn vital skills for the workplace. These might include event organisation, financial management, public speaking, marketing, fundraising and even sales."

"Out in the communities that surround our universities, student community action groups are bringing real benefit to the lives of others. Students’ unions are playing their part in their local communities: Charitable fundraising; university governance; sports and fitness training; examination guidance; job centres; equality campaigning. I could go on.  The Party has recently rediscovered its commitment to social responsibility – or what I have called ‘Civic Conservatism’.  It is an interest in institutions which help build a strong society. To local schools, hospitals, charities, friendly societies, I would add student unions."

I've pasted the full speech into a pdf file - download here.

Unsurprisingly, the NUS' Gemma Tumelty couldn't find it in her heart to say anything nice about the speech. The NUS has press released Gemma Tumelty's reaction which welcomes the positive remarks about the role of SUs, but is sceptical of the tuition fees plan.

My experience is that SUs are a mixed bag. Matching funding for and supporting student societies, for example, is completely in line with the Party's desire to strengthen civil society. Providing advice to students on sexual heath, finances, univeristy problems etc is also a very useful function. As soon as they start getting political though, they get increasingly irrelevant. One of my personal bug bears was the pointless position of Women's Officer.

What do you think?

(note: this is a seperate debate to whether SUs should be affiliated to the NUS)

5 Sep 2007 11:32:06

Freshers Fair 2007

Ff_pack_2 Freshers Fair packs will be winging their way to university branches over the next couple of days.

The packs last year were full of posters and policy leaflets, and this year they are even bigger. The successful, and increasingly apt, Boris theme has been continued.

Almost twice as many as last year have been sent, but there are still a few spares if you want to apply for one last-minute.

Thanks go to Harry Cole and volunteers for getting them sorted out so quickly.

4 Jan 2007 07:41:00

Andrew Young: Communication on campus

Andrew_young_4 I got in trouble by disagreeing with an article on this blog promoting the use of newspapers on campus to influence student opinion. Not that newspapers are such a bad idea – I wrote for Student Direct in Manchester - but the thought of CF branches finding the start up costs, investing the time and running the risk of debt or libel suit fills me with dread.

Winning the battle on campus is important. Students comprise 49% of active members of CF. More importantly however, the political opinions formed there will last a lifetime. Hence the number of strong Thatcherites honed by the campus battles of the 80s, and the general apathy of the grown-up students of the Major era towards Conservatism.

Winning the culture wars is key, but newspapers, except those funded by an obliging Student Union, are a bad idea. The solution? Need you ask? You’re reading it…

Continue reading "Andrew Young: Communication on campus" »

6 Dec 2006 07:54:42

Ross Cowling: Conservative student publications in the US

Ross_cowling_copy Ross (blog) is a member of the Conservative Party and a recent graduate of the University of Kent. He has just returned from carrying out an internship at The Leadership Institute in Arlington, Virginia.

I have recently returned from the across the pond where I was interning at the Leadership Institute in Arlington, Virginia. A large part of my time at LI was spent in their Student Publication Department. This experience opened my eyes to many things that I had not previously thought about, and made me ask myself  “why do we let the left dominate student media in the UK?”

The wave of conservative student publications in the US has emanated out of The Dartmouth Review, which was founded by the likes of Dinesh D’Souza and Ann Coulter. Now, with the help of LI, almost every major college campus in the US has a conservative publication that counters the leftist bias encountered in the mainstream student dailies.

The LI has several full-time Student Publication Coordinators who travel across the country assisting conservative groups in setting up and maintaining a publication. The services they offer range from in depth workshops where students learn the skills they need to manage a publication, to guidance in using design software so they can produce a professional product. Crucially the LI also offers new publications financial assistance to help them get off the ground and get their first issue published.

Continue reading "Ross Cowling: Conservative student publications in the US" »

29 Nov 2006 15:03:00

Shane Greer: The Battle for Student Government


Shane (blog) is a member of the Conservative Party, and is currently interning at the Leadership Institute in Arlington, Virginia. In this article, the second in a trilogy, he looks at what lessons we can learn from student campaigning in the US.

It almost seems redundant to highlight the dominance leftists enjoy in student government up and down the United Kingdom.  However just as it is important to remind ourselves how privileged we are to have running water, something we often take for granted, so too is it important to remind ourselves of the travesty it is to have as the status quo a state of leftist absolutism in our university student governments. 

The sad truth is that on the vast majority of university campuses, the choice in student government elections is between different shades of the left; between Coke and Pepsi.  The net result of this of course is something each of us, in our own universities, is far too familiar with.  This being so, and without wishing to take the soft drink analogy too far, I humbly submit it is our job to ensure that lemonade is also on offer; and most importantly of all, made the drink of choice.  The question of course is how do we achieve this? 

As indicated in the first article in this series, it is my belief that victory in the battle for student government will only be achieved if young conservatives are trained in the political technology necessary to ensure victory.  It is to this technology that we now turn.

Continue reading "Shane Greer: The Battle for Student Government" »

21 Nov 2006 03:59:53

Shane Greer: The challenge for young conservatives

Shanegreer02_1 Shane (blog) is a member of the Conservative Party, and is currently interning at the Leadership Institute in Arlington, Virginia.

The left was never right, but it is dominant.

Young conservatives throughout the United Kingdom face a massive challenge, a battle which must be fought. That challenge is to dislodge the leftist dominance which saturates University life, and we owe it to our philosophy to win.

From student politics, to student media the left’s grip is all consuming. For proof of this one need look no further than the NUS ban on the sale of Nestlé products. So untrusting are they of individual liberty that through central planning, leftist dominated student unions across the UK attempt to control behavior. Rather than allowing the free-market to determine what products are, or are not purchased they choose to enforce their ‘higher morality’ through quasi-legislative diktats. Indeed their dictatorial machinations are so odious as to bring to mind Montesquieu, who as Bastiat indicated, considered “…persons, liberties, property – mankind itself – to be nothing but materials for legislators to exercise their wisdom upon.”

Continue reading "Shane Greer: The challenge for young conservatives" »

5 Nov 2006 07:59:00

Raising money for Children in Need

Newcastle-under-Lyme and Keele University Conservative Future have announced their plans for fundraising for this years Children in Need campaign. Last year the group’s executive committee and Cllr Simon Tagg dyed their hair blue to raise funds for the charity.

Blue_hair_1 This year the group will be collecting sponsorship and donations for their chairman, Owen Meredith, to have his legs waxed on Friday 17th November (the annual campaign day). Owen said:

“Children in Need is a great charity doing amazing work for throughout the UK. Although I am somewhat concerned about losing my leg hair, my worries are nothing compared to what thousands of children and their carers face every day. I hope this challenge will help raise awareness and funds for a very good cause.”

The leg waxing has kindly been donated by “Moments of Beauty” in Newcastle, and will take place at Keele University Students Union in Sam's Bar at 2:30pm on Friday 17th November.

NKCF have set up an online page for sponsorship, that gives money direct to the BBC charity, You can sponsor Owen’s leg waxing challenge and donate directly to Children in Need by visiting this website. If you are a UK taxpayer, 28% can be added to your donation by the taxman too!

7 Oct 2006 06:34:00

Edward Keene: Holding onto alumni

There is generally acknowledged to be something of a crisis in party recruitment amongst younger voters, and this is not least in the Conservative Party. On the whole, the bulk of young professionals outside London who are active in the party are those interested in standing for elected office. This is in contrast to the multitude of healthy student branches and associations where there is much more of a pronounced social side to membership – indeed, the main focus of student groups is ‘the social side’!

As Mark Clarke, the new National Chair of CF is fond of saying “You are four times more likely to be a Conservative if you are 19 than if you are 29.” Note well: that is a big-C Conservative – not a little-c conservative. There is ample and growing little-c conservatism in young Britain, as people across the country wake up to the fact that society can run itself without the nannying intervention of big-government. Thus the lack of members in the 21-35 age band is not down to decreasing conservatism in society, but a failure of mechanism and structure.

The exact nature of this failure is debateable, and arguably academic, but I would say it is a result of greater mobility, which has produced a generation of natural conservatives who, rather than return to the communities of their upbringing after University or training, move to areas overwhelmingly populated by similar individuals. These areas are even more lacking in social hierarchy and entrenched social institutions.

Continue reading "Edward Keene: Holding onto alumni" »

4 Sep 2006 10:02:00

Freshers' Fair ideas

It's not easy to come up with ideas for how to bring in the punters at Freshers' Fairs, or at least ones which aren't cheesy, cliched or expensive.

The CFTV blog is running a competition for funny ways of advertising CF at FFs.

It'd be good to hear of anything that has worked for you in the past as this is very much the preparation period for the looming Fairs (and I need more ideas for mine!).

15 Aug 2006 01:50:00

Tim Aker: The University Challenge

Tim_aker Tim Aker is former President of Nottingham University CF

When I ran for Education Officer in the Nottingham University Students Union elections a number of things came to me. Firstly, the dominance of left-leaning institutions and societies like the numerous equality and diversity organisations, the LGBT, the Peace society and groups for global justice (italicised to emphasise it is their concept of social justice, one bound to the state, within the state and of the state). However well meaning these groups are, their radical agendas spread beyond their remit to, now, campaign for ultimately anti-conservative ends.

Secondly these groups took action, won places on elected Students Union committees and run for National Union of Students elections, to which those delegates select the national leaders of the Students Movement. The previous NUS President was endorsed by the ‘Broad Student Left’; the current national president is a Labour Party member, although she ran as an independent. Thirdly, this explains why we keep losing.

So you can see the problems for Conservatives, although we have no right to complain unless we do something about it. We constantly send candidates to the slaughter at NUS conferences because we think that’s the way to get change. But clearly it’s not. With Labour/Liberal sympathising organisations controlling the University’s own Unions they therefore cut off the oxygen flow to any potential Conservative election victory in the NUS.

Continue reading "Tim Aker: The University Challenge" »