By Timur Dautov, UCLU Marxist Society President
Having taken part in student union elections for the first time since its establishment, the Marxist Student Federation (MSF) can now celebrate its first success, as it had laid the first stone in the foundation of its intervention in the NUS in the coming year. In the recent elections in UCL, the MSF ran two candidates for the positions of NUS delegate, one of whom secured a confident victory. Sian Creely, elected one of UCL’s six delegates to the NUS, will be taking a clear socialist programme to the NUS National Conference in April 2014.
The importance of this can hardly be exaggerated. The National Union of Students is a body that represents over 7 million students, most of whom are growing more and more radicalised due to the consequences of the deepening crisis of capitalism – worsening unemployment, tuition fees, graduate debt and unsustainable living costs push the youth of today to the brink. It is a task of Marxist students to harness this radicalisation and direct it to put pressure on the NUS to fight for the real interests of its members and realise its full fighting potential.
The MSF candidates articulated students’ interests via an openly Marxist programme – that of making a resolute stand against all tuition fees and student debt by exposing them as an illegitimate means to make students pay for a crisis that they did not cause; demanding a reversal of privatisations in education, universally accessible student housing at maintenance costs and democratic running of universities by students and staff; with all this being achieved in conjunction with the wider labour movement in a common struggle for socialist policies, namely the nationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy and rational democratic planning.
Most importantly, the election campaign allowed the Federation to raise and spread the ideas of Marxism on campus. Despite the fact that the elections were severely under-publicised by the student union at UCL and took place so early on in the academic year, leaving most, especially first year students unaware of it, a special effort was made to raise publicity and spread the ideas, using leaflets and The Spark – the weekly newspaper of the UCLU Marxist Society – with articles by the candidates expressing their perspectives on the student movement as well as stressing the importance of the NUS and a principled socialist stance.
The first campaigning experience of the Marxist Student Federation is a very important and much-anticipated step in making a clear socialist voice be heard and stand out amidst moderate reformism and general disorientation that currently prevail within the student movement. It should serve as an example upon which Marxist students of the MSF in other universities can improve and base themselves on as they prepare to campaign for the spread of Marxist ideas and fight for a socialist NUS.
This article was first published on the Marxist Student Federation website.