Mark Bergfield Is The Man To Shake Up Youth Politics
NUS President Aaron Porter resigned from his post, having been accused of being soft and snuggling up to the Labour elite with an eye to a career in politics.
Porter’s last blog post stated:
The challenge for a new National President will be great. They’ll need to support students’ unions and student officers to get the best deal for students, whilst running a major national campaign to defeat damaging marketization in education. They’ll need to build activism and radicalism on the ground whilst defending legitimate, democratic students’ unions from attack from our enemies. Above all, they’ll need a fresh outlook- because if we are to reach out, and engage with, the full diversity of our membership, we need to move beyond the tired rhetoric and redundant tactics of some factional groups.
Bergfield is a different matter. Patrick Sawer profiles Bergfield in the Telegraph beneath the heading “law and order“:
He has described the invasion of Millbank tower, during which thousands of students besieged the HQ of the Conservative Party last November, as “brilliant”.
Despite disturbing scenes which saw windows smashed and a fire extinguisher thrown from the roof of the building, Mr Bergfeld refused to condemn the students’ actions, stating: “There was no violence taking place and I don’t condemn any action that was taken on that protest.”
The Press Association tells us that Bergfield is “a spokesman for the Education Activist Network, which organised fees protests separately to the NUS“.
There is no doubt that Bergfield makes for a media-friendly candidate. But can a man who fails to condemn violence win the popular vote and engage with power?
The others vying to become NUS president are:
Shane Chowen: NUS vice president of further education.
Favourite to win.
Liam Burns: president of NUS Scotland.
“I think that we need to make sure the next list of candidates is more diverse. At the moment, the list does not reflect the union membership as a whole and I think that it flies in the face of all of the work we are calling for to widen access to higher education.”
Thomas Byrne, is a first-year politics student at York University and a former Conservative Party member. He’s the outsider who comes with a rather unfortunate, irony-laden analogy:
“No one expected the Liberal Democrats to be in Government now but they are.”
Those would be the LibDems who promised to oppose a rise in tuition fees and then, when in power, supported them?
You want diversity and a clear message of intent? Bergfield may well get in…