After an enthusiastic campaign, the “Left Opposition” slate in Swansea, comprising Marxist Society members, managed to win one delegate to the national conference of the National Union of Students. This was the largest and best organised Marxist campaign for such an election that has taken place in Swansea University in the recent period. Comrades Ross, Rosie and Lewis, accompanied by supporters from the rest of the Marxist Society gave out nearly 750 leaflets in three days, covered the university with posters, and hung a large red banner opposite one of the main buildings on campus appealing for people to “Vote Left Opposition!”. Combined with a speech given in the student bar, and a Facebook campaign which reached over 2500 people, it wasn’t uncommon to hear students talking about things like tuition fees, high rent, socialism, and “these Marxist society people”.
The campaign started as an uphill battle as students were either unaware of the elections or completely disaffected with the NUS. This comes to no surprise as Swansea Student Union practically did not advertise the event – to the comfort of the narrow circle of SU officers and full-timers who take these elections for granted as a way to burnish their CVs and career prospects. It comes to no surprise that the general consensus among the students is that the NUS is seen as an inactive social circle for people more interested in their own careers than in militantly standing up for the interests of students. It’s also no surprise that the turnout was very low and some candidates can rely on their personal popularity and friendship vote to win in these elections without conducting any real campaign. This situation once again highlights the burning need to transform the NUS by fighting for a socialist leadership which is prepared to go much further to defend its members, and thus inspire people to get involved in it.
This is precisely what we argued for in our manifesto. The NUS has massive potential in its hands, with its multi-million membership. We explained that to fight against rip-off rents, tuition fees, low wages, privatisation etc. we need to link up with the labour movement. Students have often done this in the past – one of the most significant examples is the 1968 revolution in France, which started with occupations of universities and then spread to factories and to the streets.
The conditions for such a struggle are not unique to the 1960s or to any specific country. The mood boiling beneath the surface at this very moment in Britain and internationally is one of anger at the unfair attacks on the working class. It only takes a spark for the whole thing to explode in a new period of struggle. Events, events, events will completely transform the situation. The NUS can become a forum for revolutionary debate, and elections such as these can then be landslide victories for revolutionary students who boldly explain the need for a fundamental transformation, not just of the students’ leadership, but of the whole of society.
The Marxist Society in Swansea is preparing for these events by building its influence and developing its membership on the solid rock of Marxist theory. We are serious about changing the world – and in order to do that, we seek to understand it.
On Saturday, we hosted a social to say thank you to those who participated in the campaign. We raised a toast to the candidates, some money to our fighting fund, and agreed that we’ve never been in a better situation in this city. The social (formally) ended with a loud rendition of the Internationale and Bandiera Rossa, and more enthusiastic than ever we will go back to the meetings, to the street stalls and to the labour movement with the slogan of the greatest cause on earth, the slogan of socialist revolution.
by Swansea Marxists