This week is election week, and with all the excitement I can’t help but reminisce about my first student election. (After all, you never really forget your first, do you?) It was a glorious summer in mid-2015, and my school was running a ‘mock’ general election, engineered to mirror the nation going to the polls as closely as possible. We had manifestos, campaigns, speeches– even hustings! It was all quite exhilarating, really.
My friends and I, Bollinger Bolsheviks that we were, decided to split from the Labour party in order to form our own revolutionary socialist group, which itself very nearly split when I almost refused to abolish the House of the Lords, the monarchy, and the army. (Almost.) Before you ask, we finished right at the bottom, behind the Tories, Labour, UKIP, the Liberal Democrats, and a splinter Libertarian group that wanted to use NHS money to fund research on how to bring Margaret Thatcher back to life. Ah, halcyon days!
What was even sillier than this,though, was how seriously we in the United Socialist Front took the election. We weren’t representing a national party, there was very little reward for doing well, and we knew that, if elected, we wouldn’t be able to affect any real change. Why, then, did we all spend hours planning our social media strategy, canvassing the common room, and writing almost Churchillian speeches to be delivered in our school’s assemblies?
Did we have an inflated sense of our own self-importance? Delusions of grandeur, perhaps? Were we just immature, puerile, naive students, with no knowledge outside of the bubble that we had created for ourselves? To be honest, I just think we had nothing better to do with our lives. Nevertheless, I quite enjoyed extolling the virtues of insurrectionary libertarian municipal guild socialism to my fellow students, not that I can be surethat all of them were paying attention. Still, I’d do it all again, if I could.
But one cannot live in the past, of course, and my past week has therefore been much preoccupied with organising appropriate press coverage for the Students’ Association elections. For this I am, as always, eternally indebted to my Editorial Board, but this week I owe special thanks to Tamara McWilliam, who has outdone herself in making this bout of election fever pass with minimal discomfort. It would also be remiss of me to not thank all of the current Sabbatical Officers, who have been extremely forthcoming in helping us cover the elections effectively.
Inevitably, however, there will be those that are displeased with the manner in which we have covered these elections, and so I feel compelled to preemptively clarify a few things here. First and foremost, The Saint is not affiliated to the Students’ Association – we are editorially independent and financially self-sufficient. And, as much as I would like it to be, neither is The Saint some Pravda-esque publication, intent on meddling in politics and distorting the truth. We covered these elections voluntarily, and took pains to do it in the fairest, most objective way possible.
Ultimately, I would urge students to remember that Sabbatical Officers are paid to improve your university experience, and so I think that it is only right, proper, and fair that all candidates are appropriately scrutinised. I therefore hope that students watch our live streams, listen to our interviews, and read our manifesto analyses to make the most informed decision possible. Happy reading!