Socialist Appeal - British section of the International Marxist Tendency: the Marxist voice of labour and youth.
hov-nat-supporters1.jpg On Thursday, 6th March, supporters of Hands Off Venezuela at the University of East Anglia had an emergency resolution to the National Union of Students passed calling for affiliation to the HOV campaign. This motion will be sent to NUS conference on April 1st-3rd, opening the prospect of the whole of the NUS (which comprises something like 4 million students) affiliating to HOV. This will give the campaign a massive boost in the UK and in Venezuela.
Students will no doubt be well acquainted with the dire state of student union meetings. Usually, they are to be dreaded. They drag on for hours, the bureaucrats and political fetishists gorging themselves on the disappointment and disillusionment of genuine activists as they realise that, after 3 hours, nothing political has been discussed, and we’re still talking about the minutes of the last meeting! At the previous union council meeting I attended, there was, in all seriousness, a half an hour debate about the enforcement of good grammar.

hov_but.jpg On Thursday, 6th March, supporters of Hands Off Venezuela broke the deadlock. With the deadline for emergency resolutions to National Union of Students looming, we decided, almost flippantly, to send a motion to union council calling for affiliation to the HOV campaign, and that this motion, if passed, be sent to NUS conference on April 1st-3rd, opening the prospect of the whole of the NUS affiliating to HOV. This was done with the recent Colombia/Venezuela/Ecuador ‘tensions’ in mind. But we did not believe that this would even get discussed at union council, as the above mentioned tiresome, bureaucratic nature of the meetings, dragged out by the right-wingers, is then used by the very same people as an excuse to end the meetings and avoid discussion of anything political they do not like. “Let’s not discuss this. We all want to go home.”

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 plastic cup

As our motion came up for discussion, council had been debating the use of plastic cups in the bar for some time. This was the perfect backdrop for the Tories to say “let’s all go home.” But what was interesting about this motion, was just how riled up it got them, and how much everyone wanted to discuss it. After Martin Hall (mover of the motion, who has been working tirelessly for these sort of results) gave his opening speech, the Tories made their intervention, calling Chávez a dictator and the financer of most of the world’s terrorists! Interestingly, they also brought up Socialist Appeal, since Martin is a supporter.

But the attacks of the Tories were so aggressive, that they appeared to unite the whole of the rest of council behind us. Interestingly, many members of the union executive, usually very depoliticised, spoke strongly for our motion. The tensions were high, but council was for once exciting and politicised, and it seemed to really impress everyone and win a remarkable number of people to our ideas, at least for the duration of the meeting.

But the most interesting thing was that, in similar fashion to their attempts to cut discussions short by arguing we should ‘go home’, some of the Tories stormed out before the vote, presumably half in frustration (they fumed that the motion was ‘disgusting’!) but also to sabotage the whole motion – by cutting the numbers in the meeting, they made it ‘inquorate’ (too few people) thus cutting the meeting short. But no one paid attention, sick of their antics (they’ve done this before, trying to halt all progressive motions), and the motion was passed with only 3 voting against! After the tense debating, everyone (even those normally opposed to us) seemed genuinely enthralled and delighted, some hugging Martin, who received a round of applause, something unheard of!

Because of their anti-democratic behaviour, many are now calling for these Tories to be kicked off council and one of them removed from his executive role. Another has resigned. We do not necessarily support this witch hunt atmosphere, however it is quite remarkable the effect this only briefly thought-through motion has had. Student union politics is now polarised and genuinely political.

The resolution passed by UEA Student Council and the shorter resolution to NUS are appended below. We call on all HOV supporters, if there is still time in their university, to get elected to go to this conference and support the motion. If it passes, the whole of the National Union of Students (which comprises something like 4 million students) will be affiliated. This will give the campaign a massive boost in the UK and in Venezuela.

Long live the revolution!


Emergency Resolution on Crisis in Latin America

Council Notes:

  1. That the Venezuelan government has helped unify the Latin American continent, increasing trade amongst its own nations and thereby achieving greater autonomy from the USA.
  2. That university education is free for all in Venezuela, and that since 1998 there has been a huge increase in expenditure on free, national education.
  3. That there are many Venezuelan students enrolled in the UK, being the third most popular destination for Venezuelans, and that Colombia has even more of its students enrolled in the UK, having 3,345 in 2003/4.
  4. That Colombia’s enormous arms expenditure, funded by the US and UK, massively outweighs that of its neighbours and has sparked a Latin American arms race that can only be hugely destabilising for the region and world.
  5. That Colombia’s recent and ongoing provocation of its neighbours and incursion into their sovereignty has destabilised the entire region, raising the possibility of Latin America’s first war in over a decade.
  6. That formal affiliation to Hands off Venezuela campaign will not cost the union any money.

Council Believes:

  1. Venezuela’s government, in particular its prioritisation of funding for education, is a beacon of inspiration for students nationally.
  2. That Hands off Venezuela is leading the international student campaign in solidarity with Venezuela against the threat of war, operating in over 30 countries and present on campuses all over the UK, such as London, Cardiff, Sussex and Manchester, and has over 6 million workers affiliated via trade unions.
  3. A war in this region of Latin America would reverberate around the world because of the enormous natural resources present and their proximity to the US.
  4. That students have always and must always be at the forefront of the anti-war movement.

Council Resolves:

  1. To formally affiliate to the Hands off Venezuela campaign.
  2. To send the following emergency resolution to NUS Confernce.

Emergency Motion on Crisis in Latin America

Conference Believes:

1.      That university education is free for all in Venezuela.

2.      That there are many Venezuelan students enrolled in the UK, being the third most popular destination for Venezuelans, and that Colombia has even more of its students enrolled in the UK, having 3,345 in 2003/4.

3.      That Colombia’s enormous arms expenditure, funded by the US and UK, massively outweighs that of its neighbours and has sparked a Latin American arms race that can only be hugely destabilising for the region and world.

4.      That Colombia’s recent and ongoing provocation of its neighbours and incursion into their sovereignty has destabilised the entire region, raising the possibility of Latin America’s first war in over a decade.

Conference Further Believes:

  1. Venezuela’s government, in particular its prioritisation of funding for education, is a beacon of inspiration for students nationally.
  2. That Hands off Venezuela is leading the international student campaign in solidarity with Venezuela against the threat of war, operating in over 30 countries and present on campuses all over the UK, such as London, Cardiff, Sussex, Manchester, and has over 6 million workers affiliated via trade unions.
  3. A war in this region of Latin America would reverberate around the world because of the enormous natural resources present and their proximity to the US.
  4. That students have always and must always be at the forefront of the anti-war movement.

Conference Resolves:

  1. To formally affiliate to the Hands off Venezuela campaign.
  2. To campaign with Hands off Venezuela and trade unions to put pressure on the government to stop its support for Colombia, condemn their actions in Ecuador and raise student awareness about the Venezuelan revolution as a whole.
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