UGM: YUSU to support reform

There has been contention this week over a UGM motion for YUSU to advocate reform of the Westminster electoral system.

Chairman of the University of the York Conservatives, Felix Bungay, opposed the motion at last Thursday’s UGM, claiming that such a move would politicise the Union and risk its independence. “Voting reform is not an issue specific to students, but a party political one,” he said. “The Union is there to represent students regardless of their political affiliation, and a move such as this would mean the Union was advocating a narrow party political issue instead of concerning itself with the welfare of students.”

Lewis Bretts, Democracy and Services Officer, has rejected Bungay’s claim that YUSU could not remain politically independent. “If this motion contravened YUSU’s legal duty to stay out of partisan politics then it would have been blocked by Rules and Revisions Committee,” he said, adding that “whether or not the motion is a good or a bad thing is completely up to students to decide.”

This follows the high publicity around demonstrations held in York city centre two weeks ago by the organisation York for Voting Reform. Ieuan Ferrer, co-organiser of the group, with Jamie Fisher and Caleb Wooding, dismissed Bungay’s complaints, saying that: “It’s a bit of a silly claim that appears to be born of desperation.” Ferrer says that the reforms York for Voting Reform and its umbrella-group, Take Back Parliament, seek support fairness and the functioning of democracy, and aim to create a much more level playing field for all parties.

“The suggestions that it would ‘politicise’ YUSU are irrelevant,” he added. “YUSU is already an overtly political body, both in terms of resolving power struggles, and in terms of sometimes backing issues (especially foreign affairs ones) that are politically incendiary, even.”

Ferrer continued: “Their claims are spurious, and represent a fundamental misunderstanding of what supporting particular policies means. It’s a shame that they feel they should resort to such an argument so as to protect their interests.”

“In the next few weeks, York for Voting Reform will increase its campaign on campus, starting petitions and inviting academics to hold lectures relating to the different types of voting system.”

“We want to get people involved,” Ferrer said. “We want get people thinking. It all depends on whether people are mobilised. Our campaign’s about educating and mobilising people.”

5 comments

  1. 25 May ’10 at 1:49 pm

    Democracy Monster

    So many of the students speaking against the motion tried to attack it on the basis that STV was somehow less preferable than FPTP.

    Are they now going to propose YUSU constitutional reform on this basis?

    I doubt it. The claims of this motion aiding a single political party are some of most hypocritical claims I’ve ever heard at a UGM.

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  2. Clearly this motion isn’t that important to Fisher & Ferrer as neither were at the UGM to argue the motion.

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  3. 25 May ’10 at 2:11 pm

    Democracy Monster

    What a pathetic, and quite ridiculous statement to make Matt – you have no idea why they couldn’t make the UGM.

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  4. 25 May ’10 at 4:52 pm

    william Fisher

    can i point out how difficult it is to submit this motion. firstly the email address on the website is incorrect and apparently expired a few years back so goodness knows how many motions have been lost there. secondly i received no reply informing me that the motion was continuing to the UGM or indeed when and where it was.
    Furthermore, the motion is not in favour of any one form of electoral reform contrary to some of the speeches made against the motion and is not driven by any one political party; we invited all political parties to attend the rally or give a statement if they could not attend.
    From our experience organising the protest it is clear that a large number of students are in favour of such reform and i believe that for this reason YUSU should support the push for electoral reform as NUS currently do.

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  5. 25 May ’10 at 5:30 pm

    Caleb John Wooding

    The current objections to this motion are based on trivialities and misunderstandings, both concerning the motion itself and the remit of YUSU.

    Any serious criticism should come in the form of well-formulated support for the current electoral system. The lack of a proper argument from that angle is testament to its impotence. Don’t let shallow misdirections distract from the question which is being asked: are we, the student body, in favour of reforming the electoral system?

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