By Maggie Sawant, SU Correspondent
The University of Bristol’s Labour society has chosen to disaffiliate from Labour Students National alongside at least 12 other university groups, in protest of how the organisation handled their recent elections at the AGM in May.
Explaining their decision in a recent statement to members, Bristol Labour Students described the annual elections for Labour Students National committee members, including National Chair and Secretary, as a 'sham' and the handling of the vote as 'undemocratic'. Only 250 of the organisation's 20,000 members were able to vote.
Bristol Labour Students also said they 'received next to no support or communication from them in years' from the national group.
Following a vote at our AGM on the 8th of May, Bristol Labour Students have chosen to disaffiliate...Posted by Bristol Labour Students on Tuesday, 20 August 2019
Labour Students National is the autonomous student wing of the national Labour Party. It consists of affiliated college and university clubs, known as Labour Clubs. Since more than 13 Labour Clubs have disaffiliated due to discontent, including Bristol now as well as Exeter, Oxford, Cambridge and LSE, less than a third of University Labour Clubs across the country remain attached to Labour Students National.
In addition, the few students in eligible Clubs were required to pay an additional fee to Labour Students National in order to cast their vote.
Bristol Labour Students also claim that the elections were run to ‘tight deadlines’, that details of the process were ‘incredibly poorly communicated to local Clubs’ and that many of those who registered did not receive a ballot.
Our statement on the Labour Students election. pic.twitter.com/yFXlWlfBoz— Glasgow Uni Labour (@GULabourClub) February 12, 2019
Labour Students National are said to have acknowledged these electoral failings yet have not provided an explanation. They have also refused to publish both the turnout of the elections and a breakdown of the votes.
Bristol Labour Students (BLS) asserts that these elections are the ‘final straw’ for the Club, stating that the organisation has provided only limited support over the years, has failed to run ‘tangible campaigns’ and does not ‘serve any observable purpose’.
A meeting of @LabourStudents today saw 59 people in a room vote *against* 1 member 1 vote & *for* tuition fees.— Aaron Bastani (@AaronBastani) February 24, 2019
If you want an example of undemocratic practice undermining broader representation in Labour, it’s Labour students.
This last bastion of Blairism should be wound up.
Brody Anderson, a BLS committee member, told Epigram: ‘Our decision in no way affects our relationship with the Labour Party, local Party branches, and other University Clubs. We look forward to working with these groups in the months to come.
We will continue to collaborate with fellow University Labour Clubs to organise events and campaigns, in the hope of driving for a national organisation which can represent student members fairly, pushing for equality and social justice.
We will of course continue the fight for a Labour government with members in Bristol and nationwide. BLS are excited about a year of debate and discussion with leading Labour figures.'
Featured image courtesy of Bristol Labour Students
How do you feel national groups can support student politics at universities?