Socialist elected student president at Royal Holloway

Submitted by AWL on 9 February, 2011 - 12:29

Royal Holloway is a University of London institution based in Egham, outside West London. It is traditionally extremely conservative, with a very small student left and the student union dominated by right wingers (real ones, not just by student movement standards). In the last year and a half, this has begun to change, with the building of a strong anti-cuts campaign and a big occupation during the wave of anti-fees struggles last year.

Now a leading Royal Holloway anti-cuts activist and socialist, Daniel Lemberger Cooper, has been elected SU president. (For an interview with Daniel in the 3 December Solidarity, see here.) This should be a massive boost to socialists and anti-cuts activists running in student union elections across the country. If it can be done at Royal Holloway, it can be done anywhere!

Comments

Submitted by AWL on Fri, 11/02/2011 - 09:30

When I was on the NUS NEC, I had some contact with the RHUL sabbs. They were into, like, hunting and stuff. Literally. When I read this article I thought the assessment of the traditional politics of RHUL was fair enough. Remember that student politics is transient and short-term - you might not necessarily have a long view about the politics that have traditionally dominated your SU.

But whatever. If what you say is true then fine - good. Glad to hear there are fewer right-wingers than we thought. Hopefully you can appreciate though that we weren't trying to offend anyone so attacking our "callous statement" is probably a bit over the top.

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Daniel Randall

Submitted by AWL on Fri, 11/02/2011 - 12:39

Sorry if you feel misrepresented. You'll note the word "traditionally". Certainly when I used to visit Royal Holloway regularly in 2005-6, it was pretty conservative - this is how the small group of socialists and anarchists I was in touch with described it. Obviously it's always hard to judge the views of any student body as a whole when the majority are not active, but the dominant tone - including in the SU - was right-wing. I remember being told that at one point UKIP were bigger than the Tories on campus!

After a break, my acquaintance with your uni was renewed in 2010, when Daniel invited me to speak at what turned out to be a large and impressive meeting about the Copenhagen summit and climate change. Since then my 'updates' have been entirely about the anti-cuts campaign and the organised left at RHUL; I don't know a lot about the student union, so it's possible I sort of 'pasted' the two periods together.

Anyway, thanks for the update!

Sacha Ismail

Submitted by AWL on Fri, 11/02/2011 - 12:45

This is how Daniel LC described the student union in December, in the interview linked to above:

"Worryingly, the obfuscation and lack of action from the Students’ Union around the issue of the cuts has been a central concern. Only recently, there has been hysteria and a concerted effort to discredit the Alliance as ‘phalanx of militants running down the street’ – as violent, illegal. This has all been a complete fabrication. But, as we have seen with the NUS nationally, it is students that lead, and the NUS that follows. We believe it an obligation of the local SU to actively involve themselves in the cuts campaign. There has been a transformation of higher education in the last forty years, this is seen through our SU; transmutation of student into consumer. Importantly, part of the wider struggle will be to transform students’ unions into combative bodies."

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