Perhaps it’s time we started playing the ball and not the man
Being for the benefit of Mr Kite
A lot is thought of Tab journalists, and not all of it good.
Debate writers are simply opinionated arseholes, Columnists insecure narcissists hoping to crack the BNOC of the year table (literally me), Features writers simply Buzzfeed aspirationals and Editors manipulative careerists who all lie somewhere right of Thatcher on the political spectrum.
We all enjoy watching the view count on our articles rise, and spend most of our free time waiting for that phone call from whichever centrist newspaper you presumably hate, so we can start to spread our libellous bullshit on a national scale. Fine. All true. We are bad people with malevolent motives (who of course don’t simply enjoy journalism as an extracurricular activity). What you should know though, is when it comes to the issue of disaffiliation and indeed all of student politics, your assumption that by and large we are generally shitty human beings is completely and utterly irrelevant. All that matters are the arguments.
The election of Malia Bouattia has been met with mixed response across the university and indeed the country. Many see the move as a progressive one, empowering the increasingly marginalised Muslim community of Britain. Others (myself included) see it as the final sign that our national union is no longer representative, functional or indeed fit for purpose. The arguments for disaffiliation from the NUS have been put in far more eloquent terms than I can manage by other students of this University so there really is no point in me reiterating them here. Arguments, from what I can tell are not the subject of Matt Kite’s article, and that is the key issue.
Political arguments in their most pure form are free bodied, that is entirely independent of the man, woman or cynical journo hack who makes them. This inability to separate the case made from the maker of the case is an unfortunate plague on politics which has created the Ad Hominem soaked shouting fest we know as PMQs, with both sides guilty of boorishly attacking the opposing man on the basis of some irrelevant personal fact, be it bank balance or lack of tie. Although better than the mass brawls that occur semi regularly in the Turkish parliament, it’s still a sad emblem of a political process that’s drifted far from genuine policy debate and deep into murky depths of personality politics.
If we make a case that an organisation, lead by a President whose deep set ideology scares us, no longer represents our views (political or otherwise), then your job as an opponent is to listen and if you’re capable, counter. You could argue about whether the views of senior members really are dangerous. You could argue that the NUS simply requires greater participation from the electorate to prevent the appointment of delegates without the casting of a single vote. You could even argue that the good work done by the NUS in pursuit of social equality (unless you’re gay, of course) outweighs much of the tiresome bullshit we have to put up with in return. What you can’t simply do, is dismiss us on the basis of the characters and motives you presume us to have.
Being frank, I wouldn’t mind an internship at the Spectator, but what does that have to do with the repeated transgressions of the NUS against so many of the principles we stand for? If you honestly don’t want us to report them, or to criticise them, or to take what might be the only action that could help to stop them, then that’s too bad. Journalism is an important part of the political process and given that voter malaise has left the organisation to devolve into the sad echo space its become, media outlets represent one of the few mechanisms by which we can hope to publicise an alternative.
Smear our characters all you like. If the new Tab TV feature ‘mean comments’ shows anything (apart from a dearth of wit in the comment section) it’s that we enjoy a bit of abuse.
Being called a narcissist, journo hack or even a Zionist puppet (it’s been known) brings a smile to my face. But don’t use it to discredit the legitimate arguments we make.
It’s both lazy and a solid indicator you’re running out of excuses for a Union that overstepped the mark a long time ago.