|Kanja Ibrahim Sesay|
VOTE KANJA SESAY #1 FOR NUS NATIONAL PRESIDENT
FIGHT FEES AND CUTS – FOR MAXIMUM OPPOSITION TO THE TORIES
The Tories are continuing to unleash the greatest assault on students and ordinary people that has ever been seen. The slashing of the Education Maintenance Allowance, trebling of HE tuition fees and creeping tide of marketisation in education is set against a backdrop of savage government attacks against public sector workers, women, Black people, LGBT communities, disabled people and the majority of society. Youth unemployment is up and our prospects are down.
The cuts agenda is motivated by a vicious ideology based on the interests of the few not the many. It is certainly not because there is a lack of money on “our national credit card”, as it has been crudely put. By driving up profits for big businesses, the Tories are driving down the living standards of students and ordinary people. We need to stand firmly in our belief of promoting investment not cuts to make the economic arguments for growth, employment and social justice.
Just as the government does not lack the resources to change its priorities, nor does NUS. Our national union could, and should, lead an uncompromising and massive fight against the Tory-led coalition starting now. It is not enough for us to wait until 2015 to try and influence whatever new government comes into power. It didn’t work last time, and it will not work again. NUS must lead a movement involving FE and HE students’ unions, the trade unions, the Liberation Campaigns and all those involved in campaigning against cuts.
I have led the NUS Black Students’ Campaign for the last two years against all fees and cuts. I am a proud advocate of the 99% movement and believe NUS needs to join the progressive majority campaigning for people and planet before profit. I have fully supported the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, the Education Activist Network, the Coalition of Resistance and all anti-cuts organisations. I have been instrumental in building the profile of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) and I’m proud of the work my campaign has done in fighting for fully funded education for all, regardless of being in Further or Higher Education.
CAMPAIGNING AGAINST RACISM, FASCISM AND ALL DISCRIMINATION
Attempts to scapegoat Black people and immigrants for the austerity drive of this government should be fiercely opposed. David Cameron’s infamous Munich speech on the day the English Defence League led an Islamophobic rampage through Luton last year was a disgrace – to suggest that “multiculturalism has failed” is reactionary, untrue and dangerous. Multiculturalism in society and in our students’ unions should be welcomed and celebrated – that’s why I have organised One Campus Many Cultures events, Love Music Hate Racism gigs and consistently campaigned against racism in every facet of society. NUS should be at the heart of an anti-racist anti-cuts movement that stands firmly in its opposition to all racist scapegoating.
Black students, along with women, LGBT, disabled and international students are bearing the brunt of cuts to education and public services, and are most in need of a fighting and winning national union. I believe the Liberation Campaigns within NUS provide the best examples of democracy and building campaigns and supporting activists at a local, grass-roots level. As National President I would never deprioritise the role Liberation plays in our national union and would consistently oppose racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, disablism and all discrimination.
INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND JUSTICE
From the role it played in ending Apartheid in South Africa to opposing the war in Iraq, NUS has a proud history of campaigning for international peace and justice. If elected National President I will continue to make the arguments for education not war – NUS should immediately demand the government stops bombing other countries, withdraws our troops from Afghanistan now and finally ends the illegal and immoral siege on Gaza. It would save hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of pounds if the government changed its twisted spending priorities away from war, occupation and unnecessary nuclear weaponry towards education and public services.
A STRONG AND CAMPAIGNING NATIONAL UNION
As NUS Black Students’ Officer I have led a campaigning movement that opposes all fees and cuts, racism in education and wider society and fiercely opposes the Tories’ ideological austerity agenda. In the face of staunch opposition from the NUS leadership I have held bigger events, all of them either free or cut-price for Further Education students, and involved more students than ever before. The Black Students’ Campaign has placed itself at the centre of the progressive coalition making the arguments against cuts, racism and war and for equality, peace and justice. I want to take what I’ve learnt in the Black Students’ Campaign and use it to throw open the doors of NUS to the millions of members we do not involve.
NUS did little or nothing to fight fees and cuts in 2011. It is not enough for us to simply passively “support” other organisations’ initiatives. NUS should be leading the student movement in opposing fees, cuts and the marketisation of our education. NUS is at a cross-roads, it can either continue down this path of increasing irrelevance, or it can embrace a radical new leadership, capable of mobilising hundreds of thousands of students and rocking the government to its core. I will provide that leadership and I hope you will put your faith and support in me as your next National President.