NUS Referendum Debate – Live Blog From The Bridge


Hello! Welcome to the NUS Referendum Debate!

Today is the final get together of the campaign teams – who will be discussing all the major issues around the Referendum – thus your last chance to hear both sides of the debate!

Questions will be taken from the audience, so you can see how affiliate would directly affect YOU. Can’t make it? – you can also submit questions online using #NUSdebate.

So stick with us and make sure you’re as informed as you can be before you vote tomorrow and answer: ‘Should the University of Southampton Students’ Union (SUSU) affiliate to the National Union of Students (NUS)?’



And yes, vote tomorrow! Voting starts at Midnight today and lasts until 18:00. 

Vote! It’s your decision.


Still undecided?

Check back at the Wessex Scene & SUSU for more information.



Hopefully you’re feeling more informed! Thanks for sticking with us and thanks to SUSUtv for making people able to follow it better than we could write.


So there we go! All Done!


Only a quick summation of the closing statements there; they talk so fast!


The NUS is bad organisation. It is politically-split and don’t represent students anymore. It has its own interests and would be throwing away our money.

It would be terrible idea to join as we would lose our independence.

Vote No tomorrow.


The Nus is a good organisation, representing students and their needs. You deserve to be part of the organisation that has got rid of student council tax and better deposit scheme. You deserve a chance to be part of the body that changes

We are a great union, but we could be even better with a national voice, shaping the national agenda.

Vote Yes Tomorrow!




Closing Statements


Luke says it would be money down the drain and they are probably rubbing their hands with glee if we vote yes. It would fail our members and would be a disgrace if we joined.

Bridge Bar reference is flawed as its out union, so we can change it. In 610 voices, our voice would get lost.


Claire is arguing NUS can make what SUSU does better – can do more, learn more, everything we carries on but a bigger level. We already have great projects, we can make them better. We can help those students that need help.

Sam says he spoke to investing in The Bridge – why should we change it “SUSU is great” said students. But argues we could be exceptional with a national voice. We are coming to the stage to be a strong union, gaining from other unions, with a national voice.


Think its time for closing speeches….or am I just hoping?


Argues NUS is “bizarre” politically, with much infighting and that we should not join a Union that has so many problems in itself.

Sam says individuals acted ridiculously and that it go the headlines, but doesnt represent the majority. Says NUS does fit Southampton; a good political organisation. People disagree, but united movement with clear agenda.


Question about internal politics of NUS: Liam Burns was criticised after Demo2012 from within – (and was also egged) – so should we join when it has these problems?


Sam argues Block grant does appear until next year and budget has been changed to deal with that. Also notes that the Cube hasn’t done too well , but Bridge has made up for that slack (400% better than expected)

Clubs and Socs funding has increased and AUC were given what they asked for, so they do have the ability to invest in student groups


Sam argues we are not more sustainable. The budget is done better (a week rather than 3 hours), process has been restructed in the last 2 years, so have enough in budget to afford to make this decision.

Luke argues he doesn’t know the details, but says Cube isn’t doing well and that lower student levels mean the Block date is going down. The large fees means students are now taking their studies more seriously, thus less money going into societies.


What about the recent demonstrations when President was heckled off stage and there was low turnout? #votesusu


A question about where the 50k will come from?


Katy argues that voting to stay in the NUS is completely different from our referendum in voting to go into it.

“our referendum is our referendum; it is local, not national”


Claire: We can complain about NUS, but we can’t change it outside; lets have an active engagement within it.  90% of people are part of it, and 610 higher education instituions.

Sam argues that the NUS is universall supported, most people stay in and very little NUS referendums to go outside of it.


Is it the right time to hold this?

Sam is talking about Demo2012 and said it was empowering for people that went. He said he expected some people to be against these actions, but they are just a large minority. Most people supported it.

Luke argues NUS has not change, still infighting, unpopular demos and still unrepresentative of students.

Katy talks about other unions, references one sabbatical member from another uni who ran both affiliation than a subsequent no affiliation move as she felt let down by it


Not sure what the question is; big change around with bloggers, leaving my fingers all alone.


Sam argues it is an issue; that it is a national issue and the women are not empowered enough to stand in for things.

No argues that this is a issues that needs to be in national politics, rather than just within NUS; need for political role models


Right. Barker Out. I’m off to watch a play (being cultured and all). Best of luck to my co-pilot Mr. Green. This debate has been….interesting….


No: Katy argues that female empowerment is not needed. A slight non-issue especially as SUSU. Half of the speakers here are women and our female sabbatical officers have a higher percentage of wins than men.


It’s got to be said; Katy is extremely well-researched with her answers


What training will the NUS give Sabbs?

Sam: How to campaign and lobby. Networking. How to make changes. Also, its not just for sabbs – there is a wide range of benefits for many students and officers. It compliments what officers already do. We shouldn’t be too insular. First time the independence is a good thing issue has been mentioned from the Yes side. Interesting. about an hour of debate and we’re making some really interesting headway in the debate.
Claire: There is also training and help for women getting involved in politics. Another aspect of the NUS training which will benefit SUSU. 


No: Katy says that it is worth noting that the training is not done by NUS, but outsourced and the same company is used by Solent, so we can use these companies without the NUS


No: Luke says training would be barely any different and that most training is currently internal, so why move this?


The atmosphere here in the bridge could do with a de-fibrilator. Its very very dead. I think everyone is either ignoring me, or on twitter with #votesusu. Or both….



#votesusu what specific training would sabbs like to receive from NUS that they don’t/can’t have right now for the £50k/year cost?


Some random clapping after that answer.


Yes: Sam says that he has read the report, but it has flaws as it is based on outward website and that they haven’t spoken to people who are actually doing the work to notice difference

No: Katy says that we shouldn’t doubt the report as it has been done by E&E committee and thus they have researched it throughly.


Claire: we’ve gone off point. If we’re good on our own then imagine the ideas that would flourish (good pun) from being part of the NUS. If we go into the NUS we can get better.


No: Luke says report from Green Action says the Union would become greener under NUS, but SUSU is pretty much doing much of the same that the NUS is doing. It’s being done locally: “only SUSU can make SUSU greener” so it makes no sense to say NUS is doing anything, but we might as well do them ourselves.


The NUS and sustainability. 

Sam: There is a large movement which the NUS supports by sharing good ideas about sustainability. We’re limited because of not being part of the NUS. We can get out of the NUS what we want to. The key is the sharing of ideas.


What are the debaters favourite ice cream flavour?! #votesusu you wanted a question…


Question about Sustainability and the the environment – how would the NUS change this?


Sam: I expect thousands of people to vote

Luke: I think we all agree that the more votes are the better.


Do you think there should be a minimum voter turnout?

Luke: It would be nice but its not perfect. Katy says that is has worked elsewhere.

Sam: Whoever chooses to vote are the ‘right people’ to vote. We should trust those who voted.


Question from Soton Tab Reader


Harry Warwick refuses to allow question to stand, despite Sam Ling said he would answer.


Audience Question: Can you comment on what the Sabbs would personally gain from joining NUS?


The whole process has been quite tiring; this debate is tiring out my fingers.


Sam mentions again the usefulness of the NUS because it can support student and SUs when its needed. 


Losing international students = loss for university = something Russell group cares about #votesusu


No: ‘Safety-nets’ – thats all I got. Very quiet mike.


This sounds like the pitch of an insurance salesman #votesusu

Which team Simon?


Do you think the NUS referendum been damaging to SUSU Yes or No vote regardless. #votesusu


Claire: What happens if something we can’t anticipate happens to our students? We’re saying that there are a multitude of reasons to join the NUS and the safety net is one of these.


No: Katy argues we don’t need NUS to provide insurance to help our international students. London Met is a young uni and that it is unlikely to happen here.


86 views on this blog so far; students don’t seem to care. Apathy.


When London Met happened – Universities panicked. It would be arrogant for SUSU to think that as a Russell Group Uni we would be safe. When or if something like the London Met situation happens then its too late then to ask for a Safety Net.


No: Katy bangs out another quote – well-researched – and shows that the Met situation won’t happen ANYWHERE else as no other university’s have been in their situation.

Accuses Yes2NUS team of scaremongering – despite Sam’s claim before when he said it would not affect Southampton’s students.


No: Luke says that with 1200 at Winchester and Monte as biggest halls, it shows that it has failed to get people involved no one came to this debates. Luke argues its not the Yes or No teams responsibility to do this.

Katy: Poorly-advertised at Winchester; I went, but there was no posters or anything covering it.


Would the NUS not support SUSU if we had a London Met situation here?

No, they don’t exist to help everyone, they help their members. 


SUSU as a union can learn from experience, and looking long-term the NUS research and experience that “it seems silly to say No”


Talking about poor attendance of debates at Winchester yesterday; has the referendum failed to capture the students imagination?


Really impressed by both teams tonight it’s a shame the whole referendum couldn’t have been a little less slanderous #votesusu


Sam responds to Katy. Niche doesn’t mean small numbers it means specialist. SUSU can try to tackle unpaid intern-ships but the best way to tackle this is on a national level not locally. Not that this would stop SUSU support students but this could be another facet to supporting students.


50% off Spotify if you get premium… which I’m happy to pay for anyway #votesusu


No: Katy says we should be focusing on a local level and that we degrees groups need support. Says more local action is needed and argues Excel Southampton scheme should not include unpaid internships.


Sam responds to Katy. Liam Burns has said that small colleges will get better support through the NUS, and Sam agrees. Winchester students suffer from unpaid internships and this week the NUS are fighting to stop unpaid intern-ships (about time perhaps) Sam also doesn’t think that SUSU being part of will make Sabbs out of the loop.


“Sam, Claire, Katy and Luke doing a great job at debating”


No: Quote from someone at Keele Uni for Katy: “The move involved a Uni is at the NUS level, the less successful they are at the grassroots level”. Katy argues we need to improve locally, with out sites, rather than nationally.


Questions moves on to concerning Winchester, especially as their own debate flopped.


If you’re a stats kinda person could you tell me how many times the debaters have said “I agree” – it seems to be getting quite nice and friendly if anything…


No: Luke argues that they are alternatives to the discount card and if its the only reason why you want to join, its not worth it due to the money/political factionalism of joining NUS entails.


Are discount cards something soton students want?

Its a choice. You can use other website but the discount card is one of many reasons to join but not the only one. There are bigger issues than just the card, although the numbers buying the NUS card has doubled over the last few years.


NUS Extra Cards now being discussed


No: Katy reckons that it is the right time to hold the referendum as 2/3 of the student population has changed and its important as lots of students are involved in the NO team, showing they represent students.

Luke says it has been too long and people are fatigued from the process, but voted Yes to holding the referendum as he felt it was the democratic thing to do to give Students a choice.


I’m going to use blue (Barker here) for personal comment. The debate has been quite strong so far and with only one direct mention of a personal role rather than the issues surrounding the Referendum which is a little overdue but very welcome!


Not a massive crowd here; only around 50 people, some texting it seems.


The real things that bug me about this is that we had a referendum 2 years ago, and another one in 2 more years. Do you not trust the student voice enough to leave the issue?

Claire: The point is that at the AGM did vote for this to happen. A large number of students have talked about this.

Sam: Before this debate I was with a group of students, not sabbs, who wanted this to happen. If it was just Sabbs then perhaps there is something wrong but students are interest. Also there has been a huge turnover of students in 2 years.  


Do you think its dishonest to say that the NUS is for the students considering the Sabbs refused to put in their manifesto?


Question from the crowd: It’s David Mendoza-Wolfson.


Harry extends the question as to whether an ‘average’ student exists.


Yes: Claire further argues for Sabbs involvement as Sabbs are elected officials, if we elected them, then we want to hear their opinions on how the union is run

No: Luke says that maybe the Sabbs are out of touch as some politicians are.


Sam: I would argue I’m in touch with students. As a sabb you get to be in contact with a wide range of students. This happens every week and he gets to be more in touch with students as he’s been a Sabb. “I believe I am massively in touch with students”.


No: Luke says Sam’s assertion that “90%” of people are interested – but aren’t informed enough has credence. He once again questions the Sabbs involvement.


Here is our article about Sabbs Involement & Their Response.


In response to Luke saying the average student doesn’t care he says they do. “Students do care” – well that’s handy or this thing might be a bit of a flop…


Luke: Turnout is high in Sabbatical elections – good for university – so he hopes people will come out and vote. However, he argues that most people don’t care too much about the issue.


With a predicted low turnout how can we be sure the answer is that of Soton students?

Claire: whatever the outcome we have to accept it. Both teams have tried to get people involved and those efforts should be appreciated


No: Katy argues that Sam said he went to the NUS national conference and that he would feedback his own experience of this, but that he has failed to do this as he has told no one.


Sam: At the time of writing my manifesto, I was not Convinced that we should join the NUS. I was not sure on the NUS. Between February and April I learned that I think we should join the NUS and then I asked the at the SUSU AGM that we should hold a Referendum to let students decide. The most important thing is that if people note no he will follow that.


Long, long answer from Sam Ling here. Clearly been a big issues of the campaign.


No: Luke argues that Sabbs should not be involved in campaigning and that people are still angry at this. Argues Sabbs did not include it in their manifestos and have not given a good reason as to why they are so involved.


Question: Should sabbs be allowed to take part in campaigning. No team to start.


Claire responding to Katy. 

600 unions are represented by the NUS, of course there is debate, its not infighting. Then some issue from Katy over this statement and now Sam responds (missed exactly what Katy said) saying that the conference and the NUS is transparent. 

The NUS isn’t perfect but nor is SUSU


No: Luke argues that the NUS is rife with political factions; 10 factions on the left of the political spectrum who leverage for their own gain and power rather than for the good of students. Katy expands argument with quote.


Next Question: If the NUS functions as the political arm of the Universities, can it not become politically bias?


Depends on what you mean by politics? The NUS shouldn’t be apolitical because that’s how they can make change. Engaging in party politics is something they do with all parties. The NUS holds some political parties to account.


No: Katy and Luke say that the Labour bias in NUS hampers to challenge these MPs, despite the fact Labour MPs signed off tuition fee rises (and in fact, brought them in).


Sam responding to Luke.

International issues that the NUS talks about – if students want to talk about the issue then the NUS follows this. He also brings in various successes to counter the fees issue mentioning that medical students among others (who I missed, my bad)


No: Luke acknowledges NUS has some good policies, but NUS has failed since 1997 to represent students. Failed to stand up to tutition feee increase and no longer represents students well. Gives example of NUS criticising the siege of Gaza last week and says such action is pointless as it is international policies and not the mandate of the body.


No: Katy also argues that NUS makes too many mistakes. Talks about how at the Demo last week, an NUS officer published a list of chants talking about ‘burning’ the torys and lib dems and how this is not representative of the student political voice


Claire responding to Katy – Do we trust NUS officers?

Without being in the NUS we can’t guide their policy. If we don’t join them how can we complain about what they do?


Here is the open letter against No Platform written by some Wessex Scene editors


Sam responds to Katy. He mentions that the NUS can’t actually step down on student media. The case of Leeds is difficult as Leeds SU also hold a ‘No platform policy’.

Sam again mentions that without being part of the NUS we can’t hold their officers to account. 


No: Luke says there is not role of us holding him to account as we are not an NUS member. He expands and says that there have been 6 examples of such ‘rogue’ actions of the NUS using No Platform policy wrongly in the last 5 years.

Katy then moves onto how the No Platform policy was used against George Galloway, for his comments about rape concerning Julian Assange


Question about Officers abusing the NO platform Policy.

Sam responds saying that Aaron Kiely, the example involing Nick Griffin. He points out that outside the NUS we can’t hold him to account. He also mentions that the NUS has censured those who over-step their bounds.


New Question: Should we trust the NUS to represent our union and our students concerning the actions of certain NUS officers? Question is concerning NUS, Aaron Kiely episode (lots of stuff occurred here about it due to the open letter)


Yes: Claire: Yes its a choice we choose to join NUSSL. We could make more profit from NUSSL items than we do at the moment. Our current contract with heineken our current suppliers.


No: Luke has a rebuttal to Sam’s argument claiming that the NUSSL would make only a minor difference. Katy expands that there is no point saying its a choice to join it, as she argues there is little point in joining the NUS if we don’t use their services.


Yes: Sam Ling responds to Katy.

We have the choice of NUSSL. Without being part of the NUS we don’t have the choice of joining NUSSL (which many other student’s union’s use) but also finance isn’t the only reason to join.

Claire: We can get branded Vodka. The little things. 


We apologise for any typos btw; very quick typing is required.


No: Katy O’Brien argues that the NUSSL would change would we would stock and, it is all quite up-in-the-air as to what difference it would actually change. Argues that the NUS failed to give good figures on what difference it would actually make and that we should choose to support our local businesses rather than paying a national consortium.


First question is about financial implications of joining the NUS. Luke O’Brien to start answering.


Sam Ling: Yes its worthwhile. Doesn’t mean we get money back but NUSSL we can make money back. First year of affiliation is only 25k. The services are valuable and though we could buy more minibuses etc. The Student Groups got 60k more last year, and investment in SUSU is also being made – SUSU can afford the NUS affiliation fee and its worth it.


No Team’s opening speech now lead by Luke O’Brien. His speech has three main arguments:

1) Financial: £51,000 for joining is too much. Luke argues that while it may be only 0.5% of the total budget, it is in fact a much larger percentage of the student budget.

2) What’s in it for us: very little – “they need us more than they need us”. Luke argues SUSU is a strong union already that is independent and does not need the NUS’s help.

3) Political: “infighting organisation with many political factions”



Sam Ling is noting things away during Luke’s speech.


Yes: Opening statement from the yes team: Its a national group of student unions and joining will improve the student experience. 600 other unions part of it, we are one of 5 that aren’t in it. The NUS offers a safety net -London Met example brought up. Joining the NUS would make SUSU exceptional. Not my words but those of Claire Gilbert.


Just to say; on the Yes2NUS team, we have Sam Ling & Claire Gilbert


Oh, a few phones going off. (naughty, naughty)


And it looks like we are off; Harry Warwick is getting things started


The good news is SUSUtv is back on! Yippee! (I’m very happy about this as I thought I was going to the blame!)


Right, the mood is getting tense… We’re going to start soon I think….


Ohhh.. People are taking seats and WE HAVE AN INJURY. Katy O’Brien falling at the first hurdle nigh on literally? She fell off her seat but its cool we’re recovering. As I say that she fell off again. No to NUS suffering from battle wounds as it were….


More NUS associated music, with Calvin Harris’ ‘We’ll be coming back for you’. Or.. you know, I’m reading into this too much.


The Bridge Bar is surprisingly packed – considering the debate at Monte was cancelled for no attendance. More interestingly people who are here actually look interested in the NUS debate and not some Bridge food….


Just to note; we were suppose to have a live-feed from SUSUtv. It has disappeared though, but are minions are on it (hopefully).


Welcome everyone. Zander Green and I (Jamie Barker) shall be guiding you through tonight’s oh-so-festive event of the NUS debate. Interestingly the first song to come on for the evening is ‘We are never ever getting back together’ – a sign perhaps?




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