In 1994, when Southampton was still a member of the National Union of Students, Jim Murphy – then NUS President – who went on to be leader of the Scottish Labour party, visited Southampton. Here’s our report.
Sarah Cordey catches quick interview with Jim Murphy, and Hannah Barton adds her penny’s worth.
Jim Murphy, NUS President, visited Southampton again last Monday, and following his speech we to the opportunity to approach him.
During Monday’s debate, NUS’ claims to their independence from all political parties seemed rather doubtful, as the event became overshadowed by an argument between the Conservative group and the NUS representative in Debating Chamber, as Jim determinedly attacked policy in favour of the alternative offered by Labour. He declares that according to NUS policy they will campaign against any government over their attitude to students, but he also confesses having been a Labour supporter well before he joined the NUS. Despite this he affirms it is ‘unfair and inaccurate’ to say the NUS favours Labour policy’.
We given an enormous £50,000 to the NUS every year, so I also asked Jim where our affiliation fee is spent. The NUS receives an income of approximately £2.9million yearly, about half of which goes on running costs. A substantial quantity is spent on employing staff for research, campaigns, and to give advice and trying. The full-time executive, which has 22 members (including Jim), need salaries, but these are in no way exorbitant. – a mere £8,000 per annum. A further 5% is then needed for campaigning itself. The NUS are continuing to work on one of the most in-depth student surveys ever carried out, particularly concerning financial problems, so let’s hope some practical assistance will be the result to accompany the various other NUS successes.
S.U.SU President Hannah Barton was very willing to give her own views on the NUS.
As she was quick to stress, the NUS is the only national representative body for students, an it has a far better chance of success than the individual unions would have if they voiced their opinions separately.
The debate in Southampton continues about the pros and cons of NUS membership, and Hannah makes no secret of her pro-NUS outlook.
Our contact with the NUS tends to be restricted to a photo card which will get us special offers in fast food chains, and we remember that thanks to them, we can get alcohol much cheaper than the rest of the country. Naturally, their involvement goes much further than this, explaining the keen support of the NUS from Hannah and other sabbatical officers. The national body provides them with many sorts of training, advice and regular information on student related topics, as well as representing this country’s student population in its dealings with the government. Hannah is happy to admit that the NUS has a number of flaws, but is convinced that opting out will not solve anything. She rather feels we must stay involved and attempt to make change from the inside.