The University of London Union elections are now open – to the customary fanfare of irrelevance and disinterest.

Of the reported twenty-eight people that arrived for the ULU hustings – two more than last year – six were candidates. This has not deterred – indeed, may even have encouraged – the traditional assortment of radical leftists that run ULU’s higher echelons as a personal fiefdom: Michael Chessum, (current ULU President,) and Daniel Cooper, (current ULU VP,) have formed a joint campaign to continue on for yet another term of office.

Both having long since left behind actual study to embrace career activism, they hold the dubious honour of having publicly embarrassed – on grand scale – those they nominally represent. Presumably in a pique of self-righteousness, Chessum refused to condemn the violence of 2010’s student protests on national television. Cooper, not to be outdone, indulged the quixotic gesture of refusing to lay a wreath at last year’s remembrance service – drawing national attention and condemnation. That said, such behaviour – childishly insular at best, idiotic or offensive at worst – is hardly surprising in light of the background of both figures.

…cursory investigation finds that nepotism is rife…

For instance, of 120,000 London students, 1% voted in last year’s ULU presidential election. Of this trifling figure, Chessum gained barely half the votes cast; Cooper reportedly won with a mere 0.06% of the electorate backing him. Besides these virtually non-existent mandates, even cursory investigation finds that nepotism is rife: Cooper was not above abusing an official position to drum up support for Chessum; Chessum clearly reciprocated with a defence of his colleague at a post-Remembrance scandal event. Indeed, ULU was surprisingly prompt in officially siding with Cooper during that episode, while Chessum’s apparent foot-dragging over a referendum for Cooper’s resignation – if true – speaks volumes more.

Worse yet, this extends to the more recent negative campaigning against those that might challenge the Chessum/Cooper racket: Will Hall, a conservative undergraduate running for the Vice Presidential position, has apparently come under significant personal attack. Disingenuous assertions about Hall’s character and those he associates with have since been rescinded as unverifiable – but the Chessum/Cooper campaign have yet to follow so reasonable an example.  Rather, like a gambler unable to resist pushing for more, Chessum happily doubled-down in one campaign post to assert: “There is also the fact that the Tory party is a party full of sexists.” Bullying, tendentious smearing and guilt by (tenuous) association have thus characterised what can only be described as a particularly insipid and pitiful campaign.

…God forbid – an actual student running a Student’s Union

It clearly seems ULU’s officials – comfortably seated atop their Palatine Hill of minor importance – are genuinely shocked: How else can we explain so visceral a reaction? How else, when the evidence suggests knee-jerk surprise that an interloper could be so audacious as to challenge the status quo? Doesn’t Hall realise this is no place for the likes of him? God forbid – an actual student running a Student’s Union?

No, far better to keep things as they should be. Far better that 120,000 students continue to be ‘represented’ by a pair of career activists beholden to hackneyed, echo-chamber politics. Far better that those who find it anything more than contemptible to spurn Remembrance Day keep their posts. Far better that London’s students continue to subsidise the political posturing that has so muddied their reputation in the public eye.

…UK youth unemployment is third worst in the OECD…

Am I being melodramatic? Perhaps. But consider this: UK youth unemployment is third worst in the OECD. After nothing but a deluge of embarrassments, cronyism and narrow politics – why should we reward Chessum and Cooper with yet another year’s protection from what the rest of us will have to face?

There is a world beyond University – we should remind our ‘representatives’ of what it means to live there.

About The Author

As a student of War Studies and History at King's College London, politics and key events – both past and current – have always fascinated me. Inspired to engage with political ideas by my interest in foreign languages and cultures, I seek to approach and analyse current affairs with a distinct and challenging perspective.

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