Aaron Porter's "apology" fits his agenda

Porter talks at UCL

The NUS President’s mea culpa today that he and his careerist cronies have been “spineless” in their approach to students taking direct action is a simple bid to grab back his status as leader and curb activity into more “constructive” (read: ineffective) avenues.

Apt name, Porter. From the start of the student struggles he’s been carrying the sputtering flame of “reasonable” dissent on his shoulders. Nice neat rallies, fun for all the family and of about as much use as a Stop The War march in stopping the government from doing what it wants.

His role has been totally overturned and he himself utterly ignored since he misjudged the mood of the mass in deriding the Millbank occupiers on November 10th, sparking a picture of his smiling mug going viral online with the word “despicable” underneath — a refence to his snivelling media appearance. Since then his “vote out the Lib Dems” (in 2015) campaign has fallen flat on its face while he and the NUS have been left behind by the spontaneity and speed of events.

For Porter, this is a major problem. Part of the role of NUS president is to funnel student dissent into safe channels and wherever possible, into a vote for the Labour Party they are seeking to get a future job from. So today he’s had a go at getting back in the driving seat, telling occupiers at University College London that:

Quote:
For too long the NUS has perhaps been too cautious and too spineless about being committed to supporting student activism. If I’m going to be critical of myself, perhaps I spent too long over the last few days doing the same.

Good start there Aaron, go on...

Quote:
I want to be clear and unambiguous right now — where there is non-violent student action, the NUS should and the NUS will support that because what we are facing is utterly disgraceful.

Ah, see that does raise a couple of questions. What do you regard as “non-violent?” Would that exclude, for example, people putting a few windows through at a party headquarters? Spray-painting “pig” on a cop-car perhaps?

One of the big bugbears of the liberal press in the last few weeks has been precisely along these lines, attempting to drag the meaning of the word “violent” away from “hurting people” to “damaging property” and restricting its legitimacy to the less overtly brutal of police beatings. If I’m pushing (non-violently) against a kettle and then get smacked in the face by an overenthusiastic PC Bob, am I allowed to act in self-defence in your eyes Aaron? Or is that too radical?

The word liberal is key here, because that is what Porter is hoping to represent to the powers that be, nice liberal protests under his more sanitised banner. His language has shifted to the left and towards the word “action” (he’s still not big on the “direct” bit), but he remains the stooge of the Labour Party - itself a body long bereft of its spine.

The worst thing that could happen to the student protests now would be if people fell back into the habit of letting this mendacious little creep act as their spokesperson. Only by continuing to ignore his gabbling and taking the power to - and responsibility for - changing things will this wave continue to roll and drown our government.

Edit: Ah the Guardian has now picked up on this (haha beatcha tongue) and oh look, doesn't he just fall over himself to delineate between "good" and "bad" protesters?

Quote:
I stand by calling acts of violence 'despicable'. I think it is and I think it does undermine our cause. I'm much more interested in talking about the majority of students who came out to make a serious and important point and they did so in a tremendous way.

Comments

Harrison
Nov 28 2010 18:30

nice, couldnt agree more.

we need to drop banners saying 'Aaron Porter Resign'.

posi
Nov 28 2010 19:15
Quote:
This is a verbatim transcription from the video of Aaron Porter visiting the UCL Occupation on the morning of the 28th of November where he was presented with the following demands from the UCL occupiers:

“The UCL student occupation calls on the NUS to:

1. Publically support all student occupations on the front page of the NUS website and through all available media

2. To call immediately for a new wave of occupations as a legitimate form of protest against fees and cuts

3. To organise financial, legal and political aid to all current and future occupations

4. To call a national day of action on the day of the parliamentary vote on tuition fees

5. To officially support any staff taking further industrial action on cuts in the education sector”

Aaron Porter’s response is as follows:

“Yeah, well, let me start off by uh saying, the good news is, uh, I will absolutely, I am happy to be able fulfill all of these. And uh, let me also say, I think the best thing that I… so I can completely fulfill them. Um, I should also be honest and say I won’t just talk about occupations but I will talk about other activities as well which students unions can do and I will ensure that, um, that occupations is described as a poli… perfectly legitimate form of, uh, of action and that will be on the front page of the website from, uh, tomorrow morning. (Applause)

Um, I just wanted to also um, uh, uh say that um, uh… you know, I think that um, uh for too long, uh, NUS has perhaps been, uh, uh too cautious and too um, spineless about, kind of uh, being committed to supporting student (Laughter and hands waving showing consensus agreement with this statement from most in the room) occupations and students **** through activism and uh, and you know, if I’m going to be critical of myself perhaps I spent too long over the last few days, uh, uh doing the same, I’ll, I’ll come back to that in a, in a second.

But I want to be clear uh and uh unambiguous right now; that wherever there is uh, non-violent student supported action, NUS should and NUS will absolutely support that because what we are facing is utterly disgraceful and um, uh for us to kind of engage in some kind of internal civil war wouldn’t be… it’s exactly what our opponents would want and I for one am not going to allow that to happen. So, uh, I, I just want to apologise for kind of, my dithering over the last, uh couple of days (Laughter), um but uh, um you know, I’ve seen, I’ve seen sense now and um this is a perfectly sensible way and indeed one of the, uh key ways in which this, uh campaign is still kind of, uh, uh, being out there.

And what we need to make sure we’re doing now is maximizing every possible avenue to keep this, uh keep the pressure up as much as possible, um, I know for a fact now that there are Liberal Democrats who um, had been moving towards the side of voting for the proposals, uh that are now very much uh, uh wavering and I think we are only two weeks away from a vote in Parliament on the first phase which is the kind of higher, uh, tuition fees. Clearly we need to still keep fighting, even beyond that, because we still need to be questioning uh, uh the cuts um, uh, kind of, um uh, in response to uh, what the sector is facing. Um and, uh, you know, I think it is absolutely right that we have uh, another day of action. I want to just kind of say, I, I want to… tomorrow I will also be kind of, making sure that NUS is clear and unambiguous in its support for Tuesday’s, uh, action. (Applause)

Provided that it’s followed up with uh, uh, another day of action, and, and then uh, you know, in the run up, to the, to the vote. Um, I don’t think I kind of want to say any…anymore. I think you’ve done uh, uh enough speaking with your actions and uh, I’m pleased to be here and I wanted to come and support you in, in the ways that I can to make sure that you keep up the good work. Thanks very much. (Applause)”

interesting how these things go, innit?

Jason Cortez
Nov 28 2010 22:54

We need to drop the pretence that the NUS has anything to offer students at this time. Dropping banners calling for Aaron Porter to resign is sowing illusions in the NUS and diverting energies into bureaucratic channels of impotent complacency. The NUS are now desperately trying to re-establish their stranglehold over the movement and to demobolise its militancy into ineffectual 'protest'.

jameswalsh
Nov 29 2010 11:39

The only demand to make of Porter is to FOAD.

Good post Jason- I agree.

artemis
Nov 29 2010 16:21

He also 'clarified' at a meeting yesterday that he did not oppose any 'peaceful' occupation of Millbank smile

Rob Ray
Nov 29 2010 22:25

Should be read in tandem with this article on the NCACF. Basically, sort this stuff out direct and don't let any self-appointed smartass "do it for you."

Rob Ray
Mar 13 2011 13:19
Quote:
Part of the role of NUS president is to funnel student dissent into safe channels and wherever possible, into a vote for the Labour Party they are seeking to get a future job from.

Oh look, he's going for a safe seat and is likely to win. Talk about a shallow pool of talent, Labour's is looking more like a puddle...

radicalgraffiti
Mar 13 2011 13:51
that artical wrote:
Leader of student protests may bid to become MP

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Aaron Porter, the outgoing president of the National Union of Students, who spearheaded protests against tuition fees rising to £9,000, is preparing to launch a bid to become Labour MP for Leicester South.

what! "leader of protests", "spearheaded" wow

communal_pie
Mar 14 2011 22:52

"Provided that it’s followed up with uh, uh, another day of action, and, and then uh, you know, in the run up, to the, to the vote"

Wants to become an MP - people need to be making this clear, preferably students-to-students and I think that will be a pretty big nail in his coffin. I cannot find a single person who likes any MP now.

Between Your Teeth
Mar 15 2011 00:08
Rob Ray wrote:
Quote:
Part of the role of NUS president is to funnel student dissent into safe channels and wherever possible, into a vote for the Labour Party they are seeking to get a future job from.

Oh look, he's going for a safe seat and is likely to win. Talk about a shallow pool of talent, Labour's is looking more like a puddle...

nah, even though it's a safe labour seat he's not got a chance of selection as he's running against ed milliband's best mate. plus, he's absolute box office poison at the minute. he'll be out in the political equivalent of siberia for a couple of years yet (think tank probably).

in fact he's already back pedaled quite furiously and is claiming on his twitter he didn't want to stand anyway after all so ner. he really is comically bad at this.