Recently joining the ranks of all those clever people who talk loudly in restaurants, graduate Jago Pearson, already a stalwart of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA), has been given a platform by the bear pit that is Telegraph Blogs. Here, he wasted no time in letting everyone know how the education system is riddled with rotten lefties, or ordinary human beings, as most people call them.
(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014
He has also demonstrated a flair for deploying the most shameless of spin, but here a problem enters: Jago rather obviously does not know what on earth he is talking about. His latest missive, “Loony anarchists and future Labour MPs: the NUS represents its own clique, not ordinary students”, is right on selecting the topic: his audience will lap this up. But the substance of the post is all awry.
“The National Union of Students should embark on a rebranding exercise”, he begins. “They could even change their name. How about The National Union of Careerist Labourites and Embarrassing Angry Radicals (NUCLEAR)? At least it would add a little clarity to who they are and what they are about”. Oh how they must have guffawed with laughter at Media Intelligence Partners!
At this point, I have to declare an interest – well, a past interest – in that even I was once a student. And my recollection of the NUS does not match Pearson’s. “The last three NUS Presidents are all gunning for their shot at Westminster” he asserts (although only one of the three actually is). Big deal. Yer average student couldn’t give a flying foxtrot about that.
Whether the students' union provided a decent cafe at lunchtime, bar of an evening and a place to meet and chill are top of the list – followed by the welfare support on offer through legal, logistical, counselling and information services. Yes, there are politics and elections. It’s a democratic organisation, despite Pearson telling “It’s undemocratic. And it does students a disservice”.
Then he sells the pass: “[Students] just want value for money. They want to know that while they may now be paying £9,000 in tuition fees, they are getting something of equal value in return. Not something silly like four hours a week of lectures”. As Jon Stewart might have said, two things here. One, the NUS does indeed campaign on such issues, but signing for a course is up to the individual – not them.
And two, the class contact in any particular course should be either shown in the prospectus, or be easily determined by the olde-worlde technique of approaching someone who has that information and asking a question. I’m sure Jago Pearson, who was happy to receive a commendation from the NUS in their Student Journalist of the Year Awards, understands this.
What he doesn’t understand is that anyone can see through his display of ignorance.