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From The Socialist newspaper, 15 March 2007

Build the campaign to defeat fees

LONDON SOCIALIST Students members lobbied the National Union of Students (NUS) headquarters on 9 March to hand over the Campaign to Defeat Fees (CDF) declaration to NUS president Gemma Tumelty and other NEC members.

Matt Dobson

The NUS with its large resources and membership is capable of getting thousands of students involved in fighting fees. They have supported the CDF but as yet have done nothing. We wanted to spell out clearly what we want them to do. The lobby turned into a heated discussion around how to build a campaign to defeat New Labour's attacks on education.

Although the NUS leadership stressed that they agreed that we need to build a campaign involving as many students as possible against fees, it was clear from the discussion that they believed nothing more could be done than what is already being done to fight fees.

The Campaign to Defeat Fees declaration outlines the steps that need to be taken to begin to build a mass campaign involving tens of thousands of students linking up with workers in mass action to force the government to abandon fees.

In the discussion we explained that the Campaign to Defeat Fees had got an enthusiastic response from students. This was shown with the successful CDF day of action on 22 February which involved hundreds of students in over 50 universities and colleges.

They argued that the most effective way of fighting fees was to win influence in the "corridors of power" and on the "cheese and wine circuit" by lobbying MPs and government ministers. They argued that it was correct for the 'admission impossible' campaign to focus on keeping the cap on top-up fees and building up pressure on "decision makers" when fees are reviewed in 2009 rather than fighting for the scrapping of all fees and for free education as "there was no point in building a campaign around issues that are not coming up as legislation."

Gemma and the other NEC members present refused to commit to any of the declaration proposals or to backing the CDF motion at NUS conference. This shows the need to continue building the Campaign to Defeat Fees on campuses and at the coming NUS conference and to fight for NUS to be a democratic campaigning union.

There will be another opportunity to debate with the NUS leadership in the 'How to fight fees' debate at the ISR and Socialist Students conference as Wes Streeting, NUS's vice president (education), will be there.

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In The Socialist 15 March 2007:

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