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Students Union reps vote to ban cheap booze for students

Talk about your ivory tower viewpoint

More politicians-gone-wild news today, as reports have it that Students' Union delegates have voted against cheap beer.

The bizarro move took place at the annual conference of the National Union of Students (NUS) in Blackpool earlier this week. Delegates voted to start moves aimed at minimum pricing for alcohol in student union bars.

The recently re-elected President of the NUS, Wes Streeting, is quoted in the Times today as saying:

“Students’ unions work hard to inform their members of the dangers of excessive drinking. But more can be done. ‘All you can drink’ and ‘three for the price of one’ offers encourage students to drink to dangerous levels.”

Streeting, 26, is just beginning his second term of office as NUS President, having been re-elected by 631 delegates to 140 this week. He describes this as an "overwhelming mandate". He was listed as the 33rd most powerful lesbian, gay and bisexual person in British politics this month by Pink News, who said:

Don't let his boyish looks deceive you. Wes Streeting is a tough fighter, renowned for his ability to beat his opponents into submission using only the force of his argument. While coy about his political ambitions, he is already spoken of as a future Cabinet minister.

It might be possible to doubt the overwhelmingness of Streeting's mandate from the nation's students even so. Membership of local student unions - which confers NUS membership - in the UK is high, but this is because many universities automatically enroll all new students in the union. When Australia required an opt-in process for student unions, membership dropped by 95 per cent - perhaps indicating what would happen here.

And though most British students are union members willy-nilly, they don't really seem to care much about student politics. A really good level of voter turnout in a local student-union election is 25 per cent, apparently: in a more typical scenario, only 18 per cent of students will even be aware that a union election is happening.

So Streeting's anti-booze attitude may have solid support from the delegates in Blackpool - but there's very little to suggest that their views reflect those of ordinary students. The delegates seem to be living in an ivory tower atop the ivory tower, as it were. ®

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