Last week we reported on Aaron Porter’s impossibly difficult political situation and today he has announced that he won’t be seeking re-election in the forthcoming NUS elections. This will come as a shock to many who assumed that he would re-stand and most probably win. From his statement, it’s clear that he’s come to the conclusion that the campaign against him was detracting from his and NUS’ message. And he was probably right about that. A very difficult decision though, taken in tough circumstances. Read former NUS Presidents Wes Streeting and Gemma Tumelty offer their insights about that here.
Two clear front-runners from the moderate-left have already put their hats in the ring this afternoon. Shane Chowen the current VP Further Education and Liam Burns, the current President of NUS Scotland. Both strong contenders who have long been tipped for the top job. They will probably divide the moderate left (70% ish of the delegates to National Conference) down the middle – Burns picking up the Labour Students backing and Chowen probably the semi-organised indy-left. The rest will opt for the left candidate whose transferred votes could clinch it for either Chowen or Burns. There are other blocks which matter too – FOSIS always commands a fair block of votes, Burns will probably carry almost all Scottish 1st preferences and Chowen will get all the remaining FE votes. More than one person will have a calculator out right now…
But by stepping down in this way, Aaron has showed that leadership isn’t always the same thing as winning elections. Let’s hope that message sticks and NUS avoids a bloody fight for the presidency.
UPDATE: Political Scrapbook has a piece showing videos of the physical and verbal intimidation that Aaron Porter had to face. It’s really a wonder that anyone would want to do that job at all…
UPDATE 2: Wes Streeting and Gemma Tumelty offer their perspective as ex-presidents of NUS on hypocrisy, bullying and the personal campaign against Aaron Porter.
UPDATE 3: The final word on all this for today at least; Aaron Porter in his own words for the Guardian about his decision.
Wonkhe will continue to follow the NUS elections, so you don’t have to.