At the National Union of Students (NUS) conference (9-11 April), University of Bath student Zeid Truscott was disqualified from standing for the National Executive Council (NEC) on grounds of antisemitism.
The biggest issues here are of elections being controlled by full-time officials, of the NUS’s general shutting-down of democracy, and of the culture of responding to anything by “banning” rather than argument.
The Chief Returning Officer, who calls himself Jules “the rules” Mason, declared Truscott disqualified on grounds of antisemitic comments made at a Palestine Solidarity Campaign event in March.
After seeing a video and transcript, the Returning Officer agreed that no antisemitic comments had been made. Mason then asked Truscott to confirm willingness to uphold the IHRA definition of antisemitism, and Truscott complied. But was still disqualified.
There was no mechanism at NUS conference to contest this.
A delegate was able to say that “a student” had been unfairly kicked out. Mason responded that he “made the rules and had the final say”.
Under NUS rules, neither speech could name the student.
Elections should be open to the full range of candidates, and candidates who argue reactionary ideas should be openly challenged and criticised.