hands up, who likes me; the playtime politics of the student union

“Hands up, who likes me?”, so said People’s Poet, Rick, from the student-based reality TV show, The Young Ones. And so say the few hopefuls in this years student elections. A time when some of the democratically-minded band together to share polices and ideas. Playing pretend politics. A popularity contest.

The run-up to the elections is a period marred with activists frantically stapling up irritating photo-shopped posters of smug Union-attendees. Shameless distribution of leaflets, plastered with repetitive, misspelt policies and dire slogans attributable to people with trendy names, like Moz or Nob. A commendable recreation of a real election campaign. However, apparently this is not enough to convince the student body they they literally need to vote for one of these awesomely desirably people. No. Next they feel the need to enter in on our lectures – our hours of learning, where some of us hope to pick up something about our degree subject, so that we may actually get a foothold in the big, bad World in a few years, from an actual qualified, flesh-and-blood lecturer. They come in, these preacher-men, and recite some turgid credos, designed to represent policies, and then waft away again, with nothing but their contented sense of superiority lingering. Like an unwelcome fart, that leaves the class feeling slightly uneasy and insulted.

I propose we skip this ‘sham’ – words not from myself, but one of the higher-ups involved in its delicate execution. Why not just see who has the greatest Facebook following. Or follow the example set by the deviant, Pentheus, and strip them naked and parade them, like giddy sheep, across the campus on the shoulders of their Bacchic horde; Thyrsus thrust aloft. Then we can choose for ourselves the one with the most handsome cock, or fewest venereal diseases. At the very least let us do away with the legions of henchmen placed strategically around the forecourts, in order to obstruct us from getting on time to our lectures. The people who, grinning, accost, cajole and generally bully us into taking part. Who force into our pockets their flimsy little gospels. This happens so often that the tables and chairs of all the cafes are mostly lost beneath mountains of screwed up pamphlets, unwanted and securing the campaigner’s undesirable omnipresence.

Childish humour aside, I find it despicable, the number of dirty looks and muttering myself and others get for denying the competitors my vote. Surely the right to abstain is just as important as the right to vote – and I certainly do not have a problem with those who choose to hand over their ballot paper. I do, however, object to the eye-twitchingly irritating sentiment that many have bandied about; that is, ‘how else will we get students involved in politics?’ – like this is some hellish indoctrination ceremony into the turbulent world of politics. We scrawl our little numbers into the boxes and, voila!, we are ‘involved in politics’. Personally, I am relishing in the knowledge that, at the next elections, I will be able to have my say in which party I believe will best handle the gargantuan task of running the country. The student elections, though, feel too much like a farce to get get my vote – a quick look at two candidates running for the same position with exactly the same policies only confirms this. There is too much companionship with the opposition. You can quite happily imagine them engaged in drunken orgies behind the scenes. Livingstone-Johnson? Cameron-Brown? No chance.

So, by all means, elect your representatives. But I have not made use of the Union since my first years freshers fair almost two years ago, I am only on campus for my lectures, so do not bully those of us who do not wish to take part into taking part. Perhaps next year we can have little red stickers to indicate our impassivity. I am quite certain that my opinion would aggravate Rick. But nobody liked him anyway.

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