OK, you're probably thinking this is a piece of sheer sycophancy.
"Oh look" you're saying to yourself "Yellow is trying to suck up to the New Union President."
Well let me declare a couple of things up front.
1) As far as I'm aware Tanners does not read this.
2) As chaplain it is my job to work with SUSU and develop a good relationship with those who run the thing, so obviously I'm going to be nice to Tanners but that's not why I'm writing this.
3) I know Tom Constable and I like him a lot, whereas I hardly know Tanners so actually I think I can be objective here.
My reason for writing this is that for the most part I talk about Chaplaincy on here. I talk about me. I also talk about things that interest me in the wider world. I don't think I've ever really commented on the student politics that happen just up the road, but I do think I've got something to say and for once I'd like to go all local on you.
For those who missed it we had a student union election round here. A lot of the posts went more or less as expected. A lot of the candidates were so good it was hard to choose between them. To take one example; with the Vice President Welfare and Societies post all the candidates could have done the job very well. In the end I think it came down to Tim Berryman who was running as Welfare and SOCIETIES or Dan Fran who I felt was running as WELFARE and Societies. If you get what I mean. I could be being unfair to Dan here and I'm sure he'll give Societies a fair hearing I just felt his emphasis was more on the welfare side.
With the President we had three very different candidates.
Tom Constable who was eminently competent and had vast experience across all areas of the union, on committees, in societies, in union council and finally as Societies Officer.
Joel Braham who did not have as much experience as Constable but never the less ran an absolutely stunning campaign mobilising hordes of people and presenting something that was certainly fun to watch. Indeed Joel came up again and again in my vlogs just because he did so much that was interesting to look at (and I don't just mean his sister). He also had a lot of great ideas. We shouldn't gloss over the fact that Joel also had a lot of experience in Halls.
Finally the third candidate was Alex 'Tanners' Tanfield. She won.
Lots of people have expressed the opinion afterwards to me that they are worried about the union. That they think she'll do a bad job and that they think that she only won because she was pretty. I'd like to engage with these opinions.
It is true that Tanners has limited experience within the Union. She has never attended Union Council. Or any committee meetings. She has not got involved with student politics while here. She has however been a member of the Union and several societies within it. It seems to me that you cannot make an argument that someone will be crap on the basis that they haven't done anything. Tom Constable has been Societies Officer. It's reasonable to take that into account when deciding who to vote for. If he had won we could also say "He'll be crap look at what he's done" or "He's Great" based on the past but Tanners is entirely fresh so you just don't know.
Lots of people have expressed the opinion that Tanners only won because people who fancied her voted for her. That opinion is usually voiced to me by men. Given that 90% of the population are straight I'm not surprised that they thought she was the most attractive candidate. I must point out that all the people who have voiced this opinion have also vociferously pointed out that they didn't vote Tanners because she was pretty. So in actual fact the only people who have raised her looks are people who didn't vote for her.
If you are of this opinion you are discounting all the women who voted. Perhaps you have overlooked the fact that they are entitled to vote or maybe you only think that men should vote. Then of course there is the slight misogynistic tendency that this type of thinking reveals. What you are basically saying is there is no reason to vote for a pretty girl other than she is pretty. She can only be your equal if she's ugly.
Tanners had ideas. Her manifesto was full of them. Like her Sexual Health Awareness Week. (I believe it's actually going to be called Sexual Health Awareness and Guidance. I think 'Week' sounds better I have no idea why they went with 'Guidance'). This has been tried at other Universities and is very successful. People might have wanted this one here. Maybe that's why they voted for her. Maybe they liked her campaign. Tom mostly focused on lecture theaters and Halls. Joel focused on the Concourse. Tanners did both. She clearly has energy and enthusiasm.
Or maybe there was another reason.
Thanks to the people in SUSU Media it looks like this election was the most high profile there has ever been. Usually between 2,000 and 3,000 people vote. This year 4729 votes were cast. Go back and read that number. It is significant.
The fact of the matter is that this year a record number of people voted. People who would not normally vote.
The fact of the matter is that elections are political affairs and the people most interested in them are political. Student politics like student religion is an acquired taste. The received wisdom is that to succeed in student politics you have to be involved. SUSU President is not seen as an entry level job. You need to be involved in your Hall JCR, or on Union Council. You have to be Sites Officer or Societies Officer (one of the unpaid Union Posts) before you can go for a paid Sabbatical Position. However most people are only here for 3 or 4 years and it's hard to get that experience unless you start right from the beginning. Often you need to be JCR President in your first year.
You see if you don't get involved right from the word go it's very hard to get involved afterwards. Time is short and it's very easy to miss the boat of Student Union Politics. Of course anyone can stand just like the Politics in General, but the only people who do are usually insiders. That's why we hate politicians. It is also why we keep voting for people who are not part of the system. Even if they are complete nut cases like George Galloway.
Alex Tanfield is not an insider she is an ordinary student like many of the people who voted for her. She had ideas, enthusiasm and gt up and go. She got more votes than everyone else, actually no one else came close. So let's see what she can do.