The strange death of ‘Red Warwick’

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**As the Warwick SU Elections 2013 are brought to an end, it is curious to stand back and survey the victors and the carnage, and evaluate the impact this latest election has had and the political environment of campus it has resulted in. Looking back across the academic year 2012/13, there is a tale of a muted swan-song resulting in the final death of that much obsessed movement, ‘Red Warwick’.**

My interpretation of the definition of ‘Red Warwick’ is that of collective radicalism of staff and students, closely associated with left wing and progressive ideology. A must read for all students is E.P. Thompson’s _Warwick University Limited_, which details the growth of student activism in the early years of the University. Admittedly, such a movement has never controlled Warwick or the student body, but has always presented a strong and stable faction, often involving officers, societies and student groups.

The recent officer election have resulted in the first sabbatical team over the last few years in which no officer has a close relationship with the left. Individuals such as Ben Frew lost convincingly while standing on a record of ‘progressive’ campaigning, and candidates from the Socialist Party fared even worse. Equally, soft-left figures such as Baris Yerli, James Entwistle or Anna Chowcat, more associated with the Labour party than as ideological purists, either lost or didn’t rerun.

This comes after a year of further examples of the ‘strange death’, including a shambolic and poorly attended NUS demonstration in November, the absence of major direct action on campus, the death bell for a number of longstanding ‘lefty’ Union policies e.g. Oil Companies, Nestlé, the collapse of ‘Warwick Against the Cuts’ into infighting and navel gazing and the failed launch of groups such as ‘Direct Education Movement’, who’s aim was to relaunch the lefty movement on campus.

Before those figures who oppose the values of ‘Red Warwick’ jump upon this record as an example of a more conservative-minded student body, it is important to note that this ‘strange’ death has not been in tandem to a rise in the rightwing on campus, as this faction has continued to stagnate around ‘Warwick Conservatives’. The left has been damaged by the growth of the self-indulgence of the student body, best demonstrated in the rise of non-democratic, corporate-backed groups such as ‘Warwick Hub’ (linked to Barclays) or WIDS, which sideline important local, political issues for trivial and distant causes, and are often directed by central offices with little ownership by the Warwick student body.

Equally, most of the sabbatical candidates filled their manifestos with crowd pleasing microwaves, fresher’s weeks or course costs, whilst none attempted to radically challenge issues such as widening access, the disestablishment of WIE, diversity on campus or the current national reforms to higher education. This is at the same time as the apathy factor of the student body has reached record levels.

It is fair to say that 2012/13 has seen the absence or failure of activism from those students who’s first experience of Warwick clashed with the largest example of dynamism on the left, the 2010 fee rise protests. The student body is mainly a vast horde of apathetic, career and education orientated entities, bookended by an antiquated right and a left that has failed to engage.

It is likely that some form of relaunch or issue which demands direct action will occur over the next few years, however without a rational and embedded direction, sizeable support, resources and engagement it is likely to fail in a similar manner, therefore the SU elections completes the swan song of this version of ‘Red Warwick’.

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