Politics and PR nightmares

George Binning

It is with a certain amount of disappointment that Guardian reports on the fallout from Glasgow’s occupation. When a serious and urgent cause is pushed by an interest group with such force, almost everybody in the community seriously considers where they stand on the issue. This means that the group in question will be somewhat responsible for informing the opinion of the many; a hefty burden to bear even if shared amongst 30 (or four, depending on how you look at it).

One always hopes that the campaigners will set a model example and that people will react favourably. Sadly this time neither wish was granted.

In the case of the Israel/Palestine conflict where racial, national and religious tensions run high, it is important to project a clear message. Inevitably humanitarian efforts in this area become wrapped up in politics, and racism and anti-Semitism are easily confused with valid resistance. This was clearly not the intention of the Socialist Workers Party, Stop the War Coalition and Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign. However the use of militaristic slogans, though not racist or anti-Semitic in itself, only alienates those who are genuinely pro-peace, perpetuating the confusion.

Refusing to collect for a children’s charity on the grounds that it was not part of the original deal simply does not wash, surely the SWP are opposed to this kind of stifling beaurocracy? Refusing to collect because it detracts from the DEC appeal is an equally frail defence.

Similarly the failure to follow through on what they originally hailed a “triumphant success” was not a good way of gaining solidarity with the wider student population. When they took Computer Sciences by storm none of the activists were complaining about the amount of essays they had, and this excuse is likely to be met with scepticism as well.

It is good news that any money has been raised for Gaza, though demanding a DEC Appeal day with so little time to prepare might have been a little hasty. Although time was a significant factor in getting aid to the crisis and £673 is a sum to be proud of, the vet rodeo was able to raise over £26,000 with a fundraiser organized well in advance. A second fundraising day has been proposed, which will hopefully be better publicised and organised.

The SRC, who normally tread very softly in even the slightest of contentious issues, responded surprisingly strongly. If their extreme level of disappointment is any sort of barometer of general student opinion, perhaps these political groups ought to be reassessing their public image.


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