NUS tuition fee posters removed from train stations

(3) NUS tuition fee posters removed from train stations

By Émer O’Toole, News Editor


Student posters calling MPs- particularly Liberal Democrats- who failed to oppose tuition fee rises “liars” have been removed from train stations in England following criticism from Network Rail bosses.

The bosses called the posters “political” and asked them to be removed.

The posters in London, Manchester and Sheffield were aimed at around 30 MPs who the NUS says broke their promises.

NUS president Toni Pearce said the campaign would continue.

The campaign emphasised that in 2010, all 57 elected Liberal Democrat MPs signed the pledge to vote against tuition fee increases.

However, 28 Liberal Democrat MPs broke their pledge; and 8 abstained from voting.

The billboard campaign states ‘Broken promises leave a permanent mark…’ below two fists, each blemished with ‘Liar’, and including the Liberal Democrat logo.

A spokeswoman for Network Rail said no political activity of any kind was allowed on railway stations, including campaigning by candidates and political posters.

Pearce described this as a “mass gagging attempt on students.”

“You can delete a billboard image but you can’t erase betrayal. There are a fleet of vans travelling the country right now targeting pledge-breaker seats across the country, and will do until 8 May.”

The station posters were put up on 24 April, but were removed after railway bosses intervened.

Launched on 16 April, the ‘Liar Liar’ campaign has attempted to gain more student involvement in politics as part of their social media campaign- ‘#generationvote.’

With the government spending £530,000 on a last-minute drive to entice students to put their name on the electoral register, and many students not registered to vote in their halls of residence, the campaign aims to inform students about why they should vote, and to remind them of the coalition’s broken promises.

The campaign is aimed at 28 Liberal Democrats, including Nick Clegg, David Laws and Vince Cable. Two Conservative MPs are also accused by the NUS of failing to keep a promise to oppose the increase.

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said: “We did not win the election, so we could not deliver every policy that we wanted to, especially as we went into government with a party that was determined to raise fees at a time when there’s no money….Instead we tried to get the fairest deal we could.”

The ‘Liar Liar’ campaign has been heavily criticised by students and Liberal Democrat supporters.

At last month’s NUS National Conference, Conservative Party Member Leon French took himself out of the running for NUS president as a result of the campaign prior to the election, saying that there was “no point” trying to gain votes when “they’ve already decided.”

A campaign titled ‘#trollNUS’ was set up in response of the campaign to encourage students who disagree with it to make donations to the Liberal Democrats.

The ‘#trollNUS’ campaign was set up by Joseph Miles, a Politics student at Oxford University who started a Facebook event titled ‘Troll the NUS executive; donate to the Liberal Democrats!’ “as a joke” and it “just took off unexpectedly” from there.

Miles told the Oxford Student: “The hashtag was really an afterthought for people to express support…the NUS has a problem with accountability, and its internal structures are almost impossible to understand.

Clearly I am not the only person who thinks that the NUS has become dominated by small internal cliques who are nowhere near representative of the entire student body…It’s an outrageous waste of our money and I think that there are much better things that they can be doing for students.”