In a recent article I examine the pre-campaigning of candidates for the Executive positions in the National Union of Students. One of those candidates, Poppy Wilkinson, took time out of her busy schedule to visit us at Loughborough. She took tough questions, presented compelling answers and shared her experiences of NUS Conference & issues with the wider NUS body as a whole:
Going that step further
However, nothing can be as good as an old-fashioned meeting in person, and that’s just what we had with Poppy Wilkinson. Poppy is currently in her second term of office as President at the University of Birmingham Guild of Students and is running for the position of NUS VP: Higher Education at conference. Her trip across the midlands was to visit the delegates at Loughborough and to hear from us, as well as to be shown around our award winning Student Union building, and of course meet some of our incredible sabbatical officer team.
Although Poppy is a huge fan of gimmicky campaigns for general Students’ Union elections, Poppy has chosen to run on her campaign the personal way and run on an incredible reputation as 2 year strong Union President backing up a well thought through manifesto. She is one of only a few this year to be running on a political ticket, as a member of Labour Students. It is said you can’t have everything.
Upon closer questioning of her manifesto point regarding the place of students in choosing more of the content of their degrees, Poppy took on board my comments as an engineer and suggested as a law student she would focus more on the conversation of delivery method than necessarily content in accredited degrees. She’s steered well away from the ‘Free Education’ debate and rightly challenges the real issue facing students from all backgrounds (many of whom will never pay their tuition fees no matter how large): the cost of living and inadequate support from the Government in loans and grants. In an election with 3 young women who all did their Undergraduate degrees at the University of Birmingham, Poppy stands out as the only candidate not to have the stock photo of her on a demonstration or with a megaphone – something that the majority of students I interact with will welcome.She’s got the support of big names from across the student world including current President Toni Pearce, and the incumbent Vice President: Higher Education, Megan Dunn. She keeps to my rule of a few big-hitting quality endorsements winning over the quantity of some of the other candidates. In an introduction for new delegates come campaign stunt, she’s prepared a Buzzfeed list of 5 Conference Essentials that had huge social media penetration on both Facebook and Twitter.
So what’s next?
Many delegates will never have personal contact with Exec candidates and many won’t read manifestos. What many delegates will base their precious vote on is how well each candidate can come across in the crucial five minute speech to the NUS Conference floor, a speech that Piers Telemacque smashed last year and promptly was elected in a landslide. Will Poppy be able to rally support from across the debate floor with her speech, that she admitted to us she hasn’t yet prepared?
Poppy, you’ve nailed your campaign, you’ve got top-quality support and I agree with your rational, well experienced policies. Now, will you nail your speech and really earn the votes you deserve?