Charnley and Derricott’s Labour love-in

Two of Lincoln Students’ Union’s leading figures have publicly endorsed Labour and Gillian Merron ahead of the general election on May 6th – despite her failing to sign up for the NUS’ Vote for Students campaign.

Dan Derricott, the SU’s vice-president for academic affairs elect, and Chris Charnley, SU president, have both announced their support of the Labour party and that they will be voting for Merron on May 6th. The pair will also be doorstep campaigning around Lincoln with Merron.

This is not the SU endorsing Merron, as a Union must remain impartial according to NUS rules. Both officers are operating in a personal capacity. However, as prominent figureheads within the Union, there are concerns that it will appear as an endorsement of Labour and Merron by the institution. This could even lead to a link between the university and Merron’s campaign, as the SU is directly funded by it.

Chris Charnley and Dan Derricott have both come out in support of Labour and Gillian Merron, despite her failing to sign up to the NUS Vote for Students campaign.

The SU has heavily promoted the Vote for Students campaign, where PPCs up and down the country have signed to promise they will oppose any increase in tuition fees if elected. Gillian Merron has refused to sign up to the campaign, saying “a rise in student fees is not a foregone conclusion and that it “would be wrong for any of us to pre-empt the findings of [the forthcoming] independent review.”

Charnley declared on his Twitter account: “[Charnley] strongly believes @gillianmerron is the best candidate for Lincoln. Great values, the right attitude and a strong voice! #votelabour”.

Derricott has written on his blog: “For some time now I have been trying to align myself to a political party, taking note of their policies, messages and of course, the leaders’ debates.

“It is with pride that I joined a political party yesterday, The Labour Party and I would like to explain to you why I did that and why, on Thursday, I will be voting Labour and in Lincoln for Gillian Merron.”

He also had strong words for Lincoln’s Tory candidate, Karl McCartney: “The race between Gillian Merron (Lab), Karl McCartney (Con) and Reg Shore (Lib) – whilst Reg Shore is a nice guy, a teacher and local council leader, I don’t see him fighting for us in Westminster.

“So that leaves Gillian and Karl, which makes it simple for me – Gillan Merron, trade unionist from a council estate in Dagenham and first in the family to go to university or Karl McCartney, upper class toff with interests in business over people and not willing to turn up to debates on key issues such as the environment.”

The pejorative tone against Karl McCartney could harm chances of a functioning relationship between him the SU, should he be elected as Lincoln’s MP.

Merron has courted controversy for her voting decisions during her 13 years as Lincoln’s MP. Having rebelled against her government just nine times in 3,063 votes since being elected in 1997, she has been criticised as careerist.

She voted for the Iraq invasion, which was declared a “supreme international crime” by Robert Jackson, the American
prosecutor at the Nuremberg tribunals. Merron also voted to introduce ID cards, control orders, and the draconian 90 day terror laws, among other controversial bills.

Reg Shore, the only member of Lincoln’s main-three PPCs to sign the Vote for Students pledge, said: “I do feel that it is inappropriate for student leaders to effectively ‘advise’ others how to vote by declaring in this way.”

He added: “[Merron] is also a member of a party who will increase tuition fees instead of getting rid of them as we propose.”

In response to Derricott’s claim that he couldn’t see Shore “fighting for us in Westminster”, Shore said: “[He] clearly [is] not taking in to account my effectiveness as a community leader which has brought far more to Lincolnshire than Gillian will ever bring.”

Derricott and Charnley issued a joint response: “While the Union must legally remain impartial during elections, individual officers retain the right to personally express preference and align themselves as they see fit.

“Rather than simply preaching about the importance of democracy, we prefer to also engage in the process and have no problem sharing our support for a party whose policies are based on fairness for all.”

Karl McCartney is yet to respond to The Linc‘s requests for comment.


15 Responses to Charnley and Derricott’s Labour love-in

  1. Fraser McFarland says:

    Surely they have broken their own no platform policy regarding political parties.

  2. Dean Graham says:

    I think it is very short sighted of anyone who uses the phrase ‘putting businesses before people’. How is the economy going to improve without support for businesses, which strangely enough are run by people and employ people and on the whole sell products to people.

    Perhaps the record number of unemployed 16-24 yr olds would prefer support for businesses so that more jobs are created?

    I also think it is wrong that such figureheads are aligning themselves to a political party and agree with Mr Croucher that Derricott has left himself no wriggle room whatsoever if Karl McCartney is elected. An amateur move by a supposed intelligent person.

  3. Jonathan Holmes says:

    A tad ironic Shane, considering you’ve posted this on your twitter profile:

    If Cameron gets elected with a majority then I’ll dedicate my life to anti-Tory direct action.

    As far as I see things, they are doing this in a personal capacity. People are allowed to express candiates’ shortcomings – I wouldn’t expect Derricott to lie and pretend everything is OK with every party – I’m hoping the differing viewpoints would perhaps force Karl to look at his policies if he were elected for example.

  4. Hardly ironic, Jonathan. I stand by what I said on Twitter, though it was mostly in jest.

    Let me explain a couple of fallacies in what you’ve just said.

    Not only have I not been supporting, or urging others to support, the Vote for Students campaign and then support someone who is opposed to it – unlike these two members of the SU – but I’m not an elected student representative, who is a part of an allegedly impartial Union.

    Nor do I have to work alongside local representatives. I write for and run a publication which will report on the activities of these people and they’ll be offered the chance to comment. However, unlike the SU, I don’t rely on their support or political influence.

    Furthermore, I’m not saying they aren’t allowed to highlight candidates’ shortcomings, I’d expect them to. If you can point out where I’ve suggested otherwise, that would be grand. Unless of course you’re referring to Derricott calling McCartney an “upper class toff”?

    It is incredibly unwise to declare so publicly your support for one party, even if it is your personal stance, when you’re in their position.

    Do you honestly think that Charnley and Derricott will have any kind of lobbying force against McCartney after Derricott referred to him as an “upper class toff”? McCartney won’t just change his mind on policy for the sake of a couple of SU officers who have now declared themselves so staunchly and personally at odds with him. How much power do you think the SU has?

    I could go on.

  5. James Stanley says:

    Typical of this Charnley guy! What I want to know is who in their right mind could have voted for him in the first place? His campaign was as big a joke as he is. Regardless of his personal politial views, he was not elected to influence students voting intentions for parliament and it’s ironic as it was not long ago reported that he isn’t registered to vote himself anyway. Thank god the rules won’t allow him to stand for a third term.

  6. Fraser McFarland says:

    I agree with every word of Shane’s, who do the SU think they are?

    Let’s also not forget that the SU under Charnley banned political parties from activities through his no platform policy. Was this his idea or was it to stop the growing Conservative following on campus?

    I hear Dan Derricott speak about equality yet calls Karl McCartney a ‘upper class toff’. Surely this is discriminative? Surely Derricott should apologise or rethink if he is suited to hold a position at the SU.

  7. Jonathan Holmes says:

    How many of the above commenters would go to such lengths to get involved in politics? Excepting Fraser, I’d bet that you’ve not gone out campaigning etc – yet these people are villified for getting involved in politics? Whether or not they’re getting involved in X or Y party, the fact they’re seen to be politically active and interested must be a good thing.

  8. Fraser McFarland says:

    @Jonathan Holmes, there is a major difference between being politically active and openly attacking a Parliamentary Candidate for his background.

    I can only assume the reason Chris did not attend the protests against tuition fees was down to his party alliance? So much for putting students first.

    @James About time someone said that. A year ago we was promised Superman yet we seem to have ended up with the boring Clarke Kent.

    It’s a real shame the students have to face another 12 wasted months of his weak leadership.

  9. Izzie O'Brien says:

    Aah, another article from The Linc about the SU, and what a surprise- it’s negative. I’m not even going to get into the argument about who should have said what and where and whether it was right or not, because it is descending into petty squabbling. Yet again this article reads like a grumpy bear poking the SU with a stick in the hopes of getting some sort of reaction.
    @Fraser- The No Platform policy of the NUS is an *anti racism, anti fascism* policy. Since I see no racism or fascism occurring here, I don’t see how it is relevant. Please don’t belittle a such an important policy.,

  10. Our editorial stance is clear.

    We’re critical of the SU in its current form. We fulfil our duty, as students and as the press, by holding it and its elected officers to account.

    Besides, take a look back through our SU archive – our coverage is not relentlessly negative. We report on all the student council meetings, even though most students don’t care. We covered the elections very comprehensively and fairly, again in the face of complete student apathy. We didn’t have to go into that much depth and the majority of our readership certainly weren’t calling for it, but we did, for the benefit of student democracy.

    If you don’t like our coverage of the SU, fine. You have every right to express your dissatisfaction and we can disagree about the quality of our reporting.

    But why don’t you just read Bullet instead, if it’s solely positive and uncritical coverage of the SU you’re after?

  11. Izzie O'Brien says:

    I am not after an uncritical coverage. But I don’t like the combative tone that you and other writers take not only about the SU (one would have to look very hard to find a positive article, although I don’t deny they’re in there somewhere), but also towards the students such as myself that criticise the almost relentless goading of the SU.
    I find it incredibly disheartening being spoken to this way when merely commenting on the lack of positivity in your articles.

  12. It was a genuine question as to why you wouldn’t just read Bullet – there are some of our critics who think we should heap constant and unflinching praise onto the SU.

    If the system that we disagree with stays the same, then why would our coverage or tone change?

    Of course we take a “combative tone” – it’s politics! We’re defending our writing and our position. We’re passionate about what we do and why we do it, so we justify ourselves with vehemence. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    And, let’s be honest, referring to us as “a grumpy bear poking the SU with a stick in the hopes of getting some sort of reaction” is goading us, isn’t it? I don’t mind taking flak because I’m happy to debate why I write what I write – and I appreciate feedback. But don’t take my replies so personally.

  13. Joe Hicks says:

    Does it really matter? Yes, they’re elected student representatives, but they’re still voting citizens…

    Stating who they’re voting for and why is not against the no platform policy, and is in no way suggesting the SU supports any particular party; I’m not changing my vote just because they’ve stated who they will be voting for.

  14. It matters as they, as prominent members of the SU, are promoting and encouraging students to ‘vote for students’ and for those who signed the NUS pledge. For Charnley and Derricott to show such vocal support for a candidate who refuses to sign the pledge seemingly undermines the campaign, and makes them look like hypocrites. Yes, they are allowed their own political views, but to be so vocal takes away the impact of their own campaign.

  15. Joe Hicks says:

    Their actions as individuals do not represent those of the SU, it’s not a hard concept to understand…

    It doesn’t undermine the campaign; it would only do so if they were to persuade students to vote for specific candidates, which they haven’t done.

    …and having done a lot of work on the campaign myself, I know for a fact it’s had no affect what so ever.