The Politics Society has issued a statement condemning the Students’ Union Council vote which has resulted in the Brighton Pavilion UKIP candidate not being invited to attend an event on campus.
The event, jointly organised by the Politics Society and the Students’ Union, is set to take place on 4 March and will follow a candidate Question Time style debate. However, due to the vote recently taken in the Union Council, the UKIP candidate’s invitation has been retracted.
The Politics Society has said: “In light of the recent decision by the Students’ Union to ban UKIP from attending the joint Politics Society and Sussex Students’ Union Question Time event, we felt obligated to write an official statement in response. As a society we feel that the decision… is unjust and not in keeping the with the Union’s commitment to democracy.
“The Politics Society were not a part of this decision as we had previously invited all candidates up for Brighton Pavilion election to our joint event. This decision has infringed on our rights as a society to arrange the events we want. This decision was not discussed with us and we did not have a say in the final outcome, even though it is a joint event. We hope that this will not become a trend where the SU feels it is acceptable to intervene in societies’ events which the student population are organising.
“We anticipated that the Question Time event would emulate that of the national debates, which UKIP will be a part of. The event organised will be on a range of issues both local and national and so insight on the national policies of all parties would be of value. The Union’s reasoning for UKIP to not be invited to the event is that they didn’t poll above 5% in the 2010 elections in the Pavilion. However this is inherently flawed as recent polling attributes 9% of the vote in Brighton Pavilion to UKIP. The Liberal democrats only have 3% of the polling, however the Union is still allowing them to be a part of the event.
“We stand by our conviction that freedom of speech should be upheld at Sussex University which, at the moment, is not the case. We should be able to make our own decisions with a plethora of opinions. For a Union who prides themselves in acting under democratic principles this goes against the basic right of freedom of speech.”
Michael Segalov, Communications Officer said: “The Students’ Union executive and Council both voted to invite parties that polled 5 percent or above at the 2010 general election to attend the upcoming Hustings. This decision was made through the correct democratic process.
“This was to ensure candidates with a chance of being elected had a platform, as some candidates in the constituency polled extremely poorly.
“However the Students’ Union is more than its elected representatives and having received the letter from the Politics Society, Union exec will reconsider its decision on Friday 13th.
“Personally, I will be suggesting that this decision goes to a referendum, giving all students the opportunity to decide who is invited to the upcoming debate.
“Being a representative in a democratic structure is always difficult but I hope that by allowing all students to have their voices heard on this issue will ensure that the fairest outcome is reached regardless of my own personal contempt for certain political parties.
“Should exec decide to call a referendum or a members meeting, this will be done in time to implement any decision at the upcoming event.”