Outgoing NUS president Aaron Porter aborted a bid to run for parliament in the face of fierce opposition from student colleagues and union staffersPolitical Scrapbook can reveal.

On 13 March as speculation mounted that he would enter the Labour Party’s selection for the Leicester South by-election, the student leader tweeted to reassure observers he would not be “putting his hat in the ring”:

While seizing the opportunity to burnish his loyalty to the NUS, what Porter did not disclose is he had spent the previous few days laying the groundwork for a run. Porter was plotting even as he attended a student conference in Dublin on 12 March, from which he sent colleagues an email announcing his intention to stand. The wheels were in motion and the Independent on Sunday had already been briefed in preparation for a story the following day:

“You may have seen that on twitter it’s just been reported that I will put myself forward to be considered for the Labour nomination in Leicester South. Obviously where I studied and lived for 2 yrs as a [student union officer] … I’ve only made this decision in the last 24hrs, because the leading local candidate has pulled out, and a few local party people want someone with local connections to put themselves forward.”

With Porter already under fire for his handling of tuition fees and resultant protests, his message generated a deluge of phone calls urging him to pull out of a “fruitless kamikaze mission” in the East Midlands.

Porter’s officer support team, composed of permanent NUS staff, were “absolutely furious”. Sources told Scrapbook that the bid would inflict “significant reputational damage” to the union, presenting a conflict of interest and distraction to the President at a time when he should be leading a lobbying effort on the Higher Education White Paper.

Porter’s email reveals he was far from oblivious to the dangers to the organisation he headed  — but had decided to run anyway because “it was a chance I couldn’t turn down”:

“I realise this adds something quite complicated for NUS, but any external attention this brings, I will obviously deal with myself … I will do everything I can to minimise the attention to NUS”

But 24 hours after emailing the selection timetable to friends, however, he admitted defeat and withdrew:

“I’ve done some more thinking, and I won’t be pursuing the nomination … the reaction from NUS/student movement has been somewhere between lukewarm and quite critical, and I’m not prepared to leave NUS under a cloud.”

In February Scrapbook posted on the utterly thuggish pursuit of Porter through Manchester. In addition to physical threats was the accusation — screamed through a megaphone — that “you’re just looking for a safe seat”.

What on earth possessed him to make that damaging critique a reality?

  1. This is a stupid angle. What the hell else would he do after a student political career? And what’s to say that after years in the student movement he wouldn’t use his position to fight for students?

    You talk about the “thuggish” following of Aaron through the streets of Manchester, yet it’s biased, unresearched and sensationalist articles like this that pandered to the hardest of the hard left and made his term so unbearable.

    In short, when it comes to the NUS, you clearly have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Would it make you feel better if he went off to work in a shop instead to appease his bullies?

    Shut up.

  2. I see student politicians continue to take student politics far too seriously.

    Fighting a parliamentary seat (which will be fought in possibly 5 years time) versus being president of the NUS? Porter should have stuck to his first instinct and ran.

  3. He is an utter incompetent and precisely the kind of politician we don’t need in Britain, that is, someone who wants to be in Parliament for the sake of being in Parliament and hasn’t got a jot of experience in the real world.

    Perhaps, along the lines of Sara/ Aaron above, Mr Porter should “go and work in a shop” (I’m sure as s/he wrote that, his/her upper lip curled into an unctuous, dismissive sneer).

    He’s a classic born-to-rule idiot, a 25-year-old with no talent or utility and I can’t think of any constituency that would choose him to be their representative in Parliament; to represent anyone’s interests beyond his own sociopathic careerism.

  4. Have to say this is a wonderful piece of journalism and confirmed what everyone knew: Porter is selfish careerist looking to secure a job for life with his beloved Labour party.

  5. I’m not Aaron actually, I’m a recent graduate with 3 years’ experience of NUS conferences and the politics within them. I’ve been completely genuine in using my real first name but, as I’m not a moron, have not disclosed my last name – I know all about bandwagons and those who like to jump on them and harass those who disagree with them. I was never particularly involved with NUS, in fact, I now have nothing to do with NUS and am working in the “real world” as such, it just frustrates me to see such lazy reporting.

    As I said, why is he being demonised for wanting a career in politics? Isn’t it kind of obvious that anyone putting themselves forward for a political role, even if it IS student politics, would want to go down that path?? Why on earth would you go into student politics if you don’t like actual politics?? Your reasoning is just so… well, thick!

    And I do happen to know Aaron a little and assume he has more class than to pose as an anonymous woman on a forum to defend his own honour.

    He’s not at all incompetent from my experience of him, it’s just those with an immature agenda can shout louder. Bully for them.

    Get a life.

  6. Labour Activist says:

    I am a Labour activist and the sheer arrogance of this guy, to think that he has the requisite experience, or indeed skills, to become a Labour MP (or indeed an MP for any party) is astounding.

    I am not one of those people that believe MP’s have to have spent years toiling at the coalface before being elected, but at least do something to contribute to the world outside of politics first.

    Arrogant arrogant arrogant.

  7. @Sara

    You’re perfectly entitled to an opinion, it’s why there are comments enabled after all; but you’ve referred to this piece as both “unresearched” and “lazy journalism”, when it is neither. Those accusations are themself lazy without supporting arguments.

    The piece quotes directly from emails sent by Aaron, and if they weren’t accurate I think we’d have heard a denial by now, don’t you?

    Also, the main charge contained within the piece isn’t about someone wanting a career in politics; the charge is hypocrisy: saying one thing and doing another.

  8. Strikes me he is perfect Labour MP material; all the virtues of same, and all the necessary defects. The Party need more like him. I’m sorry I shan’t be alive to see him as Lord Porter of Nusspot in the Kinnock style in 25 years’ time. But then again, that is a figure of speech and I’m not really sorry.

  9. Saw Porter walking through Portcullis House on 16th March (approximately, within a day either side) looking very happy and surrounded by a number of Labour officials.

    If not now, then it is only a matter of time before Aaron Porter MP becomes an unfortunate reality.

  10. Sara said: ‘This is a stupid angle. What the hell else would he do after a student political career? And what’s to say that after years in the student movement he wouldn’t use his position to fight for students?’

    Err…wouldn’t his role be to represent his constituents? Yet another disgusting example of careerist politics, university to parliament via student activism, neatly bypassing what could be termed the ‘real world’, ending up as lobby fodder for whichever bench he deigns to shine with his arse.

  11. What’s all the fuss about? This is why people become President of the NUS, the best-known example being Phil Woolas. Obviously, Porter has been found to be incompetent before he becomes selected, but that is not normally a problem for an aspiring Labour candidate.

  12. “I am not one of those people that believe MP’s have to have spent years toiling at the coalface before being elected, but at least do something to contribute to the world outside of politics first.”

    So labour activist, you will not be supporting a labour party run by Ed Miliband then? He has NO real world experience at all!

  13. Politics should not be a career, it should be a vocation, otherwise it’s just a job that has to be kept, and people who fear dimissal will desert any philoshopies to stay in the JOB. We have already seen many examples of just that from all sides, take the question of Europe compare the amount of people who blog and talk down the community to those that will actually put their JOB at risk and take firm action against this government. I have been dropped from one blog because I kept asking the same question that he didn’t want to answer, ans I fear that I am about to dropped from another for the same reason. no names at this stage, I have had as many people have great faith in the 2 people involved and i want to see if they will answer before, I react in the same manner as them.

  14. Sadly Mr Porter is ideallyqualified to be a labour politician, totally incompetent and careerist. His first loyalty is to himself, then party, never country.

  15. “What the hell else would he do after a student political career? ”

    I was thinking he might care to get an actual job.

    But then again, “Socialist Worker” was always an oxymoron.

  16. @ Sara

    What’s wrong with working in a shop? I’ve done it.

    Yes, he should work in a shop. Maybe it would open his eyes to the reality of life for workers in Britain today.

    In characterising shop work as some kind of punishment, or last resort, you betray a contempt for ordinary working people that appears to be common among the political class that has hijacked the left in this country. You should be ashamed, you should apologise, and you should go work in a shop.

  17. I have worked in shops for many years – before I got a degree and followed on to a career more suited to the subject I’d learned… working in a shop is not a logical next step for Aaron, becoming a politician is. So eff off telling me to be ashamed when you know nothing of my background.

    And of course politics is a bloody career, everyone has to earn a crust somehow – this is what he enjoys and is good at, so why not just leave him alone?

    Also as if he doesn’t know what it’s like to be an “ordinary” person – what do you think being president of NUS pays????

  18. People should go into politics to represent the interests of ordinary people – not as a career.
    They should get the same wage as those who elected them, not inflated Parliamentary salaries. If Porter had any principles, he would leave the Labour Party and get involved with building a real left-wing party to represent working people. He is a careerist politician, more interested in feathering his own nest, rather than fighting for students.

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