On setting up the Manchester Uni UKIP Students society:
When I said I wanted to set up a UKIP society at Manchester University, a lot of people told me I was being ambitious – it’s a staunch Labour city and a staunch Labour/Green university. And in some ways they were right. Finding other people to found the society with was a struggle. I got mixed reactions from posting around political groups, and lecturers fobbed me off for shout-outs. But we managed it, through some chance meetings at university/YI events, we formed a founding committee, and are now fully registered with the Students Union.
The SU were actually very good towards us, we had no problems setting up, no comments made and they gave us a good amount of support. Maybe they’d heard about what happened at Derby/Nottingham Trent, and decided not have a similar incident. You could tell some of the SU staff were hiding disapproval behind professionalism, but credit where credit’s due, they were very good about the whole thing.
Our first chance to get the message out was the refreshers fair in late January, where we were allocated a stall. Overall, I’d say it was quite successful. There were some rude comments and sneers, but we had many people coming up and engaging with us. We had about 13 sign-up to the mailing list, and of those who didn’t agree with UKIP, we definitely challenged some perceptions. Our first social attracted about 8/9 people, and we’ve been growing ever since. We’re now getting behind the Manchester GE campaign, both with the local Manchester branch and travelling up to Heywood and Middleton to help canvassing there.
I would encourage everyone else that wants to set up a UKIP Students society at their university to go for it. I can already see we’ve made a small impact here, in less than one semester. We’re getting articles in the student newspaper, we’ve ensured UKIP speakers at debates, and we’re putting across a UKIP voice at events on campus, showing people there is support for UKIP amongst students. Setting up may have been tricky, but I doing these things on campus is extremely important, so it was definitely worth it. And as for this society, I think we have great potential. If we make it through to freshers next year, I reckon we could take off. We could be big enough to rival some of the other political societies on campus (or at the very least, overtake the Lib Dems).
Written by Michael Wigram