In the recent ULU elections, both Royal Holloway candidates Daniel Lemberger Cooper and Craig Gent were successfully elected. Gent is appointed as ULU Student Trustee, whilst Cooper is Vice President of the organisation. Cooper gained more votes than any other candidate in the election, exceeding those for uncontended presidential candidate Sean Rillo Raczka.
Both ULU and Royal Holloway are renowned for political inactivity, but Cooper’s motivated left-wing manifesto has shaken student politics. Until 2010, ULU was engaged in no political campaigning, but in the current political climate, with government cuts and increased tuition fees, students sincerely need representation. Speaking to Solidarity, Cooper advises: “the transformation of students’ unions into combative bodies”.
As president of Royal Holloway’s Student Union, Cooper organised an anti-cuts campaign involving a forty-eight hour occupation of the Principal’s corridor on 23rd November 2011. Despite formally being widely regarded as a right-wing environment, the left-wing representative of Alliance for Workers’ Liberty has roused the opinion: “If it can be done at Royal Holloway, it can be done anywhere”. Cooper says: “Royal Holloway has a long history of political inertia, apathy and students that commend pedestrian values. This is certainly changing”.
As Vice-President, Cooper intends to boost ULU’s solidarity with the whole of London and open up the federation to all of the city’s colleges and universities, as well as employees of these institutes. Cooper plans to structure ULU around the “backbone” of the city, so that the organisation can “use its weight to get what London students need.” Cooper says: “We understand and seek to push the importance of workers and students linking up. Unity is strength, non?”
ULU Vice-President Candidate and opponent to Cooper, Ian Drummond, withdrew from the elections three hours prior to the start of voting. Drummond maintained that a third candidate, Ross Speer, was the “best placed candidate to keep a commitment to anti-war, pro-Palestinian, and anti-fascist activism central to ULU’s campaigning”. In a subsequent statement, Drummond attacked the AWL as fascist and Islamaphobic. He warned against voting for Cooper: “this is no time to entrust ULU’s campaigning to someone following such a dismal and dangerous political line”. It is thought that this action from Socialist Workers Party (SWP) organisers was in response to the large body of support Cooper gained from SWP student activists. Speer’s campaign focused heavily on issues of Israel and Palestine with the unfortunate consequence that Cooper’s campaign was wrongly accused of Islamaphobia.