Democratic deficit

October 6, 2011

Having spent 10 days in jail for unfurling a banner, Edd Bauer, vice-president for education at the University of Birmingham Guild of Students, has been suspended from his post as a democratically elected students' officer.

Bauer was arrested on 16 September after unfurling a banner at the start of the Liberal Democrat party conference protesting against university fees and education cuts. He was held in Aston Police Station over the weekend and in Winson Green Prison from 19 September until 26 September.

His arrest and detention for a minor act of civil disobedience has been widely criticised as repressive criminalisation of peaceful protest. The charge against him is that he intended to cause a road traffic incident. He has pleaded "not guilty".

John Hemming, Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley, spoke in court in support of Bauer's bail application. He said: "While I do not believe he should have put the banner there in the first place, the protest was peaceful and placid and I think it is disproportionate to keep him in prison any longer."

Despite the continuing trial, wide public support for Bauer and his not-guilty plea, the Birmingham Guild of Students - without consultation with its democratic bodies - has suspended Bauer from his role "indefinitely" and with "immediate effect".

We call on the managers of the Guild of Students to respect democracy in the students' union and allow Bauer to continue his work until the matter has been investigated and discussed at a union general meeting or a student union council with all the information to hand. We do not consider any disciplinary action valid unless it is decided democratically by students at either a UGM or a students' union council.

Len McCluskey, general secretary, Unite

John McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington

Mark Serwotka, general secretary, PCS union

Mark Campbell, University and College Union

Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary, National Union of Teachers

Diane Holland, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Bob Crow, general secretary, RMT union

Sue Blackwell, UCU

Ruby Hirsch, NUS National Executive Council

Vicki Baars, NUS LGBT officer

Kanja I Sesay, NUS black students officer

Matt Bond, NUS disabled students NEC

Michael Chessum, NUS National Executive Council and National Campaign against Fees and Cuts

Kingsley Abrams, Unite

J. Darlington, Unite British Aerospace

Simon Weller, national organiser, ASLEF (train drivers’) union

Ian Hodson, president, BFAWU (Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union)

Tony Woodhouse, chair, Unite executive

Manoj Kerai, welfare and diversity officer, Goldsmiths Students’ Union

Dan Risdale, vice-president, education and welfare, York St John Students’ Union

Stanley Ellerby-English, activities and development officer, London School of Economics Students’ Union

Alex Peters-Day, general secretary, LSE Students’ Union

James Haywood, president, Goldsmiths Students’ Union

Maev McDaid, president, Liverpool Guild of Students

Bob Sutton, vice-president, Liverpool Guild of Students

Ruth Brewer, vice-president, Liverpool Guild of Students

Zahid Raja, NUS Wales NEC

Andrew Tindall, Aberystwyth Students against Cuts

Clare Solomon, Counterfire

Mike Williamson, Edinburgh University Students’ Association

Sean Rillo Razcka, vice-president, University of London Union

Kelley Temple, women’s officer, NUS Scotland

Mark Bergfeld, NUS NEC

Arianna Tassinari, co-president, welfare and education, School of Oriental and African Studies Students’ Union

Jade Baker, NUS women’s committee

Emma Kerry, NUS LGBT committee

Alusine Alpha, union secretary treasurer, University of Bradford Student Union

Izzy John, welfare officer, Warwick Students’ Union

Leo Boe, president, Warwick Students’ Union

Chris Luck, democracy officer, Warwick Students’ Union

Matthew Rogers, societies officer, Warwick Students’ Union

Sean Ruston, education officer, Warwick Students’ Union

Hannah Dee, Defend the Right to Protest

Joshi Sachdeo, vice-chair, Birkbeck Students’ Union executive committee

Kai Weston, NUS LGBT committee

James McAsh, NCAFC, Edinburgh

Daniel Lemberger Cooper, president, Royal Holloway Students’ Union

Fionnuala McGoldrick, NUS LGBT committee

Sarah Kerton, postgraduate and mature students’ officer, University of Manchester Students’ Union

Sam O’Connor, University of Manchester Students’ Union

Paul Brandon, Right to Work

Birmingham Green Party

Birmingham Against the Cuts

Janine Booth, RMT

Joe Kelly, NUS LGBT committee

Liam McNulty, Cambridge Defend Education

Morgan Wild, education officer, Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU)

Ruth Graham, women’s officer, CUSU

Taz Rasul, access and funding officer, CUSU

Hannah Paterson, welfare officer, University of Manchester Students’ Union

Oeiisha Williams, education officer, Birmingham City University Students’ Union

Lukas Slothuus, community and welfare officer, LSE Students’ Union

Dante Micheaux, NUS NEC

Beth Evans, NUS LGBT committee

York Stop the Cuts

Fiona Edwards, Student Broad Left

Ed Maltby, Workers Liberty Students

Alicia McCluskey, Unite

Elaine Jones, vice-chair, Wirral Trades Council

Rhiannon Lowton, mature students officer, Liverpool Hope University Students’ Union

Lani Baird, president, Aberdeen College

Josefine Bjorkqvist, education and employability officer, Aberdeen Students’ Union

Jon Narcross, education officer, Sheffield Students’ Union

Harry Horton, finance officer, Sheffield Students’ Union

Nabil Alizai, activities officer, Sheffield Students’ Union

Sarah Charlesworth, women’s officer, Sheffield Students’ Union

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