The NUS’ ‘Liar Liar’ campaign, encouraging students to vote against MPs who broke their pledges not to raise tuition fees, has been met by criticism from students at Oxford and beyond.
The campaign, which is reported to have cost £40,000, will see billboards, vans and newspaper advertisements all bearing the slogan ‘Liar Liar’. The project has attracted criticism for singling out the Liberal Democrat party in particular, with the Liberal Democrat logo featuring prominently on the proposed posters.
The planned billboards will be set up in London, Manchester and Sheffield (where Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg is standing for re-election). Critics have argued that this further substantiates the claim that the campaign singles out Liberal Democrats, whilst ignoring other MP’s who broke their ‘Vote for Students’ pledges not to increase tuition fees in the run up to the 2010 general election.
A campaign entitled ‘#trollNUS’ has been set up in response, to encourage students who disagree with the NUS’ campaign to make donations to the Liberal Democrats.
Joseph Miles, a PPE finalist at Wadham College and founder of the campaign, stated: “I never expected the #trollNUS campaign to take off like this. When I heard of the #liarliar campaign, and having seen the NUS’s increasingly desperate attempts to plug it on social media, I started a Facebook event called “Troll the NUS executive; donate to the Liberal Democrats!” as a joke and invited several people who I know are Lib Dems at Oxford. From there it just took off unexpectedly. The hashtag was really an afterthought for people to express support, and it surprised me that there were so many people that were interested in doing so. I do think the NUS has a problem with accountability, and its internal structures are almost impossible to understand. Clearly I am not the only person who thinks that the NUS has become dominated by small internal cliques who are nowhere near representative of the entire student body; small internal cliques who are only too happy to conveniently ignore the fact that Labour is still pledging £6,000 fees when they decide to send their battle-buses to key Labour-Lib Dem marginals like Sheffield Hallam. It’s an outrageous waste of our money and I think that there are much better things that they can be doing for students.”
The NUS describes the campaign as seeking to end the “cycle of broken promises” and ensure politicians can be trusted and held to their word.