I've been saying for too long that Conservative Future need to organise within NUS. Perhaps this will be the year that it will happen.
Yesterday a facebook group was set up to bring all those who are involved with NUS and students' union politics, and are also of a conservative persuasion, together if for no other reason than to have a quick head count of how many there are.
Fellow blogger and NUS fan (OK, hack) Joe Oliver has picked up on the group, thanks to one of my tweets this afternoon, and has written at length about CF and individual Tories and their record in NUS and its elections.
You see the thing is, upwards of 90% of delegates to NUS Conference have effectively already decided who to vote for in the elections for the full time officers (they might not know the people, but they know the politics) and probably have their first few preferences sorted for the block elections. Therefore an election can't be won (although can be lost) with just a campaign at the conference itself.
The way to win is to pump your block vote, but before that you have to get a block vote in the first place. You need around 40 to 50 first preference votes (and a few handy transfers) to get elected onto the block, so essentially CF need to get at least 30 people to be elected as delegates in their own unions, and then get them to turn up at the conference and most importantly the vote. This process needs to start right at the start of term as a number of unions hold their delegate elections early in the year.
Any serious candidate will pick up a dozen votes from the un-pledged or defecting delegates and the finishing line is crossed by picking up those all important transfers. If only for this reason, that's why you need a good campaign at the conference itself. The other reasons are its good fun, and the perfect excuse to get your delegates together. Why not have a fringe event at lunchtime on the second day (about the time when the full time elections are finishing and the block campaign gets under way), when you can pump that block vote again and get any straggling members for the campaign team.
The Lib Dems failed to get their man onto the block this year, not because the candidate was unelectable, but because they didn't prepare the ground. Their block vote wasn't good enough (perhaps only 20 delegates) and they were excluded at stage 7 with 34 votes.
You don't need much organisation, but you do need to organise to have someone elected at NUS and CF should be doing it.
By the way, I was very flattered to find out that Joe had given me a promotion to faction leader in his blog post. Let me assure him that I don't hold any position within CF at this time, but I would relish the chance to run the campaign of a Tory block candidate at the 2010 conference. Not my own though, at least not this time.