I'm writing this at the final AWL event in the "Ideas to Change the World" series, having very much changed my mind on various things. Whilst I went to NUS LGBT conference last year I was largely unaware of factionalist politics, and my introduction to them came at the NCAFC conference, where it's fair to say that I think I saw the worst of the factionalist left, the worst sectarian bullshit, and I came away from it hugely opposed to factions and block voting. It didn't occur to me that being one of the two disabled students officers on the ncafc national committee meant I was aligned with a faction until I got to Disabled Students Conference.
The AWL had a whip at ncafc, as I understand it, on the elections at least, and I was disgusted at the time. Now, I think it's fair to say my views have changed.
It was when I got to disabled students conference that I realised I was aligned with a faction - ncafc. I met with two other ncafc activists and we caucused, about six times over the weekend. We discussed who to support in the elections, and we voted together, two of us sat together, and we formed what I jokingly called a block. It's only now that I realise it really was a block. At one point I wanted to take an action, and others didn't. We discussed it, and I bowed to the group consensus.
Some really good stuff got passed and I wonder whether it could have passed without us working as a unit, bringing in others along our way. As a unit we were stronger, when we were drained and angry we were drained and angry together.
I never wanted to join a party because I didn't want to lose my autonomy. I'm starting to realise instead that it replaces autonomy, to some extent, with solidarity, which I'd really rather have.