Activist resigns from Labour after party tries to claim credit for local Uni campaign


By a Newsnet reporter
A leading student activist has quit the Labour party in disgust after accusing local officials of trying to claim credit for a successful campaign aimed at preventing the merger of Abertay University with Dundee University.
Kevin Rooney, who is listed as the Chair of Abertay Labour Society, wrote to local newspaper the Dundee Courier after a headline appeared proclaiming the local Dundee Labour party had saved the university.

The law student, who lists Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont amongst his followers on twitter, called the attempt by the Labour party “appalling” and a “disgrace” and said it showed a lack of respect for students and staff of the university who were involved in the campaign.

In the letter, Mr Rooney writes: “I am one of the many students who spent much of their time helping Abertay Student’s Association and Dundee UCU in the campaign against the merge.

“I find it appalling to read of the local Labour Party taking the acclaim for our effort — the student effort.  I will not deny that Labour brought the issue to the forefront of political attention but to claim credit for the Hands Off Abertay campaign is a disgrace.

“As a Labour member of many years this has been the final straw for the party I have invested much time helping.”

The student also claims to have spoken to a local Labour official who he claims told him: “We have an election coming up, we need to claim the victories”.

The student ends by saying: “By the time this is published I will have joined the swelling ranks of those who have left Labour and stand alongside the youth who show nothing more than apathy towards party politics.”

Mr Rooney’s previous support for Labour and commitment to Abertay University was not in question and was evident in tweets when he said: “BBC Question Time should be cracking tonight! @Margaret_Curran sticking up for not only students across Dundee but Scotland! #notomerge”

“Michael Russell receiving DUSA/UADSA joint response to the government’s post-16 education white paper. #AllTaygethernow

The resignation of the Chair of the University’s Labour Society following his accusations will be a blow to the Dundee Labour party and to the Scottish Labour party who only yesterday received a local election campaign boost after an SNP candidate was suspended for posting offensive messages on twitter.

The suggestion that Dundee Labour group openly acknowledged taking credit they were not entitled to because: “We have an election coming up, we need to claim the victories” will anger many local students and locals whose efforts were key to maintaining the University’s independence.