Malia Bouattia loses NUS presidential election

NUS Vice President Shakira Martin wins, taking 56 percent of the vote in the first round.


Malia Bouattia has been defeated in her attempt to get re-elected as President of the National Union of Students.

Ms Bouattia was defeated by Shakira Martin, who previously held the position of Vice President of Further Education.

Ms Martin won in the first round of voting; of the 721 votes cast she received 402 votes to Ms Bouattia's 272. 

And in a further result, Jewish student Izzy Lenga has been elected the new Vice President of NUS for Welfare, receiving 393 votes after a total of 729 votes cast.

Ms Martin said “I am honoured and humbled to have been elected as NUS’ National President. I take this as a vote of trust that our members believe I can lead our national movement to be the fighting and campaigning organisation we need it to be, representing the breadth of our diverse membership.

"Further Education made me who I am today and look forward to sharing stories of just how powerful all forms of education can be when we’re all given access to it. During my term in office I want to spend my time listening, learning and leading.”

A spokesperson for the Union of Jewish Students said: "We extend heartfelt congratulations to the newly elected NUS President Shakira Martin on her election win. In particular, Shakira's election demonstrates a rejection of the divisive rhetoric used by the current President, Malia Bouattia, whose past antisemitic comments have remained problematic for Jewish students for over a year.

"The overwhelming majority of Jewish students across the UK will be grateful that NUS will soon be led once again by a capable leader who is genuinely committed to ensuring that the student movement stands up for all its members.

"Following Shakira’s recent work with UJS, which included a trip to Poland ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day this year, we look forward to seeing her continue to prioritise the interests and welfare of Jewish students amongst all students as NUS National President. We wish her the very best in her new role.’

Ms Martin is perceived as being on the far left, having told the Guardian in 2015 that “[national] politics isn’t ready for me. People think Jeremy Corbyn is radical!”

However, she has made a conscious effort to engage with the UJS, attending its annual awards dinner last month. In January she travelled with the UJS to Israel, posting a message beforehand on Facebook in which she said that while she "originally made the decision not to attend this trip... to avoid the bullying that I anticipate coming from those within the movement, and those who may have different views", she had changed her mind, because "it is essential I listen to the voices of my membership and educate myself on particular issues such as Israel and Palestine to ensure that I make informed decisions as a leader".

She said the trip would "provide me with the opportunity to speak to both Israeli and Palestinian people who have lived these experiences. I go in with no preconceptions, I genuinely want to understand views from all sides – Palestinian and Israeli".

Commenting on Ms Lenga's election, a UJS spokesperson said:

"We are delighted that Izzy Lenga has been elected as NUS Vice President (Welfare) and extend our heartfelt congratulations to her on her victory. In addition to being a recent recipient of our Alan Senitt Award for Outstanding Contribution to Jewish Student Life, Izzy has previously shown exceptional commitment as Education Officer at the University of Birmingham, on NUS NEC and in her wider campaigning work for Jewish students and students from a range of backgrounds and cultures, and we look forward to seeing her continue this in her new role".

Jonathan Arkush and Marie Van der Zyl, the president and vice president of the Board of Deputies said it was “welcome that students of all faiths across the country have chosen to reject divisive and bigoted attitudes in favour of a welcoming environment for all.

“We applaud the outstanding work of the Union of Jewish Students, who have shown no let up throughout this difficult year and demonstrated firm determination to make the NUS the space it should be for Jewish students.”

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