Student presidential hopefuls, Harry Cole and Nick Ward, are jostling for position as the front-runner in the 2008 EUSA presidential election, with both hitting the ground running on the day nominations open.
Mr Cole, who was first to announce his candidacy on 25 January, hosted his manifesto launch on Monday only for Mr Ward to attempt to upstage his rival by holding his event on the same day.
The candidates have already set the agenda for the contest as reform against results, with talk of “experience versus change” becoming the slogan for the election, aping the US Democratic primary between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Talking to The Journal, Mr Cole said: “My campaign is based on a wide-ranging reform package which aims to bring student politics into the 21st century. I want Edinburgh University to be the leading students' union in the UK. This is the best city in the world to be a student, and we deserve a world-leading standard of service and representation from our Students' Association."
In a speech at his launch event on Monday, Mr Cole said: “There has been a lot of talk recently about EUSA focusing too much on global issues which they are not really in a position to affect. Part of my drive to fix EUSA is based on looking inwards to fix our own problems, before looking out. Looking at contact time is an excellent example of this.”
The second part of the manifesto proposes constitutional and internal reforms for the Students' Association. These promises, which include a pledge to do a weekly video podcast and his signature policy of online referenda to replace General Meetings, aim to fix what he describes as the “broken” nature of the Student's Association.
Mr Ward was critical of Mr Cole's proposed constitutional amendments. In a statement released last Friday, he said: “In this election there is a choice, a choice for tinkering with constitutions and ‘systems’ or taking real action and improving the lives of students.”
In a comment to The Journal, Mr Ward said: “We have got to start focusing on the university outcome. University should be a launch-pad for our future lives. I want this university to be the best launch pad in the country, focusing on providing the opportunities for real work experience for all.”
Harry Cole is perhaps the highest profile candidate at present, having announced his candidature in January at a Conservative Party Burns’ Night event at the Scottish Parliament and having released two campaign videos on his official website. Mr Cole who is running as an independent candidate, stood down from his position as Vice Chair of the University's Conservative and Unionist Association in order to run for the EUSA Presidency, has retained his membership of the national Conservative Party organisation.
Nick Ward has been involved in EUSA and Labour Student politics since his first year and is hoping this level of experience will carry him to victory.