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I am sad to report that I have little by way of new writing on the go at the moment. I am overloaded with commitments and I can never seem to get an arm free to write anything. In the meantime, however, I was recently hunting in my inbox for the email address of a certain manager at Edinburgh University when I came across this job application. It is enough of a curiosity, I think, to merit posting.

The year was 2017 and the Edinburgh University Student Association (EUSA) was seeking to recruit a Representation and Democracy Manager. I thought that such a splendid title would be the perfect feather for my cap. More realistically, I had been probably eyeing up the interview as material for a funny story. But there was no interview and no word of reply. Perhaps EUSA had sensed what I was doing or else perhaps they had judged my application to be genuinely worthless. Please judge for yourself from these extracts.

Please give details below of your experience, knowledge and skills and explain why you think they are relevant to the requirements of the post by referring to the person specification and job description.

I am a radical democrat. I set up and write for a website (tychy.wordpress.com) which campaigns for, amongst other things, the worldwide triumph of democracy.

Following the terrorist attacks at Tunisia’s Bardo National Museum and the resort of Sousse in 2015, I travelled to Tunis in 2016 to campaign for the resumption of UK tourism to the country. I charted the decline of the Tunisian tourist industry, I wrote a travel diary to assure timorous Western tourists, and I argued for the forging of a “special relationship” between the UK and Tunisia based on our shared democratic values.

My website Tychy favours the empowerment of ordinary people and it naturally calls for the abolition of the monarchy and the House of Lords and the eradication of every last trace of the European Union.

How do you see this post fitting in with your past and future career?

This post, with its responsibilities and fascinating challenges, would require a steep learning curve for me. There would be a suspension of the epicurean picaresque that I have hitherto enjoyed instead of a career. Afterwards, once democracy was in rude health again, I would melt away back into a life of peaceful and unobtrustive creativity.

Why do you want this particular role and why do you want to work for Edinburgh University Students’ Association?

The title of this post is fascinating, inspiring, and provocative. It is even slightly sinister. I am not sure that democracy ever should be “managed.” In my experience, managers are always trying to contain democracy and render it a purely cosmetic phenomenon.


Democracy is currently in a parlous state across UK universities, with freedom of speech – the water in democracy’s fish tank – in alarmingly short supply. It does not bode well for the future of democracy if student politics is a harbinger of things to come: turnouts are low; representatives are subsequently not at all representative of their electorates; and there is a corrosive cynicism towards democratic politics amongst many students. Overseas students are particularly estranged from student union politics.

Democracy does not need an (unelected) manager – it needs a champion. It also needs imaginative leadership and plain speech. Students should not have democracy managed for them – they should seize the maximum power that is available over the university administration.