Student Protests and Labour Hypocrisy
I have been following the student protests over proposed increases in tuition fees with considerable interest. Firstly, I should say that I do not support tuition fees and never have done. Higher education tuition should be paid for by the state through general taxation and not privatised. The driver for tuition fees was Labour’s obsession with pushing more people into higher education regardless of the quality of the courses they were taking.
Student maintenance however should be paid for by the individual and I have therefore never had a problem with student loans for living costs. When I studied for my degree the maintenance grant system still existed and there were no tuition fees. However, because my parents both worked (as a teacher and a nurse) they were considered too well off for me to receive anything other than a miniscule grant.
Secondly, I restate my support for free speech and peaceful protest. Many in this country fought for such rights and they should not be curtailed lightly. Students therefore have every right to protest against the governments plans. However, one of the most disturbing aspects of the recent student protests is the clear hijacking of the protests by people who seem to have another agenda. Last night’s riots appear to have involved people much older than the average student, wearing balaclavas and hoods. It also seems that some of the spokespeople provided for TV by the more radical student element are mature students who have been coached in side-stepping questions probably by some of the more extreme left-wing or anarchist elements in society.
The violence associated with several of the protests is disgusting and will only serve to lose support for the student cause. There is never a justification in a democracy for injuring Police personnel, smashing windows and forcing a way into buildings only to trash them inside.
Whilst if I were fortunate enough to be in the Commons I would not be supporting the increase in fees, it should be noted that the government plans increase the threshold at which fees have to be paid back from Labour’s £15,000 to a much higher level of £21,000.
Do I also really need to remind readers that it was Labour that broke its election manifesto by introducing tuition fees in the first place? The Labour leadership have ducked every opportunity to commit to scrapping the coalition’s plans for higher fees. They therefore have no credibility on this issue whatsoever.
It is Labour that sold the youth of the nation down the river when they broke their manifesto pledge and introduced tuition fees in the first place. It is Labour that condemned English young people to a life of debt. It is Labour that damaged politics by going back on their election pledge and proving right all those who say that politicians cannot be trusted. For them now to attack the Lib Dems on the same basis is rank hypocrisy of a most cynical kind.