Student protesters only seek to protect perks for the rich

At a time when tax revenues have collapsed and the Government is having to make very tough choices about spending, is feathering the nests of rich university graduates really a priority? These students are selfishly arguing that money should be redistributed to them, even though they aren’t a needy group.

A Guardian editorial in 2009 argued that “a rise in fees would make University education fairer”. The editorial was wrong in that it argued “students from wealthier families should be charged more to support the less well off”. In fact, the system the Government has proposed, in which the Government pays all upfront fees and recharges it later to the graduate themselves, is far more fair than expecting families to save up and fork out. But they were on the right lines. I wonder if their editorial line has changed since.

In the same edition, David Blanchflower, a former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee and economics columnist for the New Statesman, said that the “poor have been subsidising the rich” for too many years:

“The poor have been subsidising the rich. And now the rich are shouting because they are losing their subsidy – because they are paying £3,000 to go to Oxford and they should be paying £30,000.”

“You make the rich pay the market price and use that money to fund the poor,” he argued.

The Government’s repayment system starts to achieve this, with a deferred and graduated repayment on on 9% of income above £21,000, with outstanding repayments written off after 30 years. A quarter of graduates, the poorest, will pay less than under the current system. Almost a million students will receive more overall maintenance support than they do now.

Graduates can expect to earn more than non-graduates. The Browne review calculated a cumulative graduate premium of £120,000 compared to people moving into the workplace with just A-levels. This even applies to arts graduates, though they bring down the average while lawyers and doctors push it up. The Graduate Premium is worth £400,000 compared to the national average wage. Those with the broadest shoulders should, as they say, bear the heaviest burden.

Even worse is reading lefties calling for access to University to be limited by cutting places . This smacks even more of them defending their elitist privileges.

This looks to me like a curiously reactionary protest, with the elites trying to preserve their position and their perks at the expense of the poor.

Published in: on November 30, 2010 at 1:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Thornberry appointment shows No2AV intends to go negative

‘Labour big beasts say no to voting reform’, goes the Guardian headline. Well they don’t come much bigger or more beastly than Emily Thornberry. Labour activist Seph Brown has written that “Reading the comments of Emily Thornberry today, I fear that from the outset there are indications that the referendum on the Alternative Vote could get nasty.” He is right, and I’ve no doubt that’s what Thornberry was hired for.

Emily Thornberry said on sky news that “It’s unduly complicated, it’s expensive, it’s unnecessary – and I think it’s important to have a direct relationship with your constituents.”

As Seph Brown writes, this is a series of lies: “Ignoring her initial opinions on necessity and expense etc, her final point seems to suggest that the Alternative Vote would break the ‘constituency link’ between a single MP and their patch. This is simply not true.”

I wrote earlier about why I think Emily Thornberry is against AV: the ugly self interest of an MP who is disliked by the majority of her constituents in her marginal seat, and would very possibly lose out from the reform.

Seph Brown adds that she could be motivated by her “years of hard – often bareknuckle – campaigning against the LibDems has developed a near pathological distaste for the party constantly breathing down her neck in Islington South and Finsbury”. Blocking reform to spite the Liberal Democrats, regardless of the consequences for the country, is an incredibly immature approach, but one that you can see among a lot of tribal Labour supporters.

Seph is a Labour activist, of course, so he goes too easy on Thornberry in other respects.

He says that her “willingness to stand up to her own party on civil liberties… has secured her place amongst politicians of principle.” TheyWorkForYou records her as having voted strongly for Labour’s anti-terrorism laws and very strongly for ID cards (which she didn’t think was a big deal, apparently). Apparently she only thinks that you should be banged up for a month, still the longest pre-charge detention limit in the western world, which is maybe good by Labour standards, but hardly strikes me as the principle of someone who holds civil liberties dear.

Seph also praises her for “Her dedication to progressive climate policy”. I think I must have missed that. She did promise to vote against Heathrow Expansion, but when it came to the crucial vote in Parliament, she refused to turn up for the vote. She also gave a bizarre tirade on the floor of the House of Commons accusing Greenpeace of having “been manipulated by the Conservatives into being their cheerleaders” and demanding they apologise to their supporters. Still, her Copenhagen Summit diary is a truly hilarious account of a bag-carrier who travelled (probably flew; the journey goes unwritten) to an international convention with nothing actually to do – not even meat in the room, as In the Loop might have put it.

Seph calls Thornberry’s intervention: “a deliberate attempt to mislead the public on what the Alternative Vote will do to constituencies”. As a long-time Thornberry watcher, I have to say that I’m not surprised. She’s a veteran attack dog/ human shield, often bussed in to do Gordon Brown’s dirty work. She was the only MP willing to defend Labour on TV during the Derek Draper affair, for example.

She will be the attack dog of this miserable little campaign, and a human shield for Prescott, Beckett et al.

Published in: on November 27, 2010 at 12:20 am  Leave a Comment