Much excitement from Labour this morning over the new IFS report on tuition fees. With research finding that students from disadvantaged backgrounds will graduate with debts in excess of £57,000, Labour’s shadow education minister has said it’s time to ‘deliver a debt-free education system run for the many not the few’. Conveniently, the party has not bothered to comment on the other finding of the report – that Labour’s plan to scrap fees completely would benefit richer students the most.
Happily one Labour comrade is open to this view point. In an article for the Fabian Society, Phil Wilson – the MP for Sedgfield – describes Labour’s policy to abolish tuition fees as ‘a middle class offer to young people on the whole from middle-class backgrounds’
‘The direct offer to students to abolish tuition fees from September this year must have helped too; a middle class offer to young people on the whole from middle-class backgrounds. So we win Canterbury, a university town with a huge student population, and come within a hairs breadth of the complete opposite in Bishop Auckland.
The irony is, I want to see working-class families have middle-class children. You achieve that by investing in education before they get to university and providing decent jobs once they’ve left. Not by subsidising middle class kids, so there is no money left to help those children who don’t have the same start in life.’
Wilson adds that the swing in support from Labour to the Conservatives among the working class in the snap election must ‘be seen at least an embarrassment, at most a grim warning that Labour is continuing to lose touch with those we seek to represent’:
‘For Labour, the party created over 100 years ago to promote and protect the interests of working people, a significant swing to the Conservatives amongst our core support must be seen at least an embarrassment, at most a grim warning that Labour is continuing to lose touch with those we seek to represent.’
Still, Mr S suspects the Corbynistas will have little trouble brushing off this criticism – after all, Wilson is the MP for Tony Blair’s old seat.