For the first time in history a MP representing Dudden Hill Ward has voted to increase tuition fees. Brent Central MP Sarah Teather has voted for the unprecedented hike in tuition fees and has broken this personal pledge she made to the National Union of Students.
When fees were first introduced through the Teaching and Higher Education Bill in 1998, then MP for Brent East, Ken Livingstone voted against his own Government. In 2004, to Sarah Teather’s credit she voted against the introduction of variable fees which raised University tuition fees in effect to around £3,000 a year with then Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy deeply opposing the increase in fees. This time around, former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy who Sarah Teather instigated the ousting of, voted against his own Party and therefore against increasing the fee cap to £9,000 a year. Teather on the other hand sided with Nick Clegg and David Cameron.
As a member of a Government that was introducing this legislation, Sarah Teather had been silent on this issue and evidently avoiding public confrontation on how she vote. Given her track record on this issue, and the fact that she used her maiden speech in Parliament to highlight the point of student debt, I was hopeful that maybe her silence prior to the vote was because she was going to side with young people and vote against this unfair measure. Maybe she had listened to the protesters outside her constituency office. But no, in the end the roar of the ministerial car was louder than the voices of young people in Brent.