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.
Tonight is the vote where a whole generation will learn the fate of their future. Whether they will be consigned with levels of unamiginable debt.
Despite daily protests outside her Willesden Green office, we are yet to hear a word from our Brent Central MP on how she will vote tonight. The Coalition Government Minister was one of those who signed the NUS pledge (not to be confused with a promise of course) that she would personally vote against any rise in tuition fees.
She has remained tight lipped even until today on the issue with the people of Brent having no idea what her thoughts are on the issue or how she will vote. Sky News tried to get an answer from her yesterday with no success (LINK).
All we’ve had so far is four word expletives (LINK).
I think this is a good thing as it means there is still hope. People in Brent will just have to wait in hope tonight to see if our local MP honours her pledge or if she sells out and condemns a generation of young people to a lifetime of debt.
The Coalition of cabinet millionaires just do not have a clue how difficult their intention to treble fees will make going to University for young people from middle and lower income families.
They have benefitted themselves having free higher education and now they want people to pay up to £9,000 a year in fees. If we’re all in this together, every MP who votes for the fee cap rise should pay £27,000 into the higher education system.
THIS WILL RUIN THE LIFE CHANCES OF A GENERATION!
They are intent on tackling the deficit within one Parliamentary term because they say that the economy should not be built on a foundation of debt. But they think it’s ok for young people to be consigned with debts of up to £50,000 and build their whole lives on a foundation of debt. Where is the logic in that?
When they wanted to sell these extreme cuts, the Conservative and Liberal Democrats would turn moist-eyed and say it was “immoral” to “burden the next generation with higher debts.” So as a solution they have introduced a program that will burden the next generation with much higher debts.
Johan Hari, the Independent
During the years when young people have begun to work, are at the prime age to start up families and enter the housing market for the first time, a chunk of their disposable income will be removed from them at the time when they are in most need of it as they will have to deal with their student debt – thereby affecting their future life choices.
The Lib Dem comeback seems to be that it’s all Gordon Brown and the previous Labour Government’s fault. I disagree strongly – but you can blame Gordon Brown all you want… it doesn’t change the fact that Nick Clegg lied.