Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Betrayal

A betrayal - that's the only way to describe the way the majority of Liberal Democrat MPs voted today in favour of a huge increase in University fees. No wonder the students are revolting. They were the group most enthused by Nick Clegg during the General Election and voted in their thousands for the Liberal Democrats. For many, it was their first time ever voting and they decided, even in a time of expenses scandals and general mistrust of politicians, that Clegg's party was the one party who's stand up for them. I'm sorry to see that their trust has been shattered after today, and truly hope that it won't put them off politics completely in the future.

Fair play to those Liberal Democrats who voted against the government today. They are to be applauded and students within those constituencies should feel proud that their MP stuck to their pledge.

University fees is a difficult issue for every party, and regular readers of this blog will know my own opposition to fees and how I felt when some were introduced in Wales. But, at least our Plaid Cymru-Labour coalition approached it in a far fairer and sensible way which still made it possible for anyone to go to University without being crippled by a frightening amount of debt. This new system in England will punish everyone except the very rich within our society. Only people who can afford to be educated will be able to access higher education under this plan, making it a privilege rather than a fundamental right. In my view, if you're bright enough, then you should be able to go to University, and your government should support you in this. After all, the better educated our work force is, the better the economy will be. But no, the ConDems want to see only those who can afford to go to University going there. And what of courses, in particular humanities ones, that don't necessarily lead to a well paying job. Are we now saying that only the rich should do those courses as no one else will be able to afford to do so? It really is a backward step in terms of equality of access to education in England today.

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