Tuition Fees and Student Debt – Labour’s in a tangle all of their own making

I have been trying to get to the bottom of what Labour generally and Jeremy Corbyn and Angela Rayner MP in particular have been saying about this controversial matter.

Let’s kill one piece of fake news first – Labour brought in Tuition Fees when in government, end of. No they weren’t brought in by Nick Clegg, he just made an almighty mess of pledging to fight them before doing his spectacular U-turn and in effect reversing that pledge.

So ownership of Tuition Fees belongs to Labour but both Tories and Lib Dems in Government have backed them.

Of course the big news of this June’s General Election was that Labour had decided that their flagship policy to bring in Tuition Fees had been wrong and that they would be abolishing them if the electorate gave them a majority. That pledge went down very well indeed with young voters who flocked behind the Labour banner in the ballot box but not in sufficient numbers to give Labour a majority, indeed Labour were nowhere near a majority.

But what’s been going on since then is interesting as Labour spokespeople seem to have been trying to build on their success of attracting young voters by suggesting, saying and promoting the righting off of student debts. Clearly that talk has given the impression (intended or otherwise) that already held student debts (going back to when Labour introduced Tuition Fees?) would be written off.

And that of course begs the question of what would then happen about the Tuition Fees that have already been paid off? Would it lead to the students who have paid off their debt getting a refund? The logical end of this policy process is that yes they should and obviously folks are drawing that conclusion.

Clearly Labour has by loose talk put itself in a position where there are great expectations over Tuition Fees being abolished, debts being written off and already repaid debt being refunded. Oh how a political party can talk itself into a a hugely significant and expensive policy stance!

But what seems to be going on now is that Labour are trying to talk the expectations down (backing off the pledges?) and saying they had not promised this that or the other.

Have Labour learned nothing from Clegg’s U-turn and how young people took against him?

General Election – Reflections of a radical lefty

Brexit – Well it now seemingly has huge support as both Labour and Tories were backed to pursue it. What happened to the 48% who voted against Brexit because many of them must have effectively voted for it this time around?

Nick Clegg – Probably for the best that he lost his seat. In many way he was one of the most intelligent and knowledgeable MP in Parliament but because of his poor judgement over tuition fees (he said he would oppose them and did the opposite) he found himself in a place from which there was no return. Indeed, he ended up being blamed for tuition fees when in fact they were brought in by Labour who, in this most recent election, pledged to abolish their own previous policy!

Diane Abbott and Teresa May – They had terrible campaigns, end of. Diane was seemingly incapable of fielding incoming fire whilst submarine commander May kept ducking under the waves to avoid the fire. Has any Prime Minister/Party Leader been so detached from an election campaign before?

Jeremy Corbyn – Well he did not implode as the hostile press said he would, in fact did reasonably well as a 1970’s socialist with a love of nationalisation. Maybe Labour kept sending in Diane Abbott because they knew she would be terrible so taking the pressure of Jeremy? If they did it was a well thought out move.

Ulster Unionists – Oh dear what will become of us now the fate of the Government is probably in their hands? Yes, they will get the blame for supporting the Tories when unpopular things are done but then again on Brexit and Welfare reform the Tories may be relying on Labour backing/abstaining based on recent history. It certainly makes me feel very uncomfortable that our country will in effect be in the hands of a political party which promotes sectarian politics! What’s the chances of it not ending up in tears?

Polarised UK? – Well yes when viewed from some angles but on the biggest issue of the day – Brexit – the Tories and Labour were actually united over pursuing what will inevitably be a disastrous economic process from which the poor will suffer the most.

Pensioners – How many pensioners actually voted Conservative despite their triple lock pensions (brought in by the Lib Dems) being under threat from the Tories? And what about the Conservative’s Dementia tax and their promised cuts to Winter Fuel Allowance? Did some pensioners vote Tory because they still want Brexit at any cost.

Young People – Many voted Labour because of their promise to abolish tuition fees but in doing so they also voted for some Labour MP’s who in effect support the restriction of freedom of movement, via Brexit, which is in no way in the interests of young people. And how on earth did Labour MP Kate Hoey survive? She has been the female bookend to Nigel Farage, representing a constituency which voted heavily (76.6%) against Brexit, yet she was re-elected with a thumping majority?

Tim Farron – He had a decent campaign with the limited exposure he got on TV and radio. He lacks the charisma of Charles Kennedy or Paddy Ashdown but he made a good fist of it.

Conclusion – Not a good election for us radical lefties but then again are they ever? Each time the deck chairs get moved around but the government of the day is always too right wing!

General Election – ‘I once led a huge protest against the Lib Dems – but this general election, I’ll be voting for them’

www.independent.co.uk/voices/lib-dems-labour-tuition-fees-jeremy-corbyn-tim-farron-brexit-general-election-never-again-a7728616.html

The Independent has this opinion piece on its web site – see link above

Quote ‘Last year’s Brexit referendum result was a catastrophe for Britain’s young people, with almost 75 per cent of us voting to remain. As the initial shock subsided, the Tories clarified their plans to crash us out of the single market, restrict our rights to live, work and study throughout the EU, and leave us isolated on the world stage at a time when, in Theresa May’s own words, the world needs the “liberal, democratic values of Europe”.’

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting.

Cacoathes: an urge to do something inadvisable.

Jen Robertson dug out this interesting but rarely used word because on the odd occasion I am known for saying some inadvisable things but it did make me think of recent seeming uses of it all be it without it actually being said.

The EU Remain campaigning Labour Party doing a complete U-turn and voting for Brexit? Inadvisable

The classic of Nick Clegg saying he would oppose Tuition Fees and then dropping that opposition. Inadvisable

Labour saying they were going to defend the Sefton Green Belt and then voting to build on it. Inadvisable

The Tories saying in their 2015 manifesto that they wanted to remain in the Single Market and then voting to leave the Single market. Inadvisable

The UK voting to leave the EU in the advisory referendum. Inadvisable

I could go on but I am sure you get my drift…..

Liberals – Why it’s good to hear that some folks really don’t like them

I’ve been a Liberal all my adult life (having read the 3 major party manifestos from the 1979 General Election I realised I was indeed a Liberal) and throughout that time I have often heard people say things like Liberals are nice people, you care about people and other such comments.

Of course I have also heard just the opposite when former Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg, foolishly in my view, dropped opposition to Labour’s Student Tuition Fees. In some ways it was not actually about Tuition Fees, it was about trust and not carrying out what folks thought the Lib Dems had said they stood for. By gum some lessons were learned there and rightly so!

Now with the incredibly stupid idea of us leaving the EU and most probably tipping the UK economy over the edge in the process Liberals have been leading the fight against Brexit – along with the SNP in Scotland of course. This has polarised opinions and many on the right in particular really do hate us Liberals for our pro-EU stance.

But whilst the country is going to the dogs liberalism is on the rise – I am told that membership of the Lib Dem Party is soaring to its highest levels in a very long time. And you know I don’t think it is at all a bad thing for Liberals to be unpopular with people who support Brexit and who hold illiberal views on many other things. Some of them may even have voted Liberal in the past not really knowing how pro-EU we Liberals are but they won’t be making that mistake again I am sure!

10 reasons to dislike Liberals:-

If you hate the EU
If you are a racist
If you like our appalling unrepresentative voting system
If you are intolerant towards people from other countries
If you support UKIP
If you care little for environmental issues
If you are a Little Englander
If you think that Donald Trump is a good thing
If you change facts to fit with your own views
If you can’t see how beneficial it is to have people from other countries working and studying in the UK

I could go on but I guess you get my drift.

The cause of Liberalism has clearly been reignited by the EU Referendum, especially with Labour being so all over the place on this most crucial of issues.

No, I’m happy that some folks really don’t like Liberals because that means we are doing the right things and not trying to be all things to all people. And that’s a lesson that Labour has seemingly not yet learned. When over 60% of Labour voters supported staying in the EU they switch away from their admittedly half hearted Remain support and choose to back Brexit and the views of their minority right wing supporters! And this from a party whose membership is now predominately left wing. You really could not make up the tangle Labour have got themselves into could you. Of course that’s why Labour members who are also liberal and pro-EU by instinct are leaving that party and joining the Lib Dems.

If the Lib Dems have always had an obvious problem it has been trying to nail down what the party stands for in the minds of the electorate. Well that nailing down has clearly been done now!

Why do we allow ourselves to be lied to?

I am sure that the vast majority of folks reading this will say I don’t want to lied to. But…….

And the but is this. We are all lied to on a regular basis by the media, politicians, businesses etc. Some lie openly but most lie in a way that some of us will not detect because the lies told feed our prejudices. So, in my case, if I hear a story slagging off Yorkshire County Cricket Club I will want to believe it as a Notts supporter. Now are you getting my drift?

But what if the lies we are told are about far more important things than a sporting allegiances? Without doubt we have been told lies [unless I am lying to you now of course] about the EU, immigration, the NHS, tuition fees, the Iraq war, taxation etc. etc. etc. in recent years.

Beware someone who tells you something that they know you are likely to want to agree with because it may well not be true, particularly if they are selling you something, trying to get your support or indeed wanting your vote.

Look at it this way newspapers play to the prejudices of their readers. They work on the basis that if we tell our readers something often enough they will believe it and repeat it as fact. Some of the more disreputable politicians do the same thing, but we know that don’t we?

I was once told by a politician that you need to find out what people are most upset about and then keep sending them messages (e-mails, leaflets etc.) that repeat those concerns and that whether those concerns are real or not does not matter.

Our problem is that with our busy lives we do not have the time, or say we don’t have the time, to find out the facts before we take a stance on things. We repeat what our family, friends and neighbours tell us without question at times and that is how falsehoods become ‘facts’ in public mind.

You could say that we are too lazy to check things out when someone we trust gives us an easy answer that fits with our prejudices, but that’s exactly how we are had by newspapers, politicians and businesses. They all put a lot of time and money into how messages are played to us so that we will react as they wish us to.

So if Auntie Mary or Uncle Fred for example is hooked by a dodgy message or ‘fact’ and then repeats it to the rest of his/her gullible family, who take it on board, then that dodgy message is spread just as the originator of it intended or at least hoped.

When polled we say that we hate lying politicians, rip-off business people and that we don’t trust what the media tells us but the fact that we are had quite often indicates that we are not actually very good at knowing when we are being lied to. This is particularly the case when we hear a ‘fact’ that we want to believe but is in fact a lie or a gross distortion of the truth.

Let’s look at few examples:-

* The NHS – we all now seem to take it as fact that we were lied to during the EU Referendum about £350m per week going into the NHS if we voted to leave the EU. Indeed, the very people who told that huge fib have openly now said it is not now going to happen! A big lie indeed.

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* Tuition Fees – This one sunk Nick Clegg (and rightly so) as he negotiated away his pledge not to increase them and indeed to scrap them. Strangely though some of us who were angry with him then voted for alternative politicians in the Labour or Conservative parties who were the instigators and promoters of Tuition Fees! So we were upset that Clegg had said one thing and done the opposite but by our actions we endorsed the policy of tuition fees. Now there’s a odd muddle for you.

* Taxation – It probably started under Thatcher but certainly Blair, Brown and Cameron built on it i.e. that we can have low taxation and great public services. And guess what, we can’t! We even had some recent nonsense from the Tories about a law to make it illegal for Parliament to increase some taxes. Their stance is built on the fact that we don’t like paying taxes so we like a message that says we don’t have to. We are also distracted by media messages that tell us that our taxes are wasted by fat-cat public sector bosses – we like that message too. That message may well be true at the margins but those that spread the message intend us to think that public money is wasted by hundreds of billions of Pounds each year. We want to believe it, so many of us do. Of course, this one is difficult for us to check out so the media and politicians who peddle that message are on to a winner.

If we keep believing what media outlets, businesses, politicians etc. tell us without checking things out, whilst trying to keep both an open mind and sceptical inquiring outlook, we will keep getting had! But are we too busy or too lazy to become better informed and less gullible?