“Free tertiary education is also the issue on which progressive movements in Europe have had the most striking success; and in this Corbyn echoes Blair’s breakthrough on the NHS in 2000, when he argued to increase health spending, not because he loved waste, but because if they could afford a higher per capita spend in Europe, why couldn’t we?
It’s a terribly elegant argument, marrying social generosity with a pride in British exceptionalism, which must have something for pretty much everyone. Once you’ve accepted that, the promise of maintenance grants sounds like a detail.
Finally, the promise of investment in adult education is a platitude – who could possibly want adults to be less skilled, less fulfilled, than they could be? – that masks a huge shift in priorities. Further education, known in the political class as what happens to other people’s children, has been underfunded for nearly a decade.
FE colleges have been appropriated to become ill-starred academies, and places on English and literacy courses for adults have been slashed. To reverse this would be life-changing for the least privileged: and yet it arrives as a very anodyne notion, that learning should be lifelong, an idea from neither the left nor the right, but the civilised mind.”
For political class, read Guardian readers, who now make up over 40% of the membership of the Labour Party. A membership with only 26% in it deemed to be working class. If one were solely to rely on the Guardian for one’s view of the world then one would think that all young people, despite only a third or so going to university, are in student debt. Of course, in the world of both Zoe Williams and Jeremy Corbyn, they, more often than not, probably are.
I will say it again, free university tuition fees are a blatant move to win votes in the Labour leadership election, just as they were last year. However, if not accompanied by targeted measures to increase the diversity of students getting to university admissions interviews as well as possibly an increased number of university places then free university tuition merely entrenches, not challenges, the privileges of the class to which Jeremy Corbyn and Zoe Williams belong.
Social mobility “can only happen when slots at the top are open and that must mean the sons and daughters of incumbents failing to fill them and sliding down the ladder. Privileged people fight tooth and nail to avoid such a fate for their children. They spend on schools and college and network fervently.”
When Jeremy Corbyn proposes to disarm the privilege of the middle class then Zoe Williams, and only then, will his NES be worth praising as being in any way ground breaking and socialist. When Tamsin, Tarquin, Seb and Zoe start cavilling at the implications of Corbyn’s NES then I will sit up and take notice, but not before.
I make no apologies for not doffing my cloth cap and tugging my forelock at the generosity of Squire Corbyn and Lady Zoe Bountiful.
Oh, yes, that principle? That we, the Labour Party are committed to equal opportunity for all, whatever their sex, their age, their disability, their gender, their race, their geographical locality, their circumstances, their background and their class.