London’s new anti-Tory generation says no to fee hikes

On the day MPs vote on government proposals to increase tuition fees, Ken Livingstone has warned the government about the disastrous consequences for London.

Update 1545hrs

As controversy rages over the government’s proposed tuition fees rises London Mayor Boris Johnson is being urged to come clean over his stance on the issue. Whilst the Mayor has yet to comment on the issues under the argument that he has no remit over higher education, the leader of the Labour group on the London Assembly Len Duvall has said the Mayor should explain his position as it was of huge importance to Londoners.

Duvall said:

“The Mayor can’t duck this issue forever. He says he doesn’t need to have a view because he has no control over education but this has never stopped him speaking his mind before.

“Boris Johnson’s government wants to saddle students with thousands of pounds of debt, deterring many and unfairly punishing those who aren’t lucky enough to have the money to pay for their education. London has a huge student population who the Mayor was quick to criticise for protesting. He should now be speaking up for them but instead he’s silent.”

Boris Johnson has previously dodged questions over whether he understood the anger behind the student protests.

With the tuition fees vote looming, Labour’s candidate for London Mayor Ken Livingstone has repeated his opposition to the government’s proposals and pointed out the effect the the rise will have on London, which has the biggest student population in the country. More than 400,000 students are registered at Higher Education institutions in London. Mr Livingstone also pointed out the impact of the high cost of living in London.

He said:

“It’s clear that huge hikes in tuition fees and cuts to education funding will hurt thousands of Londoners, saddling students with massive debts and deterring many from even considering entering further or higher education.

“London has the biggest student population in the country, and the government’s proposal to force students to pay more will have a huge impact on a city where the cost of living is so much higher. So raising tuition fees will not only affect students but all those who rely on the higher education sector from small businesses to employers.

“In the past fortnight I’ve visited colleges and campuses in London, meeting students and supporting their action to oppose the governments plans to hike up tuition fees and scrap EMAs.

“As every day passes, the new anti-Tory generation in London and across the country is strengthened. Students, staff and the public joining together to oppose the cuts and fee hikes and working together to build a fairer society.”

With nearly 100,000 recipients of EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance) in London, the government’s plans hit the capital particularly hard. With the London Mayoral election only 17 months away, the current occupant of the office, Boris Johnson, must be well aware of what the Conservative government’s controversial legislation could do to his re-election chances.

In particular Boris’s history with the Bullingdon Club, of which David Cameron was a member, may not play well with students and future students who will suffer as a result of the legislation. Ed Miliband even took time during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday to bring up David Cameron’s history in the elite club that wrecks restaurants:

“I was a student politician, but I was not hanging around with people who were throwing bread rolls and wrecking restaurants. Is it not the truth that all the Prime Minister can offer us is “you’ve never had it so good” on planet Cameron?

“What does he have against young people? He has taken away the child trust fund; he is abolishing the education maintenance allowance; he is scrapping the future jobs fund; and now he is trebling tuition fees. Is not the truth that he is pulling away the ladder because he does not understand the lives of ordinary people up and down this country?”

While this in itself is not a threat to the tuition fees vote, Ed Miliband and Ken Livingstone may be wise to continually point out the different circumstances under which both their counterparts attended university.

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