Tory council leader calls protesters “an ugly, badly-dressed student rabble”

The Tory leader of Oxfordshire council sparked anger by tweeting: "County Hall invaded by an ugly, badly-dressed student rabble. God help us if this is our future."

The Tory leader of Oxfordshire County Council has sparked anger by tweeting:

“County Hall invaded by an ugly, badly-dressed student rabble. God help us if this is our future.”

Keith Mitchell, pictured right with the prime minister, was condemned by student leaders for his outburst. David Barclay, president of Oxford University Student Union, told Left Foot Forward:

“For many of the students involved in the recent protests on scrapping the Education Maintenance Allowance and raising tuition fees, this may well be the first time in their lives they have been personally engaged in a political campaign.

“For them to be so utterly demeaned and insulted by someone who purports to represent them is an absolute disgrace.

“These young people should be applauded for taking a stand on an issue that will have a huge effect on all of their futures. If there is anything we need for the future of Oxfordshire it’s young people engaged in public life, not reactionary politicians telling them they don’t belong.”

In addition to being leader of the council, Mitchell is a governor of Oxford Cherwell Valley College, whose Mission Statement reads:

“Our ethos is to foster ‘A Love For Learning’. Many of our students gain a taste for achievement and continue to climb the educational ladder towards career success long after they have left us.

The College puts its students first and we have the highest expectations for each and every individual’s educational attainment. Our primary aim is to help you to achieve your desired results and qualifications in order to ensure that your future is filled with possibility.”

Quite how this tallies with Mitchell’s insults is anyone’s guess.

Elsewhere, the government confirmed last night that the vote on tuition fees will be held next Thursday, which, today’s Guardian reports:

“…will give the Liberal Democrats a week to sort out whether they will collectively abstain, or instead split three ways. Labour claimed the coalition was staging the vote on Thursday in the hope that Unionist MPs will not be present, thus reducing the slim chances of a government defeat.

“The National Union of Students and University and College Union have pledged to stage further protests in the run-up to the vote, including a mass lobby of parliament on the day.”

Later this afternoon, Left Foot Forward will have a special report looking at the student protest movement, how it is organised and the wider significance of the protests.

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67 Responses to “Tory council leader calls protesters “an ugly, badly-dressed student rabble””

  1. Anon E Mouse

    Eban – But that wasn’t the question. The question was: Is it fair that the dustman pays to educate the doctor?

    Wouldn’t a better society involve reducing taxes for the poor so that less of a proportion of their tax did actually do that?

    Hey I sound like a Lib Dem – completely opposite to Labour with it’s 10p tax fiasco and NI “Tax on Jobs” proposal…

  2. Anon E Mouse

    Deborah – You are impossible woman! I give up…

    Eban – I’m not that stern really and I’m sloping off work early so don’t go posting nasty remarks about me ;-}

  3. Eban

    AEM, Colin: Peace, guys. It is at this point we all admit we’ve been arguing on false premises. Remember that Coalition budget that raised the low income tax threshold? The whole point is it “lifted people on minimum wage out of paying tax”! The dustman don’t subsidise narfink nomore! Free education for all!

    Seriously though, the way you talk it sounds like you’re AGAINST taxing the poor. You know, poll tax, council tax, VAT. Tory taxes all.

    The moment Thatcher came to power the VAT, that tax on everyone’s grocery bill, she immediately DOUBLED! Then Major raised it again! Then Cameron raised it again! He’s taking 20% of everyone’s shopping bill. It’s a stealth tax, a poll tax, a tax on the poor all in one, and they raise it every chance they get.

    But I’m sure you don’t approve. Peace out.

  4. scandalousbill


    You ask (or assert)

    “Try this. Is it FAIR that a minimum wage earning, manual labourer, who will never be able to get advancement from that position and will therefore never be able to increase his salary beyond that minimum wage should pay for a student who is going to start on a salary he could only dream of because of an education he receives yet doesn’t even have to pay a penny towards that PERSONAL benefit until he earns over £21K a year and then is under £10 a week?”

    Can I ask you that if this minimum wage earner did wish to advance him/her self by pursuing a university education, how are the increase in tuition fees not a barrier to him or her?

  5. Deborah Segalini

    On 10p tax: cutting it was always meant to be temporary (though I too wish we’d kept that band). On NI – funny how this government has kept the workers’ increase: extra tax on having a job, not met by equivalent employer contribution….

  6. Alan W

    @Anon E Mouse – “A country has to educate its population to a certain level to make them employable.”

    It does now, but back when free state schooling began it was far from obvious that a universally literate and numerate workforce was needed to harvest crops, mine coal, or hammer rivets. The kind of economy that depended on educated workers only developed after, and arguably because, the introduction of mass education made them available.

    In fact much of the argument that brought about free schooling was framed in moral terms – the idea of mass education as valuable in itself, rather than in a purely economic sense, which you seem to view as it’s only possible justification. Similar arguments were repeated later on in relation to the extension of state secondary education, and the same process followed, whereby the economy absorbed the more educated workforce to the point where it could not cope without them.

    I would argue the same process has been underway over the past 2 or 3 decades in relation to higher education. As the number of graduates have increased, so almost any half-decent job now demands a degree. At the same time the earnings premium a graduate can expect over their working life has shrunk to only £100k, or about a tenner a week.

    30 years ago, when the HE participation rate was only a few per cent, and the boost to earnings from a degree was very large, the argument for fees might have been stronger. But now that the economy is dependent on a mass supply of graduates the argument for socialising the cost of HE has been strengthened, not weakened.

    Employers are not going to go back to demanding less graduates, anymore than they would go back to hiring people without secondary level education. Increasingly a degree is likely to represent the level that, in your words, “[a] country has to educate its population to… to make them employable.”

  7. Anon E Mouse

    Alan W – Your argument is compelling and I accept it.

    It actually doesn’t answer the charge of the minimum wage worker but as advocating further education it makes sense and is both thoughtful and well presented.

    My only comment would be that if everyone is expected to have a degree, in other words if the bar is raised for employment, then what about those at the bottom?

    Anyway Deborah and Eban have worn me down Alan W so I’m off to see where else on this blog I can annoy people.

    The answer to “Why should the dustman pay for the doctor?” is that the doctor will pay more in taxes in the long run than the cost of the education to the state. (That only works on high value occupations not stupid Guardian type non jobs).

    That’s it I’m outta here…

  8. loobyloo

    Stop wingeing on about middle class educations being paid for by minimum wage workers – what crap – you see doctors, dentists, have teachers, meet professionals, don’t you? Education is great, and if it was accessible to you that would be even better. Don’t fall for this divide and rule capitalist gobshite. It’s the passive, greedy, immoral shareholders of many companies and who suck from your utility payments who really are the ones to moan about. Go, students, and my uneducated low income dreams go with you.

  9. Simon Francis

    Council leader, who is also a college governor, rails against 'ugly' students: #cuts

  10. Mr. Sensible

    Mr Mouse, is it fair that, under these proposals, said minimum wage worker will end up paying more as well?

    According to a study reported earlier this week in the Guardian, write-off costs could go up by 9P in the pound.

    That is why I say, this is a bad deal both for students and for the taxpayer.

    What’s more, graduates are said to have such a positive impact on the economy…

    And I really don’t think Mr Mitchell is helping matters with his comment, as I don’t think Vince Cable is helping matters by patronizing students.

    And as suggested in the article, I think the government is trying to manipulate the situation by holding the vote when Unionists aren’t forced to be present.

  11. Bea

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tory council leader calls protesters "an ugly, badly-dressed student rabble"

  12. Silver

    I’m not sure why people seem to think only our middle class youth, with comfortably-off parents attend Uni. I was on mimimum wage when my sons went. I would not have been able to encourage them to go (I would – rightly or wrongly – have felt it not worth the risk) had they been faced with such a huge potential debt at the end of it. Surely the point is that increased fees prevent minimum wage earners and the children of minimum wage earners from attending University, i.e. such an increase would stagnate social mobility?

  13. Burn a Debt

    I have been reading alot here about dustmen and doctors. I can’t really take either side of this arguement to heart. As one of the unwashed mass of students I only want to put accross that for the most part, students are studying. There may be some who can afford the time to protest the rise in fees, personally I would like to get my degree before I am faced with this whopping increase. As a child from a family of six, raised by a single parent on benefits (when would she have had time to work), and from Northern Ireland I am a Tory nightmare. There has been no big society to help us along the way. I am taking my oppourtunity to better myself with a degree and professional qualification. Would I be likely to have made the same attemts had the fees been so high – no is the answer. At the moment it is feasable for the dustmans children to become doctors, or anything they please, could the same be said if they were forced to pay £9000 a year. And is it really fair to say the dustman pays for the doctor when higher wage earners pay more tax? I honestly don’t know who is right,though it seems to me that the people making these arguements are well educated, would they be so if they had to pay high fees, they possibly did anyway. I for one would like to keep to the vision of a fairer society where people live the lives they should because of thier talent, not because they can afford it, where a body can improve themselves regardless of thier socioeconomic background. Rant over I guess.

  14. Alison Niedbalski

    RT @si_francis: Council leader, who is also a college governor, rails against 'ugly' students: #cuts

  15. Carlos

    He looks like a tramp in a suit. Farty little Tory PRICK

  16. Anon E Mouse

    Mr.Sensible – Did you not read my conclusion before posting?

    I concluded: “The answer to “Why should the dustman pay for the doctor?” is that the doctor will pay more in taxes in the long run than the cost of the education to the state. (That only works on high value occupations not stupid Guardian type non jobs)”

    What I don’t understand is why the media or more importantly the hapless Ed Miliband don’t just make that point.

    The doctor will pay more in extra taxes than the cost to the state of the education…

  17. Tom White

    Anon E Mouse = Troll – and a stupid troll at that. Don’t waste your time…

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