Shadow Education Secretary wants Swinson to say plainly what LibDems is
Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Angela Rayner, has written to the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, urging her to clarify her party’s position on tuition fees.
The challenge comes after the LibDems’ business spokesperson Sam Gyimah claimed that scrapping tuition fees would be “fantasy” economics.
Rayner is also calling on the LibDems’ Treasury spokesperson Ed Davey to use his speech in Leeds to outline the party’s policy on higher education, saying:
I’m sure you will agree that young people have a right to the information they need to decide if the Liberal Democrats can be trusted with their futures.
In 2010, Swinson was one of the many LibDems who helped David Cameron increase university fees to £9,000 a year, just months after then-leader Nick Clegg had promised during that year’s general election campaign to end them.
Rayner has written:
Dear Jo Swinson,
I am writing to seek clarity on the Liberal Democrats’ position on tuition fees.
Recently, your Business Spokesperson Sam Gyimah claimed that scrapping tuition fees would be “fantasy” economics.
University tuition is free at many universities in European countries, including Norway, Sweden, Germany, Denmark and Finland, where students often only pay a small administration fee. Labour has committed to scrapping tuition fees, which would be paid for by asking corporations and high earners to contribute a bit more.
However, you and your party have been silent on your tuition fees policies. The Liberal Democrats betrayed students by supporting the trebling of tuition fees when in coalition with the Conservatives, despite promising to abolish student loans in your 2010 manifesto.
This U-turn, which you voted for, not only alienated many young people from politics but has also saddled aspiring students with crippling debt at the start of their careers. Labour will restore Education Maintenance Allowance and maintenance grants, which were also scrapped with your support during the coalition government.
Labour believes that education should be free and that no one should be put off educating themselves for lack of money or through fear of debt. We also have a fully costed plan to introduce a National Education Service to ensure everyone has access to education and training, from the cradle to the grave.
I’m sure you will agree that young people have a right to the information they need to decide if the Liberal Democrats can be trusted with their future. So will you instruct your Treasury Spokesperson, Ed Davey, to confirm tomorrow if you will commit to reversing the damage that Liberal Democrat and Conservative governments have inflicted upon students?
Shadow Secretary of State for Education
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