8 Dec 2010

Greens now the only political party fighting for free education

Democratising access to knowledge is a key priority for the Greens. Today is the big vote - will Lib Dems give in and break their pledge? At least some concessions have been rung from the Government but they do not go far enough.

I was unsettled by the letter in the SNJ last week criticising the student protests. I welcome that the local Green Party have responded to that - see here. The Green Party is emerging as the only main UK-wide political party which has consistently supported the abolition of tuition fees.

Earlier this week, Green Party Leader and Brighton Pavilion MP, Caroline Lucas, co-sponsored an Early Day Motion (EDM 1130) with Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland, calling for the vote on raising tuition fees to be halted, noting that "the government has failed to convince many people that its proposals will be fair and sustainable". She is co-sponsoring an amendment to the Government's Tuition Fees Motion to the same effect. Here is the Green party press release:

SCRAPPING EMA IS "HUGELY DESTRUCTIVE, AND COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY", SAYS PARTY LEADER

The Green Party Leader, who will be speaking at the rally outside Parliament on Thursday, said: "The government's plans to saddle young people with huge debts, and to scrap the Educational Maintenance Allowance which has been so successful in enabling more young people to stay on in education, are hugely destructive, and completely unnecessary. There are alternative ways to fund education, including a more progressive taxation system. For example, a business education tax levied on the top 4% of UK companies, as proposed by the University and Colleges Union (UCU), would require business to pay its fair share for the substantial benefits it receives from higher education. Raising corporation tax to the G7 average would generate enough annually to abolish tuition fees, and increase UK investment in higher education to the average for other comparable countries, while leaving 96% of companies in the UK unaffected by the change, and still leaving the UK's main corporation tax below that of France, Japan and the US."

Caroline Lucas continued: "The Green Party believes that education is absolutely vital for people to be able to participate fully in society, and as such, access to learning should be as democratic as possible, with no person made to feel excluded by prohibitively high costs."

YOUNG GREENS' CONCERN OVER GENERATION GAP

Young Greens co-chair Sam Coates said: "The amount of student debt this rise will bring, along with the lack of affordable housing and high youth unemployment, is driving the gap between our generation and previous ones even wider."

1 comment:

Philip Booth said...

The government is "abdicating
responsibility to tackle violence perpetrated by members of the police
service", said the Green Party today.

After Caroline Lucas MP posed
questions about the home secretary's stance on the "kettling" tactic and
the alleged use of mounted police to charge a peaceful crowd, the Greens
said the home secretary's replies indicated "an irresponsible attitude".


Green Party leader Caroline Lucas had asked a number of questions,
including whether the home secretary had in fact seen video footage which
appears to vindicate the Greens' claim that the Met had used excessive
force in its handling of the tuition fees protests on 24 November, and
whether the home secretary had discussed with the Met whether its tactics
had perhaps been been disproportionate. The home secretary replied that she
had not seen the footage in question, and that operational decisions were a
matter for the police.

Caroline Lucas MP said today:

"The government's
attitude is irresponsible. Of course operational matters are for the
police, but only up to a point. When the police use tactics that breach
human rights or that break the law, the government must step in.

"Over
kettling, Theresa May is aware that the police are abusing their powers,
yet will do nothing about it. In fact it's worse than that - by refusing
even to look at the evidence in the video footage, Theresa May is
deliberately turning a blind eye to the potential abuse of power by the
police."

PRESSURE MOUNTS OVER THE MET'S USE OF "AGGRESSIVE, HEAVY-HANDED,
INAPPROPRIATE AND DANGEROUS" TACTICS - AND ACTS OF VIOLENCE BY INDIVIDUAL
POLICE OFFICERS

Last month Jenny Jones AM, the Green Party's member of
the Metropolitan Police Authority, called for witnesses to come forward
with evidence regarding the conduct of police officers during the
demonstration of 24 November. Jenny intends to incorporate the responses in
an open letter to the commissioner and the MPA (1).

Meanwhile the Young
Greens this week launched a petition calling for a ban on the kettling of
lawful demonstrations (2).

Notes

1. See
http://www.greenparty.org.uk/news/2010-12-1-protest-police-violence-call-for-evidence.html
[1].

2. See http://younggreens.greenparty.org.uk/node/225