A bad defence is offensive

October 1, 2015

It is difficult to know where to begin with Charles Clarke’s latest self-defence on tuition fees (“Corbyn wrong to apologise for Labour fees, says Clarke”, News, 24 September). Perhaps I can just remind him of what R. H. Tawney, one of the great figures of his party’s history, called the “infinite difference between what is false and what is true”.

The truth is that New Labour violated its promise not to introduce tuition fees; that the principle of free at point of use was ruthlessly sacrificed; that there was never any chance that fees would not increase once the principle was abandoned; that tuition fees in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are now by far the highest in Europe; that “ordinary working people”, that is, those for whom Clarke’s party claimed to speak, are not benefiting at all from the policy; and that the only group in society who are comfortable with sky-high tuition fees are the rich. I believe, then, that Mr Clarke, Tony Blair, David Blunkett and company ruined British higher education and the social-democratic project to which it was integral. No wonder there is a surge for Jeremy Corbyn’s principled politics.

On a personal note, one of my children would like to seek a place in either Oxford or London. I have advised them to stick to Scottish universities, where the SNP has of course heroically fended off tuition fees, and neoliberalism in general. Thanks for that, Mr Clarke.

Alistair S. Duff
Cumbernauld


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