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Showing posts with label graduate tax. Show all posts
Showing posts with label graduate tax. Show all posts

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Tuition fees – a defining issue for Holyrood elections May 2011

The student vote is vital for a number of obvious reasons: they are young, in the early stages of political awareness, intelligent and articulate, sceptical, new media savvy – and the future belongs to them.




The tuition fees debate has captured the imagination of students and catalysed student protest in a way that has not been seen for many decades. The young have a powerful sense of justice, and of right and wrong, something that many lose as the pressures of adult life and career exert their often insidious grip on the conscience, sometime recovered in late maturity, sometimes never …

And bluntly, the tuition fees debate affects their interest very directly, both economically and socially, and has the power to cross family political allegiances and traditions.

A political party that cannot capture the imagination of the young and appeal to their idealism must question its policy and thrust: a nationalist party that cannot legitimately secure the allegiance of the youth of its nation by appealing to its intellect and emotions is not worthy of the name. If we do not want an independent Scotland for our young people, who hold the future in their hands and their hearts, what do we want it for?

Let’s get a few facts straight -

The commitment of Scotland to free education is fundamental to its history and its national character, and charging for education is alien to Scots.

The establishment of fee paying educational institutions is, and always has been, an attempt to buy privilege, while paying lip service to excellence. Fees automatically discriminate in favour of the those with money, are inextricably related to class and perpetuate and widen class divisions.

The smokescreen of the poor but worthy parents struggling to raise the money to educate their children is a self-serving myth, but a myth rooted in a small reality. A minority undoubtedly do this, but they shouldn’t have to, and the majority give up and accept their allotted subordinate role in the system. The same myth and same tiny reality exists in relation to the poor student taking second jobs and scrimping and saving to go to university. Some do, but they damage their education in so doing, and shouldn’t have to do it. A significant proportion give up the unequal struggle, and some never undertake it.

This myth is also deeply rooted in the American psychology – of the poor boy working his way through college. The American reality is that of a privileged elite buying their education, perpetuating their class, and dominating the professions and the entire political and economic system, regardless of inherent ability. It is a trick they learned from Britain, where the domination of money and privilege in securing an Oxbridge education ensures the dominance of Oxbridge graduate in our deeply flawed and unequal society.

Every analysis and all the statistics support that. Look at Parliament, the House of Lords, the Law, the City, the banks, medicine, the churches, the media and the upper echelons of the armed services if you doubt it. The figures are unchallengeable, and the inequity unspeakable. Only in sport and the performing arts does the the model fail, and the reason why is clear. Mediocrity and incompetence can be concealed in almost any profession, but in sport and the arts, there is nowhere to hide, although the administration and control of these direct contributors often falls into the hands of the elites.

If you doubt any of this, look at the background of those who regularly spout the self-serving poor boy, poor family myth – they are invariably the privileged, usually privileged over several generations. They must perpetuate the lie to defend that privilege – equality of education is deeply threatening to their class.

What can be said with absolute certainty is the the ConLib policy on education will limit access to higher education to the rich and privileged, with few exceptions and that is what the Tories intend it to do, aided by the criminal folly of the their LibDems partners.

Just as their distaste for the public services manifests itself as concern for the nations finances, so does their distaste for equality of opportunity hide behind the need to balance the books. This is a predominantly rich and privileged Government, containing a few token self-made men and women, conducting an ideological class war against ordinary people and their legitimate aspirations under the cloak of the national economic interest.

THE CURRENT SITUATION

1. It is Scotland’s responsibility to offer free education to Scottish students and students permanently living in Scotland.

2. It is not in Scotland’s economic interest to offer free education to students from Europe or the rest of the UK, however, present EU legislation compels us to offer free higher education to EU students – the Umbria/Cumbria rule. It does not, however compel us to offer free education to students from the rest of the UK, since the UK is regarded as the state by the EU.

3. It is in Scotland’s interest to attract paying students from the rest of the world, and ideally we would also like EU students to pay.

4. The demands from the UK that Scotland should offer free education to Students from England in the interests of ‘fairness’ is nonsense – it would negate the whole purpose of devolved government’s freedom to decide how its money should be spent in areas of expenditure over which it has discretion. If English students didn’t pay, some other area of Scotland’s expenditure would suffer, and in the light of the draconian fees (up to £9000 per annum) that the ConLib UK government is imposing, there would be a flood of English students to Scottish universities at the expenses of places for Scottish students.

WHERE THE REAL PROBLEM LIES

The real problem is twofold. Firstly, it lies with the fact that the UK government not only wants to charge students for their higher education, it intends to radically increase the charges.

Secondly, the UK government has not yet come to grips with the reality of devolved government in Scotland. Blair and the Labour Party, and the British Establishment thought it would be an event, not a process, one that would kill the aspirations of the Scottish people for independence.

But the contradictions within the devolved settlement – which is being extended under Calman – will ironically prove right the diehard unionist critics of devolution like Lord Forsyth and Tam Dalyell. It is a process that will lead inevitably and inexorably to full fiscal autonomy and ultimately to full independence, however long it takes, and however many reverses and staging posts there may be along the way.

Sooner or later, the Scottish people will be free of the crippling burden of UK defence and deterrence policy, enslaved as they are to US foreign policy – a policy that has led to half a century of perpetual conflict and war by America on the rest of the world, and the associated crimes against humanity that are more widely recognised every day, by Americans as well as the rest of the world.

(If you doubt the above assertions, watch the John Pilger documentary, ‘The War You Don’t See’ – see link)

Wikileaks has rendered an incalculable service to humanity by releasing that which the military/industrial complex that dominates the US and the UK wishes to keep hidden, so that they can continue in the lunatic policy of eternal war as the operating principle of their respective states, masquerading as free democracies.

The War You Don't See - John Pilger

Scotland, a small northern nation, but one with a unique place in the world’s history, must be free of that poisoned alliance, and the sooner the better. Tuition fees will be a defining issue in next years Holyrood elections that will take us closer to that ultimate objective.

The Scottish National Party must speak with a clear, unequivocal voice on the issue before May 2011.

Saor Alba!



The Moridura Tax

I was a bit taken aback to find that some took my Moridura Tax as a serious fiscal proposal. That’s what I get for trying to be ironic at the expense of those who think students should be retrospectively charged for their education if they are successful.

Must try to be less subtle in the future …

Friday, 17 December 2010

Kenny Gibson nails Unionists to the wall on The Daily Politics. We need more of this …

I miss The Daily Politics with Andrew Neil every Thursday because I am watching FMQs from Holyrood. But I missed a good one on Thursday, however, thanks to it being brought to my attention and the BBC iPlayer, I managed to see it, and it was a satisfying and rewarding experience.

Kenneth Gibson MSP gave a barnstorming performance, firing at will on the shaky positions of Andrew Neil and his two hapless guests. If ever the flaky arguments of the UK were exposed in all their sordid reality, this was it, and on the topic of the moment – the Scottish  position on tuition fees…

Andrew Neil had a Tory MP, Peter Bone, and Rachel Johnson, Editor of The Lady. Interesting choices …

Peter Bone, after unsuccessful attempts at a Welsh Parliamentary seat and the European Parliament, was chosen as the Tory candidate for Pudsey in 1997, after the retirement of its long-serving Tory MP. In spite of a national swing to Labour of only 10%, he managed to lose the seat to Labour on a swing of 13.2%.

In 2001, he fought the marginal Labour seat of Wellingborough (majority 187) during an election when there was a national swing to the Tories of 1.75%. But he failed to take the seat – in fact, there was a swing to Labour of 2.1%. But he managed to take it in 2005, with a swing of 2.9%at the peak of Tony Blair’s Iraq unpopularity with a national swing to the Tories of 3.1%.

Bone is a very active asker-of-questions in the House, but the They Work for You site referred to him as one of three new MPs who inflated their internet ratings by “saying very little, very often …” Other exciting comments from him include saying that the NHS would not have been out of place in Stalin’s Russia. He is a cricketer and is described as bowling left arm around the wicket with varying degrees of success, which perhaps explains his performance on the programme.

Rachel Johnson’s claim to fame - and presumably her place on a heavyweight political programme - is that she is Boris Johnson’s sister, and the new editor of The Lady magazine – judge it for yourselves. (For an idea of what she has been up to, read Zoe Williams – Guardian on her editorial style.)

And this odd duo of diehard unionists were invited to comment on the Scottish Government’s position on the topic that is rending the capital city of the Union apart with riots and attacks on the Heir to the Throne and the Duchess of Cornwall in their roller. The programme could have been a big yawn …

But Andrew Neil is a mischievous bugger, and a journalist first and foremost, and being a Thatcherite Tory and Unionist come second to this allegiance, to his credit. So he invited Kenneth Gibson, Scottish National Party MSP to enliven what  otherwise would have been a leaden mix, and oor Kenny did us proud …

I won’t spoil your fun by analysing what followed in this blog (maybe tomorrow) – suffice it to say that more evidence was provided of the widening fault lines in the Union and that the UK is on its last legs, even though, like all rotten structures concealed by a hefty coat of paint, it may stand for a long time yet.

Watch and enjoy!


The Graduate Tax and the Moridura Tax

Let’s cut through the cant – a graduate tax, however qualified and sanitised, is deferred tuition fees as an alternative to upfront tuition fees. It operates on the assumption that a graduate who is successful has profited from the state and should pay back something for this privilege.

My instinct is to reject that proposition absolutely. It is the state that profits from the graduate, not the other way round. Education should be free because it is vital to the state and to all of its citizens. Education is a right, not a privilege.

However, desperate time demand desperate remedies, and I have one, which I offer without fear or favour to all parties.

There should be a tax on those who benefited from their education at any level. If they went to school, college or university in the United Kingdom, they must pay it. However, there should be an income threshold at which they start to pay it, and I set that level, as arbitrarily as the parties have set their much lower figures, at £75,000 per annum. It should be levied on income at or above that level, however obtained - earned or unearned – from salary, profits, dividends, capital gains, bank interest or pension. It should be 5% of total income and payable for life.

It is manifestly fair, being levied on those who have profited most from being educated in the United Kingdom. It is progressive, in that the higher the income, the greater the profit from education and therefore the greater the payback. It protects not only the poorest in our society, but also those who have achieved modest but not extravagant success from their education.

To help the nation in its present dilemma, it should be made retrospective for five years.

It will be argued that such a tax will drive entrepreneurial individuals - e.g. recklessly gambling bankers, drug dealers, cheap booze peddlers and politicians on the take - from our shores, to which I say – **** off, good riddance, bye-bye and don’t come back! We only want citizens who recognise their obligations to the society of which they are a part, and who wish to put back a bit of what they have taken from it.

I modestly suggest that this should be named The Moridura Tax, and since I do not wish to be ennobled or gonged by the British Empire, that I should be awarded a lifetime supply of saxophone and clarinet reeds from a grateful nation.

Of course, if this tax proves – as it might – unacceptable to those who wish to impose a graduate tax at or around £21,000 per annum income, I say – then shut the **** up about taxing graduates and we might let you off The Moridura Tax.