Tuesday, 12 October 2010

An Education

Once again it falls to the Ogrons to front the latest assault on the quality of life. Whatever the rights and wrongs of Lord Browne's report into graduate funding, it's the Lib Dems that have come out to play with the media. Was the report shown to the Tories at all? Does anyone have any idea, 24 hours in, what David Cameron's view is?

Pre-coalition, this was exactly the issue that made me glad to be orange. Some Liberals may have embraced controversial issues because they knew they would never have to enact them but I always felt power for power's sake was pointless. It would have been easier to support the Labour party if being on the winning side was all that mattered but for me, and many like me, it meant more to be righty than mighty. And I don't think it was falling back on our principles that made us unelectable, more the pocketing of our mainline policies by the other two when it suited them and the constant barrage of condescending comment from all sides.

So what do those Liberals who signed the education pledge not to raise tuition fees do now? If Vince Cable is to be believed, nothing. Apparently the reality of the situation has forced him to see tuition fees in a new light. Not the 'where did it all go so wrong?' light, more the 'now I'm in power I can stopping mucking about and go with the flow' light. We used to value university education, now we put a value on it, another sop to the 'why should I pay for.....?' brigade.

We already know Oxford and Cambridge open their doors less to the working classes, if such a term doesn't sound too Eric Blair, than their less fussy neighbours. Removing the cap will make it worse. Oxbridge doesn't need to pander to the masses as much as it needs hard cash and the overseas students and public school pupils who already pack their lecture halls will be willing and able to pay a premium, possible even glad to if it keeps the riff raff out. We give in to the social Darwinism yet again without murmur, the perpetuation of unfairness in society marching on triumphant. Or perhaps it's just coincidence that all the clever people go to Eton, generation after generation of them.

The Liberals do us all a disservice by accepting Lord Browne's proposals without debate. The chance to examine how we got here has been trumped yet again by the need to act immediately. And not a Tory in sight.

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