Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/331/5597
Make Big Business And The Rich Pay
SOCIALIST PARTY member John Reid was invited along to Newsnight with his daughters Nathalie, a student currently £11,000 in debt, and Stephanie, who is seriously reconsidering whether she can afford to attend university in three years time because top-up fees will saddle her with debts of at least £20,000.
"The invited audience were very angry at Blair for introducing fees and now top-up fees. A whole number of people pointed out how poorer people will be hit by these proposals. They will also seriously hit the children of skilled workers and the lower middle class.
Blair kept saying that there was no alternative other than to introduce top-up fees. Fed up with his sanctimonious lecturing I shouted out "there is an alternative".
I pointed out that during his tenure as Prime Minister he has given tax concessions to the big companies of around £11 billion per year through cuts in corporation tax.
I also pointed out that he could introduce a progressive tax system (the more you earn the higher percentage you pay).
One option would be to significantly increase the taxation of those who earn over £100,000 per year; tax the rich, not put extra taxation on to the "dustman" which Blair said was the only alternative to top-up fees.
I explained that under Blair the gap between rich and poor has widened. Jeremy Paxman quickly moved on, letting Blair off the hook.
After the broadcast Blair took more questions. One student, taking up my point, said that if those earning over £100,000 were taxed by just 10p extra in the pound, that would bring in an extra £5 billion per year. Blair's answer was that the high earners and big business would hire accountants and avoid paying the extra taxation!
So Blair will continue to make workers and the lower middle classes pay while the rich and big business get away with it.
If Stephanie were to go to university in three years time and incurred debts of around £20,000, paying back the money would be the equivalent of an extra 9% tax on her wages. This would mean paying a greater percentage of her income in taxation than a millionaire."
Universities Want More Topping Up
ORDINARY PEOPLE are incensed that New Labour want to charge students £3,000 a year to go to university. If Blair gets his way students could face debts of over £20,000 after graduation.
The top universities are also complaining - not because the fees are too high and will deter working-class students but because they're not high enough!
Blair and his rottweiller education secretary Charles Clarke try and defend introducing the 'market' into higher education. For Richard Sykes, Rector of Imperial College London, this would mean charging £10,000 or even £15,000 a year which he says is the 'market value' of a degree at his university.
A privately financed think tank has calculated that it costs an average of £18,600 to educate an undergraduate at Oxford University. That's excluding accommodation and food!
By 2010 Parliament will be able to remove the £3,000 upper limit on fees. How long before students have to pay these real 'market rates' for a university education? Top-up fees need to be stopped now.
In The Socialist 24 January 2004:
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis