By Allan Grogan
“She wins nothing but praise from Conservative MSPs and commentators, including David Cameron who echoed her words at PMQs yesterday.”
This is not, as you would probably imagine, a progress report on Theresa May’s performance as Home Secretary, rather Iain MacWhirter’s comments on the Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont.
On Monday Ms Lamont celebrated her first year as Scottish Labour leader with an Education speech designed to get the blood pumping of every Conservative in the land and left most Labour voters fumbling for words. Once again Ms Lamont went on to question the apparent state dependent nation of Scotland. This time using education as the cattle prod.
Education, free for the masses will lead to the widening of social inequality, this economic gap pervades into later life, leading to a widening of social disparity.
This is how most will take the text of the speech. Ms Lamont is sounding the traditional Labour horn of inequality and social division as a case for re-introducing tuition fees into the Scottish education system. There are of course as most can see, some major issues with this line of argument.
Firstly, free education for all has never been a negative for the Labour party, in fact it is the opposite. Privately funded, financially indicative education and a future employment based on who you know, is what most aggrieved Labour voters. It is not in free education that division arises, rather the return of selective progression based on income, which tuition fees undoubtedly incur.
As a student who, in his first year paid tuition fees (before the Scottish Government policy change) I understand the crippling implications that such a process can have on students of low to middle income families. I, like many, became grateful of the Labour led Scottish government’s repeal of such a scheme.
It would also be wise for Ms Lamont to remember, that while she had her own university education subsidised, her job almost guaranteed and her current position based on this, that students of this generation will not have that luxury, in student finance, in job achievement and security. Instead they will be left crippled with debt, facing an ultra-competitive jobs market. Yet these are the people Johann Lamont expects in 10 years time to pay for her retirement.
Scotland in particular, has always seen education-for-all as a given right. The arguments here are not in how can we cut it, but in how can we improve the system to reflect the needs of the youth of today.
Surely Johann Lamont must see that a return to tuition fees would only increase the social inequality between those that can afford it and those that can’t. Surely she must know that this goes against the very core fabric of a Scottish Labour Party.
We at Labour for Independence welcomed Scottish Deputy Leader Anas Sarwar’s recent comments on the desire for a return to ‘real’ Labour values of redistribution and social justice. However we fail to see how Ms Lamont’s speech on Monday reflects this.
Since our first conference in November, LFI has set out 4 key policies which are more closely aligned to Real Labour, than anything Ms Lamont has set out in the last year.
In one month we have supported:
- The creation of a Living wage based on real terms,
- The removal of all nuclear weapons from Scotland
- The simplification of the benefit process
- The re-nationalisation of industries being abused by private firms seeking to use need to make a profit. (Namely Rail, Energy, and Care)
We believe that in order to achieve this, we must have a government in Scotland which reflects the will of the people and has full autonomy in action.
This is why we support independence for Scotland. For the good of our party, for the good of our country and most importantly, for the good of the Scottish people.
We ask you to think Real Labour. Think of Scotland. Think differently.
Vote Yes in 2014