Exclusive: Labour grassroots revolt over tuition fees

A new internal campaign has called Ed Miliband's tuition fee cut a "weak policy" and is calling for the complete abolition of tuition fees.

Sign Up

Get the New Statesman's Morning Call email.

Labour activists have branded Ed Miliband's commitment to cut tuition fees "a weak policy" and are pressing him to go much further than the party's headline commitment to cut tuition fees. The Labour Campaign for Free Education rejects any additional financial commitment from graduates, believing that the cost of university education should be paid for through general taxation.

The campaign has been backed by seven sitting Labour MPs - Frank Doran, Ronnie Campbell, Brian Donohue, John McDonnell, George Mudie, Katy Clark and Ian Lavery. In addition, the campaign has the support of a series of PPCs, including Cheryl Pidgeon, the candidate in South Derbyshire, which Labour held until 2010. 

James McAsh, one of the founders of the Labour Campaign for Free Education and a member of the London Young Labour Executive said:

"£6,000 fees are better than £9,000 fees. But public support for abolishing tuition fees is very high, especially amongst students and young people, and we are being offered a policy that won't capture anyone's imagination. 

 

"£6,000 fees are a weak policy: it won't make a huge amount of difference to how much debt students are in, it won't curtail the disastrous effects of marketisation in the sector, and it won't tackle student poverty. Bold progressive policies - like free education and taxing the rich - aren't just right, they are the only way that Labour can win the election."

The party has no intention from a policy that it believes is fairer than the one inherited from the coalition while also being fiscally credible. But, as with the greater opposition to Trident among Labour PPCs that the NS revealed last week, this is another reminder that Ed Miliband, will find his party's left flank, will be an increasingly vocal critic of his platform and policies should be make it into office in May. 

Stephen Bush is political editor of the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.