When I wrote about the Browne Report, asking Liberal Democrat MPs to honour their pledges to vote against any rise in tuition fees, I did so looking at the long term effect of lumbering our brightest young people with almost insurmountable debt at the start of their working lives. I also touched on the fact that we as a society benefit from education and it's only right that we should, therefore, pay for it.
Yesterday there were two superlative blog posts taking that theme further. One from new blog Angularities asking for the MPs' tuition fee rebellion from the Party's long held policy be crushed. He makes the point forcefully that education is not a commodity:
Education is not a commodity. It is a right. It was one of the
UK’s saddest days when rubber stamped Blair's decision that higher and further education should become purchasable commodities. Tertiary education is no more "goods for sale" than primary or secondary education. It is the gift of our community and it should be given freely for the best of reasons - enlightened, communal self-interest. Westminster
Craig Murray is scathing about the proposals, stating that if they go through the UK will be investing less than the US in its universities. He also argues that we can afford it - it's just that the Government's priorities are wrong. I have to say I agree with him.
We are sagely advised that we cannot keep 40% of the relevant population in higher education from the public purse. Really? Yet we can keep 100% of the relevant population in school. A prisoner costs the state eight times what a student costs, but we can have unlimited numbers of those. We can afford any sum to invade and occupy countries across the globe. This small island apparently needs to spend hundreds of billions to have a nuclear capacity to destroy half the world. But we can't afford higher education?
These posts should be compulsory reading for all our Liberal Democrat MPs.
Readers, please fill MPs' mailbags and inboxes asking them to vote in accordance with our long held principle of free education.