Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Labour leadership hopeful's staffer tells student to "shut the f*** up" at demo

Labour MSP Ken Macintosh comes over as a quiet, thoughtful man. He's certainly always been very mild mannered whenever I've seen him interviewed. I'm not sure he would be impressed with the actions of one of his staffers at today's anti fees march at Holyrood. Edinburgh University Students Association organised the protest against the University's decision to charge students from other parts of the UK £36,000 for their degrees from next year.

Ken Macintosh turned up at the demonstration to show his support for the students, saying he didn't want universities to become the preserve of the rich. Of course, university tuition in Scotland is free for Scottish students - something secured by the Liberal Democrats in the first Holyrood coalition in 1999.  If Labour had got their way, they would, supported by Ken Macintosh who was an MSP at the time, have introduced fees in Scotland the same way as they did in England.

One of his staffers, believed to be Peter Swindon, was overheard telling a student who had the temerity to gently point out Labour's record on fees to "shut the f*** up". Charming.

Funnily enough, the last Labour person I heard abusing people in that manner was Jim Devine, the now disgraced former MP for Livingston who told a bunch of kids to "f*** off" during the by-election in 2005.

Such foul-mouthed public tirades have no place in politics.


Rory said...

It's always awkward when Liberal Democrats try to sound like the good guys on Higher Education funding.

Caron said...

Slightly awkward because we certainly made some mistakes - we should never have signed that pledge and we have to hold our hands up to that one.

However, to redeem ourselves, rather than just let the Tories pass unlimited fees, we worked within the Government to deliver a system that means that people on low incomes will pay much less than they did under Labour's system.

Holyrood Patter said...

i find it a tad hard to swallow that the LIb Dem's stance is that the shouldn't have signed the pledge, rather than not voting it through.
That was the real betrayal, and admitting you never expected to be in power is no excuse at all.

agree though, its an awful story this.

Caron said...

I think we should have stuck by the pledge - but I can't condemn the Lib Dem ministers who put together a much better and fairer system than the one it replaces.

The issue became one of trust rather than policy with the pledge and that's why I think we never should have signed it. Given the economic situation, we were never going to be able to deliver on it.

And, actually, there was a good chance we were going to end up in power.

I guess we could have held out, but then we wouldn't have been able to deliver a tax cut that takes 91000 Scots out of income tax altogether, or maybe we wouldn't have been able to restore the pensions/earnings link, or help out with superfast broadband for Scotland.

This is not an easy time to be in Government, but I think we're doing a lot of good with the influence we have.

Jeff said...

Are you really saying, in two subsequent comments Caron, that "we should never have signed that pledge" and "we should have stuck by the pledge"?

Do you not see why the Lib Dems are haemhorraging votes when even the party activists don't know which way to turn?

Caron said...

Had I been an MP, I would have voted against the increase in fees cos of the trust issue, even though I wouldn't have signed the pledge myself.

If I had ruled the Lib Dem world, though, I would have made sure no andidate signed what in effect was a great big trap. By the time the system changed, not even .NUS believed in the pledge they originated.


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