OPPOSITION Labour politicians headed to Nick Clegg’s backyard to collect students’ signatures on a petition pledging they would ‘never vote Lib Dem again’ after the Deputy Prime Minister’s apology over the broken tuition fees promise.
Shabana Mahmood, shadow universities minister, and Sheffield Central Labour MP Paul Blomfield headed to the University of Sheffield Students’ Union to gain support from undergraduates, some of whom are living in Mr Clegg’s Hallam constituency.
Around 300 students signed the petition – as Ms Mahmood revealed Labour had plans to reduce the £9,000 tuition fees for many students by increasing the fees charged by higher-earning graduates and increasing corporation tax on banks.
She also said Labour may consider a wider levy on businesses to help cover some of the cost of higher education – because they benefit through having a more highly-skilled workforce.
A remix of Mr Clegg’s apology for breaking his pledge not to increase tuition fees reached number 143 in the music charts last weekend.
Ms Mahmood said: “The petition was really popular with students and people were saying they were never going to vote Lib Dem again.
“We have put forward alternative ideas which, if we were in Government, would reduce fees for many students to £6,000 a year, by increasing fees paid by the highest-earning graduates and increasing corporation tax on banks.
“It is something we would want to do straightaway if we returned to government following the 2015 general election.”
Ms Mahmood said Labour had been right to set a target of 50 per cent of young people going to university, which led to a mass expansion of higher education – but caused the financial problems resulting in the controversial increase in fees.
She added: “People with degrees have an increased chance of finding work and getting a better job. In the future, we need a highly-skilled workforce so large numbers of graduates are required.
“Although a review which led to the recommendation for the coalition’s fee rise was commissioned by the Labour Government, you do not have to implement all recommendations. The impact on students should have been considered more fully.”