My election notes. E-Day – 39

by Pseud O'Nym


On Thursday, the BBC reported that

Almost all universities in England will be able to introduce annual increases to tuition fees until 2020, in a deal pushing legislation through Parliament before the general election.

The higher education legislation had been intended to make higher fees dependent on improved teaching. But this will now not be implemented until 2020-21 – and until then universities can make inflation-linked increases without any link to quality.
Fees will increase to £9,250 this year.

Student loans to pay for the higher fees are already going to be subject to a sharp increase in interest rates – rising from 4.6% to 6.1% from the autumn.

Meanwhile, Armando Iannuci, writing in todays Observer notes that whilst around 75% of penners are likely to vote in this election, only 42% of 18 – 24 year olds are expected to to do the same. He makes the point that this perceived apathy of one section of the electorate to bother to vote means that politicians will skew their policies towards those who will.

But the reality is this is an act of protest that immediately becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s no coincidence that the collapse in the 18- to 24-year-old vote has seen the advent of tuition fees, reductions in housing benefit for 18- to 21-year-olds, the scrapping of the education maintenance allowance, no entry to the “national living wage” until the age of 25, and cuts to student disability allowances.

If politicians aren’t afraid of a kick in the ballots from the young, then they aren’t afraid of any adverse consequence. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories – no-one has ever been strategically organised to that extent – but I do believe in the law of unintended consequences. Therefore, if someone leaves university with a huge debt, they’ll be mindful of that debt and might be more willing to accept a job with onerous pay and conditions. Once they have a job, they’ll be scared of losing it, making them even them even more compliant to an employer. State benefits – some of them, anyway – will be cut, on the grounds the state is no longer able to afford them, which makes a having a job both even more precious and worth safe-guarding at any cost.

However, the sun is out, it’s a glorious blue sky day here in in Southwold, where I’m on holiday and if it’s a choice between being outside or continuing to write this, well.