Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Simon Hughes continues to disappoint

Lib Dem MP and deputy leader Simon Hughes has been appointed 'access to higher education Tsar' by the Coalition government.

Hilarious. This follows hot on the heels of his supposedly principled abstention on a bill that he had pledged to oppose.

According to the BBC "During the six-month term, Mr Hughes will go into schools to canvass the concerns of less financially well-off teenagers and devise with them publicity campaigns to persuade as many as possible to consider higher education."

Well, that sounds ace doesn't it? Mr Hughes is going to "devise" a PR campaign. It's brilliant having people with a social conscience in the government isn't it?

In April I was saying nice things about the man, but his refusal to act on his personal pledge and this new role in spinning the government's plans turn those words to ashes in my mouth.

My only wish is that every time Hughes decides to "go into schools" every kid who's had their EMA taken away from them looks him in the eye and dares him to say that they are better off.


Red Rag said...

"dares him to say that they are better off".....I think it is more likely that the student will tell him to something else that ends in OFF.

Jim Jepps said...

Sadly the young people of today can be a coarse bunch :)

max said...

Well, despite all the criticism you can legitimately move towards some coalition policies I don't think it impossible to achieve the stated targets of the EMA in a less expensive way.
I know that now the IFS says that it's positive but the idea is that it should be replaced, not scrapped without replacement, and if in a review some money can be saved by not awarding it to people that don't need it then that's positive.

If tax receipts were growing instead of shrinking it could be easily left as it is, but there is an issue of cash flow and frankly I'd much rather they save some money there and keep a few more people in public sector employment instead.

max said...

That said, it would be better if they announced the reformed system together with the announced scrapping of the old one.

Anonymous said...

Thank God for Tim Farron.

Jim Jepps said...

Recent studies show that the EMA keeps kids in their courses and so if we're interested in access to higher education for poorer kids then scrapping it without replacement is a real step backwards.

Tim Farron's election was good news. We'll see how he turns out, he's obviously a sincere guy (who voted with his pledge on fees) although whether he can escape the contradiction of the LD's current position we have yet to see.

max said...

Personally I think that all kids that are academically minded have access to higher education, and yes, those of lower income brackets can do with financial help, so I agree that a replacement must be spelled out soon, but I can't really defend a system that wastes tens to hundreds of millions on families that don't need them because maintenance payments from ex-spouses are not accounted when deciding who receives them.

Valid arguments in support of EMA are that it keeps some potentially troublesome kid off the streets because it pays them to attend school and redistribute income to lower income families (with the exception of the misdistributed). I like both these arguments but they have nothing to do with education.

I really agree with those that believe that our educational system is obsessively focused on academia and that a lot of kids would do better with vocational studies that give them jobs sooner rather than later and that appeal to their natural dispositions. That would achieve those two non-educational arguments for EMA just as well.