MACDONALD "PROUD" TO ENDORSE PRINCIPLE OF FREE HIGHER EDUCATION ABSTENTIONIST LABOUR “A PARTY WITH NEITHER PRINCIPLES NOR POLICIES”
Tuesday, 19 February 2013 18:44
PARLIAMENT ENDORSES PRINCIPLE OF FREE HIGHER EDUCATION
SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT LEGISLATING TO WIDEN ACCESS
The SNP has tonight welcomed the Scottish Parliament’s support for free Higher Education in Scotland – despite a U-turn from the Labour Party.
The SNP is the only major political party in Scotland never to have voted for tuition fees, and have maintained this today. In addition, the Scottish Government is writing into law Widening Access Agreements with universities.
Labour made an explicit commitment in their 2011 manifesto to no upfront or backdoor tuition fees – almost the exact wording in today’s Scottish Government motion, yet the Labour Party tonight did not support the motion, despite their support for "no price tag on education" still being on the Scottish Labour Party's website.
With its failure to back the motion, Labour committed its very own “Nick Clegg moment” and destroyed the pledge it was elected on. Before the election Labour signed NUS Scotland’s ‘Reclaim your voice’ pledge, committing the party to not introducing tuition fees in Scotland.
Despite now abandoning their commitment to free higher education, Labour have failed to spell out exactly what they would introduce.
Commenting after the vote, Falkirk East SNP MSP Angus MacDonald said:
“This was the Labour Party's 'Nick Clegg' moment in Scotland.
"I was proud to support the motion today and reaffirm the SNP's position that no person should be priced out of their education.
“In contrast, with their failure to back this motion Labour have broken their promise to students - despite still having the 'no price tag on education' pledge on their website.
“Students in Scotland will be appalled at Labour’s betrayal of them, and no wonder – this is a repeat of Nick Clegg’s shameful behaviour south of the Border following the 2010 election.
"Labour no longer back free tuition but have not told us what they would introduce - they are a party with neither principles nor policies.
“The SNP have maintained free higher education and the number of Scottish students studying in Scotland is on the increase - and we are writing into law Widening Access Agreements with our universities. Meanwhile students south of the border are being driven away by the sky high fees – this is what Labour wants to inflict on Scotland with their Cuts Commission.
“It is only the SNP that remains entirely committed to the principle and policy that education should be based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay - and clearly it is only the SNP that will continue to stand up for our students.”