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Denham: Labour will vote against an increase in fees

Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, John Denham, visited the University of Birmingham on Wednesday, stating that his party would vote against the Government’s proposed rise in tuition fees.

Mr. Denham pushed forward Labour’s ‘realistic view’ of not placing a large portion of the burden to fund universities upon students, even in spite of the ‘given limits of public expenditure.’

Condemning the coalition’s free-market approach, Mr. Denham felt it would effectively end funding for most undergraduate degrees. He believes the Government’s decision-making process is the causal problem, as it faces systematic failure when ‘all of [their] assumptions start with a cut.’

When questioned on his view in correspondence to the Party’s line, he stated that the Labour Party would vote against the fee increase, and would look to push through a graduate tax, should the opportunity arise.

Redbrick pushed for more specifics on Labour’s own policy for tertiary education; however, the Shadow Minister emphasised that for now: ‘the detail for [a graduate tax] is for the future.’

Yet Labour could struggle to push through the policy within its own ranks, as suggested in an exclusive Redbrick interview (15 October) with Edgbaston MP Gisela Stuart.

Ms. Stuart stated that: ‘A hypothecated tax for the rest of your life because of events in your earlier life – and one which is applicable only to UK taxpayers, not the ones in government cannot find – I just think the idea is a complete non-runner.’

Guild President Dora Meredith met with Mr. Denham, along with the presidents of Birmingham City University and Aston University’s student unions, pressing for Labour to ‘capitalise on the feeling’ within the student body.

Mr. Denham’s response was that they all must ‘work together’, and he condemned the Liberal Democrats, some of whom he felt didn’t fully appreciate the implications of the motion.

A week after the ‘Demolition’ protest against higher fees in London, the Guild has worked alongside the National Union of Students to push as many MPs as possible to vote against the proposals, with a particular focus upon Liberal Democrats in the region.

The Guild, alongside the NUS are set to launch further demonstrations as a means of keeping the matter in the public eye, as further cuts are announced.

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