22 March 2010


We are all guilty of making assumptions about people, me included. We shouldn’t but we’re given a set of circumstances, a personality, maybe things are said, perhaps taken out of context and assumptions are made. It’s easy!

One assumption that is frequently made about me by many people including family and close friends is that I support and vote for The Labour Party….that’s the so called pinko lefties to anyone outside the UK. Well I don’t and I don’t and if there is one thing the Labour Party is not, is pinko lefty!

True until 1996 I was a fully paid up card carrying member of said party but I had been unhappy with the direction that the party was travelling in for a couple of years, well since 1994 actually and the election of Tony Blair as Party Leader. A close friend of mine said that I wasn’t to worry because once they got into power all those socialist principles would be remembered and taken up again; the party was just trying to attract the middle class, middle Britain vote. I wasn’t so sure but what nailed it for me was the wording of plans for university education in the manifesto of 1997. There was no mention of abolishing the student maintenance grant or even of tuition fees but the manifesto did state that university expansion could not be funded from taxation and that student maintenance should be "repaid by graduates on an income-related basis".

Maybe I think too much but this sentence struck to the core of my own beliefs about how education should be open to all and not just be the privilege of those who could afford it. And before anyone says a word I was latecomer to further education, a mature student who paid her own fees and didn't get a maintenance grant, so I wasn’t be a protectionist for something I had personally enjoyed. I knew in my heart that if my reading of this one small sentence in the manifesto was right then there were some horrors I could just not defend that would come into being come the labour election victory.

So I didn’t vote labour in 1997 and I haven’t voted labour since, nor will I ever vote labour again until a return is made to many of the old labour principles and beliefs. Presumably that will be the day pigs fly over my house! I do vote in every election, local or national but I flit and float hoping to find something and someone who is worthy of my hard fought for vote. Alas, and maybe I am making some assumptions myself here, there doesn’t appear to be many politicians around these days that are worthy of the trust and the vote of ordinary people. Oh and I have never and will never vote Tory!

I read it right though, that small sentence, because just after the 1997 election, the new labour government not only abolished the maintenance grant but introduced tuition fees too. Ok so the grant is back but it doesn’t even cover the fees. What a waste of time, effort and resources, giving something in one hand to take back with extras in the other, just to keep civil servants and student loan companies in jobs.

I am so frustrated! But not so frustrated as to vote labour!


  1. While not a socialist myself, at least they believed in something and wished to bring benefit to the poorest people. The same cannot be said of New Labour. Look at the tax credit scheme: you earn money, part is taken by the government in tax and then, part of that is returned by a different set of civil servants. And if you earn more money, one gets less tax credits thereby decreasing social mobility. The same result as their university charges. I could go on... and on.... and on.
    It just really makes me sad.

  2. I take what you say about the tax credit scheme completely but it is infinitely better than the old family credit system, which I was unfortunate enough to have to claim for a year just before it was abolished. Same principles really but different departments dealing with the claim and although HMRC has its problems at least they do try and help unlike when family credit was administered by the DWP!

    I don't earn enough to pay tax which makes the principle of child and working tax credits helpful to me personally. However you are right, if you earn more then you end up owing rather large sums to HMRC. Is it something like 90% of any increase in earnings is taken back by the reduction in tax credits? That is ludicrous. We do need a better system but I'm not sure what and how.

    My socialist within is still there. Although we're not the same politically I can agree how very sad the situation now is.