Actions speak louder than words

First published on Progressonline

The home affairs select committee released a seminal report yesterday. It is the culmination of work that started on 12 April 2016. The incidents with Naz Shah, Ken Livingstone and Jacqui Walker all came to light or took place after the inquiry was announced. Unless the committee had some great insight that the former mayor of London was due another controversy involving Britain’s Jewish community, it is hard to suggest – as some have done – that this is part of some establishment plot to undermine Jeremy Corbyn. 

The report is thorough, thoughtful and is the unanimous view of the committee. This should give everyone – particularly the Labour party and the National Union of Students – cause for reflection. A sober analysis is required, not a hot-headed response.  (more…)

Top-up fees should be rebranded not reviewed

First published on Progressonline in the Young progressives column

Sarah Mullholland writing for the newest addition to the blogosphere, Labour List, initiated a debate on the future of our higher education sector. Due in 2009 is the government’s review of the controversial variable fees that were introduced in the last Higher Education Act that passed by a mere five votes.

While I still have huge reservations about fees – NUS have set out an excellent analysis of the current situation in their report “Broke and Broken” – I have never had a problem about a student contribution while free at the point of use. I think many other opponents of fees have been pleasantly surprised that still more students and fractionally more poorer students go to university. What I really wonder is how many more might have gone if the fear of massive debt had not been a prohibitive barrier? (more…)

Zimbabwe: hope lies with the young

First published on Progressonline in the Young progressives column

As the foreign minister of Tanzania says of the situation in Zimbabwe, ‘there is little chance of the elections being free and fair’. The mind of progressives must be focused on the battle for peace, justice and democracy that our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe’s trade unions have to wage.

It is well known that the Zimbabwe Trade Union Congress established the Movement for Democratic Change but the role of its lesser known sister organisation, ZINASU – the Zimbabwean National Students´ Union, is often overlooked. The local and national student leadership have also been on the receiving end of beatings and violence in the struggle for democracy.