Over the last week I’ve been “contributing” to Guardian articles in the comments area, but all it does is perturb me – utterly inane discussions about education cuts, immigration and the like, and the impression that the thirties are slowly but surely coming around again…
On the issue of education – when I went to Poly/University there was still a general understanding that access to education was for everyone who had the ability to complete the course, but that access would be affordable. The ideal behind it, of course, was that education should be free, entirely funded by taxes.
This view slowly changed as I started and Thatcher began cutting into the welfare state, but it was twenty years later under a Labour government, that substantial fees were introduced, and they began to wonder why working-class participation in education began to plummet. Now the middle-class are up in arms with talk about at least doubling fees, with a minimum (sorry, maximum) of 21000 pounds for a BA/BSC degree. Workers comment that this is a good thing since they are no longer prepared to fund degrees from which they don’t benefit, as if they were personally responsible for allocating their taxes. Everyone thinks of education as personal gain, ignoring any benefit education brings to society as a whole. But the idea of “free” education has flown the coop – depressing. But Britain does get to keep Trident – very useful.
Immigration – almost too sickening to write about. An Angolan refugee, Jimmy Mubenga, was smothered to death during deportation by his private guards. What was perturbing was the general view of other commentators that this was sad, but that was the price we had to pay for dealing with immigration. Except that we didn’t pay for it, Jimmy Mubenga paid for it with his life. As I said, perturbing.