Posted by: Jason McCartney | December 9, 2010

Tuition Fees Vote

In the past hour I have voted against the motion to treble tuition fees to £9,000.

I think this was far too big a hike in fees. It’s my opinion that the trebling of fees would saddle students with huge levels of debt and deter many from poorer backgrounds from applying to University. I believe it sends out the wrong message. While I do believe that the cost of a University education should be shared between the student and the government, the proposed increase was just too much for me to support.

It was with a heavy heart that I voted against the Government despite a number of worthwhile concessions, including a hardship fund for poorer students, being made this week. But when I was elected I promised to be a strong local voice for my Colne Valley constituency and to represent the views of my 81,000 constituents in Westminster. That’s what I have done.

This week I have had face to face meetings with Kirklees College students, the President of Huddersfield University Student’s union, the Prime Minister and the Universities Secretary. I’ve had phone calls with parents, other students and senior staff at Huddersfield University. I have received hundreds of emails. I’ve also listened to the other side of the argument with hard working taxpayers questioning why they should subsidise university education so heavily.

As a former university lecturer, I believe that the length and type of course on offer at our universities needs to be looked at. However, this vote wasn’t about that. All in all it was the most difficult decision I’ve made so far as the MP for Colne Valley.

I took no pleasure in going through the same lobby as the Labour Party, who originally introduced tuition fees, and have offered no viable alternative. They have flip flopped all over the place with an unworkable graduate tax. Shame on the Labour Party who have played petty partisan politics with an issue that affects the futures of hundreds of thousands of young people.

Finally, I utterly condemn the politically motivated violence and intimidation by a handful of troublemakers outside Parliament today, which completely contrasts with the wonderful, articulate and thoughtful young people that I’ve held constructive discussions with this week.

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Responses

  1. I’ve never been a Tory voter, but today I have to say that I’m very proud that you’re my MP — well done! 🙂

  2. Well done Jason, a man of principal what the hell are you doing in politics . You have our votes for as long as you want them.

    Best Wishes from Graham & Maureen

  3. […] You can read Mr McCartney’s thoughts in full at his website here. […]

  4. I too have never voted Conservative, and never imagined I would be congratulating a Conservative MP, I am very impressed that you carefully deliberated and placed principle before party.

  5. Great to see an MP not just towing the party line and thinking about the impact of proposals and standing up for the average man in the street.

  6. I am very proiud to have such a principled MP as the elected representative for the Colne Valley. Jason clearly possesses integrity, honesty and the determination to listen to his constituents. Splendid stuff.

  7. A good summary of your stance on this Jason, thank you for posting it. I don’t agree with you on this matter, but I voted for you to be a conviction politician, not to do what I would like you to all of the time!

  8. Likewise I am not a Tory support and believe that the increase in student fees would not be necessary if higher education was not been hit by savage cuts. Jason has done a brave thing today. He deserves to be congratulated.

  9. I personally get the impression from your statement that your research was very one sided. I would also like to correct part of the statement; the cost of a university education would not be shared between the student and the government but the taxpayers of which I am one. I have been a staunch Tory for all my voting life but with all due respect, unless you change constituency at the next election I will probably do what you did today and with a heavy heart, vote labour.

  10. Thankyou for voting agaisnt this bill. I am a graduate (a long time ago) and am totally against this.
    Im glad to see that your MP does (and can) vote the way they should to represent their constituants.

  11. I was delighted to read that you had voted against the bill. I was so tired of the fact that whatever the issue, our previous MP never voted against her party and our opinions as constituents seemed to count for nothing.

    Well done for doing a hard thing.

  12. […] Leeds Met journalism lecturer and new Conservative MP Jason McCartney explains why he voted against the government on university tuition fees: It was with a heavy heart that I […]

  13. I’m delighted to see that you have had the courage of your convictions and have voted against your own party – a difficult decision.

    I applaud your independence of mind.

  14. I’d just like to add my congratulations and thanks for the way you voted. Defying the whips as a new MP is a pretty brave act and it I for one am very impressed.

  15. Well done for voting against the tuition fee rise.

    I do think there need to be big cuts in further education spending, but I’m not convinced at all that this is the way to do it.

    I would prefer there to be fewer university places, with full state funding of the tuition fees – this would cost less than the new system given that most graduates won’t be able to pay back their loan, so their courses will have been fully state funded anyway.

    The tuition fee/loan system penalises those who work hard on useful degrees, and rewards those who are lazy or do unnecessary degrees, because the former will pay for the tuition fees of both types (through their loan AND through higher tax rates), and the latter will pay for neither.

  16. Thank you Jason for having the courage to represent the interests of your constituents on this issue.

  17. Thank you!

  18. I’m not a constituent of yours – but if I was I’d be happy to vote for you. You’ve represented your electorate and although you haven’t voted with your party, you’ve none-the-less acknowledged their principles and rejected those of the opposition. Tuition fees of 9K are too high – I wish the government had looked more closely at creating a more 1970s situation: ie university degrees on a meritocratic basis for the top 20% (rewarding the most able grafters and helping them get to a position where they can improve the nation’s prosperity), while some of the saved dosh could be put forward to apprenticeships and vocational on-the-job training. Students could also do condensed degrees (my undergrad youngsters do a 30wk year of part-time lectures – I don’t see why they couldn’t be condensed into two years). I wish all of this had been explored rather than place the cost of further education beyond the reach of many.
    Anyhoo, it’s refreshing to find a conviction MP – I hope this does not impede your chances of serving in government where you would be an assett.

  19. Dear Jason,
    I know how difficult it must have been to go against your party on the tuition fee issue. However, I fully endorse what you did and thank you for it. It is extremely heartening that you stood by your principles when so many others abandoned theirs.
    I also appreciate that you took the time to contact me personally on Thursday morning and that you listened to the views of former colleagues and students who will be at the sharp end of this proposal. It’s a shame that the vote went against us, but let’s hope the House of Lords sees sense and stops the Bill in its tracks.

    Annisa Suliman, Course Leader in Journalism, Leeds Metropolitan


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