Blair's worst week

Will Hutton & Tution Fees see the end of Prime Minister Blair

Yes
7
27%
No
19
73%
 
Total votes: 26
intheknow
Posts: 23
Joined: Sun 02 Nov, 2003 15.40

Thu 22 Jan, 2004 18.08

Adam wrote:
intheknow wrote: Blair might decide to step down instead of facing the no confidence motion, and taking the Labour party into an unexpected election where they could face an unexpected defeat.
If Blain resigns the Labour party will simply elect a new leader, who will become the PM. I think if a certian number resigned there would be a General Election though.
That is the point I was making - rather than face the no confidence motion, in which if he was defeated, a general election would be called, he would resign as PM and Labour party leader to allow a successor to take over and avoid a no confidence motion for the sake of the party.
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tillyoshea
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Thu 22 Jan, 2004 18.51

Neil Jones wrote:Plus of course we've got the Hutton inquiry publication next Wednesday. Which way this will go remains to be seen but I reckon this will fall mainly at the government's door although I don't believe the BBC will get off scot-free either.
I think the Beeb might come off very badly from this - I wouldn't be surprised to see the government announcing some kind of BBC reform or similar in the immediate aftermath of the publication, just to distract the general interest from the likely criticism of the government.

As for the fees controversy, I think that a hugely unpopular graduate tax would be the fairest way of increasing university funding, so that all who have benefitted from the university system, whether they paid fees or not, can contribute to their upkeep thus reducing the burden on each individual. But that'd cost more people money and hence lose more votes, so it won't happen.
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Pete
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Thu 22 Jan, 2004 19.12

I don't - I have a feeling he'll blame MI6 and the other intelligence people because that way neither party can be hurt.
"He has to be larger than bacon"
rts
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Mon 26 Jan, 2004 16.33

I would also like to thank Geoff Hoon for all his hard work, and to wish him luck on the new humble life on the back benches.
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Neil Jones
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Mon 26 Jan, 2004 22.54

cwathen wrote:Indeed, there are more students now; there are TOO MANY students at university. A levels have now become virtually worthless with so many pupils finishing their GCSEs and going on to do them, degrees are going the same way.
I had a job interview last week. The interviewer said I had good qualifications for the vacancy, in fact over most of the last few interviews I've been to I consider myself heavily overqualified for the jobs I'm going for. But anyway she said about my good qualifications and I mentioned in passing that my two A-Levels are going to be virtually worthless in a few years "because of all the people they keep shoving through the colleges". Ms Interviewer agreed.
Blind government targets to increase the number of students going into higher education with no consideration for the utter stupidity of these targets must stop. The way it's going now, universities have had to stop becoming academic institutions and turn into businesses (the university of plymouth is now a sprawling empire which owns virtually half the city) in order to cope with the vast expansion that's being forced on them to accomodate these ever greater of students
Its the way its been written and plugged. They've originally said that 50% of students should have access to or be in higher education by 2010. And now they've gone and want to introduce top-up fees because their own "shove everybody through the universities" policy has driven up the costs and I find it just plain stupid that nobody in government seems to have realised that if you shove 50% more students through the uni system, it will cost..

Plus of course, the fact that Charles Clarke and co won't introduce the fees "for another two elections" means nothing - look at the manifesto pledge on top-up fees for example. The issue of variable fees as well is a major sticking point, I wouldn't be surprised if this point kills the entire motion on its own. Again, its strange how Blair only starts rallying around his MPs to save his own arse. Never bothered before.
Like it or not, universities are academic institutions for academically strong people to develop their knowledge. That by definition means they should not be accessible to all. Unfortunately, some people are just not cut out for it, and more worringly some people are just wasters out to spend their student loan before getting a low paid unskilled job below the repayment threshold so they basically just get £4000 of free money paid to them for a year before ditching their course. The government shouldn't be seeking to double student numbers, they should be seeking to HALVE them (if not reduce them even more than that).
There's another thing as well, this new concession to write off the debt after 25yrs. In a very extreme situation, what is to stop Joe Bloggs going to Oxford for five years to study medicine and then spending the rest of his working life as a refuse collector or some other low paid job which will never take his yearly earning over £15k annually? Say he graduates in 2010 with debts of £64k if the BMA's report is to believed, and Joe becomes a dustman for the sake of argument and doesn't earn £15k pa over the next 25yrs. Come 2035, that debt is written off, Joe paid bugger all towards it. Now who's going to make up that £64k? Government of the day is now £64k down.
rts
Posts: 1639
Joined: Fri 15 Aug, 2003 14.09

Tue 27 Jan, 2004 19.22

So the Government have won by a tight 316 to 311 votes. I'm amazed by how they only had a majority of five votes. Very dramatic stuff.
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Neil Jones
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Tue 27 Jan, 2004 21.20

rts wrote:So the Government have won by a tight 316 to 311 votes. I'm amazed by how they only had a majority of five votes. Very dramatic stuff.
Huh, only because Blair went round licking everybody's arse all weekend and Charles Clarke went throwing in "concessions" everywhere just to get the damn thing passed, which now usually means a half-arsed piece of legislation is due, if it gets past the Lords. Two tier higher education then, here we come. Only saving grace I suppose is the maximum ceiling charge of £3k; I'll give it until 2007 before that's removed and various universities start charging into the double thousands fee figures.
cwathen
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Tue 27 Jan, 2004 21.20

Furthermore, it could have been worse for labour - if all opposition parties had voted against the government, labour would still have won - but by a majority of only a single vote - and that's fairly apalling when Labour have a majority of 161 seats - so 160 Labour MP's either voted against the government or abstained, which is hardly a great demonstration of confidence in it, especially since even the very slim win they've got only came after a lot of concessions, and trying to rally unity in the party on the eve of the potentially damaging Hutton report.

I wouldn't say Blair's home and dry yet.

Tomorrow will bring the Hutton enquiry report, and even though he initially came off better than expected from the Iraq war, the lack of finding weapons of mass destruction there is coming back to haunt him at an ever gathering pace. This coupled to only winning on a knife edge tonight, could seriously weaken him.

It wouldn't surprise me at all if a general election takes place this year, or at the very least, that Blair will be replaced during this year.

I've often felt that if Labour stretched out their term and went for a general election in 2002 instead of 2001, things could have been different (I do think we'd still have a Labour government, but not such a huge majority), and I'm convinced now that the public and increasingly his own MPs have run out of patience with Blair. It may not all have been his fault, but he's the leader of the party and will ultimately take the flack for everything that happens in it. If Labour win the next general election, I doubt very much it will be with Tony Blair at the helm.
intheknow
Posts: 23
Joined: Sun 02 Nov, 2003 15.40

Tue 27 Jan, 2004 22.11

cwathen wrote:Furthermore, it could have been worse for labour - if all opposition parties had voted against the government, labour would still have won - but by a majority of only a single vote - and that's fairly apalling when Labour have a majority of 161 seats - so 160 Labour MP's either voted against the government or abstained, which is hardly a great demonstration of confidence in it, especially since even the very slim win they've got only came after a lot of concessions, and trying to rally unity in the party on the eve of the potentially damaging Hutton report.

I wouldn't say Blair's home and dry yet.

Tomorrow will bring the Hutton enquiry report, and even though he initially came off better than expected from the Iraq war, the lack of finding weapons of mass destruction there is coming back to haunt him at an ever gathering pace. This coupled to only winning on a knife edge tonight, could seriously weaken him.

It wouldn't surprise me at all if a general election takes place this year, or at the very least, that Blair will be replaced during this year.

I've often felt that if Labour stretched out their term and went for a general election in 2002 instead of 2001, things could have been different (I do think we'd still have a Labour government, but not such a huge majority), and I'm convinced now that the public and increasingly his own MPs have run out of patience with Blair. It may not all have been his fault, but he's the leader of the party and will ultimately take the flack for everything that happens in it. If Labour win the next general election, I doubt very much it will be with Tony Blair at the helm.
I agree that the odds on Blair being replaced have rised. Gordon Brown has saved Blair on this vote, by ordering his lackey Nick Brown to stand down and vote with the government. If Blair tries this again, by which I mean just launch the Bill out of the Number 10 Policy Unit and expect his MPs to back him otherwise he'll quit, he will lose. The public is getting fed up of Blair, but Labour will win any election with him still in, no idea why, that is just the general concensus, but his majority will shrink. If Brown suceeds Blair, the Conservatives will be in with a real chance of winning.

Just on News 24 now, they say apparently The Sun has got leaked extracts of the Hutton Report. Suffice to say, not good news for the BBC, government gets off the hook very well, only Hoon and the MoD are "rapped on the knuckles".
Neil Jones
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Location: West Midlands

Wed 28 Jan, 2004 10.29

intheknow wrote:Just on News 24 now, they say apparently The Sun has got leaked extracts of the Hutton Report. Suffice to say, not good news for the BBC, government gets off the hook very well, only Hoon and the MoD are "rapped on the knuckles".
That doesn't surprise me at all considering where The Sun's been position-wise in all of this. It's been a BBC slater all along hasn't it? Do you think they'd have gone along with the "exclusive" had it said that the Beeb were right all along, the government were in the wrong, bye bye Blair? I doubt it.

I think we're going to be looking at a so-called "whitewash" of the entire situation which is then spinned to death and wll play itself out in the BBC charter review of 2006 and it could quite easily become "the death of Thames" all over again. Some people say that that 1990 Broadcasting Act was a result of *that* Thames documentary. Could we be looking at something similiar happening to the Beeb with the new charter based on the almighty row it's had with the Government over David Kelly? We shall see.
Katnap
Posts: 175
Joined: Fri 15 Aug, 2003 13.27
Location: Nottingham

Wed 28 Jan, 2004 10.43

Seeing the views here on the Government's policy towards universities, particularly the 50% target, I thought that perhaps you may be interested in a small article I wrote in November as part of my work for a short journalism course I attended.

Eductation? Education? Education?

On January 22nd 2003, the secretary for Skills and Education, Charles Clarke, announced the publication of the governments’ white paper entitled “The Future of Education”. The paper set out plans for radical reform and investment in the universities and colleges of the nation. Two of the most publicised aspects of the white paper are the plans to introduce top-up fees and the aim of getting fifty percent of young people to progress on to university. The argument over tuition fees is well documented, but what of the idea of getting so many people to take up higher education through going to university? Is it really the way forward and is there a danger of young people being at university because they feel they should be and not because they want to be?

In the section of the white paper that talks about the fifty percent target, the government states that, “There is a danger of higher education becoming an automatic step in the chain of education – almost a third stage of compulsory schooling.” That danger is very much a reality. Pupils labelled as “bright” are automatically put under the assumption of eventually entering university. From fairly early on it is drummed into pupils that the road to the rest of your life starts with GCSEs, moves onto A levels and then finished with a degree. Failure to stick to this road means that there are no prospects for you. It isn’t true though, for there are many ways of getting into a chosen career, however, these different options are not always made apparent until it is too late. There is a huge amount of pressure to tread the beaten path. Many secondary schools have their own sixth forms to fill, and career officers are notoriously useless for giving advice. My own experience of one such person began with me telling him that I was going to study engineering and that I wanted to work in television, and ended with being told what I would need to do to have a career in manufacturing televisions. I am far from alone in this kind of experience.

So even if university is the chosen destination, and the balls of the UCAS lottery fall favourably, what then? Insufficient funding on many courses means a lack of standards, and too often students emerge after three years or so full of theory and technical know-how, but with precious few skills that would enable them to be of any real benefit to the work force. Work experience is supposed to counter this, however, decent work experience is difficult to come by. Even if you can get around the barrier of showing that you happen to have been interested in a particular career since you were five, too often the “experience” consists of being little more than an office gopher. It seems that in the rush to employ graduates, something has been lost. It’s not enough for someone to be a gifted technician who could repair your television blindfold; he must also possess a little piece of paper that states he can recite Ohm’s law, even though it is of little relevance to his actual skills.

And this is why having a degree does not hold the significance that it might once have done. Education is indeed a wonderful thing, however, the real benefits are being lost due to the current trend of having to be overqualified for nearly all professions. A degree used to set someone apart from the rest of the crowd; if everyone is now expected to have one, what’s the point of going through the hassles of higher education?
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