9 Days Remaining

Monday 4th
posted by Morning Star in Editorial

THE Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have tripled the cost of a university education, leaving the average graduate £44,000 in debt.

Most young people who attend university will be repaying their student loans into their fifties.

Many will never be able to repay them, meaning that when they are eventually written off after 30 years the total cost to the public will actually have been higher than when David Cameron and Nick Clegg decided to charge people £9,000 a year to study.

But no matter. As the Tories and Lib Dems revealed yesterday, neither is prepared to rule out even greater increases in tuition fees.

People who owe tens of thousands of pounds before they even enter the workplace will find it harder to borrow for other reasons - such as to secure a mortgage, for example.

But since house prices are soaring and the Tories are doing all they can to inflate that property bubble, they've presumably concluded no young person be able to buy a home anyway.

The Morning Star does not buy into the Thatcherite myth that owning your own home is essential to your well-being, of course.

But the Tories are also committed to taking a wrecking ball to what remains of social housing and refuse to do anything to curb the greed of private landlords ripping off their unfortunate tenants and forcing the housing benefit bill up in the process.

Overall, then, the future for Britain's young people doesn't look too bright under the Tories or their Lib Dem lackeys.

No action to abolish zero-hours contracts, so work will remain insecure. No commitment to narrow the gap between the minimum wage and the living wage, so millions will stay trapped on poverty pay, forced to choose between heating and eating.

Hunger will continue to stalk the sixth-richest country on Earth. The foodbank explosion we have seen in the past five years will continue as the state takes the axe to benefits for those in work and out of work alike.

And, as yesterday's revelations show, more and more people will be priced out of education, priced out of housing, priced out of the chance to live and work in dignity.

As Cameron says, workers face a historic choice. He asserts that Ed Miliband would take this country "sharply to the left."

Such a left turn is precisely what Britons are crying out for, with most favouring increasing taxes on the rich and a programme of nationalisations in the public interest.

Many readers of this newspaper will argue that Cameron is wrong, that Labour is not significantly to his left.

This paper would agree that Miliband should go much further. A strong showing for Britain's nine Communist Party candidates at the election would demonstrate the strength of anti-austerity feeling in this country. There are also constituencies where a Green vote may make more sense.

But as the days go by, the gulf between a future of insecurity and fear under Cameron and a bid to change course under Miliband yawns wider.

Labour is not committed to abolish tuition fees, but it would reduce them by a third. That would alleviate some of the pressure on young people and get us moving in the right direction, towards education free at the point of use.

It would act to curb rent rises and zero-hours contracts, it would raise the minimum wage - far too slowly, but it is up to the trade unions to lead the battle for a pay rise - and it would get rid of the employment tribunal fees the Tories have introduced.

Cameron is right that we face a two-way choice over who leads the next government. It had better not be him.