Work­ers are bal­loted over loss of passes

Yorkshire Post - - PLOITICS & ECONOMY -

VINCE CABLE will claim his party is the only one be­ing “hon­est” about Brexit to­day amid warn­ings that the Lib­eral Democrats are seen by vot­ers as a sin­gleis­sue pres­sure group.

The Lib Dems be­gin their an­nual con­fer­ence in Bournemouth to­day three months af­ter a Gen­eral Elec­tion which failed to de­liver the sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in Com­mons seats an­tic­i­pated by its lead­er­ship.

Ahead of the con­fer­ence, health spokesman Nor­man Lamb crit­i­cised his party’s tac­tic of putting op­po­si­tion to Brexit at the heart of the elec­tion cam­paign un­der for­mer leader Tim Far­ron.

He said: “A lot of peo­ple felt that we were treat­ing them as if they were id­iots for hav­ing voted for Brexit.

“And yet, as lib­er­als, we ought to un­der­stand peo­ple’s anx­i­eties about re­mote power.”

Asked if the Lib Dems had be­come too much of a sin­gle-is­sue party, he said: “I do. I think there are risks there.

“I don’t want us to lose our crit­i­cal fac­ul­ties when it comes to Europe. I don’t want us to sound like we sim­ply ad­vo­cate for an in­sti­tu­tion which in very many re­spects con­flicts with our lib­eral ideas.”

Over­all, the Lib Dems in­creased their pres­ence in the Com­mons from eight MPs to 12.

But the re­sult fell well short of ex­pec­ta­tions and in­cluded the loss of both the party’s York­shire MPs – for­mer Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Nick Clegg in Sh­effield Hal­lam and Leeds North West’s Greg Mul­hol­land.

Mr Lamb said: “We need to start think­ing about why peo­ple ac­tu­ally voted as they did in the ref­er­en­dum. Why are peo­ple angry? Why are peo­ple WRIT­ING off the loans of stu­dents who started univer­sity af­ter tu­ition fees were tre­bled to £9,000 a year could cost the pub­lic purse £20bn by 2050.

A new anal­y­sis by the in­flu­en­tial In­sti­tute for Fis­cal Stud­ies (IFS) con­cludes that while mak­ing such a move now would dis­sat­is­fied with the elites in our so­ci­ety?

“Is that be­cause they are stupid or do they have a point?

“That, ab­so­lutely, does not mean pan­der­ing to racism but it does mean re­flect­ing on the fact that peo­ple feel they have no con­trol over their lives, very of­ten.

“We ought to be seek­ing to ad­dress that, not di­min­ish­ing the ar­gu­ment or the peo­ple that make the ar­gu­ment.” not have an im­me­di­ate ef­fect, it would in­crease gov­ern­ment debt in the longer term.

If tu­ition fee debt was writ­ten off af­ter a gen­eral elec­tion in 2022, three times as much – around £60bn – could be added to over­all debt in the long run.

The fu­ture of tu­ition fees has

The for­mer Lib Dem lead­er­ship con­tender said he had voted to re­main in the EU be­cause he be­lieved in a “co­her­ent and united con­ti­nent” but he ac­knowl­edged there were ma­jor is­sues with the “scle­rotic” in­sti­tu­tions which needed to be more flex­i­ble and quicker to adapt to the mod­ern world.

He also said the coun­try had failed young peo­ple who did not go to univer­sity, with an econ­omy able to rely on “a ready sup­ply of labour from else­where” rather than im­prov­ing the skills of Bri­tons.

Mr Lamb said pow­er­less­ness was “en­demic in our coun­try” – from res­i­dents of Gren­fell Tower hav­ing their con­cerns ig­nored, a “face­less bu­reau­cracy” which been sub­ject to in­tense de­bate in re­cent months, sparked in part by a Labour elec­tion pledge to scrap the charges for all fu­ture stu­dents.

Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn also sug­gested in an in­ter­view that he wanted to look at ways to “deal” with the debt of those who have paid £9,000 a year in tu­ition did not lis­ten to the marginalised, and big cor­po­ra­tions “very much tak­ing peo­ple for granted”.

He sug­gested the cor­po­rate tax sys­tem could be re­formed to en­cour­age firms to give work­ers a fees, although Shadow Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary An­gela Rayner in­sisted this sum­mer that the party had “no plans” to write off ex­ist­ing stu­dent debt, adding that it had never promised to do so.

In a new pa­per on tu­ition fees, the IFS notes that there have been sug­ges­tions that writ­ing off say and be­come more so­cially re­spon­si­ble.

Ahead of the con­fer­ence, Sir Vince, who was elected Lib Dem leader in July, said this was a “crit­i­cal time in Bri­tish pol­i­tics”. £9,000 tu­ition fee loans would mean a £100bn rise in debt, but that this is wrong.

The think-tank cal­cu­lated that if fees for stu­dents in Eng­land who have paid £9,000 a year were writ­ten off now, it would in­crease debt grad­u­ally by £20bn by 2050.

“The £100bn fig­ure is the to­tal

He said: “Only the Lib­eral Democrats have been strong and hon­est in warn­ing the coun­try about the dan­gers of Brexit.

“The Lib­eral Democrats will fight to keep Bri­tain in the sin­gle mar­ket and of­fer an exit from Brexit – a ref­er­en­dum on the fi­nal Brexit deal with the op­tion to re­main.

“The Lib­eral Democrats go into con­fer­ence big­ger, more di­verse, and sig­nif­i­cantly more in­flu­en­tial than be­fore the Gen­eral Elec­tion.

“With a hung par­lia­ment, a weak Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment, a di­vided Labour Party and the Brexit process un­der way, the Lib­eral Democrats can make a real dif­fer­ence to the fu­ture of our coun­try. Bournemouth is a chance to set out our vi­sion.” value of all out­stand­ing tu­ition fee and main­te­nance debt right back to 1998,” the IFS said.

“The out­stand­ing fee debt of grad­u­ates who en­tered univer­sity af­ter 2012 stands at £34bn. If that were writ­ten off in its en­tirety it... would in­crease debt by around £20bn by 2050.” A UNION is to bal­lot work­ers at Hull Coun­cil who are un­happy about the re­moval of free city­cen­tre car park­ing passes worth £500 a year.

Uni­son says an in­dica­tive bal­lot showed 97 per cent were pre­pared to take in­dus­trial ac­tion, claim­ing it is the “straw that broke the camel’s back.”

It came af­ter the coun­cil said it was with­draw­ing the passes from 166 es­sen­tial car users, most of whom need to use their cars for work.

The trade union ne­go­ti­ated the passes in 2012 af­ter staff were re­lo­cated into the city cen­tre from out­ly­ing cen­tres which had their own car park­ing spa­ces.

Branch sec­re­tary Adrian Ken­nett said: “To say this is in­sen­si­tive is an un­der­state­ment.

“Lo­cal gov­ern­ment work­ers have had a pay freeze for three years fol­lowed by pay rises of be­tween 0.5 per cent and one per cent for the last four years.

“They have lost on av­er­age £1,600 per year as costs have risen and now the coun­cil wants to force them to pay to do their jobs.”

Hull Coun­cil said work­ers re­ceived 65p-per-mile al­lowance to com­pen­sate for us­ing their cars.

How­ever a “sig­nif­i­cant num­ber” did not use their cars much so they are in­tro­duc­ing a pool car scheme, which will in­clude electric ve­hi­cles.

It pointed out all other coun­cil staff pay for park­ing per­mits.

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