Following on from David Miliband's little brother promising to cap tuition fees if he becomes Prime Minister, a friend sent me an interesting reminder about old 'New' Labour and their previous promises on this thorny issue, lest we forget how trustworthy the PFI-loving, banker-worshipping warmongers were:
1997 election manifesto: 'we will not introduce tuition fees'. The new government introduced them within 6 months. 'Things can only get better...' Tories supported fees, the Lib Dems opposed them.
2001 election manifesto: 'we will not introduce top up fees and will introduce legislation to rule them out'. The re-elected Labour government waited a little while on this before introducing top up fees in 2004. Tories supported top up fees, the Lib Dems opposed them.
2011: David Milliband's little brother announces that a future Labour government ('New, Improved Labour' perhaps?) would cap fees at £6,000. This is widely reported as news in the country's media, to the astonishment of the 27 people in the country with longer memories than last year.
2025: having been through several leaders, including the disastrous 'Balls-up' years, a Labour government struggles into power having ditched its remaining principles, headed by a public school lawyer who drops his 't's and pretends to like football. The new leader says 'sorry, we meant to say we won't increase fees by any more than £6000 so now there will be a graduate tax paid for over your lifetime'.
And yes, I know we didn't cover ourselves in glory on this one but we still believe in a free education and with any luck we'll get the chance to address this in due course. That said, the jury must still be out on the notion that cleaners should pay for graduates.