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Jeremy Corbyn's student loan bribe was less dishonest than the Tory alternative

Tom Winnifrith
Tuesday 13 June 2017

The students flocked to Jeremy Corbyn after he promised to scrap tuition fees. It was a great bribe what was not to like? Vote Labour and save £9,000 a year. Fabbo. Of course it was based on money tree economics as were so many other Labour pledges and that is the inherent dishonesty at the heart of Labour. In the end they would run out of other people's money. But on this issue the Tories are even more dishonest.

The Tories say that thanks to Student loans the massive expansion of "university" education is self funding. But this is based on two flawed ideas. The first is that all degrees are worth the same. Thus my wife's sociology students at a former Poly in the West Country "pay" the same as someone studying PPE at Oxford. Without wishing to appar too snobbish, might I suggest that the latter will be a greater aid in the jobs market and is, in fact, a far more challenging and worthwhile academic pursuit? The second principle is that everyone will pay the loan back.

The Manchester suicide bomber, who part funded his bomb making studies in Libya with his student loan, will not now be paying it back and nor indeed will a small percentage of other students who die before repaying. Those who emigrate are off the hook. But the biggest defaulters are those who will not earn enough to have to pay it back. They can still get a mortgage, if mummy and daddy stump up a massive deposit but unless you earn a certain amount you can forget about the loan.

And thus we have funded a massive expansion in the number of students going to "university" and also jolly generous pay packages for those charged with filling their impressionable minds with fashionable, politically correct rubbish without increasing the deficit since students pay for this with loans. But in the end as you tot up the level of defaults it will come back to bite us by adding to the national debt.

The Tory protestations that they have self funded university expansion via market forces is thus palpably a lie. If market forces were in play De Montfort University (where you can get in with 2 Es at A Level) to study pointless rubbish would be charging a fraction of what Oxford charges. But that would, almost certainly, leave De Montfort and many other places just not viable. A loan system based on market forces would tie the amount of loan available to the average A level grade of Students enrolling. De Montfort would thus have to slash its fees to attract students and even then it would soon go bust.

The Tories are the ones who pursue the massive deception here. Corbyn's money tree economics is a different deception but not, inherently more dishonest for it. It is however a far better electoral bribe and it worked. Will the Tories respond by being honest? That moment has passed. Hapless Mrs May will do anything to survive and so the joke continues.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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