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Labour Party Conference, Brighton 09

Posted by Tobin Webb on October 12, 2009

Well the Sun really did shine on the conference this year (the one in the sky I mean) as I spent a beautiful week in Brighton working with NUS and Labour Students.

100_1368NUS Funding our Future Fringe

As part of the party conference programme NUS hosted a fringe with Million+ at the Labour Party Conference that I attended where Wes our National President challenged David Lammy Minister for Higher Education and Intellectual Property to define what the Labour Party’s position is on higher education funding.

Wes warned the party not to hide behind the review stating: “It’s shameful that the government will not discuss higher education funding. Labour should set out its position on higher education and recognise that it is not in the interests of opportunity, access or mobility for fees to continue.”

I have to say, the atmosphere was electric – David Lammy was really on the spot and retorted with a list of Labour’s achievements on Higher Education in the last twelve years – all true, all laudable, and not to be forgotten, but it has to be said, Wes definitely commanded the room’s opinion on demanding that Labour put forward an HE funding policy ahead of the next general election and their was a real buzz of talk after the fringe and beyond about Wes and Lammy’s exchange. I talked a great deal about it with people I bumped into later into that week, especially whilst attending a regional reception where I talked with both sitting MPs and candidates for Bristol and the South West many of whom are keen to get involved with our town takeover campaign. I get the sense that there is a real appetite amongst a good deal of candidates especially in cities with Universities to be able to come out publicly and say something to students and their families about the future funding arrangements. With Labour and the Tories saying little and the LibDems grabbing headlines with their leadership disagreeing with party policy on free education – it’s really open season for one of the big three to seize the opportunity and run with this towards the election. I personally hope it’s Labour and I am certainly reassured after attending conference that the Labour membership base and a good deal of its elected officials out there are also hungry to see a progressive and positive policy on HE from Labour in the near future. Come on David – deliver the goods!


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