Monday, 17 July 2017

Are Labour preparing to abandon their Youth support?

It seems that Labour have written off the prospect of another election this year.

Why else would Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell row back on Jeremy Corbyn’s pre-election suggestion that Labour could wipe out existing student debt, saying this was “an ambition” for the party in power but would not necessarily happen.

The votes of young people were credited  with Labour doing much better than predicted in June and they clearly partly  geared their Manifesto to that section of the electorate.

In an interview with the New Musical Express shortly before last month’s election, Corbyn had said Labour would “deal with” the debt of students who had already taken out loans for tuition fees.

It did not seem fair that those who “had the historical misfortune to be at university” during the period of £9,000-plus annual tuition fees should be burdened with such debts, Corbyn had argued.

He said Labour would look at “ways that we could reduce that, ameliorate that, lengthen the period of paying it off, or some other means of reducing that debt burden”.

But McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said that while Labour remained committed to abolishing tuition fees, the debt wipeout idea – which was not in the manifesto – would have to be closely looked at.

“What we’ll be doing is inviting people to come and advise us: we’ll try and ensure we use economists as well as educators,” McDonnell told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show, saying enacting the pledge would cost about £100bn.
“The problem that we’ve got is the system is imploding. Half of the student debt, we now know, is not going to be paid back.”

Asked if the policy would happen, McDonnell said:

 “We’ll look at what we can do. It’s a real ambition. What Jeremy said is we recognise young people are coming out of college now with debts of £50,000. They cannot even think about buying a house or getting on the property ladder. So we’ve got to tackle that. But the issue is, the system’s got to be tackled anyway, because it’s falling apart.”Advertisement

McDonnell said Corbyn’s pre-election interview “wasn’t a promise”. He said: “We’re going to try to. It’s a real ambition of ours. I don’t want to promise something we can’t deliver, I want to be straight.

“Let us just be clear. What we said in our manifesto was we’ll scrap tuition fees. We will scrap tuition fees. If we can help deal with the debt we certainly will. And because the system is collapsing, to be frank whoever is in government is going to have to deal with this.
Tuition fees are a devolved issue  but "Welsh" Labour made much of this "Promise" in the General Election only to raise them when the election was over.

Reading into John McDonnell turning  "promises" into ambition  we can only wonder as the Tories self destruct whether Labour feeling as they did in 1997 they can win an election no matter what and that when the Election comes (and probably later than sooner) they can quietly  drop much of the youth focused 2017 manifesto  and concentrate their appeal to an older population.

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