SNP hypocrisy on UK maintenance grants is staggering

Ian Murray MPIan Murray MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, compares the SNP’s stance on student finances in the Commons to their record in the Scottish Government, and finds staggering hypocrisy.

 

Today, SNP MPs got up in the House of Commons to rail against the Conservative government’s decision to replace student maintenance grants with loans. They’re right to be outraged: replacing maintenance grants with loans deliberately and cynically targets students from lower income backgrounds and exposes Tory rhetoric on “One Nation” aspiration and social mobility for what it is: empty.

There was just one small problem with the SNP ire: what the Tories are doing now is uncannily similar to what the SNP government has been quietly doing in Scotland.  

Because of the apparent lack of interest in whether what they say is actually true, Alison Thewliss, the SNP spokesperson for cities, was able to get away with claiming last week that “in Scotland we have made the positive decision not to introduce loans so that education in Scotland is free, people in the poorest areas of society can reach university and the poorest students do not get into astronomical debt.”

In fact, almost the exact opposite is true.

Although Scottish students do not pay tuition fees – a policy Scottish Labour supports – no fees does not equal no loans and no debt. Loans very much do exist in Scotland and it is the poorest students who end up owing most. The only people that truly get free education are the affluent, as they are the only ones from backgrounds wealthy enough not to have to borrow money to support themselves while at university. Contrary to what the SNP claim, efforts to democratise university access in Scotland are failing: Scotland has the lowest percentage of university entrants from the poorest backgrounds and the lowest proportion of entrants from state schools in the UK.

When they were elected to government in 2007, the SNP promised to replace loans with grants and pay off student debt. Instead, they have been doing the opposite: they have increased debt and forced poorer students to take out ever-increasing loans. Their policies have resulted in students from lower-income backgrounds leaving university with an average debt of £26,600.

The process began in earnest in 2013. As analysis from Lucy Hunter Blackburn, former Head of Higher Education in the Scottish Government and an expert on student finance has highlighted, total spending on grant for low-income students was cut in Scotland in 2013-14 by 40%. This meant some students lost over £1,600 a year. What’s more, and contrary to the interest in – and widespread condemnation of – the UK Government’s actions, the SNP tried and succeeded in sneaking their changes in by the back door. There was almost no media coverage, and the Scottish Government did not even bother to properly inform those students affected. This really was government by stealth and subterfuge: the SNP managed to pass off higher loans and higher debts as fair and equitable. Being even more underhand than the Tories: that’s quite a feat. 

When it comes to education the SNP really have managed to look both ways. They have presented themselves as progressives whilst consistently acting regressively. In higher education, they have cut grants and bursaries, hitting poorest students hardest. In further education, they have eviscerated college budgets – reduced by over £50 million – and presided over a 152,000 decline in student numbers. They have slashed local education budgets and, under them, the gap in educational attainment between pupils from more and less prosperous backgrounds has widened. Their actions, and the surreptitious manner in which they have been executed, have been wrong and unfair.

It is time that someone shone a light on the SNP’s actions in government and exposed their progressive rhetoric for what it is: empty.

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42 thoughts on “SNP hypocrisy on UK maintenance grants is staggering

  1. I work in higher education. I came across a student today who was having to skip classes in order to work. This is not uncommon. If the SNP was serious about getting more kids from deprived backgrounds into university they would give them a fair grant… rather than cut it.

    Poor students are worse off under the SNP. That’s one of the key reasons I joined Scottish Labour.

    1. Grand oracle and soothsayer of Scotland if the student is skipping classes it may be for one or either of the following reasons one that the lesson is boring that is to say your method of teaching is not capturing the imagination of the student or two the student is not averse to earning a bit of extra lolly for spends in the student bar at the weekend, a wee tip if you want to improve your teaching methods I suggest you a look a the movies called Goodbye! Mr. Chips or The History Boys.

      1. Thanks for the tip and your compassion. The student is on one of the UK’s top engineering programmes (2nd in the UK if you believe The Guardian) and the class the student is missing is delivered by an award winning lecturer.

        Maybe you can explain how you’d live on a grant of less than £2000 per year? Even with the maximum loan, life is no picnic.

        1. Grand oracle and soothsayer of Scotland how about some compassion for the working class poor who have left school ASAP to enter into the world of work and pay tax and how about some compassion for the Neets as you look into your chrystal ball you can see clearly that the SNP Scottish government with the wonderful First Minister Nicola Sturgeon have funded education to the rafters that is why 98% of young folks eligible to vote in the Scottish elections are voting for SNP. When the branch office were in government they cut back funding for young folks and the number of applications for university places dropped to a record low that coupled recently with the head office policy of looking at scrapping free education for the young folks of Scotland takes the biscuit and I don’t believe anything written in the right wing Guardian my read is the Morning Star.

  2. I am less than impressed by the screeching whinge from the cats choir of usual SNP bad bad bad as el conductor waves his baton composing a series of porkie pies that does not stand up to scrutiny, figures show that the majority of students are more than satisfied by the level of funding and support offered by the SNP government, furthermore the support of students for the SNP has increased from 89% pre general election to 98% post general election, of 100% of students asked if they would consider voting for parties at the Scottish elections 98% said they would vote SNP 1 % for Green Party 1% Tories 0% for Scottish Labour section, when asked why none of the students would vote for the Scottish Labour section they cited the main reasons being as the Scottish Labour section did not support more powers being devolved to Scotland and voting with the Tories against all SNP amendments in the Scotland Bill and also that they are seen as the branch office puppets whose strings are being pulled by the puppet master at Westminster.

    1. Let me get this straight. The SNP have cut the student grant for the very poorest Scots and you have nothing to say about that other than mention an irrelevant opinion poll without actually providing a link to it?

      Are you not ashamed about what the SNP is doing to the poorest students in Scotland?

      1. Grand oracle and soothsayer of Scotland you want to chill out the SNP government and the wonderful First Minister Nicola Sturgeon have made education a key policy so there’s no need for you to spit your dummy out with spurious allegations about cuts without providing a link to it unlike yourself I don’t have the luxury of having a chrystal ball.

        1. “there’s no need for you to spit your dummy out with spurious allegations about cuts without providing a link”

          Did you actually read Ian Murray’s article before attacking it? It contains all the links you need.

  3. Wiil

    Sorry mate.. But I must ask for your source on information you have put out there… Please provide so we can all make a reasoned consideration of your points.

    1. Mark there is no need to apologise on behalf of yourself and the grand oracle and soothsayer of Scotland anyway I am so happy you agreed with my comments.

        1. Good Morning grand oracle and soothsayer of Scotland it seems that your powers are endless I feel a fool that it has taken so long and I have only just twigged that you may be a member of special branch otherwise how would you know whether or not my information is kosher, I suppose if you are an agent for the Union you will be rewarded well with fools gold enjoy.

  4. Ian is absolutely spot on with this. The SNP slashed grants in Scotland before the Tories did in England, and far from writing off the debt as they promised in order to get elected in 2007, the student loan book is now the single most valuable asset of the Scottish Government. What the Tories are doing is dreadful, but the SNP are using it to paint themselves as fair, and they are far from it.

    It must be incredibly draining for Ian to stand as the lone voice of decency for Scottish Labour in the Commons, day in and day out listening to the grievance-hunters and the constitutional obsessives sell themselves as something they are not. I’m really proud that he is managing to so effectively hold both the UK government and the SNP opportunists to account, and is still able to deliver this sort of strong punch. And he’s absolutely right. Full marks Ian.

    1. “It must be incredibly draining for Ian to stand as the lone voice of decency for Scottish Labour in the Commons,”

      El Capitano it is a shame to see the good ship Scottish Labour section slowly sinking down to Davey Jones locker and it’s becuase the traditions of the Labour Party were contaminated by the Ideology of the Blairites and Ian Murray as the last Blairite stooge left standing in Scotland will no doubt don his Red Tory cloak and continue to stick the knife into the backs of the Scottish Labour section by voting with the Tories against devolving more powers to Scotland, I suggest that Ian Murray puts out feelers for a career change as he will definitely get the boot from the good folks Of Edinburgh South at the 2020 general election.

  5. If anybody was in any doubt what click bait actually looked like then here it is. From top to bottom.

    From the article to the comments from Duncan and Scott. Pure unashamed unadulterated tongue in cheek deliberate click baiting of the worst kind.

    Neither Ian Murray Duncan Hothersall nor Scott Arthur believes a single word any of them posted on here.

    None of them believes any of this utter pure bullshit they’ve posted above. None of them.

    I thought the Herald was getting bad for click baiting but this is putting it into an art form.

    Duncan you don’t need to deliberately shit stir to get folk to post just put up something relevant topical or controversial.

    This level of mince is just a joke.

    1. Play the ball, not the men. Feel free to point out any error in the arguments made by Ian Murray.

      Plan B for you may be to oppose SNP cuts to the grants for the very poorest students.

      1. Scott

        “Play the ball, not the men. Feel free to point out any error in the arguments made by Ian Murray.”

        There is no ball to play. This is pure click baiting. There isn’t a single word in that article that even Murray himself believes.

        The man campaigned on a manifesto which was going to impose 6K tuition fees FFS.

        Are we supposed to believe he forgot? Are we supposed to believe both you and Duncan forgot?

        1. No he didn’t. He campaigned on a manifesto that was going to cut tuition fees from £9k to £6k in England, and retain Labour’s policy of free tuition in Scotland.

          Are we supposed to believe you care about accuracy or honesty? Cos I don’t believe it for a second.

          1. “No he didn’t. He campaigned on a manifesto that was going to cut tuition fees from £9k to £6k in England, and retain Labour’s policy of free tuition in Scotland.”

            In other words he supports the principle of imposing tuition fees on students in the UK.

            Labour doesn’t have a free tuition policy in Scotland. It is a single UK wide political party run and controlled from London which you have just stated ran a UK WIDE ELECTION CAMPAIGN based on charging 6k tuition fees to students in the UK.

            The UK election manifestos didn’t have the legitimacy to promise Devolved Scottish Parliament policy. Had Labour won the election they couldn’t do a single thing about tuition fees in Scotland from the Westminster Parliament.

            As a result nobody in Scotland believes Labour in Scotland supports the principle of free tuition in the Scottish Parliament.

            How could you possibly expect them to when you want to impose 6k tuition fees on Students in England and Wales on principle?

            Nothing but bare faced lying upon bare faced lying upon bare faced lying.

            If it wasn’t for the fact that the UK media fully cooperates in your bare faced lying Labour would have been dead and buried in the 90s.

          2. Scottish Labour makes policy for the Scottish Parliament, UK Labour makes policy for the UK Parliament. The only person lying here is you. And it’s making you look pretty stupid.

      2. Dr Scott Thinks

        “Class sizes up”……that’s what happens when Labour run COSLA demand the ringfencing of education budgets be removed, promise to maintain staffing levels, renege on that promise and slash staffing year on year, are offered an extra £40 to improve teacher numbers – but get angry when they are told it must be spent on extra teachers.

        “4000 fewer teachers.” as above…..Labour run councils have deliberately slashed numbers and tried to lay the blame at the feet of the government….as usual Labour are not beneath playing political games with children’s futures…..anything to get the SNPBAD narrative nudging along

        “Colleges cut.” liesure and part time courses that don’t lead to a job qualification get cut to protect the limited budget available, needed to give real courses that help young people into work….is that a bad thing?

        “Student grants cut.”…..Labour have zero room on this, The UK Labour party continued with the fees throughout their tenure and in Scotland Labour introduced the graduate endowment (fees by the back door) which the SNP scrapped in 2008…..Labour are as usual all over the place and guilty of the very thing they accuse the Scottish Government.

        Maybe if Labour hadn’t trooped down the lobbies in January this year and voted with the tories on the fiscal charter for £30bn of cuts….then given a second chance at it under Corbyn abstained ( from opposition as usual ) the SNP wouldn’t need to pass cuts on

      3. Grand oracle and soothsayer of Scotland are your talents endless as for the football analogy I have to say if you where a referee you got the decision wrong mike’s comments were onside and you called it wrong you see what you want to see not what is really in front of you so you have as they say been beaten on penalties final result Grand oracle and soothsayer of Scotland 0 Mike 1 can’t wait for the 2nd leg.

  6. And for our next trick, the scottish labour party will show you how to magiclly increase student grants, using only money from the magic APD tree.

    Now you see it – Ta Da – now you don’t.

    And the reasons Ian Murray stands as the so-called “lone voice of decency for scottish labour” is one, a bunch of tories voted him in, and two, in every other seat labour got kicked out for being a bunch of red tories that put themselves and the labour party before their country.

    And we saw how effective your “strong punch” was on the politics show just a couple of Sundays back, he couldn’t or wouldn’t answer any question put to him, you must of trained him yersel.

  7. “It must be incredibly draining for Ian to stand as the lone voice of decency for Scottish Labour in the Commons,”

    El Capitano it is a shame to see the good ship Scottish Labour section slowly sinking down to Davey Jones locker and it’s becuase the traditions of the Labour Party were contaminated by the Ideology of the Blairites and Ian Murray as the last Blairite stooge left standing in Scotland will no doubt don his Red Tory cloak and continue to stick the knife into the backs of the Scottish Labour section by voting with the Tories against devolving more powers to Scotland, I suggest that Ian Murray puts out feelers for a career change as he will definitely get the boot from the good folks Of Edinburgh South at the 2020 general election.

      1. Good Morning El Capitano it was yourself I was quoting from further up the page my Wifi signal is dodgy hence the communication is unreliable a bit like the Scottish Labour sections message on APD spending which covers anything they can think of they really know how to make a sum of money stretch and definitely know how to get bang for the buck can’t wait to see what APD spending will cover today.

  8. El Capitano I know it’s early morning but get a grip further up the page means one of your earlier comments scroll up and you will see it do you get my drift

      1. I recommend double shot espresso and treat youself to to dipping a Tunnocks chocolate union cream into it and enjoy.

          1. Do you like to treat youself to the occasional Scottish biscuit if you are cute and answer correctly don’t be surprised if loads of boxes of complimentary biscuits get sent to you so before you rush to answer use your loaf.

  9. “Scottish Labour makes policy for the Scottish Parliament, UK Labour makes policy for the UK Parliament. The only person lying here is you. And it’s making you look pretty stupid.”

    There is no “Scottish” Labour there is only UK Labour. That’s a pretty stupid lie you made right there Duncan.

    A single UK wide political party with a single leadership in London. ALL Labour party policy is made and approved in London. Labour in Scotland is subordinate to the Labour leadership in London in the same way Labour in Yorkshire or Lancashire or Surrey or Kent is.

    Just one big UK wide Red Tory political party.

    1. No, that’s not true. Scottish Labour policy is made in Scotland, at Scottish conference, in the Scottish Policy Forum and by the Scottish leadership. The manifesto for May is being written here. The policies announced so far, including the housing policy announced this month, were devised and approved here. You are wrong about how Scottish Labour policy is created, and simply repeating your lie does not stop it being a lie.

      1. Duncan you are a ludicrous bare faced liar. There is no Scottish labour therefore there is no Scottish labour policy. There is UK labour with UK Labour policy and Jeremy Corbyn is the leader of the WHOLE of the Labour party across the WHOLE of the UK including Scotland.

        UK labour has branch offices throughout the UK and not one of them is a separate autonomous party not subordinated to the Labour leadership in London.

        The biggest lie Labour in Scotland is telling the people of Scotland is the existence of autonomy from their leadership in London. The second biggest is SNP BAD.

        1. Scottish Labour policy is made by Scottish Labour Conference, the Scottish Policy Forum and the Scottish Labour leadership.

          You deny reality as much as you like, Mike. What I’m stating is the facts.

          1. Tell me Duncan is Jeremy Corbyn the leader of the whole of the Labour party in the UK including Scotland?

  10. Good evening.

    The SNP are of the right…..from the right…they do the work of the right. It is remarkable how they have re-cast themselves as a progressive party of the working class …truly remarkable. They appear to have armies of online crusaders carpet-bombing labour forums with a relentless invective vituperation and general unpleasantness…(look on this comment section!)…they appear quite disturbed, by anyone who dares question the SNP and cannot seem to help themselves…aggressive insult is the first line of attack, dragging the political discourse down to the gutter in a Wings Over Scotland stylee! I will return to these illinformed clowns later.

    The collapse of the traditional class structures of industrial Scotland has caught up with organised labour and presents a formidable challenge for the Labour Party…..lest we forget…..the party who delivered a standard of living to millions, beyond the wildest dreams of their grandparents.

    The SNP have played their hand beautifully, particularly with regard to the new middle class……cultivated significant sections of that new middle class, flattered their inherently invidious sense of self, placed themselves at the centre of an anti-politics quasi-revolutionary narrative…then allowed these beneficiaries of neo-liberalism to wrap themselves in a flag and appear radical….in an oh so radical Scotland!…..They have it both ways…….Osbourne keeping income tax down whilst dismantling a tax credit system that gave ‘their’ money away to the low paid…….Swinney keeping council tax down, whilst helping the ‘hard working’ (in reality hammering services for the vulnerable)……….no charges for their childrens Higher Education, whilst not wasting any more of ‘their’ hard earned on the plebs at so called ‘colleges’……the grasping, aspirational middle class now pay less tax in Scotland after a decade of SNP rule, than the ‘evil’ english middle class under thon b*stard English Tories……….. its win, win, win, win! Hell its enought cash for a holiday or two……..cuts in airport duty next up……..who’d hav thunk it…….. kerching!! But boy are we faithful to Scotland’s radical tradition!

    As for the ‘radical’ idependence campaign, (RIC) they perhaps understandably, have used the constitutional debate to spread their message on the mother of all bandwagons….but I suspect they are now beginning to realise they had no real traction within the campaign to partition these islands, they would have been relegated to the margins in an iScotland instantly. (in fairness most activists that I knew, many, decent fellow tavellers for decades….. may be disappointed, but not surprised). The zealots who infest social media are another matter……….but IMO the Nationalists have now passed their high water mark and are now facing a steady decline. The economic case for indy is dead in the water, the new middle class I referred to earlier know this………… the zealots? they will not concede and inch as they are dangerously fundamentalist in nature but they will, in time, no doubt return to battle re-enactments and other nonsensical pastimes, in the mean time, WE must challenge their sophistry where ever we see it.

    1. Glad you got that of your chest hope you are in a better place just imagine you have unloaded your SNP bad bad drivel and you are on a beach with the sun shining down upon you listening to the noise of the waves moving to and throe feeling so relaxed and up above in the sky a plane is flying past and just for a fleeting moment you think of what the Scottish Labour section could do with all that APD then you relax and think to yourself when I get back home later tonight I must get straight out into my garden and water the magic money tree doesn’t that feel so good.

    2. This is the level of garbage we get when the Labour faithful cant find the argument to refute the points made by commenters.

      We’ve got Dr Scott frequently telling us to play the ball where is he now?

      1. Mike the grand oracle and soothsayer of Scotland was 2ft from the goal line and missed a sitter he booted the ball over the crossbar it was harder to do this rather than score a goal so he was substituted by the manager of Red Tory FC with immediate effect. Breaking news looks like Red Tory FC are facing relegation to the lower divisions of the leagues sometime in May I wonder why that is.

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