Saturday, 6 December 2008

Misunderstanding?

This article is a sad indightment of the effects of university top up fees on social mobility and I certainly applaud the Scottish government's abolition of tuition fees. However, the report referred to in the article appears to be recommending that money raised from top-up fees levied on students at Universities in England (thanks in part to the votes of MPs from non-English constituencies) be shared with Universities in the other nations of the UK where students receive free higher education (unless I am completely misunderstanding it). This seems like an unfair and rather bodged way of correcting the imbalance in funding. Surely the fairest solution would be to abolish tuition fees in all parts of the UK and return to funding higher education from general taxation.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Alexis de Toqueville and the West Lothian Question

This evening on Radio 4's Analysis programme, former Labour MP Tam Dalyell stated that Scottish devolution has increased the momentum towards Scottish independence because of the fact that politicians of whatever hue, inevitably desire and seek more power for the institutions in which they find themselves 'serving'. I think he is absolutely right and what he said reminds me of a quote I once read from Alexis de Toqueville which went something to the effect that revolutions always occur after a period when the situation of a given population (such as the French in the 1780s) has recently become relatively easier and freer than previously, rather than in response to a period of increased hardship and oppression. Scotland has had a taste of autonomy; it's only natural that it should want more.
Given the inevitability of further Scottish and Welsh freedom to govern themselves (eg. in the form of fiscal autonomy for Scotland or increased legislative powers for the Welsh Assembly) the unfairness of England continuing to be governed by the UK parliament will become increasingly stark and it seems likely that the call for some form of redress will become ever louder and more difficult for politicians to ignore.