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Asian Voice Column - January 2011


By Navin Shah AM


Beauty of living in London, a multicultural – multi-faith world city, is the privilege of being able to celebrate a wide range of festivals and religious days. In this sense autumn period (October to December) is very special to us when great holy days, interwoven with cultural/social events originating from many religions such as Hindu, Jain, Muslim, Jewish and Christian are upon us. This is the period when we have opportunity to remember and respect the great values different faiths offer. Bearing this in mind – I hope all Asian Readers have enjoyable and restful Christmas period and gear up for the many challenges in the coming year. Merry Xmas and warm wishes for a happy and peaceful New Year.    


Shame that the Christmas present for students, from the Tory and LibDem government, is £9,000 Tuition fees. Whilst I’m happy to have debate about the merits or demerits of tuition fees  – I find the shear treachery and hypocrisy on this issue on the part of the LibDems disgusting. During the general election campaign Nick Clegg signed the NUS Petition against tuition fees, but after becoming Deputy Prime Minister he lent and lead his support to the Tory proposals to levy huge financial burden on aspiring University students. How appropriate Ed Miliband called Nick Clegg a ‘crypto Tory’.

Brent Central’s LibDem MP Sarah Teather has followed her Leader’s route of betrayal. Worth reminding the readers that before the last election she vowed to vote against tuition fees and in her maiden speech in 2003 Ms Teather stated “Top-up and tuition fees are serious issues of concern to my constituents. All the evidence suggests that fear of debt will deter those from lower income families and ethnic minority communities. This is particularly the case for Muslims - a large community in my constituency - where attitudes to debt are very different. Fundamentally, I believe that this is about whether we want to encourage a world class education system, or a class based education system where students choose universities according to their ability to pay, and universities are judged on the level of their fees.” The level of hypocrisy of Sarah Teather is staggering. This ‘politician of principle’ when push came to shove betrayed the students and put her party and her own career before ideals. Brent is one of the most deprived local authorities in the country and we should be actively encouraging our young people to go to university – not put them off by pricing them out. Its clear Sarah Teather cannot be trusted on the issue of both principle and her election pledges.

In the same class is the Tory MP Bob Blackman. During the election campaign, I witnessed at a Hustings at Westminster University Campus in Harrow, Bob Blackman promising to vote against any hike in tuition fees. I am astounded but not surprised that having got elected now - he too has done a complete U-Turn on this issue. You’d think that signing the NUS pledge must prove embarrassing for Bob Blackman. But, his recent comments suggest that he has no shame even after so disgracefully letting students down. It’s blatantly obvious that Mr Blackman’s pledge was motivated for election success and not driven by ideology.