Liam Byrne turned up to Loughborough University this afternoon to encourage people to vote. He was accompanied by the local Labour candidate, Matthew O’Callaghan. It gave me an opportunity to press for free education and also get to grips with the Students’ Union President who was cosying up to them.
Byrne and O’Callaghan were trying to encourage people to vote and then to ask for our main issues. I got in quickly and pointed out that under successive governments we’ve seen attacks on students. I suggested that we could have grants and was told that it’s unaffordable. One person suggested that there should be less stringent rules on paying back loans and I suggested that Labour could actually just wipe the debt clear. Unfortunately with the majority of attendees from the Labour Students group getting support was difficult. Afterwards I spoke directly to O’Callaghan who hasn’t got a fucking clue what planet he’s living on. He was talking to someone about inequality and I said “but Labour isn’t going to get rid of capitalism”, to which he replied “It works”. He then gave a rambling story about travelling the world and being convinced that some form of market system is necessary. So naturally I asked him how Labour would reduce inequality. “More SureStart places”. What?
The conclusion that most students will make is that Labour are just as piss poor when it comes to education policy as the Tories.
I also bumped into the President, Rob Whittaker, who I’d sent a couple of emails to before Christmas asking him for his views on free education. He told me that he didn’t have time for dealing with emails which I told him was rude and he apologised. He called me ‘sir’ – odd. On the issue itself he said he hadn’t thought about it and hadn’t looked into it at all. So I wonder if he actually is aware of the fight for free education. He should be now. In the end he couldn’t answer my questions so he went into the usual politician stock of saying the need for free education was just my opinion. He also told me he simply wanted to provide Loughborough students with the best student experience and that he wasn’t political. How totally political. He’s unfit to represent students; well it’s unfair to accuse him of representing anybody. What a waste.