Petition to Hilary Benn MP, Rachel Reeves MP, Alex Sobel MP, Fabian Hamilton MP, Richard Burgon MP
Leeds Labour MPs - support a budget amendment for free education
With the Tories in the midst of a severe internal crisis, and the DUP potentially unwilling to support future Tory austerity measures, a free education amendment to the Tory budget presented to Parliament after November 22nd could threaten the Tories with a vote of no confidence, leading to the collapse of their government. The colossal youth turnout on June 8th in support of Jeremy Corbyn’s programme was a concrete demonstration of the fact that, when given a bold and unapologetic political leadership, young people are willing to fight for a radical change to our society. In doing so, they have collectively generated a political shockwave which has pushed the Tories into a new period of crisis. Already Theresa May’s government has been forced into various tactical retreats in a desperate bid to pacify the growing mood of anger which exists against Tory rule, the most significant retreat perhaps being their announcement at conference that they were freezing tuition fees at £9250 a year, alongside launching a review into student funding. If left unchallenged however, we believe that the Tories could stagger on in power until 2022, free to wreak even further havoc on the lives of students and workers. Jeremy Corbyn after the general election indicated that he was prepared to present an alternative Queen’s speech to Parliament in order to undermine the Tories after their majority was severely slashed at the general election. The DUP in late September voted in favour of a Labour Party Parliamentary motion which called for a halt to any further increases in university tuition fees. The DUP’s decision was their attempt to preserve their own basis of support within Northern Ireland by distancing themselves from the toxicity of Tory austerity and anti-working class policies. Yet of course it isn’t just tuition fees which threaten the collective future of young workers and students. Graduate debt, which at the start of this year climbed past the £100 billion mark, is a weight around the necks of thousands of students, three quarters of whom (according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies) will never be able to pay off their debt. On October 15th, the Sunday Times reported that even the Brexit secretary David Davis had ‘urged’ the Treasury to investigate the possibility of writing down some of these historic student debts. Davis’ call is yet another indication of the panic which currently grips the Tory party. In addition to a free education amendment, if Labour presented a separate amendment to the budget which called for the cancellation of the student debt, this would not only potentially present another obstacle to the Tories in Parliament but would serve to build on the vast gains the Labour Party made amongst students and young workers in the general election. Such a lead provided by Labour MPs in Parliament would strike an even greater blow against the Tories if it were organised alongside peaceful direct actions (including local protests, occupations and walk outs) on campuses up and down the country on budget day itself in support of free education and the cancellation of graduate debt.This is why we have written to Angela Rayner MP, Labour's Shadow Education secretary about Labour moving such an amendment to the budget as well as calling for actions on November 22nd, co-operatively between ourselves, Labour Students and other student groups who support free education.We are asking our MPs to help lead the way and publicly support both a free education amendment to the budget as well as actions called on the 22nd November.