Paisley’s MSP George Adam is today highlighting the slip-up made by Labour’s leader in Scotland Johann Lamont where she revealed that Labour would introduce a Graduate Tax.
In an interview with BBC Scotland’s Political Editor Brian Taylor, Ms Lamont twice dodged questions on whether she would introduce a Graduate Tax before finally, when pressed, conceded: “You have to look at these things in the round”.
George, who is a member of the Education Committee at Holyrood said, “We knew they were wanting to raise our council taxes and stop free concessionary travel for the elderly, but to know concede that they are looking at introducing a back door fee for higher education is shocking.
‘Labour’s ‘Together we can’ document makes bold claims about widening access on Higher education but there is no mention of this policy. Yet after one 30 minute interview the whole thing unravels.
‘Instead of coming out with statements which Ms Lamont has no answers or facts to back up, like we have seen with Labours’ plans to devolve some taxes but not others, surely Johann Lamont should be straight with the people of Scotland and say exactly what they will get if they vote for a Labour government in 2015.
‘Ms Lamont has a track record of staying silent on big issues, or as she phrased them ‘the wee things’, like the renewal of Trident.
“The SNP Scottish Government has a cast iron commitment to the continuation of the free access for Scottish and non-Scottish domiciled students to higher education, based on the ability to learn and not the ability to pay.
‘This will continue in an independent Scotland. The Scottish Parliament will then have full control over immigration allowing fee-paying international students to come and study here, contributing to our world leading research, something that is hampered at present but the UK government’s policy which is at odds with the needs and wants of the Scottish people.”
Watch the interview by clicking here. From 20 min 40 seconds
Brian Taylor: “So there is a possibility that you would introduce a graduate endowment?
Johann Lamont: *Dodges question*
BT: “I’m still not hearing what you are doing on funding – Are you talking about a graduate endowment?
JL: “We are working through our proposals and we will certainly have these in front of people before 2016 manifesto.
BT: And there is a possibility of a graduate payment?
JL: “You have to look at these things in the round. Because what we get is this idea that there is this totally pain free choice for whom there is no damage to anybody and everything over here is an absolute disaster. I think actually people in Scotland get that it can’t be right, it can’t be right that we have the worst support for poor students in the UK and still talk about free education. We have to think about these things…”
Labour’s ‘Together we can’ document mention of Higher education: “Labour is working on a framework that will provide a sustainable future for both further and higher education, with, at its heart, widening access and proper student support.”