MSPs Back Edinburgh Student Protest on Eve of UK Tuition Fee Vote
Three prominent MSPs (Members of the Scottish Parliament) back students protesting in Edinburgh over education funding cuts, on the eve of the tuition fees vote in the UK Parliament. Edinburgh, UK. 08/12/2010.
Three prominent MSPs joined student protesters at a rally at the Scottish Parliament on the eve of a crucial vote on tuition fees in the UK Parliament.
Liberal Democrat MSP Mike Pringle told students he would try to persuade Liberal Democrat MPs at Westminster not to vote for the fees increase. Addressing the demonstrators he stressed that as a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) he had no direct influence in London but was doing what he could by persuasion.
The tuition fees issue threatens to split the Liberal Democrat Party, with two former leaders, Charles Kennedy and Sir Menzies Campbell promising to vote against the Government, along with other Lib Dem backbenchers and some Conservatives. Many more Lib Dems are expected to abstain.
Students throughout the UK have been particularly incensed by the Liberal Democrat Party reneging on written pledges they made in advance of the May 2010 general election, to oppose any rise in tuition fees. Party Leader Nick Clegg, now in the Government coalition with the Conservatives and Deputy Prime Minister, is supporting a measure which would see the cap on fees rise from £3000 to £9000. Demonstrations have been held throughout the UK over the past few weeks, and more are planned for the day of the vote in the UK Parliament on Thursday.
A former Minister in the Scottish Executive in the previous Labour Administration, Sarah Boyack MSP, together with Scottish Green Party education spokesman, Robin Harper MSP, also addressed the demonstrators and supported their stance against cuts.
Robin Harper is a former Rector of Edinburgh and Aberdeen Universities, and spoke alongside the current Rector of Edinburgh University, the political commentator and broadcaster, Iain Macwhirter, as well as student leaders.
Scottish students do not pay tuition fees, but are marching in support of students in England facing the dramatic increase in the cost of higher education. They are also concerned about the effect on Scottish students choosing to study in England, and about the potential knock-on effects for Scottish education of general UK spending cuts.
A candlelight vigil by students and supporters is to take place at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, the day of the vote in the UK Parliament.
There is concern that the Lib Dems U-turn on tuition fees in England will have an adverse effect on the Party’s fortunes at the Scottish Parliament elections in May 2011.