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Labour Leader Candidate Generating Controversy

31st July 2015 | Politics

Labour Leader Candidate Generating Controversy
From a 200/1 outsider scraping onto the ballot paper at virtually the last minute, to man of the moment and bookies’ favourite - Jeremy Corbyn’s rise has been spectacular, and quite unexpected. But you only have to take one glance at the headlines or on social media to see that his upsurge has been highly controversial, with the Labour party more fragmented than ever before.

The real question is, could a socialist actually become Labour leader in 2015? And if so, would he ever stand a chance of being elected as prime minister?

Tony Blair – generally regarded as the most successful Labour leader in recent history – lamented the surge in support for Corbyn, arguing that his ideals are old fashioned, and no longer suitable or relevant for society today. He went on to state his opinion that the heavy election defeat in May should be used as an opportunity to move forward into a new way of thinking – a way which will appeal to a range of voters – rather than going backwards into the realms of ‘old Labour’.

Corbyn’s fellow leadership contender Liz Kendall, who is seen as a right-of-centre candidate, agreed, stating her belief that a Corbyn victory would be a disaster and would “Turn back to the politics of the 1980s”, a time in which Labour were marred by successive election defeats. However, Lord Prescott - Blair’s former deputy - was highly critical of the former prime minister’s “abusive” language, criticising his sarcastic proclamation that anybody wanting to vote for Corbyn should have a “heart transplant”.

Opposers of Corbyn do seem to focus on the history of the Labour party and the direction in which they believe the party should be heading, but perhaps at the…

Opinion: The Real Cost of Education

19th July 2015 | Politics

Opinion: The Real Cost of Education
Last Wednesday, George Osborne announced that the maintenance grant available to students from low income households would be scrapped, and added onto the student loan which, unlike the grant, has to be repaid.

While this may understandably seem a very sudden blow to those considering going to university, the move towards making it more and more expensive to be a student has been a decades-long gradual incline. Until September 1998, there were no tuition fees for UK students. In fact, the government actually owed students money in the form of a maintenance grant, which was introduced following the Education Act of 1962.

In 1990, when the Student Loans Company was founded, these were paired with low-interest loans. Since then, the student finance available has generally risen with inflation. For example, a student living outside of London but away from their parents could get a grant of up to £3387 in the 2015/16 academic year.

Indeed, supporters of the abolition of maintenance grants argue that the increase in total support available to the highest amount ever seen (admittedly, all of it repayable) cushions the blow.

While financial support for students is still available (and, if you’ll believe the Conservatives, better than ever before), the massive rise in tuition fees - as well as the cuts to student finance - have left a bad taste in many potential students’ mouths.

It is almost paradoxical then, that the proportion of young people entering university has increased significantly in recent years. In the 2013/14 academic year, an estimated 49% of young people entered higher education, compared to 43% in 2006/7 and even lower levels decades ago in the years of free tuition fees.

An important note to make though, is the swing from low skill…

Summer Budget 2015

19th July 2015 | Politics

Summer Budget 2015
Budgets are normally a yearly event that allow the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, to set economic plans that the Government want to achieve in their time in office in that year. Unlike other policies, it is automatically passed by Government and has royal approval. The chancellor stands outside his official Government residence, number 11 Downing Street, holding a red box for a photo opportunity. This has been a tradition since the first box, which was made for William Gladstone in 1860. That box was used for nearly every budget up until March 2011 when it had to be retired due to its fragility, since then a new box has been used.

The official speech of the budget is held in Parliament, during this time no one can interrupt the Chancellor. Afterwards, the Leader of the opposition has a chance to voice their opinions whether that is to attack or support the budget. It is unusual to have a ‘summer’ budget, as we have already had a budget for this financial year in March, however that budget was influenced by the Lib Dems, who at the time where in coalition with the Conservatives.  This summer an emergency budget was called for by George Osborne to set out what he as Chancellor wants to change immediately, after forming a majority Government.  

It is the first Tory majority budget since 1996 and it will contain proposals from their manifesto, which they wrote to inspire voters to vote for them before the General election. It is, therefore a great platform for them to highlight that they can and will stick by the pledges they said they would carry out in this parliament. Knowing this, we already had some idea of what is going to be in the budget - for example : Some of the £12bn worth of cuts to welfare.  Abolishing inheritance tax on property up to the value of £1million.