TJINDER SINGH (pictured), BOBBY GILLESPIE and THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS all sent letters to Tony Blair last week in protest at plans to abolish student grants and the introduction of tuition fees.
The musicians were asked to write by Brent North MP Ken Livingstone in order to highlight the Teaching and Higher Education Bill which is going through its committee stage now. Livingstone told NME: “There’s very real concern among Labour MPs that the abolition of the maintenance grant will hit the poorest students hardest, saddling them with a life-time of debt. With the introduction of tuition fees, this proposal will make access to education more difficult for thousands of young people.”
Cornershop’s Tjinder and Primal Scream’s Gillespie have sent a joint letter, part of which reads: “We believe these proposals contradict the principles of social justice as well as your Government’s pledge to broaden access to higher education. The proposals would mean that students would graduate from a typical three-year degree course owing between ‘8,000 and ‘11,500 to the state. Moreover, the abolition of the student grant would leave students from the lowest income households with the largest debts. We believe that the philosophy behind these proposals is misguided. It is argued that because students benefit from Higher Education, they should pay for it. If this approach were applied across the board it would imply that hospital patients pay for their treatment, parents pay for primary and secondary education, and so on. “As the whole of society benefits from the broadest possible access to high-quality education, citizens should contribute to its costs, in proportion to their ability to pay, through the tax system.”
A spokeswoman for The Chemical Brothers tells NME: “Bobby and the Chemicals both got letters from Ken Livingstone asking what they thought of the whole thing and that he was trying to raise some interest. The Chemicals were really interested seeing as though they’re both university types themselves.”
The Chemicals letter reads: “It’s obviously wrong. Everyone should be able to get further education whatever their economic situation, and in whatever field they want. Education is vital to society.” The letter is signed The Chemical Brothers (BA Hons).
Last Wednesday (May 13), students lobbied Parliament to protest against the Government’s plans.