NEIL BOORMAN - IT'S ALL THEIR FAULT: DOUBLE STANDARDS
This is part three of our series of extracts from Neil Boorman's new work, It's All Their Fault: A Manifesto, detailing how our parents' generation have sold us out for Mondeo's and Ralph Lauren jackets. Check out parts one and two, or click through for part three.
From the moment our parents took junior positions in politics, in the late Eighties and early Nineties, they have diluted and, in many cases, dissolved most of the privileges that they benefited from when they were our age. In the last twenty years, the government has sold off our phone lines, TV stations, gas, airports, airways, steel, water and electricity, while pocketing £50 billion, (at today’s prices), in the process. The little that’s left – education, healthcare, housing, pensions – is either underfunded, prohibitively expensive, or both. Every time our parents were given the option of maintaining services with taxes, or keeping the money for themselves, the majority of them voted for cash and the politicians duly obliged.
Westminster is dominated by Boomers. The average age of MPs in the UK is 50.1 years and there is not one who paid tuition fees when they were growing up. We all do now. From 1989 to 1997, the Conservatives ran our schools and universities into the ground with a 36 percent reduction in funding for every full-time student. Then Labour swept into Parliament, screaming "Education, education, education". What they meant to say was "Fees, fees, fees", as they set about ending free higher education for ever.
Every single Education Secretary since 1998 educated themselves at university for free, (except Alan Johnson who didn’t go) and every single one of them has voted strongly in favour of making us pay. Each and every one of them is a Boomer.
David Blunkett, 49, was educated for free at a college for the blind, originally established by a Victorian philanthropist and an anti-slavery campaigner, and followed that by attending Sheffield University. But Blunkett enslaved future generations to debt, by moving to abolishing free higher education. He went on to abolish student maintenance grants in 1998.
Charles Clarke, educated for free at Oxford in the Seventies, went a step further by introducing £3,000 annual top up fees, despite a Labour manifesto commitment not to do so.
57-year-old Lord Mandelson, whose department now looks after education, is pushing for an increase in fees to £7,000. Students, says Mandelson, "have to face up to the challenge of paying for excellence". A former member of the Young Communist League, Lord Mandelson enjoyed an excellent education at Oxford. For free.
If there’s no obvious difference between the main parties today it’s because they are all working to the same agenda: their own. The Boomer mindset is stuck on "me", and politicians simply cannot help but act in their own self-interest; to the extent that they’ll pull back the rights and privileges of others to protect their own. This is the generation that marched in the streets for freedom, but ended-up lining them with CCTV cameras. Boomer politicians from the Right and the Left have gradually abandoned their principles and migrated to the centre – the self-centre.