'It's Johnsonian levels of cakeism': Tom Swarbrick calls out Keir Starmer's U-turn on free tuition

2 May 2023, 21:45

Labour U-turns on free university tuition

By Grace Parsons

After Keir Starmer revealed a U-turn on Labour's pledge to scrap university tuition fees, Tom Swarbrick delivered his take on the move.

As Labour ditches their pledge for free university tuition, Tom Swarbrick criticised Sir Keir Starmer for "knowing" he would be unable to keep this promise.

Tom began with a nod to Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg's failed tuition abolishment promise: "To use Churchill's words today, 'Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.'"

Tom played out Keir Starmer's interview on The Andrew Neil Show from 2020, in which Mr Neil asked the Labour leader: "So university tuition fees being scrapped will in a Starmer manifesto?"

Keir Starmer confirmed: "Yes, that's why it's a pledge."

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Tom continued: "When he was running to be elected as leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer stood on ten pledges. The second of which was to, 'Support the abolition of tuition fees and invest in lifelong learning.' Today, Starmer says he will, 'Move on', from the pledge to abolish tuition fees.

"And in an example of what I think are genuinely Johnsonian levels of cakeism, he defended ditching these pledges by saying that they were nevertheless, 'Important statements of value and principle.'

"Principles that allow you to say stuff, renege on it, but apparently seek to claim credit for having the principles that led you to make the pledge, the pledge that you're welching on."

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Tom went on to say: "What to make of this case of history repeating, is it as anger-inducing as the Lib Dem's U-turn on the abolition of student fees? Is it as cynical? Should Keir Starmer be more apologetic for making a pledge he knew he couldn't keep?

"No sensible Prime Minister is going to come into office saying, 'We're going to abolish student fees, wholesale.' It is unaffordable", Tom concluded.

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