Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Lords a leaping indignation at the changes to the funding of lifelong learning .

Sorry that this is turning into an adult education blog at the moment. It was not my intention when I started it, but then I was not expecting a crisis like the current one to hit.

The House of Lords debated the proposals on Monday and gave them a savaging. Labour peers were particularly harsh.

Baroness Blackstone: "I regret having to say this but I passionately believe that a little less haste and a bit more consultation would go a very long way, so I hope that my noble friend will be able to reconsider the matter".

Lord Puttnam: "This is a bad policy; it is a policy that is based on a false choice and, like all false choices, it inevitably results in a poor decision".

Lord Plant: "I think that this policy is spectacularly misconceived. It cuts entirely across the lifetime learning agenda, a good deal of which takes in things such as certificates and diplomas, which will be put at an acute disadvantage by the consequences of this proposal".

Lord Morgan: "...the Government have championed many admirable principles in higher education and I fear that this policy on ELQs runs counter to almost all of them. ...The deckchairs will be rearranged but the iceberg will still be there. ...The proposal will be deeply damaging to many English universities".

Lord Griffiths: "I speak in the name of all those who redirect their lives and seek appropriate skills for the new direction that their life takes, my two sons included; they started abortively with bad careers advice from their schools but ended up finding their way, retooled themselves for their jobs and are now happily ensconced in them. In the name of all that is decent—I know that my noble friends on the Front Bench are decent if nothing else—I do ask for a reconsideration".

There is a bigger point to be made here. Francis Sedgemore, on his own site and at the Drink-soaked Trots, has posted about losing faith in politics and this debate gives us a taste of just why this is the case. The policy was being defended by David Triesman, now a Labour peer and junior minister, but formerly the General Secretary of my union, the AUT. Its successor, the UCU, is vehemently opposed to the changes and if he was still in his old job, I suspect Triesman would be too. In fact, he probably is and is cursing his brief.

When we have a system that demands the defence of a policy as defective as this by someone who, in all likelihood, is as opposed to it as its detractors, we have theatre rather than politics. It is hard not to feel cynical as well as frustrated, even though our local elected representatives have acted impeccably. Could we ever have a system where intellectual honesty trumps defence of a party line? It might just prove to be popular.

1 comment:

Donald said...

Dont forget to tell them about the select committee inquiry into the funding cuts on 14th January. I understand that there is an opportunity for us all to present evidence to this committee. There is a link to the DIUS website on the facebook group.