Labour abandons commitment to free education

Labour MSP Jenny Marra has backed her leader’s betrayal of Scottish students by abandoning her party’s commitment to free education.

On BBC Radio Scotland's Brian’s Big Debate Ms Marra said: “We need to open up a wide discussion on tuition fees because I really think that free tuition fees don’t necessarily increase access.”

Joe FitzPatrick, who had previously highlighted Johann Lamont’s comments, said the SNP is the only party that can be trusted on education.

Labour claimed before last May’s Holyrood election that it would not reintroduce back-door tuition fees in Scottish universities, which the SNP Scottish Government scrapped in 2007.

Mr FitzPatrick, SNP MSP for Dundee City West, said:

“The SNP is the only party that can be trusted to protect free education in Scotland, as we are the only party never to have voted to introduce them.

“Labour was panicked into pretending it supported free education before the election last year - but now Jenny Marra has backed her leader in abandoning this progressive policy, and instead is talking about charging the young people of Scotland for their education.

“Labour voters will be aghast at their MSPs’ blatant disregard for free education – one of its core principles. This just highlights how Labour is turning ever increasingly Tory.”

The European Students’ Union has made clear Scotland is only one of three countries in Europe to have delivered increased funding for higher education since the start of the recession.

Mr FitzPatrick added:

“The SNP will ensure continued access to our universities by the brightest and most able Scots, regardless of family income or background.

“The ESU’s comments demonstrate the positive work taken by the SNP Government and why decisions affecting the people of Scotland should be taken in Scotland.

“It is bitterly disappointing to hear Ms Marra is not standing up for students and instead wants to price our young people out of an education.”