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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Hypocrisy on Further education

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have been fighting against the Labour-Plaid Cymru cuts in further education for some months now. Fforwm estimate that these cuts could lead to the loss of 500 jobs across Wales. Sixth forms are badly affected as well.

In my own region there has been a reduction of core funding for Swansea College of 7.5%, for Neath Port Talbot of 5.55% and for Coleg Sir Gar of 6.92%. Bridgend College also faces reducing its £25 million budget by £1.2 million. When you take everything together, including promised pay increases, inflation and the negative settlement, the real cut is probably not far off 10%.

Job losses are now being announced and both lecturers and students are understandably angry. This has prodded backbench AMs in both Labour and Plaid Cymru into action. Yesterday Helen Mary Jones, who represents Llanelli demanded a statement from the Leader of the House:

Helen Mary Jones: Leader of the House, can the Government give consideration to bringing forward an urgent statement on the impacts on employment of the proposed changes to further education funding? We would all accept that there was a need to change the funding formula, but in some colleges this change has been made so suddenly that it is having a direct impact, with 80 jobs threatened in my constituency, for example. I would be grateful if the Deputy Minister responsible could make a statement to the Chamber as to how he proposes to mitigate the effects of the changes that he may feel that it is necessary to make.

This is all well and good however, but these cuts and the proposed job losses stem directly from budget decisions made by the Government parties, which Helen Mary Jones supported through her vote in the chamber.

Today, there was a well-attended demonstration outside the Senedd against these cuts. A number of backbench Government Assembly Members spoke in support of the protestors including Helen Mary Jones, Rhodri Glyn Thomas, Alun Davies and Joyce Watson. They told the protestors that they opposed the cuts in further education. It was a Damoscene conversion.

On 11 March the Welsh Liberal Democrats tabled a motion to Plenary that read: the National Assembly for Wales calls on the Welsh Assembly Government to re-examine its financial support for post-16 education. Amongst those voting against that motion were Helen Mary Jones, Rhodri Glyn Thomas, Alun Davies and Joyce Watson.

The sheer hypocrisy of their stance is breathtaking.
Plaid is on the brink of being rumbled! I knew they couldn't pass the muster when in with a whiff of governmental responibility (free laptops, anyone?) but I didn't realise that they were so thin on real integrity.

next thing we'll know, a plaid MP will be threatening a Plaid assembly minister with legal action in order to obfuscate the whole party's complicity - oh, err....
So how do you explain the Lib Dems voted against student grants in Scotland? 'The sheer hypocrisy of their stance is breathtaking.' You can say that again, Peter.
I have already responded to that charge Fred and repeating it does not make it anymore true.

The Scottish Lib Dems voted against a completly inadequate package of support that would not have benefited a single student. The fact is that the SNP have reneged on their promises in the same way as Plaid Cymru and it is only the Liberal Democrats who are holding the two parties to account.
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