Gazette column - 1/3/18

Theresa May couldn't negotiate her way out of a wheat field so she's no chance of finding the jobs-first Brexit we need on Tyneside.

Stripping public services to the bone is her route to an austerity which hurts working people.

Forcing South Tyneside and Gateshead councils to shed 4,000 jobs by starving them of funds is a Conservative punishment beating for the North East.

On the NHS, she has presided over a devastating crisis, resulting from years and years of deliberate Tory cuts and underfunding. 

And I smile wryly when Mrs May-be-not finally admitted the Tories were education dunces.

She could've learned that long ago by picking up the phone to Jeremy Corbyn.

He could tell her exactly what our young people need to fulfil their potential and be ready for the good jobs Labour's committed to creating.

What we don’t need is a delaying Tory review, a smokescreen for doing nothing.

Schools deserve enough money to pay for teachers and students shouldn't be leaving university with debts sometimes nudging £60,000.

May can't add up if she truly doesn't know why a university education is so expensive.

It's expensive because her party trebled fees to £9,250 a year and scrapped remaining grants for bright kids from poorer homes.

Tories might think university should be reserved for a privileged few but I want every son and daughter clever enough to go to study free for a degree.

When they do well in this world and earn more, they'll pay more tax and we as a country will be all the better for it.

May just doesn't get it or care and that's unforgivable.

So when she laughably proclaims that she’s going back to the drawing board, I can’t help but recall those hollow words about creating an “education system that truly works for everyone.”

Tory funding cuts to further education colleges is criminal and slashing the adult skills budget by more than £1 billion is an end to second chances.

Labour fights for everyone who wants the opportunity to learn - regardless of their class, gender, age, disability, sexuality, race or religion.

Labour will encourage learning, the Tories destroy. Any cynic who tells you that all political parties are the same needs a lesson in political education.

Only a Labour Government would abolish tuition fees, reinstate maintenance grants and provide free, lifelong education in further education colleges.

It'll be central to Labour’s National Education Service, providing cradle to grave learning, free at the point of use, ensuring every person has the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and experience to realise their full potential.

This will be paid for by asking the richest individuals and corporations to pay a bit more in tax, as set out in Labour’s fully-costed manifesto.

It is hard to see what offer the Tories can come up with which will match the generosity of Labour's pledge to reform our education system.

I'm not sure they'll even try but they'll pretend they do, more Tory false promises. Nobody will buy them.


Meet your MP


Stephen Hepburn has served the Jarrow Constituency as MP since 1997.

He was last elected to serve in June 2017 and won the seat with a conclusive 17,263 majority.

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