"You may say that I am a dreamer/But I am not the only one" John Lennon: "Imagine"

"So come brothers and sisters/For the struggle carries on" Billy Bragg: "The Internationale"

Elizannie has a reading room at 'Clarice's Book Page' http://www.villiersroad.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Yet another blog in defence of the student protests

I must not listen to radio 4, I must not listen to radio 4, I must not listen to radio 4, I must not listen to radio 4.

Usually I listen to music during the day and get my news via the internet but yesterday accidentally caught Baroness Williams on radio 4's The World at One which resulted in the angry blog http://rephidimstreet.blogspot.com/2010/12/oh-baroness-williams-what-let-down.html [Click on this blog title to go directly to it]

Today I walked into a room where radio 4's Woman's Hour was playing. Mistake. David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science, was defending the rise in student tuition fees. We have heard it all so many times but what enraged me even more today was the comment that it was disproportionately unfair to poorer working women who were paying out of their taxes to support students.

Well! There are lots of items upon which I resent my taxes being spent: off hand I can name defence, civil list, subsidies to private sector organisations taking what should be public sector contracts in areas like health, education, social welfare..... And lots of areas where I would like my taxes spent: pensions [ok I have an interest here], welfare,education, health ...... I do not get a say in where my taxes go and nor does anyone else, only through the ballot box, letters and petitions to the Government or on demos. Yet according to David Willets the students on demos are wishing to exploit poor working women by protesting at the rise in tuition fees. A very clever - if untrue - take on this issue.

"Elizannie", someone is shouting, "you are an unemployed woman with no income so where are these taxes you claim to be paying?"

I reply: " Well, yes I am a kept woman having been unemployed due to medical issues for three years. Luckily Other Half can afford to keep me [just!] and he pays income tax. And I have spent nearly all my savings from my workings years, savings after tax paid on the income at that time. And when I spend those savings look at all the tax I pay on my purchases. Every time I treat myself to a book or CD from amazon or at this time of year buy a Christmas present I am paying VAT - which is due to rise in January. I chip in toward the heavy Council Tax we pay here in the South East. I buy stamps for the Christmas cards I send. I no longer pay road tax as I had to stop driving and sell my car [which gave me more savings to spend and thus give the government more VAT!] but until earlier this year I paid that to the revenue. When I do get my pension sorted out if it was a large as it should be [it won't be!] that would be taxable. So I am an [indirect] tax payer."

There are many indirect tax payers in the country like me, not paying income tax but paying tax in the ways outlined above. Many are cared for by university graduates [as are income tax payers of course!] in hospitals, social work areas etc. Older people may have grandchildren taught by graduates in schools. I wonder how many of them are worried that in future there will be less graduates to do the jobs properly. Other Half is an engineer and wonders as there are so few younger people with engineering degrees/qualifications now that if uni courses are cut what will happen to our remaining industries in the future? Maggie Thatcher set out to rid the country of its manufacturing industries, she succeeded but sadly did not propose alternative work places.

The photograph is taken from the BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-11940832 That's called irony.


  1. Hi Elizannie. You are right. David Willets is being simplistic about how our taxes are used to fund students.Just apolitical ploy to get their own way i am sure. Evrything is interrelated eg your reference to grandmothers' grandchildren being taught by graduates etc etc.

    But I do listen to radio 4. I wake up to it on our radio alarm. The presenters do challenge and question the likes of David Willetts.They ask the questions and make the points, very succinctly, that we would all like to make.

    Hope you get the pension you richly deserve.

    All the best,
    Tony ( retired teacher on a pension but doing freelance tour guiding for a Canadian firm and some supply teaching which I thoroughly enjoy, which surprised me when I first started doing it.When I was at university I was paid for by a government grant. Oh heady days!!!)

  2. Thanks Tony for the comments and best wishes. I was actually being a bit tongue-in-cheek when I said I don't listen to radio 4 these days, I am listening to 'You and Yours' as I type! But more and more often I have to turn to music when I find I am shouting at the radio.

    I am glad that you are enjoying retirement. I am getting used to it after the shock of enforced medical retirement and enjoy the extra time I now have for added writing and activism.

    I took my degree whilst working and bringing up a family and paid for it myself. So I am passionate about supporting the students protesting against tuition fees. All my children gained degrees and we managed that they could leave uni without debts and we would like our grandchildren to have the same opportunity if they wish to go to university. Other Half's pension is also compromised so we will not be able to help them financially as we had once hoped so a bit of activism and support on behalf of the students is the very least we can do!