Tony Walley – On My Stoke-on-Trent Soapbox

I haven’t had a good old rant for a while and while life in Stoke-on-Trent isn’t that bad, some of the issues attracting national press coverage is getting me slightly hot under the collar.

Asylum Seekers ““ A Home From Home?

Birmingham City Council, the country’s largest Local Authority, has decided that it will not house anymore Asylum Seekers in the future.

Birmingham City Council will not renew its five-year contract with the UK Border Agency, meaning not a single immigrant will be granted asylum there by the public sector after June next year.

The Councillor in charge of housing, Cllr John Lines, said that the move was not to save money, neither was it racist or political. He said it was designed to protect Brummies.

“Hundreds of Brummies, hundreds of my people are in B&Bs instead of council-provided homes. Why should that be? My people have got to come first.

“The asylum seekers arrive here, they have a blooming family and they keep having children – it’s a burden on the system.

“If people say I’m racist then I’d say we’ve got Brummies of all colours here, third or fourth generation Asians and blacks, but if you say I’m putting Birmingham people first, then, yes, I am.”

Cllr Lines is a Conservative Councillor and is the Cabinet Member for Housing and it seems that his concerns are spreading.

Wolverhampton are also considering ending their agreement with the UK Border Agency.

In the past year, some 1000 Asylum Seekers have been settled in Birmingham but the Agency has only paid for the housing of 200 of them.

Britain’s second city has an estimated 6500 homeless, some living rough on the streets.

To me it is refreshing for a mainstream politician to come out and make his city’s sons and daughters his No 1 priority. It matters not about creed or colour, it’s about looking after your own in times of need.

In Stoke-on-Trent , at the end of December 2009, there were 515 Asylum Seekers [not including their dependents] housed in the City. Most were living in accommodation not supplied by our City Council.

In a progressive society, we should give asylum to the most needy cases. All civil societies across the world should help shoulder the burden.

Asylum and Immigration are inevitable but must be kept to levels where the native population do not feel second best.

The Politics of the far right have prospered on the lies and myths their supporters have perpetrated that have gone unchallenged by our mainstream political parties.

At the last general election, immigration was forced to the top of the agenda. Politicians actually started to recognise [not that they didn’t know, they just chose to ignore it] that the issue was a real concern to Joe & Josie Public. It doesn’t make our society racist, it just means that our population have genuine concerns for theirs, and their children’s future.

If there is an ongoing debate on asylum and immigration, with our mainstream politicians taking the lead [Ed Miliband didn’t shy away from the issue during the Labour Leadership Contest], the move to the far right will become a distant memory of the past.

The politics of hate, division and intolerance can be put to bed once and for all!

Tuition Fees

My son voted for Nick Clegg’s “Ëœlets rid the country of tuition fees’ Lib Dems at the last election ““ Oh how we laughed!

The LibDem u-turn on this policy has to be one of the most shameful political episodes in our history.
How many voters [particularly the young ones voting for the very first time] were duped by this promise?

An independent review of student finance, which is due to come out tomorrow, is expected to recommend removing the cap on university fees altogether, which could see some “Ëœhigh performing’ universities charge up to £10,000 per year.

The report will recommend a fee of around £7000 from as early as 2012. Graduates that go on to earn high salaries will repay their student loans at a higher rate of interest.

The government says it can no longer afford the system: for every £100 a student borrows to defer the payment of tuition fees until after graduation, the government pays about £35. This, it says, is unsustainable.

Added to this, there has been a 16% year-on-year rise in applications for university.

If there is no revolt among the Liberal Democrats over this issue it will prove just what levels Clegg and his ilk will sink to, to get a modicum of power and to hold on to it at any cost.

My other concern is one of unfairness.

It is unfair that Scotland were allowed to abolish tuition fees back in 2000. This has created a division across the UK that can not be justified.

How can it be right for families in Scotland to benefit massively at the expense of every other young person across the United Kingdom.

Cameron should lead on his “Ëœwe’re all in this together’ mandate and force the Scottish Parliament to re-introduce tuition fees as a matter of urgency.

The other real danger in all this is that there will be a real possibility of creating a “Ëœclass’ mentality among the students of our nation.

The richest and most affable young men and women rather than the most able and talented will be able to fund the £10k for the Oxbridge courses.

Education has all been about inclusiveness for the past god knows how many years and that “Ëœevery child matters’ ““ That is of course until they are old enough to be forced to enter into a university culture that is built upon the ability to pay.

Isn’t it bad enough that we saddle our young graduates with massive debt before they have earned a penny? Now they will have to pay double for that privilege along with being ostracised from courses where the next band of politicians may come from.