Some of the pundits will tell you otherwise, but when a prime minister of the UK makes such a serious mistake, nobody in their right mind can say he came out best in the weekly PMQs battle.
The issue at question was student maintenance grants. Jeremy Corbyn quickly established that abolishing them was not in the Conservative manifesto – a point confirmed by Cameron’s insistence on talking about something else (and lying about it, too).
Then he made his big blunder. Corbyn told the PM about a student named Liam who will have to clear £50,000 of debt when he finally qualifies as a maths teacher.
Quick as you like, Cameron rushed to point out that nobody has to pay back student debt until they start receiving more than £21,000 a year in pay.
How sad for him. He had leapt in before Corbyn pointed out that Liam’s initial salary would be £25,000 – well above that threshold.
Not only that, but Corbyn went on to wipe the floor with the PR prime minister, pointing out that Cameron had tripled tuition fees to £9,000 per year in 2010, and defended it by saying that they would increase maintenance grants for students from less well-off backgrounds. They are now scrapping the very same grants they used to boast about increasing.
Cameron’s lame response – that the Tories were “uncapping” university places, so that as many young people in our country who want to go to university can go to university – is a nonsense; without grants, far fewer students from poorer backgrounds will be able to afford higher education.
He knows that perfectly well. It’s what he wants. But he thinks the public will be fooled if he makes a completely different claim.
“Can the PM tell us where in his election manifesto he put his plan to abolish maintenance grants for all students?” he says.
[Cameron ignored the question, claiming the manifesto included promises to cut the deficit – irrelevant to this question – and uncap student numbers, and claiming (falsely, in terms of at least the deficit) to have done both.]
Jeremy Corbyn says: “The Prime Minister has form here because there was no mention of cuts to tax credits either” in the manifesto.
He quotes student Liam who is training to be a maths teacher. Now he will end his course with £50k debts – twice his annual income.
“We’re uncapping aspiration – he wants to put a cap on it”, says Cameron.
He adds Liam won’t have to pay back because there’s a £21,000 threshold.
Corbyn: “Liam is trying to be a maths teacher, which may help the Prime Minister” [as Liam did say that he was earning £25,000, which is more than £21,000]… well over the threshold.
Join the Vox Political Facebook page.
If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!
Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:
Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.
Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:
The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here: