No, Jeremy Corbyn never said he would wipeout student debt.

Last week Theresa May lied during Prime Minister’s Questions when she accused Jeremy Corbyn of betraying students. Then the Lib Dems jumped on the bandwagon. Now the Green Party and SNP are spreading this Tory lie. 

So much for that ‘progressive alliance’, eh guys? Shame on the lot of you. 

On 1 June, the NME published an interview with Jeremy Corbyn. During the interview, Corbyn said this: 

First of all, we want to get rid of student fees altogether. We’ll do it as soon as we get in, and we’ll then introduce legislation to ensure that any student going from the 2017-18 academic year will not pay fees. They will pay them, but we’ll rebate them when we’ve got the legislation through – that’s fundamentally the principle behind it. Yes, there is a block of those that currently have a massive debt, and I’m looking at ways that we could reduce that, ameliorate that, lengthen the period of paying it off, or some other means of reducing that debt burden.

I don’t have the simple answer for it at this stage – I don’t think anybody would expect me to, because this election was called unexpectedly; we had two weeks to prepare all of this – but I’m very well aware of that problem. And I don’t see why those that had the historical misfortune to be at university during the £9,000 period should be burdened excessively compared to those that went before or those that come after. I will deal with it.”

The Daily Mirror has also come to Corbyn’s defence on this Tory myth and made it clear what he actually said during the NME interview. At no point did Corbyn say he would end student debt, he said he would ‘look at’ the debt. It is blatantly obvious what Corbyn said and what he meant, but the other political parties and the Tory gutter press either have difficulty understanding English, or they are deliberately twisting Corbyn’s words. Or both.

Students are less likely to believe the lies coming from the other parties, and they are also unlikely to read the crap that is being published by The Sun, the Daily Mail and UKIP’s Daily Express. Most students tend to get their information from social media, and they are much smarter than the other parties realise. 

On the subject of tuition fees, the other parties constantly accuse Labour of introducing them. This is a lie. In fact, tuition fees were a cross-party agreement, and MPs from other political parties also voted for them, not just Labour MPs.

In 1996, John Major, who was still Conservative Prime Minister at the time, commissioned Lord Dearing to make recommendations on higher education funding. 

Lord Dearing’s report was published in 1997, and by then Tony Blair was Prime Minister. The Dearing Report recommended that students should pay approximately 25% of the cost of tuition but that government grants should remain in place.

Based on Lord Dearing’s recommendation, David Blunkett, the Labour Education Secretary, announced the introduction of £1,000 tuition fees to be paid by every student in each year of study, beginning in September 1998. The student grant of £1,710 was abolished and replaced by means-tested student loans. 

Parliament voted in favour of the Teaching and Higher Education Act and it passed into law – setting an annual tuition fee for England of £1,000. Means-testing meant a third of students did not pay anything.

So, the next time someone accuses Jeremy Corbyn of betraying students and blames Labour for tuition fees, show them this article. 

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