Yesterday Michael Gove announced the governments belated answer to the criticisms over EMA.
Since it was clear that David Cameron had lied to the country and specifically to young people by stating he believed in EMA prior to the 2010 general election and then abandoning it as soon as the coalition agreement had been signed, there have been mass protests by students.
The government has constantly quoted one piece of the research that supports their position that most students would go to college anyway even if EMA was withdrawn, and ignored a body of evidence contradicting this.
Yesterday they announced a new scheme that cuts the funding by 70% while trying to target money towards the most disadvantaged students.
This is an acknowledgement that the abandoning of the EMA was simply wrong, but also that the previous EMA was not targeted as affectively as it could have been.
The Liberal Democrats and specifically Simon Hughes, has been doing the rounds of the media looking for plaudits for his dogged determination to get money for students.
This may well actually be one of the few victories for the LibDems softening the “nasty” party’s stance. But I doubt this will dent the cynicism that has taken hold in the country over the Lib Dem support for the Tory administration.
Some are calling this a humiliating U-turn. I would call this something else. Although I am naturally cynical over the coalition’s stance in our society with the attitude it has in it’s ideological bent when attacking public services and communities. But just like the Forest debacle, we should give credit where credit is due.
The Forest bill was a classic example of incompetence within the heart of government. Yet David Cameron had the sense, be it at the eleventh hour, to abandon a ridiculous course. This is a sign of sanity within no 10 that sadly should have been shown a lot earlier in the thought process.
Now we have a limited replacement of the EMA. I am not convinced that this will be enough, and a 70% cut in funding to £180 million does not bode well. Yet if it is targeted correctly might genuinely help poorer students. Only time will tell.
David Cameron may be seen as an astute politician in some circles and this may be evidence of this. In my eyes you cannot get away from the dishonesty of this government when coming to judgement over it’s actions, however I genuinely welcome this re-thinking of support for students, even if it is a vastly reduced helping hand.