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Why I'm Knocking On Doors To #Unseat Justine Greening

18/08/2017 16:04

Having recently graduated I won't be affected by further rises in tuition fees under the Tories or the scrapping of student maintenance grants, but those who are unlucky enough to study after me will have to pay more while receiving less financial support.

Justine Greening's decision as Education Secretary to maintain the government's high-fees trajectory has ensured that students from low-income backgrounds will continue to face more obstacles in a climate already characterised by catastrophically low social mobility and stagnant wages. That Greening is now in danger of losing her seat in Putney should come as no surprise given that she has done nothing to prevent campuses from becoming playgrounds for the privileged.

Now students from the lowest income backgrounds are expected to borrow more in order to pay rent and bills. So despite paying lip service to social mobility, it is obvious that Greening has no issue with throwing away one of the few lifelines for the least wealthy students and is happy to punish young people for wanting an education. Combined with continued real-terms cuts to schools and Greening's personal backing for creating new grammar schools, despite the damage selective schooling does to social mobility, it is clear that her record is to create more obstacles for those from ordinary backgrounds.

Momentum's #Unseat campaign is the next crucial step in the fightback against Theresa May's disastrous government and its dire record on education. The campaign is a clear reminder that few Tory seats can be viewed as 'safe' anymore.

Few suspected that Boris Johnson's Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat would be a marginal after the election, that Greening's majority would be slashed by over 80% or that former leadership candidate Stephen Crabb would be a few hundred votes away from losing his seat. These potential 'Portillo' moments, in which Labour can unseat leading Tories - including some of the most regressive MPs in parliament, are a golden opportunity for the Labour Party.

These are the architects of Tory policies which have done huge damage, entrenching poverty and inequality, ushered in an era of mass student debt, undermined social mobility further and transformed the welfare state into a system of remorseless sanctions.

The first event of the campaign will be Greening's seat of Putney, a seat not in Labour's sights during the election but which ended up with Labour close to a victory. The choice of Putney is fitting, contrasting Momentum's youthful energy against the Tories' betrayal of young people from tuition fees to school cuts and the attempted resurrection of grammar schools. Nick Clegg has already paid the political price for his role in the trebling of university tuition fees when Momentum's vigorous campaigning for Jared O'Mara in Sheffield Hallam helped cost the former Deputy PM his seat.

When the next election comes Greening's pivotal role in the Conservative's attacks on higher education and comprehensive schooling will no doubt play a large part in the hemorrhaging of Tory votes in Putney. Just two months ago, thousands of campaigners from all walks of life stopped the projected Tory landslide and rid the Tories of their majority in parliament - now we are determined to unseat some of the Tory Party's biggest names.

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