Last week I referred to the extraordinary incompetence of our government but I never thought I’d read about taxing university graduates – this changes everything.
The idea is a brilliant one. Britain’s educational system has been in a steep decline for ages – no universities are able to compete with the level of funding enjoyed by their US counterparts. The concept of an equal university education for all was a tremendous first step in responding to this crisis. At a stroke we started to dumb down and so avoid the relevance of being compared to the best at all. But we had not gone far enough, some of our oldest universities, blinkered to reality, were still desperately trying to become first class. A few school children showing talent, well taught in the main from the private sector, were getting through the net. There remained a danger that perhaps a combined Imperial and London, Manchester and UMIST, even Oxford or a Cambridge on their own, could aim for excellence. But here we should feel real pride, our Chancellor was alive to that. Forget wasteful investment, forget the profligacy of increased grants. By taxing those ill advised enough to go to university he has clarified the playing field. Britain has resolutely and bravely turned its face away from encouraging excellence. I hope fervently it will use the long term income it generates to continue to provide therapy, cups of tea and legal aid for vandals, teenage thugs and muggers. Of course this is only the start. Surely the good Brown will introduce an academic means test – surely we can expect to have a surtax for those who get a first, and a super tax for PhD’s and so on.
And whilst we are at it Harry, one more feather in Brown’s cap. How could we all have missed the opportunity to tax our churches and cathedrals? If we are not careful we will have a remnant of the Church of England surviving into 2010, heaven help us – we could even see Christianity continuing. Far better to encourage anything but an outdated set of values that we have lived by and used for a thousand years. And really, are cathedrals necessary at all?