It seems that the heart of our deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has been bleeding for black people recently. He has gone to Brixton, in darkest South London, and made a speech deploring the way that ethnic minorities are still, according to him, downtrodden and hard done by. Why is it, he asked, that young black men are more likely to go to prison than to go to university?
Has it occurred to Nick Smegg that the reason for this may be that prison is less expensive?
Prison doesn’t cost £9,000 per year in fees, and another £6,000 in maintenance bills. Prison, Mr Clegg, is free. Even the working class or the benefit classes can afford prison. University is expensive, and curiously enough, within hours of being elected, Mr Smegg went back on the pledge to freeze university fees which was the main pledge in his election manifesto. He toured this country in April 2010 addressing thousands of students and school-leavers promising that he would oppose any rise in their fees. Once in power he tore his manifesto up and threw it in their faces.
Yes, Mr Smegg, prison is affordable. Prisoners don’t have to pay rent, or mortgage. They have no council tax and no fuel bills to pay. They are not responsible for buying or cooking their own food. They get free medical treatment, free dental treatment and free use of a gym, and very soon they will get votes and benefit payments while they are in there too, thanks to your own beloved EU.
University is now exorbitantly expensive. After a three-year course, a graduate leaves with debts between £30,000 and £50,000. And things are set to get worse. The government has signed up to a plan originating with the Council of Europe to extend all degree courses in Britain to five years. Yes, you didn’t mention that in your triumphalist speeches to all those student unions, did you? At the end of a five-year degree course, how much money will a student owe - £60,000? Or nearer £75,000 if they have gone to a good university. It is a financial millstone that many people would be terrified to tie around their necks. Maybe the young black men who are so reluctant to go to university are smarter than the Deputy Prime Minister (whom Brussels would so dearly love to put at the helm of this country).
I wonder how many people in Brixton will be taken in by Smegg’s latest vote-catching ploy. He is playing the race card, vicariously, whinging that black people find it harder to get bank loans and that there are no black managers of Premier League football clubs. After he made the speech, Channel 4 news did a foray into Brixton to ask black and Asian people there if they thought this was true. Most of those they asked disagreed with Mr Clegg! They were not aware of any bias or injustice in those respects, nor were they keen to adopt an underdog mentality, and their votes are not going to be so easily bought with a few egalitarian statistics and clichés.
It must be that Clegg’s team told him to make this speech as a calculated attempt to rally support after recent opinion polls show that the Coalition’s popularity is drooping. (It can only be explained by supposing that there are some people who don’t like being unemployed, losing their homes, struggling against rampant inflation and tax rises or being left to rot in geriatric care homes staffed by bullies and psychopaths.) If the students are not going to vote for him next time round, Smegg wants the ethnic vote, and he probably also wants the women’s vote and the handicapped vote….Watch out for more bleeding heart speeches making a grab in those directions too!