Editor's comment

15th June 2007 at 01:00
The SNP Government may not have put a foot wrong in education or any other sphere, but it has not exactly tackled particularly tricky issues either. The party is in a parliamentary minority, of course, and it has to tread warily, but that also allows it to have the best of both political worlds - a triumph if they win and the fault of others if they lose. Fiona Hyslop, the Education Secretary, is taking a cheerful view of all this, telling her audiences that "a no score draw is a victory for the Government".

This week's announcement on abolishing the graduate endowment fee and next week's on class sizes do not exactly fall into the category of tricky issues. They are relatively easy to implement, do not cost too much and are difficult for other parties to make political capital out of. The decision to remove the graduate endowment is a particularly good political ploy, although no great surprise: it is of direct benefit to students even if it does not form the lion's share of their debts, and it sends out a symbolic message about which side of the student finance debate the SNP is on, even if the party cannot muster the votes necessary to fulfil its election ambitions and go for the bigger prize of ending student loans and debt.

Fiona Hyslop will not just have to face down opponents in other parties to get her parliamentary way. She will also have to convince John Swinney, her cabinet colleague who holds the purse strings, that she is being fiscally sound: after all, the two announcements we mentioned at the beginning have cost pound;50 million on their own - and are rising. And if early intervention is to be Ms Hyslop's educational mantra, it will not come cheap.

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