Yes to the union is a no to fees;Jotter

9th July 1999 at 01:00
THERE WERE a few sermons on the Mound last Friday when the parliamentarians, who had sung Psalm 100 with such gusto at the official opening the previous day, got down to the serious business of high moral indignation.

The issue, inevitably, was tuition fees. To be more precise, MSPs were being asked to approve the remit and membership of the committee of inquiry - which, of course, they did.

But they were not all happy in their work. Dennis Canavan, for one, seems in a permanent state of outrage. He was pressing for another student to be added to the inquiry team, specifically Kenny Hannah, president of the students' association at Glasgow Caledonian University, and fellow opponent of fees.

Canavan does not need much prompting to refer to his Famous Victory in Falkirk West over official Labour, even if the connection to the text is, er, tangential.

And so he moved swiftly from Hannah of Glasgow Caley to complain about the students bussed into his constituency "to support the only candidate in the election who was in favour of tuition fees". It must have been a first for Scottish education, he said.

Brian Monteith, Tory education spokesman and himself a toiler in the vineyard of student politics in a previous existence, was also keen to see another student on board. The fact that he wanted this person to come from outwith the ranks of the National Union of Students had nothing to do with his equation of NUS = Labour.

Indeed he was urged to declare an interest by Pauline McNeill, Labour MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, who said Monteith had spent his student days actively discouraging students from joining the NUS.

It was undoubtedly a slip on her part that she forgot to declare an interest of her own - as a former NUS Scotland president.

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