Posted on 11/05/2012
John Denham and Sylvia Heal (front) sat with staff and students.
The Right Hon. John Denham MP found himself on the receiving end of a barrage of questions from students, staff and members of the public during a lecture at Royal Holloway, University of London last night (10 May).
The MP for Southampton and Itchen was invited to the College to discuss higher education and the future for labour in the South of England.
John Denham is presently Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband. In the previous government he was Business Secretary and Higher Education Minister.
During his opening speech, he outlined why, despite the recent success in the mid-term elections, the Labour Party still had a fight on its hands and just how he thought the party should go about winning the trust of the nation.
“One of the biggest problems the Labour Party had is that people think they don’t belong there,” he said. “They don’t see Labour as being for people like them. But if you look at the people in Surrey, most people are the real ‘squeezed middle’. I’m not talking about middle England on £80,000 a year but people on normal wages affected by rising costs of living, by the water rates and the commuter costs.”
He explained that labour councillors needed to get out into their constituencies and talk to people about the problems they face and show them that Labour stands for their values.
Following his talk, he opened the floor to questions, which were chaired by Sylvia Heal, former Deputy Speaker of The House of Commons.
Students took the opportunity to quiz Mr Denham on student tuition fees, asking whether the fees would be scrapped if Labour wins the next general elections.
“We can’t promise something that we can’t be sure we could deliver,” Mr Denham answered. “We don’t know what the economic situation will be then. There are changes we can make that could bring fees down to £6,000 but it would be irresponsible to say we will get rid of fees without knowing what the future holds.”
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