Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Fork Out!

Remember Morton's Fork? Henry VII needs a bit of cash so he sends his henchman Archbishop Morton out to extract more taxes from the reluctant populace. The cunning Morton adopts a breathtakingly simple double strategy;
"You're not spending much - you must have plenty to spare for the King" or alternatively "You're spending a lot - you can easily afford something for the King"*.

The same thinking is evident in today's Sunday Times article claiming that 'Students are facing rises of up to £1,000 a year in tuition fees under plans being drawn up by an official review that could eventually allow universities to charge the full cost of a degree'.

If the current fees cap is removed, 'Leading research universities could charge students an estimated £7,000 a year while fees for science undergraduates could rise to £14,000'.

Mandelson's appointee, Lord Browne, heads a panel which has put forward the theory that 'it is unfair taxpayers should subsidise families on middle and higher incomes who have often paid school fees'. No mention, of course, of the sacrifices many of those parents have made to do so, or that those paying school fees save the state around 4k per child per year.

You can see where this is heading; Mandy and Browne's Fork goes like this: 'if you went to a state school, you have paid nothing so far for your education so it's reasonable to ask you to meet the full costs' or 'if you went to a fee-paying school, you obviously have enough money to meet your tuition fees in full'.

Henry VII would be very impressed!

*Or, if you prefer the '1066 and All That' version, he sticks an enormous fork in the unfortunate subject until he pays up, to cries of "Fork out!"


  1. School vouchers - everyone gets them and decides what to do with them.

    Then Mandy & Lord Browne can stick that fork where the sun doesn't shine...

  2. I agree, JuliaM, it's the only fair system and should have been introduced back when the nursery vouchers came in.