Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Party Lines

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Party Lines

Article excerpt

Byline: By Zoe Hughes

When Labour MPs voted to impose top-up fees for students in Northern Ireland, it appeared there had been a major blunder among opponents of the scheme.

It was acknowledged that the Commons vote had come rather unexpectedly at the end of parliamentary business and rather late in the day.

It was, many observers including Party Lines, assumed, Labour whips doing their job exceptionally well and not letting their faithful ( and rebels ( know what they were voting on.

However we stand corrected ( for one North MP voting to impose top-up fees on students in Northern Ireland was a way of putting the issue back on the political agenda.

Newcastle Central MP Jim Cousins said he reached his decision to back the legislative order after careful consideration.

Because England were due to get the new fees system from next year and knowing that a resurrected political process at Stormont would promptly scrap the idea once they get back into power, Mr Cousins said it was an ideal way of getting the entire issue back in the news.

"Far and away (the best way of) getting this back on the political agenda as an English issue was to have tuition fees in Northern Ireland, which then get scrapped by the devolved government."

As we reported last week though, another North-East MP simply had no idea what he was voting on.

THERE'S only one thing on the mind of Hartlepool MP Iain Wright this week ( and it's not the general election.

Although the newly-elected MP is excited by the prospect of his second election in just seven months, the father-of-three is contemplating an even more frightening challenge. The Great North Run.

After promising Hartlepool Hospice he would take part in the September race, Mr Wright is now facing up to the reality that he has to start exercising.

"I used to do cross-country when I was kid," he says before quickly adding: "But that was before beer. …

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