The-Latest - EXCLUSIVE
London Mayor Boris Johnson has been attacked for refusing to say whether or not he supports the government's planned controversial rise in university tuition fees being decided in the British parliament today.
Contacted by The-Latest, the Mayor's office issued a statement from a spokesperson, who declined to be named, that said: "The Mayor values education immensely and believes that anyone intellectually capable of obtaining a degree should get the chance to do so but he has no remit or power in the field of higher education and no control whatsoever over the level of fees."
Johnson's Labour challenger for Mayor Ken Livingstone said:"Boris Johnson is clearly unwilling to stand up for students in London against his government's plans to bring in huge hikes in tuition fees."
"London has the largest student population in the country and higher education is an integral part of the capital's cultural sector and economy. Boris Johnson's refusal to take a stand over tuition fees shows the Mayor is completely out of touch with the views and concerns of Londoners."
"When hundreds of thousands of students were looking for someone to stand up for them, Boris Johnson has gone into hiding."
A spokesman for the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts commented: "Education is a public service that should benefit all of society. If Boris Johnson doesn't believe that, and is not prepared to publicly say so and oppose the hike in fees, then he is unfit to be Mayor."
Dan Ashley, spokesman for the University and College Union which helped co-ordinate today's mass protest with the National Union of Students, said: "What Londoners want to know is where the Mayor stands on this vital issue. For him to duck out of giving an answer because he is no longer an MP is not good enough."
It took more than 24 hours of badgering of media chiefs at City Hall by this website for us to get a response. When the highly-paid spin doctors tried to avoid giving a comment, we pointed out that Johnson, a Conservative the same as Prime Minister David Cameron who is pushing the unpopular changes, was only too happy to speak out on the issue to the media after the disturbances at the student demonstration on November 10 2010. And that was to "condemn the violence" by students who attacked his party's headquarters. But, at the time, he did not say whether or not he was in favour or against the fees increase being proposed.
The-Latest said to City Hall's Head of Media Samantha Hart: "As you may know, one of the most important changes over the last 10 years is the rise in the number of young people from London going to university. University used to be just for people from better off families. But that has been slowly changing."
We added: "As the directly-elected Mayor of London, Boris Johnson has the biggest electoral mandate of any politician in the country. Students and their parents are among his millions of voters. Mayor Johnson has been described as the second most powerful politician in the ruling Conservative Party after Prime Minister David Cameron. Therefore, Londoners have a right to know his stance on this burning issue of the day that affects many people in the capital."