UK Politics

Labour conference: Call to axe half of universities

Closing half of Britain's universities is among the radical ideas being considered by Labour leader Ed Miliband, his policy adviser says.

Lord Glasman - self-styled creator of the "Blue Labour" philosophy - made the claim at a fringe meeting at the Labour conference in Liverpool.

He believes the UK no longer "honours" skilled work, and wants to cut the number of academic institutions.

They could be replaced by vocational colleges, suggested the Labour peer.

He initially insisted the idea had been rejected by Mr Miliband but later suggested it was "part of an ongoing conversation", though not one he expected an announcement on soon.

Labour is in the middle of a two-year policy review, which famously began with a "blank sheet of paper".

"You put the dentists and the doctors and the accountants in the vocational colleges and I think that would deal with the class issue," said Lord Glasman.

The peer, who is a university lecturer and describes Blue Labour as a mix of patriotism and populism, is said to be a regular visitor to Mr Miliband's office.

He described the Labour leader, whose Marxist father was a university lecturer, as "socialist and an intellectual" with an "angry insurgent side".

At a Labour conference fringe event, he said Mr Miliband has a "very strong idea of how the market humiliates people" and called for more "constraints" on the domination of the rich.

Among the other ideas championed by Lord Glasman was greater trade union representation on company boards - but he also criticised how much time unions currently spend representing bad workers.