Achievements of the LibDems in coalition 2010-2015

The Lib Dem Manifesto of 2017 gives canvassers plenty to promise on the doorstep, but past achievements can be more convincing. Yet who among canvassers can instantly name three achievements attributable to the Liberal Democrats, against Conservative inclinations, in the Coalition Government of 2010-2015?

Here is a short list, which will no doubt benefit from correction or expansion. A full list can be found in an Appendix to David Law’s book Coalition.

  • The allocation of 0.7% of GDP to International Development, both in practice and as law
  • The raising of the Income Tax personal allowance from £6475 to £10,600
  • Steve Webb delivered the “triple lock” on the State Pension
  • Nick Clegg saw through the pupil premium of (eventually) £1320 per primary school child and £935 for secondary children to reduce the attainment gap in England and Wales
  • A £2.5 billion banking levy
  • Free school meals for infant-school children and in the first three years in primary school in England
  • Vince Cable vetoed a proposed “fire-at-will” employment law
  • Stopping welfare cuts and ensuring benefits kept up with inflation
  • Same sex marriage legislation
  • 15 hours free child care for disadvantaged children
  • Prohibition of the export of chemicals to where it is known they may be used to carry out the death penalty
  • Strong and stable government (true!)
  • 5p charge on plastic bags.

We did not get everything we wanted: House of Lords Reform, or a change to the voting system, for example. But the Lib Dems were the conscience of the Coalition.

You may have a different list. It depends on whom one is talking to, and where.
In Scotland the principal issue is, as usual, Independence, but note that the SNP government only belatedly adopted measures such as the pupil premium and the school meals policy. (OK, it was ahead on plastic bags, but in this we all copied Ireland).

* Robin Bennett first joined the Liberal Party in 1957. He is a member of the North East & Central Fife Liberal Democrats.

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57 Comments

  • An article about the coalition in the closing period of an election campaign. Does this site have a death wish for the LibDems?

  • Nom de Plume 19th May '17 - 6:27pm

    Coalition was controversial (as were some of the decisions). Better to leave it in the past. Today’s battles (and politics) are different.

  • Peter Watson 19th May '17 - 6:37pm

    “achievements attributable to the Liberal Democrats, against Conservative inclinations”
    Were all of these really victories against Conservative inclinations?
    The Tories (and Labour) had a pupil premium in their 2010 manifesto.
    Before Nick Clegg surprised the party with an announcement on free school meals the Lib Dems had opposed the idea (Labour’s). Months before Clegg’s announcement Michael Gove was reported to be supportive of the idea.
    In the debates before the 2010 election Cameron said (on raising the income tax threshold), “I would love to take everyone out of their first £10,000 of income tax, Nick…We cannot afford it”

  • Richard Underhill 19th May '17 - 6:48pm

    Nom de Plume The Tories are claiming credit for the Income Tax cuts, although David Cameron explicitly said in the TV debates that they were not affordable. Nick Clegg toured the TV studios until someone asked whether he was announcing a policy or campaigning for a change in policy. Probably something in between.

  • Richard Underhill 19th May '17 - 6:51pm

    The chancellor was amused to find people demonstrating FOR a bank. The current government has sold it. It should be reinstated.

  • For heaven’s sake…..
    Just ask the electorate what they think of the coalition years. Those on the right think we held the Tories back; those on the left that we, too readily, accepted/backed Tory policies. LibDems are equally divided….
    My mother used to tell me, about a healing wound, “If you pick at it it’ll never get better…

  • Nom de Plume 19th May '17 - 7:26pm

    Richard, the Tories can claim whatever they like. Whether the electorate should believe them or not is another matter. It is election season.

  • Maybe some things are better not discussed in polite society because it might frighten the horses. especially at election time.

    Tuition fees ? Austerity ? Top down NHS ‘reforms’ ? the actual welfare cuts ? Bedroom tax ? An AV referendum ?

    Macavity’s a ginger cat, he’s very tall and thin;
    You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in.
    He always has an alibi, and one or two to spare:
    At whatever time the deed took place – MACAVITY WASN’T THERE!

    With apologies to T.S. Eliot.

  • Interesting piece thanks. There’s nothing to be gained, despite what some would prefer, by pretending the 2010-15 period didn’t happen. A bit off topic but if you fancy a laugh I recommend this satirical piece on Jeremy Corbyn’s first day as Prime Minister http://thebackbencher.co.uk/jeremy-corbyns-election-victory-imagined/

  • Eddie Sammon 19th May '17 - 8:17pm

    For a middle class person the coalition was good, unless you worked in the public sector, but things were hard for the private sector too. In financial services the state set up a free basic financial advice service and made financial advisers pay for it, as an example. On tax avoidance, the General Anti-Avoidance Rule is tough and basically gives the benefit of the doubt to the government, but the tax profession needs clarity, so I am nervous about strengthening it.

    I wouldn’t be too happy with the coalition though, we need to be respectful of those who suffered from it.

  • Philip Rolle 19th May '17 - 9:12pm

    Is this an attempt to rehabilitate Nick Clegg? Surprising choice of article, albeit it remind the public of an effective Lib Dem politician.

  • Coalition, rehabilitated the Tories, lead to a Tory majority, which lead to the Brexit referendum. Majority of good work done by Lib Dems undone. Yep all in all the coalition was a disaster for the Lib Dems and will be seen too have been one for the UK too.

  • Come on, Libdem should admit their faults. Nick Clegg was too half-wit when he only demanded an AV referendum, while Libdem shouldn’t have demanded anything less than PR.

    Libdem would have been far more useful as part of a strong Lib-Lab Opposition. The Tories wouldn’t have gone too far to keep their government (a vote of no confidence). There would be no UKIP vote surge even if the following general election resulted in a Tory majority. The Libdem would only fall to twenty-something in the very worst case.

  • Cllr Mark Wright 19th May ’17 – 11:03pm
    Frankie, “Coalition, rehabilitated the Tories”….

    I’m sure if I use your second sentence my post will be removed…However, Frankie is absolutely right!
    Our tenure with the Tories was akin to allowing them ‘parole’ from being the nasty party…The fact that, on release, they ‘went back to their old ways’ is no surprise…

  • Mark,
    Mrs May is the face of a caring Conservative, making hard choices for the greater good. She will stand up to the nasty EU. Of cause in reality when the policies bite and the negotiations go none to well the nasty party will be seen to be back, blue in tooth and claw. I expect then the cries of “I didn’t think she was like that will echo around the land”, but it will be far too late.

  • @ Frankie and Mark Wright
    Indeed the coalition did rehabilitate the Tories and made people think it would be safe to vote for them.

    @ Thomas
    If my memory is correct it was Gordon Brown who first offered an AV referendum and then Cameron matched it. The mistake was to accept a referendum. We should have held out for it to be implemented without a referendum and if that could only be AV so be it.

    For the Lib Dems not to enter government when given the opportunity would have been very difficult. We should have got a better deal that included all our MPs keeping their promise to vote against any increase in tuition fees. Another failure was our acceptance of Tory deficit plans rather than getting something closure to our own. Only if we could not have got those three things should we have rejected entering government.

  • David Evans 20th May '17 - 8:32am

    For an article that emphasizes “achievements attributable to the Liberal Democrats, against Conservative inclinations” could we have a photo that doesn’t have Nick and David Cameron sitting together, looking like best mates?

  • David Evans 20th May '17 - 8:41am

    Mark, but surely Frankie is right – Coalition did allow the Tories to rehabilitate themselves (in the public’s eyes). We all know they are the same nasty, evil party they have always been, but they are going to get a landslide with nearly 50% of the vote if things don’t improve. And that is a level we haven’t seen since the 1950s.

  • One thing we should learn from labour is too easily agreeing with our critics that a period of our political history was wrong seriously weakens our chances in the future and (usually) fails to represent accurately what happened in those years. There was bad in the coalition but there was also good, and if Tories can talk up good of Thatcher years etc. etc. The one real, big mistake was tuition fees but apart from that very few or none.

    Why aren’t we challenging the Tories on who is the party of strong and stable leadership? It was a minority government, a rainbow coalition or a coalition and the latter is the most stable choice. The lib Dems did that despite knowing (from our European sister parties) that the smaller party in the coalition often gets battered the next election. Strong and stable government is the lib Dems. Do you really think this party would offer an EU referendum without a plan for 50% of the possible outcome and then the elected prime minister to quit because he didn’t get his way?

  • Dave Orbison 20th May '17 - 9:24am

    It never ceases to amaze at as to the contortions some LibDems still go through in clinging to the notion that the Coalition was in some way good.

    It was not. It enabled Tories to bring in a whole series of dreadful policies fronted by LibDems. We have been left with a legacy of these policies and a LibDem party that if fighting for survival. The Tories have taken full advantage of the LibDem demise and to the detriment of this country in years to come.

    The LibDem “new” leadership have compounded the nativity of their predecessors by willingly piling in with the Tories and media to vilify Corbyn, to further weaken the only possible opposition to another Tory Government. The ONLY beneficiaries of this strategy are the Tories.

    The more the LibDems do this, the more they reinforce the views of many on the left, centre-left that LibDems just don’t care – that so far as they are concerned Labour policies are as bad as the Tories. Really? Really, can anyone here say they genuinely would rather the Tories over Labour? Can anyone honestly say that Labour and the LibDems have nothing in common? Let’s just admit the Coalition was a disaster and the only focus of our efforts should be the re-election of a Tory Governmemt.

  • Dave Orbison 20th May '17 - 9:29am

    Oops …. Obviously I meant to say “our efforts should be to STOP the re-election of a Tory Government” Please forgive me! 🙂

  • Peter Watson 20th May '17 - 9:42am

    @David Evans “could we have a photo that doesn’t have Nick and David Cameron sitting together, looking like best mates?”
    Like one from that Rose Garden presentation, oh. What about one of Nick sitting next to Dave in parliament, oh. What about photoshopping something? 🙁

  • Let’s be honest Peter. The photo doesn’t need to be of Nick at all. Just any Lib Dem minister, alone, late at night, in his/her office desperately trying to get a bit of Liberal Democracy into effect against a massive bureaucracy and a intransigent coalition partner.

    Suggestions anyone?

  • The Coalition is not going away. Today BBC on-line referred to the broken pledge on tuition fees and lack of trust, in an article about young people voting Lib Dem. As if broken pledges and politicians is some rare event, and tuition fees occurred because of the Lib Dems. If the Lib Dems thought it was right to enter into a Coalition they should own it and defend it, and point to its achievements. Same with tuition fees.

  • It’s just a pity these achievements weren’t trumpeted at the time. I agree – probably too late now.

  • Spidermite,
    Or admit they made a mistake. A lot of people will be faced with that conundrum going forward, double down insisting they were right against all the evidence or own up to making a mistake. Human nature suggests the first option is the most likely one in the near term, in the long term option two or it wasn’t me tend to come to the fore.

  • Frankie,
    What “all the evidence” ? if you refer to their 2015 election result, or to policy mistakes, or being tarred with the Tory brush, which then destroyed their USP of being the ‘change’ then yes. And yes they can and should admit admit those mistakes. But those mistakes and achievements happened, and there is no point trying to hide the fact. Lib Dem canvassers are facing these questions every time I guess, they need answers both to defend the Coalition and to admit where its went wrong.

    Hmmm maybe they should ‘hide the fact; , the Tories seem perfectly capable of rewriting the past, breaking manifesto commitments, reversing years of policy commitment. Seems to work for them.

  • Cllr Mark Wright – the problem is that increasing from 1000 to 3000 is vastly different from raising fees from 3000 to 9000 per year. The 9000 figure alone angered a whooping number of students. Also, Libdem changed their position 180 DEGREE (well, tripling tuition fees after promising to ABOLISH them is still a far worse U-turn, and it shocked students far more everything Labour had done). I mean, Labour only promise to not to raise fees, but did not promised to abolish them, so their U-turn was less worse.

    Besides, the unpopular Bedroom Tax. Additionally, during the whole period, David Laws and Danny Alexander posed themselves as champions of austerity no less than Osborne.

  • Mark,
    Change is occurring and it frightens people. A large number of voters are rushing too nurse, because she will look after them. Others are rushing to the world of milk and honey of Corbyn. Both options are potentially ruinous, Corbyn will run out of money and May will turn out to be nurse Ratchett rather than Mary Poppins. We live in a world of easy answers, until the electorate experience the reality of the world of easy answers, then people who see the world in shades of complex grey may struggle.

  • Peter Watson 20th May '17 - 12:40pm

    @Cllr Mark Wright “As for Tuition Fees… ”
    It has relatively little to do with how voters think university education should best be funded.
    The party’s predicament is the result of highly publicised personal promises to do one thing in a campaign that went big on a slogan of “no more broken promises”, and then doing the opposite. Looking incompetent and dishonest is a huge obstacle for a national political party to overcome.

  • Gwyn Williams 20th May '17 - 12:52pm

    The pupil premium applies to England alone. In Wales it was Kirsty Williams and the Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly group who negotiated the Pupil Development Grant. It is Kirsty who as Secretary of State for Education is continuing to improve it.

  • What common sense published this now? I remember the coalition going from what was it 57 seats to 8, 6 million votes to 2million. Can we please move on, the past is past and best forgotten. We are seen as the past.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 20th May '17 - 1:02pm

    Three cheers Mark Wright !!!

  • To clarify my earlier point, there were a number of errors and defeats for the lib Dems in the coalition (see timing of voting reform referendum for one) but the one real, big mistake was tuition fees.

    Despite this I maintain that the good in the coalition (there was some) must be talked about and moving on from the whole thing allows Tories to claim good for themselves and it becomes an even harder battle for anyone else.

  • Dave Orbison 20th May '17 - 1:56pm

    Mark Wright and frankie re Corbyn’s ‘land of milk and honey’

    Mark: Yes, shock horror, people drift from one party to another – that is the nature of politics. The Iraq War dreadful, unacceptable yes quite right, but its just not as fresh or as relevant in the minds as the LibDems breaking their promises during the Coalition.

    Is it fair? No. But then again Corbyn, no supporter of that war, is now Leader and Labour has set out on a new direction. His apology for the war, clearly sincere as he was throughout against it, has won some people back. But no matter how aggrieved you feel about how the Coalition was viewed (though I don’t agree with you) it is academic surely, unless you want to tell people on the doorstep that they are just wrong.

    As for frankie’s comment re Corbyn ‘milk and honey’, here we go again. Attack Labour and you know you are helping the Tories by playing their game. Labour’s and the LibDem’s manifesto’s offer so much more hope than the Tories. Though I intend to vote Labour, I have no reflex desire to knock the LibDems over their manifesto content.

    But I just do not accept that all other parties are as bad as each other. I fear for what will become of the NHS and public services if the Tories get in. if LibDems that would be the worst outcome then surely they spend their energies focusing on the Tories as attacking Labour can only improve the chances of Tories being re-elected. Attacking Labour and Tories in equal measure now, as it was in 2015, is a poor ‘cop-out’ strategy that is not in the best interests of the country, and ironically as we saw in 2015 not necessarily in the best interests of the LibDems.

    PS frankie …. glass houses… The LibDem ‘costed’ manifesto shows about £30bn spend only half of which is funded – so borrowing then? I’m OK with that but why can’t other parties do it?

  • Diane Reddell 20th May '17 - 3:44pm

    To be fair the coalition wasn’t a true power share and there were a lot of rookie errors made. Even other parties have had them when in power. I feel the whole student fees thing could have been handled better with more communication of the financial situation, what they are going to do in the interim but ask students what they wanted for the contingency measure and how to implement free tuition fees in the future once the finances had stabilised. I think the party will learn from these mistakes and if a coalition presented itself again the party would go for an equal power share and select the departments which are the parties strengths but also if the situation is not currently ready for their policies that they have a compromised stakeholder contingency plan.

  • Antony Watts 20th May '17 - 3:52pm

    You all think you are being broad minded and discussive. You are not, you are being destructive and short sighted.

    The LIbDems have a solid platform, good people, even Nick, and a will to change things for the better.

  • Andrew McCaig 20th May '17 - 3:53pm

    Peter Watson is quite right here and I am afraid Cllr Wright is the ostrich by continuing to think the tuition fee pledge was just like any manifesto commitment.

    Simply apologising for breaking the pledge made to voters by those that did so (NOT for making the pledge) might allow some closure of the issue.

    And of course the Labour Party IS still being punished for the Iraq war, just not so much by younger voters who cannot remember it.. That is one reason they struggle to get above 30% these days.. The big trouble with tuition fees is that the debt lasts for many years and if I was paying 9% of my income for something I would continue to be resentful. The combination of the pledge AND the policy were just a huge shot in the foot and we should have let the Tories take all the blame for it..

  • Lorenzo Cherin 20th May '17 - 4:01pm

    Dave Orbison , touching belief in a party led by , not a Marxist, though Mc the knife is,I could accept a decent Euro Communist in the tradition of Enrico Berlinguer in Italy , who my father told me about as a youth, no, they’re led by an apologist and friend of shady doings of the authoritarian hard left, terrorist organisations attacking this country when I was a boy in the seventies and eighties, sorry , play the ball,all you like, the men in power in Labour are no good on a form of trust that makes tuition fees seem like the best policy in history !

  • David,
    I don’t have any fundamental issues with Labour’s aspirations, just I can’t see how it can be paid for with the disruption Brexit will bring. As they don’t intend to even consider stopping that I believe their pledges will be too costly to implement. However as I expect Brexit to go badly under the Tories, their call to shock the 1% may well play very well in the next five years.

  • Peter Watson 20th May '17 - 4:11pm

    @Antony Watts “The LIbDems have a solid platform, good people, even Nick, and a will to change things for the better.”
    Yet for months and months the party has done nothing but bang on about preventing Brexit so people have not noticed the good people, the solid platform, or a will to change anything about the status quo.

  • Dave Orbison 20th May '17 - 4:50pm

    Lorenzo – you make my point perfectly. Spend you time attacking Labour with a casual reference to Marx or communism here or there, use the labels hard left, shady, authoritarian etc etc etc. Ignore the similarity in Labour and LibDems manifestos commitments to education, health, environment, housing, public services, investment, (quite a long list actually) because what’s important is the fantasy world of demonising labels…. why does it can it only be good if the LibDems propose some of these things but dreadful and authoritarian if Labour offer broadly the same thing?

    If we can’t get past this then you really are looking at nothing more than perpetual Tory rule.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 20th May '17 - 7:08pm

    Dave Orbison and colleagues

    I respect you as a colleague here, however, please understand me or do not bother with the discussion , as what is the point .

    I was in Labour, I would now be doing , what I have been often, that’s advocating ,when most were not, for a realignment of the centre left, and shall after the election play a significant part in it, as I believe in it. The centre – left ! Not the Momentum sweeping that party now, however much you might think there is nothing wrong with parts of the manifesto !

    Corbyn and his cohorts are not the party of Kinnock , Smith and Blair I was in!!!

    I went off Blair post Iraq, not to go back in a hurry , to embrace people who cannot sing long life to our Queen, but can sing the songs of revolution in Cuba, starvation in Venezuela, and the IRA in Ireland !

    Read Labourlist, much of Labour agree with me ! See the efforts of our own terrific George Kendall in the Liberal Democrat, Social Democratic Group !

    I put forward ideas , and motions in Labour and the Fabian Society , years ago, advocating alliances and more ,cross party philosophy at the fore, when those now calling for a “progressive ” alliance were loyal only to their tribe ! I and colleagues made the national press trying !

    If people recognised there are many of us in politics who are not the most famous ,or loud ,or well connected, who have principles and count too !

    And can count too! The Labour manifesto would have us in debt like I do not know what, again read what many Labour members not even on the Blairite wing think of Marxdonell’s sums ! !

    I am really not going to accept anymore nonsense from left liberals or socialists about being right wing ,or content with the Conservatives, having been involved ,as activist, voter, or writer , in the cause of, mainstream, progressive , yes, genuinely, so, humanitarian, centre and centre left ideas, since I was in my early teens !

    It was the Corbyn tendency, and the Militant one , and the Livingston one , and the Scargill one , that next to the Thatcherite phenomenon, scuppered Kinnock in the eighties when I and thousands , were , as youths like me then, or others older, trying for a Labour, yes , a Labour government !

    I, and most on this site , shall continue rooting for our excellent , Liberal Democrat manifesto , and candidates, and shall in future, even then , if , in a realignment, fine , one of the centre and centre left, I shall happily work for !

  • Robin Bennett 20th May '17 - 7:53pm

    Despite the photograph, the article was not intended to laud the coalition as such, or to “rehabilitate” Nick Clegg, excellent though his current work on Brexit is. The intention was to be positive: to help canvassers at this crucial time to focus on achievements. So I was surprised at this untimely flow of negative comments. Mark Wright, thanks for your input. No doubt you are on the doorsteps. It is tempting to suggest that some other commenters should get out more.

    Peter Watson – your corrections are welcome, e.g. on the pupil premium. David Laws says (Coalition page 401) that the early years premium was opposed by the Tories. There were clashes in the Coalition over free school meals, but perhaps this is another topic best left out.

    Gwyn Williams, I know from Scotland how annoying such inaccuracies can be. Sorry!

  • Dave Orbison 20th May '17 - 8:54pm

    Lorenzo – you are not the only one who been active in the Labour Party. I did my bit, CLP Sectretary, county councillor and all that but, seemingly unlike you, I’d rather debate. I am prepared to engage with people who don’t necessarily agree with me because I don’t see any point spending all my time talking to like minded people. What would that achieve, and to be honest, where’s the fun in that?

    I think politics is all all debate. Where we differ is that I’d rather debate the ins and outs of policy rather spend time throwing smears, labels or denigrating people. I think Labour gradually lost its way after Blair and Iraq. Both Brown and Miliband lost their elections and Labour’s share was in steady decline. This had nothing to do with Corbyn, Livingston et al. Corbyn has brought a fresh direction. OK maybe not everyone’s cup of tea. But the more I hear him speak the more I become impressed. He avoids nasty, snide, personal attacks and that makes him infinitely preferable to those that are small on ideas and big on insults.

  • When May called the election I argued that Corbyn would gain traction with the electorate because he would be talking about the issues that mattered to people, whereas Theresa May would be spouting vacuous waffle which would probably appeal to enough people to give her a majority, but wouldn’t give her the landslide victory that everyone was expecting. Corbyn’s problem is: a) he doesn’t really want to be a party leader; b) he is useless at organisation; and c) he is trying to lead a party whose MPs mostly don’t really know what they believe any more. Corbyn would therefore be a disaster as Prime Minister – but so will Theresa May.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 20th May '17 - 11:43pm

    Dave

    A strong , yet unnecessary approach to mine.

    I do not denigrate , so if you are referring to me, you are not correct, not in general, really, no . I state, here , only what is true , facts, yes, you can , from the perspective of support for the current duo leading the Labour left ,let it get you to where see it thus, but please see it from my point of view, Corbyn and Mc are beyond the , not my cup of tea, as a potential government , or at least as the two running it .

    If you think for a moment I do not want to debate, or only with those who agree with me, you clearly have not read my innumerable posts on here , almost in contortions of trying to get people to understand alternative perspectives, I think I have the patience, not of a saint, more of a political masochist , sometimes !

    I respect your service and membership of this or any party , I happen to also like a good few Tories , and thus respect them, but precious few in this government ! Please , because of my genuine disquiet at certain aspects of current Labour, do not think I do not want to debate!

    I myself said I feel Labour lost its way , in fact post 9, 11, even before Iraq, and yes , Corbyn the man of now has some decent and even valuable qualities that mean even I can see his direction and input for some, is something they can get with.

    But not me, sorry , Dave, no. Not as a Prime Minister, not even as a party leader.

    Not when he made things so difficult long before Blair, when we craved an alternative to Thatcher!

  • If I was standing for parliament my answer concerning tuition fees would be that it was a mistake for our MPs not to vote against all proposals to increase tuition fees and if I had been an MP I would have voted against all proposals to increase tuition fees. It was also a mistake that the party didn’t ensure that the coalition agreement needed to include this. We have not identified a way to abolish tuition fees in our manifesto but our long term policy is still to abolish them once we can afford it.

    If concerns were raised about austerity I would answer that personally I was always against it and the party was wrong to agree to the Tories budget deficit targets. It was wrong to support the bedroom tax and it is now our policy to abolish it as well as restore most of the £12bn of Tory welfare cuts we had stopped while in government.

  • Jane Ann Liston 21st May '17 - 1:28am

    And of course in Scotland the SNP promised to write off student debt in 2007, then didn’t, which appears to have been conveniently forgotten about.

  • Peter Watson 21st May '17 - 8:06am

    @Michael BG “It was also a mistake that the party didn’t ensure that the coalition agreement needed to include this.”
    The Coalition Agreement made an explicit provision for Lib Dem MPs to abstain on this issue, which although still breaking the promise, would have been less grievous than voting for it (or being the minister bringing it to Parliament). The fact that Lib Dem MPs split between voting to increase tuition fees, voting against as per their promise, and abstaining as per the Coalition agreement, undermines pretty much every position the party could subsequently take on the issue.

  • @ Peter Watson
    “The Coalition Agreement made an explicit provision for Lib Dem MPs to abstain on this issue, which although still breaking the promise,”

    I do know this was in the Coalition Agreement. I am surprised it was not a reason for rejecting the agreement at the special conference. At the time I had not read the pledge signed by our MPs and so I assumed the pledge was for the person not to vote to increase tuition fees rather than positively promising to vote against all increases to tuition fees.

    I don’t understand how anyone can promise to vote a certain way before an election and then not carry out that promise. This is not the same as a policy included in a party’s manifesto. I wonder if Tim based his vote on how I would interpret Mt. 5:33-37 to mean that a person should do what they say.

    My point is not that the party can make a convincing case for what happened or that any MP who didn’t vote against the increase to tuition fees can make a convincing case. My point is that as a candidate I would explain my position as in the end if I was the candidate they would be voting for me and my integrity and not the integrity of our past MPs. I would make it personal and not collective.

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