Author Archives: Craig Brown

Opinion: Evidence-Based Policy and the Culling of Badgers

Tomorrow, our MPs will have the opportunity to vote in an Opposition Day debate on government plans for a badger cull. It is almost unheard of for the government to lose an opposition day motion, the last one being on settlement rights for veteran Gurkhas in 2009 – the first time since 1978. I have it on good authority that our parliamentary party has made up its mind that badgers are to be culled in the UK.

I would like to make a few things clear before I get into the meat of this post. Firstly, I’m not an ‘animal lover’ …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 14 Comments

Getting involved in the Association of Liberal Democrat Engineers and Scientists

The Association of Liberal Democrat Engineers and Scientists (ALDES) organises a fringe event at each conference. Our fringe event this Spring is entitled ‘The UK Space Industry: An Unsung Success Story’ – a topic very close to my heart, as an engineer designing space missions out of an office in Hertfordshire. Yes, ladies and gents, the UK ‘does space’. And what a lot of people don’t realise is, we do it very, very well.

The UK space industry has bucked the national trend and has seen impressive growth during the recession. Areas such as satellite broadcast, communications, equipment and support services …

Posted in Conference | Tagged | 2 Comments

Opinion: The truth about the graduate contribution

There is a real danger that many prospective students will be put off from going to university due to the confusion, half-truths and lies, often left unchallenged, relating to the new system of university funding and graduate contributions.

A bright light which breaks through the fog can be found over at, where Martin Lewis pares things back to the bare facts. His Student Loans Guide 2012 makes the following key points:

  • Existing students stay on the old system of loans
  • Students don’t pay anything up front
  • Graduates will pay back £540 per year less than they do under the current system – graduates will have more money in their pocket each month
  • Graduates who earn less than £21,000 don’t pay back anything
  • Graduates will owe more and be in debt longer but this debt will not affect credit ratings
  • People shouldn’t think of the new system as a loan but as a graduate tax
  • The rules may be different for students in Scotland and Wales
  • Most people will never pay back all of this debt as the debt is wiped out after 30 years

A graduate tax: the very thing that the NUS has been calling for. It is a crying shame that the NUS has decided to be political over the new changes rather than do the right thing by the people it professes to represent.

I would be extremely disappointed if there is a single person put off going to university due to the spin put on the changes by the NUS. Let’s hope that as many prospective students as possible find their way to where they can actually get some honest expert advice on what to expect when they take up their courses in 2012.

Editor’s note: You can also watch a video of Martin Lewis explaining student funding from 2012 on YouTube:

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 19 Comments

Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMary Reid 27th Nov - 8:41pm
    I agree about the popcorn. I volunteer at my local theatre and we dread the news that popcorn will be on sale during family shows....
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 27th Nov - 8:38pm
    Robert Chote was on Friday's abbreviated Daily Politics explaining where the extra money came from. Lower debt interest is part of it and understandable, Despite...
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 27th Nov - 8:29pm
    Please take Heston Blumenthal's advice on popcorn. Overpriced and fattening. On Channel 4 he did better. Film critics say popcorn should be banned in cinemas...
  • User AvatarKaterina Porter 27th Nov - 8:27pm
    The point of the article I quoted was that we might consider ourselves free but be in a very weak negotiating position when trying for...
  • User AvatarA Social Liberal 27th Nov - 8:21pm
    Jayne Yes, I am certain we have the same wishes. Your post shows mistakes in your analysis though. For instance, you refer to the two...
  • User AvatarDavid Allen 27th Nov - 8:08pm
    Let's just remember that territory isn't everything. We didn't defeat Bin Laden simply by driving the Taliban out of government in Afghanistan, and we probably...