Jo Swinson defends Rachel Reeves from “staggeringly sexist” attack

Jo Swinson GlasgowRemember in 2010 when the Daily Mail went apoplectic and Tory backbenchers’ murmured criticism made headline news as David Cameron took time off after the birth of his daughter Florence just weeks after becoming Prime Minister? No, me neither, because it didn’t happen.

Five years on, however, Labour’s Rachel Reeves is under fire from the Mail and Tory MP Andrew Rossindell after announcing her plans to take 3 months’ maternity leave after she gives birth to her second child in June. From the Guardian:

Andrew Rosindell, the Tory MP for Romford, told the Daily Mail that a role in the cabinet required a person’s full attention. “I don’t want to say someone who is having a baby is not eligible to be a cabinet minister, but I certainly think perhaps the demands of that particular job will require someone to give it their full attention.”

“I don’t expect Rachel Reeves to be in the cabinet after the election because I expect the Conservatives to win, but clearly people need to be put in the positions they can handle.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 28 Comments
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International Office supports the next generation of women leaders from Nasa Stranka, Bosnia’s ‘Women’s Party’

International officeSarajevo is not a city I ever expected to see, and Bosnia is not a country that I ever expected to be at the sharp end of encouraging women into political life. Yet here I was, travelling to Sarajevo with the International Office to encourage and train young women in the basics of being a councillor and a candidate!

Nick Thorne, Research Officer in the International Office, travelled with me and we were later joined by Sara Bashford, a Conservative Councillor, and Anna Birley, a Labour Councillor, who were to work with us on cross-party sessions later in the weekend.

Posted in Europe / International | 1 Comment

Opinion: Is business no longer Conservative

The apology for a debate about business and politics over the last few weeks is enough to make anyone independent-minded start chewing the carpet in frustration. There was a particularly annoying radio debate between Digby Jones and Polly Toynbee last week. A dialogue of the deaf if ever there was one.

Perhaps it was inevitable that the BBC would continue the traditional assumption that business was always going to be Conservative, but look more closely – talk to business people more broadly – and you find something is shifting.

Posted in News | 11 Comments

Danny Alexander: if we allow the Tories to govern by themselves, it frightens me

Buzzfeed joins Danny Alexander on the campaign trail in what he admits will be a close fight with the SNP to hang on to his seat.

But he insists his local record – “I think I’m the only MP in the country who gets attacked by his opponents for delivering too much to his constituency” – and tactical voting against the nationalists will get him over the finishing line. His campaign team are desperately trying to convince Labour and Tory supporters who don’t want another independence referendum to lend Alexander their vote. “I remain confident that I can win this constituency,” he says.

Posted in News | 51 Comments

Opinion: It’s time to recognise Palestine as a state

Israelis go to the polls on March 17 and no doubt the US and UK governments and most Lib Dems are hoping for a Netanyahu defeat and a more “liberal” government.  Opinion polls however suggest the opposite.  The Israeli newspaper Haaretz, in article on 1 February, suggested that Netanyahu’s re-election would be the better outcome, as then the rest of the world would see the need to keep up the pressure on Israel.  The article suggested that it could be worse if a government of the centre left was elected as this would reassure the rest of the world that peace negotiations would be renewed, while nothing would actually happen. So, whatever the outcome of the election, there is a need for EU countries to keep up the pressure on the Israelis to stop their illegal activities in the Occupied Territories, lift the cruel siege of Gaza, and settle fairly with the Palestinians.

I would suggest that now is the time, well before the general election,  for the Party to commit itself to immediate British recognition of Palestine as a sovereign state on the basis of the pre-1967 borders, as Sweden did last October, and to encourage other members of the EU to do the same. Sweden acted alone, France is getting close to doing so and others would undoubtedly follow the United Kingdom.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 20 Comments

Philip Vince RIP. A life time of discreet service.

philip vinceIf you have been a member of the Liberal Democrats, at any level, then the likelihood is you will have met Philip Vince or maybe you will have had a handwritten note from Philip in immaculate spider-small handwriting; if you attended any Federal Party Conference and before that Liberal Assemblies since at least 1957 then chances are you saw or met Philip Vince. For someone who never stood for public office his impact and commitment were unrivalled.

Despite that, constructing this biography has been a work of many conversations, tiny snippets of information, leads, contacts, shared insights – Philip was known by many people across the organisations that he involved himself with, but it is also true to say that very few people really knew him well.

Posted in Obituaries | 7 Comments

Baroness Ros Scott writes… Campaigning over recess

Despite what you hear in the press about a “zombie” Parliament, life in Westminster has been pretty busy for the Lib Dem team in the House of Lords. We’ve secured important improvements to the Counter Terrorism legislation, used the Deregulation Bill to reintroduce Sarah Teather’s provisions on retaliatory eviction, introduced measures dealing with revenge porn, and done battle with the Tory dinosaurs seeking to derail Michael Moore’s Bill intended to enshrine the principle that 0.7% of our wealth goes to the poorest overseas countries.

But this last week we, like the Commons, have been in recess, and many of us have been out and about campaigning with colleagues seeking re-election in May. And why wouldn’t we? Not only are we committed to our Party and its success, but many of us have been elected as Councillors or MPs and know how important an extra pair of feet can be! Some of my colleagues fought unsuccessfully for years to be elected to Parliament, and in doing so, laid the groundwork for their successors.

For me, recess means being at home in Suffolk where we are busy not just supporting our neighbours in Colchester, Cambridge, Norwich South and North Norfolk, but defending council seats in all-out District elections. For me, this one is personal, as it was winning Needham Market ward in 1991 which started my political career, and I want to make sure that the hard work of our current team is recognised.

Posted in Campaign Corner | 1 Comment

Opinion: We are the world

At my United Reformed Church on Sunday the preacher was a young woman from South Africa. The two readers were from the U.S. and from Scotland. The English woman who led the prayers is married to a man of Pakistani origin. Two Australians served coffee, a German lady sat in front of me and a Swiss man across the aisle.

We are a global society, not just a global economy. We are the world.  Yes, the Lib Dems are pro-Europe and internationalist, and we should fly these colours high as these policies represent how our country actually is.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 10 Comments

Opinion: Mixed news on suicide tells us where to target our efforts

The UK suicide rate rose again in 2013, a worrying statistic that we should pay close attention to. True, the rate is still lower than at any time between 1981 and 2001 but, even so, the rise since 2007  should be of great concern.

But the overall figure masks some important variations. If we want to tackle the problem, we need to know where to focus our efforts and it turns out that suicides are not increasing for all groups.

Here is the good news: the suicide rate for women has fallen and is now the second lowest on record. For women aged 15-19 the news is even better: the suicide rate for this group is by some margin the lowest on record. Across nearly all ages, the number of women committing suicide is down or static.

Posted in News | Tagged | 5 Comments

Opinion: Liberal Democrats should support abolishing the Monarchy – and it is the right time to do so

I am a keen student of history, and have no shortage of fascination with the British Monarchy, its colourful progress, and its chequered evolution. And I do believe it has evolved, as often with grace as with indignity. In that sense, I have a certain level of ‘respect’ for the Monarchy, and certainly for some of the figures who constitute it at present. Yet, as far back as I can remember, I have though it should be abolished. Why?

Rather than lay out all the old arguments, I will focus solely on one argument for Abolition. I will do this, because it is (I believe) a liberal principle, and because I think it is hugely persuasive, and rarely aired. It is this: for the fair treatment of the Royal Family themselves, current and yet unborn, that we must abolish the Monarchy.

The British Royal Family, whatever it may once have been, is now a captive family. The institution consists at its peak of a household who are held, for our perceived benefit, in the gaze of the public eye and a web of constitutional precedent.  The Windsor family consists of real individuals, and we should never forget that. I know many will sneer at my concern for a very rich household, with all life’s advantages… but is that really their position?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 59 Comments

It may not be popular, but it needs saying: Most politicians are decent people who work ridiculous hours serving the public

So, wherever you look today, you see Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind, both secretly filmed saying things that most voters will find difficult to comprehend. That includes those of us who are active in politics. By far the most bizarre thing was Sir Malcolm Rifkind’s assertion that he didn’t get a salary.  What on earth does he think the £3000 on his bank statement every month with House of Commons next to it is?

It is perfectly possible that when the investigations to which Straw and Rifkind have submitted themselves are complete, they will find that no rules were actually broken. Both men have been pretty bullish this morning. Straw says he’s mortified he fell into the trap, Rifkind says he has every right to get paid for passing on his expertise. Many people will feel instinctively uncomfortable about politicians who once held the main offices of state or still chair influential parliamentary committees claiming they could offer things like access to ambassadors, or suggest they might work for a daily rate of £5000.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 53 Comments

Opinion: Float like a butterfly, vote like a xxx?

Having spent the last few days canvassing (what else would a Politics teacher do during half-term?) I have been playing the usual ‘what does it all mean?’ game, trying to make sense of the Green-Liberals, red UKIPs, soft Tories and probable Mebyon Kernows. Even making sense of those categories though requires being able to spot them, and there are days when I long for the simplicity of a ‘damned if I know’ option on Connect.

I do understand why there is no ‘don’t know’ ‘undecided’ or ‘genuine floater’ category. Firstly it would be far too tempting for canvassers to label everyone who didn’t immediately disclose their voting intention as a ‘don’t know’. The follow-up probes about who they definitely wouldn’t for, voted for last time, and might their lend vote to would be too likely to be forgotten.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 14 Comments

The Independent View: “Bold liberal tax reforms for a stronger economy and fairer society” – a CentreForum essay by Adam Corlett

In a series of essays that CentreForum will be releasing over the next few months in anticipation of the book, The Challenges Facing Contemporary Liberalism: 2015 -2025, published today is the paper “Bold liberal tax reforms for a stronger economy and fairer society” by Adam Corlett, which can be read here. It is the third in the series; the first, On Blasphemy by Maajid Nawaz, can be read here, and the second, an essay by Tim Farron, Neil Stockley and Duncan Brack on green growth and climate change, can be read here.

Adam’s paper examines the tax system and identifies six key challenges facing any incoming government post-May 2015: simplifying income taxes; taxing investment intelligently; fixing corporate tax biases; reforming inheritance tax; taxing real estate; and making consumption taxes fair.

photo by: Alan Cleaver
Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Tagged , and | 20 Comments

Reprise: Those secret party elections with a nomination date of noon on Friday

There are some more secret elections happening. We feel it’s our duty to disseminate the information as widely as possible.

Here are the details of the positions available and how to get yourself nominated:

All persons elected to these posts will hold office for the calendar years 2015 and 2016.

For the election of:

  • One Vice-Chairs of the IRC
  • Three members of the SAO Review Group
  • Two members of the FE Candidates’ sub-group (meets with JSCC)
  • One representatives on ALDE Congress
  • Two representatives to the LI Congress

The election regulations approved by the Federal Executive in May 2009 are attached for information.

Nominations must be supported by two voting members of the outgoing or incoming Federal Executive, a list of whom is attached, and must be returned, with 75 word statements , no later than 12 noon on 27 February 2015 to David Allworthy, [email protected]Scanned nominations will be accepted.

David Allworthy, Deputy Acting Returning Officer, 20 February 2015

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Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #412

Welcome to the 412th  Golden Dozen, and our xxxth weekly round-up from the Lib Dem blogosphere … Featuring the seven most popular stories beyond Lib Dem Voice according to click-throughs from the Aggregator (15-21 February, 2015), together with a hand-picked quintet, you might otherwise have missed.

Don’t forget: you can sign up to receive the Golden Dozen direct to your email inbox — just click here — ensuring you never miss out on the best of Lib Dem blogging.

As ever, let’s start with the most popular post, and work our way down:

Posted in Best of the blogs | Leave a comment

LDV’s Sunday Best: our 7 most-read articles this week

7 ver 4 fullMany thanks to the 14,700 visitors who dropped by Lib Dem Voice this week. Here’s our 7 most-read posts…

The Times: The Lib Dems are “great survivors” (51 comments) by The Voice

The Independent View: Commons must debate Medical Innovations Bill before election (59 comments) by Dominic Nutt

Guardian’s coverage of Lib Dem election campaign accentuates the negative (52 comments) by Caron Lindsay

Posted in Site news | 2 Comments

Parliamentarians “gorging” on a maximum of one and a bit chocolate bars a week? I don’t think so.

chocolateYou have to wonder who thinks up freedom of information questions like “How many chocolate bars do the catering outlets in Westminster sell?” But the Sunday Times (£) reports that somebody has asked precisely that question and that the number of chocolate bars bought in 2013 and 2014 totals just under 200,000. This leads them to conclude that our MPs and Peers are “gorging” their way through some massive chocolate stash. It’s like we’re meant to see them as some sort of court of Henry VIII busting out of their breaches.

In fact, I was surprised that the amount is so low. Let’s think about it. There are 650 MPs and 800 members of the House of Lords who attend regularly. Even if we only count them, that’s 1450 people. That only allows them 69 chocolate bars a year each. It’s not even two for every sitting week. When you add in all of their staff (and most MPs will have at least one person in their Westminster office) and all the visitors to the place, it reduces that amount even further. Maybe they’d all be happier if they ate more chocolate, not less.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , and | 7 Comments

Back to the days of toxic factionalism in the Labour Party – will they ever learn?

I’ve always felt that the Labour Party would be much more effective if they could put their energies into fighting the problems the country faces rather than fighting each other. We all remember the schism between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair from Day 1 of their administration which overshadowed everything they did. Do you remember the time when they decided to show everyone what good friends they were in the run up to, I think, the 2005 election, sitting  together uncomfortably on the GMTV sofa.

Today the Sunday Times (£) shows us that toxic factionalism is still alive and well in the Party. Brown and Blair couldn’t even get on when things were going well for them. The two Eds, Miliband and Balls are apparently at daggers drawn and Balls may face demotion after recent blunders:

A shadow cabinet member said if Miliband becomes prime minister he should move the shadow chancellor and accused Balls of behaving with “contempt” towards colleagues and “undermining the leader’s agenda”.

Frontbenchers attacked Balls last night for committing Labour’s two worst gaffes of the election campaign so far.

They said his reputation as a “safe pair of hands” had been shattered when he failed to name a single Labour business backer and told voters they should get a receipt for work done cash in hand, both of which attracted ridicule.

Senior figures also expressed frustration and incredulity that Balls has dug his heels in over funding a cut in English tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000 a year — three years after Miliband first backed the policy and with the announcement due at the end of this week.

Insiders say a meeting between Miliband and Balls last Wednesday, which many hoped would settle the policy, had “ended badly”.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 21 Comments

Lord Avebury’s personal story – why he wants the option of assisted dying

eric aveburyLiberal Democrat peer Eric Avebury, a great friend of this site, has been talking to the Dignity in Dying website about why he feels so strongly that assisted dying should be an option, to help him avoid a “very terrible” death from his blood cancer.

I am committed to campaigning for terminally ill, mentally competent people to have the right to an assisted death. I have an incurable disease, a form of blood cancer called myelofibrosis, where the inside of the bone marrow turns to fibre and it no longer produces blood, so you suffocate. I have been told that it can be very terrible in the last stages.

It is a debate that the public have been engaging in for many years and finally Parliament has decided to catch up. I have had my own conversations with my family. My wife comes to all my consultations and we have discussed assisted dying. She knows that the ideal would be to have a peaceful death at home and for palliative care to deal with any serious pain, but if it doesn’t she would respect my decision to have an assisted death – assuming the Bill is passed by then. I am not keen on the idea of travelling to Switzerland and we haven’t discussed that option. My four children know my views and don’t object to them either.

I obviously have a personal stake in the Bill and the future of the assisted dying campaign. Currently I am not in the latter stages of my illness and I am very hopeful that this year will not be my last.

I am confident that, when this time comes for me, assisted dying for terminally ill people will be a legal right in the UK, and I will be able to plan the death that I want.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 4 Comments

Austin Mitchell gives a masterclass in taking your constituents for granted…

That sound you can hear is the wailing of Labour campaign organisers in Grimsby as they work out how to deal with outgoing Labour MP Austin Mitchell’s latest bout of Foot in Mouth disease.

From the i:

From the shuttered-up homes by the once bustling fish market to derelict harbour-side factories, politicians of all stripes admit privately that the east coast town alternates between being forgotten and taken for granted in Westminster.

It’s a narrative that Ukip is pushing hard and one that the Lincolnshire town’s veteran MP, Mitchell, unwittingly reinforced by telling the Independent on Sunday that Labour would win the seat “even” if they selected a “raving alcoholic sex paedophile”.

We knew that Labour have a real sense of entitlement to power that is most unattractive. Breaking their fiefdoms in Scotland by introducing STV for local government is one of the best things the Liberal Democrats have ever done in government. Labour are finding that years, decades of neglect and taking voters for granted is coming back to bite them on the bum. The thing is, I don’t see much sign of their attitude really changing that much.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 26 Comments

Liberal Democrats ensure government gives added protection for journalists’ records

Police will need to get a judge to give them permission before they access journalists’ phone records, according to the BBC.

A temporary measure means officers must follow the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and get legal permission to obtain any communications data.

The move comes after strong criticism of the way police were using the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) to access journalists’ sources.

The Home Office said it was an “interim solution” ahead of the next parliament.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 5 Comments

Appearing on the Big Debate talking about ISIS, alcohol at football matches and decriminalising drugs

Yesterday, I went to Paisley in Renfrewshire to be part of the panel for Radio Scotland’s Big Debate which is the Scottish equivalent of Any Questions.

Also on the panel were shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander, local SNP MSP George Adam and Peter Murray from the Media Trust.

I did try to persuade presenter Gordon Brewer that he should “accidentally” call Douglas Danny in homage to Jo Joyner who made an error with someone’s name in the EastEnders live episode the other night but he was having none of it.

It was a much more thoughtful and less combative discussion than usual. George Adam did try to do the “let’s blame Westminster” thing that SNP people are prone to do but that was about it. We talked about ISIS and whether we could negotiate with them. I said that I didn’t think that would be on the agenda any time soon but whatever we did should be carefully thought out with very clear objectives. I talked a bit about the article from the Guardian the other day which told of the horrible conditions under which women are supposed to live. I also emphasised that we need to be very careful not to fuel Islamophobia given that ISIS are about as representative of Islam as the Westboro Baptist Church are of Christianity.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 4 Comments

Pauline Pearce seeks nomination in Hitchin

The “Hackney Heroine” Pauline Pearce has applied to be the Liberal Democrat candidate in Hitchin for the General Election:

From the Hertfordshire Mercury:

Pauline Pearce – dubbed the Heroine of Hackney – could stand as the Lib Dems’ candidate for Hitchin in next year’s General Election.

The Hackney resident, who moved from Hitchin eight years ago, said: “Plain and simple, it’s home to me.

“I’m a Hitchin girl, I know quite a bit about the issues down there, especially concerning the youngsters.

“I want to help kids and let them know what they can do to open their eyes and turn their lives around.”

Miss Pearce has yet to be formally selected to contest the Hitchin and Harpenden seat, currently held by Tory Peter Lilley, but hopes are high.

She became a symbol of Londoners’ outrage at the wave of criminality which followed the death of Mark Duggan in 2012.

After the clip went viral, she was courted by politicians and community leaders, even expressing her intention to stand for Lib Dem president.
Pauline has since been elected to the Party’s Federal Executive.
Posted in News | Leave a comment

Some more secret party elections you can stand in – act by noon next Friday, 27th February

There are some more secret elections happening. We feel it’s our duty to disseminate the information as widely as possible.

Here are the details of the positions available and how to get yourself nominated:

All persons elected to these posts will hold office for the calendar years 2015 and 2016.

For the election of:

  • One Vice-Chairs of the IRC
  • Three members of the SAO Review Group
  • Two members of the FE Candidates’ sub-group (meets with JSCC)
  • One representatives on ALDE Congress
  • Two representatives to the LI Congress

The election regulations approved by the Federal Executive in May 2009 are attached for information.

Nominations must be supported by two voting members of the outgoing or incoming Federal Executive, a list of whom is attached, and must be returned, with 75 word statements , no later than 12 noon on 27 February 2015 to David Allworthy, [email protected]. Scanned nominations will be accepted.

David Allworthy, Deputy Acting Returning Officer, 20 February 2015

Posted in News | Tagged | 7 Comments

An inspiring talk for a Saturday morning – John Loughton on his journey from poverty in Edinburgh to talking to world leaders

John Loughton grew up in poverty in Edinburgh. He is a truly inspiring character. In this video he talks about his life and how he founded a youth leadership organisation that has worked with thousands of young people across the world.

John is a member of the Liberal Democrats and if you look at his Wikipedia page, you’ll see just some of the things he’s done and the powerful circles in which he has moved.

 

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 3 Comments

LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League: how it stands after Week 25

There’s no change at the top, as George Murray’s Marauding Fullbacks continue to lead the LibDemVoice Fantasy Football League after Week 25, with 1,491 points, just ahead of Jon Featonby and Sam Bowman.

But let’s also hear it for three players outside the top 10: Will Barter (Mid-Table Meanderer) had the best week’s performance, with 70 points. Honourable mentions go to Max Wilkinson (Regency Spa Town) and Richard Farrance (Wirral_Rovers), with 68 and 67 points respectively.

LDV FANTASY FOOTBALL 26

There are 161 players in total and you can still join the …

Posted in News | Tagged | 1 Comment

The Times: “Lib Dems are great survivors”

Writing in the Times (£), Philip Collins makes some predictions about the Liberal Democrats’ fortunes. He reckons we’ll be part of a coalition with the Conservatives after the general election. I suspect party members will have a different feeling until we see what’s on offer. Collins also has some fairly unpalatable recommendations for the party, such as ditching climate change.

He reckons we won’t face the wipeout many predict:

The party’s own polling is the clue to the relentless optimism of its senior personnel. Where they have a presence on the local council and the sitting MP, the Lib Dems are competitive. Ukip will help them against the Tories and the electoral system that Lib Dems have always hated is coming to their rescue. There has been a lot of speculation about where Nick Clegg will go after the election. My own bet is Sheffield Hallam, about once a fortnight.

Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 52 Comments

STV report talks up Tory chances in seats the party has written off

The Scottish Conservatives meet in Edinburgh today for their Conference. The other day, the STV political correspondent filmed with them and talked up their chances in seats like Argyll and Bute and West Aberdeenshire. He can’t have realised that those seats are among five Lib Dem seats in Scotland that appear on the list of seats that the Tories are not targeting in Scotland as Mark Pack reported last week.

The Tories have also written off their chances in Edinburgh West, Ross, Skye and Lochaber and North East Fife.

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott described the Tory leak as a “letter of surrender”:

Posted in News | Tagged , , , and | 5 Comments

Nick Clegg top British politician in Mumsnet poll

Nick Clegg is the leading British politician on a Mumsnet poll. Sadly, it’s not for voting intention. The Mirror has the story:

Over at Mumsnet, one user started a thread asking “Am I being unreasonable to ask which politician would make the best lover?” There were over 400 replies and we added up the mentions of each name for you. The results are in…

American President Barack Obama beat all local politicians to come out top with 22 votes.

Nick “Clegg-over” Clegg makes a close second, showing he’s kept his sex appeal since 2010 despite the battering his political reputation has taken.

Perennial sex favourite Gordon Brown (he’s Scottish, the accent is kind of sexy) is third.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 9 Comments

Lord Wallace of Saltaire writes….Liberal Democrats’ investment in education has been socially progressive

I took part in a five-party panel at York University the other weekend, organised by the University’s Politics Society, in front of a packed lecture hall with over 200 students.  No other panellist or questioner mentioned the subject of tuition fees, believed by some Liberal Democrat activists (and right-wing journalists) to be an issue that hangs like an albatross round Nick Clegg’s neck. The overwhelming impression I came away with, reinforced by informal conversations with several students after the meeting, was not that we face an outraged student body which can never forgive us for the tuition fees ‘betrayal’, as the NUS would like to portray it; it was of a student body which is switched off from party politics, unsure of whether to vote or not, but with some intelligent questions to ask.  ‘I wasn’t planning to vote until I came to this’, one student told me afterwards, ‘but maybe now I will.’

Since nobody else did, I addressed the tuition fee issue.  I said that we had found it impossible to persuade our Conservative partners in the coalition to pay for this, against the background of a yawning gap between revenue and expenditure in 2010, and had therefore focused on striking a deal that was as progressive in its impact as possible; that the package had ensured that graduates only start to pay back when they are earning good money; that the rise since then in the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds applying to university has shown that we got that right; and that there was no no way any future government would want to take us back to free fees in the face of other competing demands for government funding.  I went on to say that we had worked in government to put money into ‘the other 50%’ – the young people who never go to university; that doubling the number of apprenticeships, paying a Pupil Premium to encourage schools to put more resources into helping those who most need it, and expanding nursery education to give children a better start in life had proved to be more progressive and cost-effective than free fees for the better-off.

photo by: flickingerbrad
Posted in News | Tagged , , and | 155 Comments
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