Opinion: A green backbone for the 2015 manifesto

2008 - Evopod 1/10th Sea Trials @ PortaferryWhat approach will the 2015 Liberal Democrat manifesto take? A bit more fiscally responsible than Labour and a bit more fair than the Conservatives? Or something different: a genuinely distinctive approach built on our basic political philosophy and our long-standing commitment to the environment – where the public clearly recognise we’re different from our coalition partners and where our ministers can show real progress?

This is why we launched The Green Manifesto at the spring conference in York, to argue for a ‘green backbone’ to our 2015 manifesto. We believe that the green approach needs to underpin the party’s economic and social policies just as much as it does environmental policy.

A modern, successful and competitive economy is a green economy – low-carbon, resource-efficient and high-skill. If it is not green, it will be neither modern nor successful nor competitive. A healthy and thriving society, where people enjoy life and realise their aims, is a green society, built around a flourishing natural environment and a sustainable built environment, in which families are independent and secure from sudden rises in the cost of living, where they are able to value their sense of place. If it not green, it will be neither healthy nor sustainable.


That is why The Green Manifesto isn’t about ‘the environment’ as a niche interest. It’s about the future prospects for the UK economy and the sort of society people want – where we build infrastructure and communities to last, where we invest in innovation and new technology, where we respect the natural world, and enjoy its benefits, and where we improve the health and quality of life for all in their local communities.

Containing over 200 specific policy proposals (some of which are existing party policy but many of which are new), The Green Manifesto aims to achieve three big outcomes:

  • A better economy, for all – including a new green industrial strategy, freeing the Green Investment Bank to raise finance, a strategic plan to prioritise green infrastructure, building 1.5 million new homes to verified ‘nearly zero energy’ standards and improving energy security by increasing the role of renewable energy.

  • Lower costs, less waste, greater business efficiency – including raising the energy efficiency standards of a million homes every year and eradicating fuel poverty, legally binding waste reduction and resource efficiency targets, and new product standards for energy efficiency and durability.

  • Better places to live – including statutory targets for clean air, fresh water and biodiversity, better protection from extreme weather and flooding, learning from the garden city movement to create new planned sustainable settlements, developing the Local Sustainable Transport Fund and an Active Travel Act to promote cycling and walking.

To achieve these big outcomes requires changes in the way in which the country is run:

  • Devolving power and responsibility – including keeping more spending, saving and jobs in the local economy, and aiming for more than half of households and businesses generating renewable energy.
  • Embedding long-termism – including a zero-carbon Britain by 2050, and natural capital accounting, reform of government and mechanisms to guarantee that companies and investors are fully aware of the environmental and social implications of their decisions and actions
  • Cooperating globally – including working to secure agreement on a new global climate treaty and an EU target for greenhouse gas reductions of at least 50 per cent by 2030 and halting net global deforestation by 2020.

As Matthew Spencer, Director of Green Alliance, said: ‘Other parties should envy the Liberal Democrats the clarity and vision of these proposals. They identify how to create a strong economy and a better quality of life using green means. No party can win centre ground voters without a decent story and ambition on the environment, and I’d commend these proposals to Ed Miliband and David Cameron as well as to Nick Clegg.’

Produced by the same team that published The Green Book: New Directions for Liberals in Government last year, The Green Manifesto is available for download at www.green-book.org.uk.

* Duncan Brack is a member of the Federal Policy Committee and chaired the FPC’s working group that wrote Rebuilding Trade and Cooperation with Europe.

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57 Comments

  • Nick Collins 28th Mar '14 - 3:18pm

    Does it really matter what you put in your manifesto? Has not Danny Alexander already declared that, in the event of a hung parliament, everything in it will be negotiable?

    Why not publish a manifesto with totally blank pages? That way, your negotiators will have a totally free hand and you will have no pledges to break.

  • @Nick Collins

    Or you could vote Labour who seek to impose their will on the rest of the population with around 35% of the vote (2005) and yet, despite being gifted a majority by our corrupt voting system still fail to deliver policies they promised:

    1) Education, education, education = slipping down the global league tables from 7th place into a place in the twenties.
    2) No more boom and bust= actually the biggest boom followed by the biggest bust in post-war history’
    3) No tuition fees= imposing tuition fees;
    4) Electoral reform=no electoral reform.

    Given its record in power, why doesn’t *Labour * publish a manifesto with totally blank pages, I wonder?

  • Nick Collins 28th Mar '14 - 8:25pm

    @ RC As I have explained to you before, I do not speak for the Labour Party. Are you so “tribal” that you must persist in assuming that non-support of the so-called “Liberal Democrats” has to equate to uncritical support for Labour? Ye gods, Labour must wish it did; if that were so, their victory in 2015 would be assured.

    But be careful which issues you choose to fight them on. The current government’s record on the ones you cite is not one which I would wish to defend.

  • @RC
    Labour did not promise they wouldn’t introduce tuition fees. Eventually the Lib Dems are going to have to come to terms with what they did over tuition fees. Indulging in comforting falsehoods just delays that necessary process.

  • RCA “…3) No tuition fees= imposing tuition fees;
    4) Electoral reform=no electoral reform.”

    Really? You’re choosing THESE issues as examples of Labour’s ‘broken promises’ ?????

  • Peter Watson 29th Mar '14 - 12:15am

    @RC “4) Electoral reform=no electoral reform.”
    Didn’t Labour partly reform the House of Lords, devolve power to Wales and Scotland, and introduce more proportional voting systems in Wales, Scotland, London and European elections?
    Clegg has almost single-handedly ensured that we won’t see reform to the election of our UK government for a generation and he made no progress with reforming the House of Lords.

  • jedibeeftrix 29th Mar '14 - 7:01am

    “Clegg has almost single-handedly ensured that we won’t see reform to the election of our UK government for a generation”

    I think you’ll find the electorate did that, not clegg.

  • @Nick Collins

    “Are you so “tribal” that you must persist in assuming that non-support of the so-called “Liberal Democrats” has to equate to uncritical support for Labour?”

    You support Labour and always post negative comments about the Liberal Democrats, whatever the issue. Tribal is as tribal does. I am merely reply and defending my party from your criticisms that arrive solely from one party political direction.

    @Andrew R
    Labour did not promise they wouldn’t introduce tuition fees.
    “Labour has no plans to introduce tuition fees for higher education” Tony Blair 1997 …
    “We will not introduce top-up fees” Labour Manifesto Pledge 2001

    What was it you were saying?

    Phyllis 28th Mar ’14 – 11:19pm
    RCA “…3) No tuition fees= imposing tuition fees;
    4) Electoral reform=no electoral reform.”

    @ Phyllis
    “Really? You’re choosing THESE issues as examples of Labour’s ‘broken promises’ ?????”

    Yes, because they’re very good ones. Your point is?

    @Peter Watson
    “Didn’t Labour partly reform the House of Lords, devolve power to Wales and Scotland, and introduce more proportional voting systems in Wales, Scotland, London and European elections?”

    There was no way they could set up NEW institutions with first past the post, was there? House of Lords Reform was minor and wasn’t related to how we vote.

    So, for the core issue of how we elect our main parliament, they failed to fulfil their commitment.

    Labour, even with massive majorities, were serial pledge-breakers. Please, all of you, just get over it.

    Anyway, back to the point in hand. I totally agree with Geoff Crocker. We have to be careful about how we cost green policies, because there is almost always a trade off between green aims and the economy. Witness the role of energy prices in the cost of living debate. In order to level with the voters, we have to make this clear what these trade offs are and then let them decide.

    It is also a question of long term versus short term. Some parties (in the interests of non-tribal discussion) have been all too keen to jettison long term political commitments (working with energy companies to encourage green development, building HS2 to encourage more carbon-free travel and freight transport) in order to indulge in short term vote grabbing. We should be equally clear about denouncing those parties that do this because it shows their green credentials to be what they really are: a sham.

  • Nick Collins 29th Mar '14 - 9:21am

    R@ RC One does not have to be a Labour supporter to despise the Liberal Democrats: anyone can do it. But you’re loyal support for “my party right or wrong” is touching in its way.

  • Stuart Mitchell 29th Mar '14 - 9:40am

    @RC
    “Labour, even with massive majorities, were serial pledge-breakers. Please, all of you, just get over it.”

    It’s obviously a source of extreme frustration to you that people generally do not see Labour’s “broken pledges” in the same way they see the Lib Dems’ broken tuition fee pledge.

    But people are right to see a qualitative difference. Nobody expects any party to stick to every word of a manifesto. People would expect a party to stick to the general gist of a manifesto but not every detail. A manifesto is also collective and riddled with compromises in ways a personal pledge is not.

    There is no comparison with the Lib Dem tuition fees pledge. That was a personal, unambiguous, signed pledge, and every Lib Dem MP happily posed for newspaper photographs as he/she signed it. Can you appreciate the difference?

  • Nick Collins 29th Mar '14 - 9:43am

    Sorry, more haste , less speed. For “you’re” read “your”.

  • RC
    We have no plans to do X is politician speak for – I’m keeping my options open. You could take it at face value or you could argue it is evasive but what you certainly can’t do honestly is claim that it means the same thing as ‘We promise not to do X’. Labour did not promise that they wouldn’t introduce tuition fees no matter how many times people on this site claim they did.

  • David Evans 29th Mar '14 - 9:54am

    @jedibeeftrix – “’Clegg has almost single-handedly ensured that we won’t see reform to the election of our UK government for a generation.’
    I think you’ll find the electorate did that, not clegg.”
    You may also find quite a lot of the electorate did it because of Nick.

  • @Nick Collins – if you knew anything about RC you’d appreciate that his support for NC and the LD’s is often tempered by criticism of the same .It’s for precisely that reason his comments are always worthy of consideration.

  • @jedibeeftrix – “the AV vote was crushed 2:1.” Yes. Bearing in mind how unpopular Nick (the embodiment of the sort of politician that AV would help at the time), and the astonishing incompetence of the yes campaign, I think that getting a third of people to vote for AV was almost a triumph.

    I must say though that I think your “damn the false consciousness of the plebs” comment, even if in jest is rather in contrast to my views of voters.

  • Good try, but if you’re serious about better environmental legislation, or even serious just about maintaining what there is, you’ll have to do more to oppose the nasty parts of the agenda for the TTIP translatlantic agreement, rather than just sitting back and waving it through.

  • because many proposed aspects of TTIP are pretty illiberal. And all that the European Commission is coming out with is promises – e.g. promises that there will be a better definition of fair and equitable treatment of investors, so they don’t go trying it on against governments and decent environmental legislation won’t have the threat of corporate arbitrations hanging over it. In the similar EU treaty with Canada, meanwhile, it looks as if the European Commission completely failed to get its promises into the agreement, despite previous assurances to the contrary.

  • Nick Collins 29th Mar '14 - 11:21am

    @ Dean W. Since RC chooses not to identify himself, it’s not surprising that I know nothing about him apart from the facts that (1) he persists in describing someone who has the temerity to criticise his “Dear Leader” as “a Labour supporter”: as if that were the ultimate insult; and (2) he seems to think that attacking Labour’s record is an adequate response to any criticism of his own party.

    Just for the record, after a life-time supporting the Liberals and Liberal Democrats, I now support no political party.

  • Duncan Brack 29th Mar '14 - 11:30am

    jedibeeftrix – thanks for your second comment, which is at least relevant to the post. Let’s wait and see what the IPCC report says, shall we? I’m willing to bet what it won’t argue that we should all just give up on mitigation. Anyway, many of the proposals in The Green Manifesto – energy saving, resource efficiency, new product standards, etc. – make sense even without climate change, because of the rising costs of energy and natural resources, concerns over energy security, etc.

    Having said that, the Telegraph piece is (sort of right) to focus on adaptation – shame that the Tory Defra Secretary of State has cut the number of his staff working on it to six – but the glaringly obvious omission in is that it says nothing whatsoever about the costs of adaptation . It isn’t going to be a free lunch.

  • Duncan – and how are new product standards going to survive TTIP, in its present likely form?

  • RC “Yes, because they’re very good ones. Your point is?”

    It hardly needs saying but tuition fees and no electoral reform are the most glaring examples of LIB DEMS’ broken promises, along with the best ‘broken promise of them all : ” no more broken promises” !!

  • jedibeeftrix 29th Mar '14 - 12:51pm

    @ David – “I must say though that I think your “damn the false consciousness of the plebs” comment, even if in jest is rather in contrast to my views of voters.”

    I’m not so sure; that you don’t have faith in the electorate to in substance weigh a proposal on its merits, and be completely diverted by a superficial dislike, does present itself as a jaded view of the value of democracy.

    @ Duncan – “Let’s wait and see what the IPCC report says, shall we? I’m willing to bet what it won’t argue that we should all just give up on mitigation.”

    Sure, but nor does the article suggest that mitigation will be entirely thrown out the window.
    If the fifth report does arrive an Lilico anticipate I will feel comfortable with the weight of posterity:

    http://jedibeeftrix.wordpress.com/2010/03/15/at-the-gates-of-climate-hell-%E2%80%93-why-it-might-be-a-good-thing-to-take-a-step-back/

  • Jedi “I think you’ll find the electorate did that, not clegg.”

    Because they hated Nick Clegg after his tuition fees betrayal etc.

  • Rachel “Labour, even with massive majorities, were serial pledge-breakers. Please, all of you, just get over it.”

    Yes they were and it was Nick Clegg who promised ‘a new kind of politics’ with ‘ no more broken promises’ because we were all fed up with Labour. It’s beyond parody.

  • Sorry that should be RC notRachel. iPad autocorrect argh!!

  • Jedi “the lesson here perhaps is that the pledge was a stupid proposal to make in the first instance, that exhibited the immaturity of a party too long from power, and that breaking it was inevitable given the lack of power to make good on the pledge.”

    The pledge was wrapped up in the banner of offering ‘a new kind of politics’ and personal integrity. I guess Lib Dems have given up on that now that they are ‘all grown up’ ? Shame because for many of us that was their unique appeal.

  • Mick Taylor 29th Mar '14 - 1:15pm

    Isn’t it amazing how a good article about green policies can be hijacked yet again by the anti Clegg and anti Lib Dem brigade to talk about totally unrelated issues.

    Why not mention that in difficult circumstances the Lib Dems have been able to deliver some greener policies, though never enough for the people who want to see nothing but bad things about us.

  • “Isn’t it amazing how a good article about green policies can be hijacked yet again by the anti Clegg and anti Lib Dem brigade to talk about totally unrelated issues.”

    This is part of that brigade’s attempt to pretend that the Lib Dems haven’t implemented large parts of their manifesto despite having only one eleventh the MPs in parliament.

    That really sticks in their throat which is why they are determined to talk about other things. It really is utterly tiresome.

    I for one would have liked to see more success on efforts to improve energy consumption in our housing stock. Clearly the Green Deal hasn’t had the takeup we would have wanted. But the problem here is that, like other green policies, it costs money to persuade people to invest long term in the energy efficiency of their homes and given the budgetary problems inherited from the previous government, that money wasn’t there.

    As I said earlier, it is very clear that green policies *do* have costs attached to them. The question is, whether any party can gain votes by saying so honestly and planning realistically around those costs. Looking at Ed Miliband’s electorally successful betrayal of the cause of long term energy investment for the future, by going for an arbitrary policy of price fixes that actually scares off investment, the answer is a guarded no.

  • Nick Collins 29th Mar '14 - 1:59pm

    Oh dear, RC, I wonder who it was that introduced all those “totally unrelated issues”.

  • David Allen 29th Mar '14 - 2:23pm

    “It is very clear that green policies *do* have costs attached to them. The question is, whether any party can gain votes by saying so honestly and planning realistically around those costs. … the answer is a guarded no.”

    You may be right there, RC. In that case, the answer to whether our civilisation will survive is also a guarded no.

  • jedibeeftrix 29th Mar '14 - 2:23pm

    “Because they hated Nick Clegg after his tuition fees betrayal etc.”

    Phyllis, just as with David, I am led to wonder as to exactly how much value you place in democracy, given that you consider its agents to be utterly incapable of exercising that responsibility?

    As noted above; I understand and accept that popularity and presentation can make a difference to the result of a proposal, but let’s not kid ourselves. the AV vote was crushed 2:1.

    We deem someone as capable of wielding the vote if they are adults of legally sound mind, should we revevaluate this criteria…

    “The pledge was wrapped up in the banner of offering ‘a new kind of politics’ and personal integrity. I guess Lib Dems have given up on that now that they are ‘all grown up’ ? Shame because for many of us that was their unique appeal.”

    The pledge was an utterly daft thing for any minor political party to do. The pledge helped to discredit your new kind of politics, not least because it was associated with making promises you patently could not keep.

  • David Evans 29th Mar '14 - 3:12pm

    @ jedibeeftrix – Sadly your comment is totally misguided. When you say “I’m not so sure; that you don’t have faith in the electorate to in substance weigh a proposal on its merits, and be completely diverted by a superficial dislike, does present itself as a jaded view of the value of democracy,” you don’t seem to be thinking things through.
    I absolutely do have faith in the electorate to weigh a proposal on its merits and one key merit that people judged the AV proposals on were the increased likelihood of coalition. The one key example of coalition that people shared was Nick Clegg and his immediate betrayal of a pledge. That is not a superficial dislike, even if you think so, or a jaded view of democracy, but people using their experience and judgement to reach a logical conclusion. Nick made himself the embodiment of the negatives you get with coalition, and people felt betrayed. They voted not to be betrayed. If you think that is superficial, it is you with a jaded view of democracy, but I think it is more likely to be brought about by a lack of analysis of what went on in the AV vote.

  • David Allen 29th Mar '14 - 3:37pm

    Jedi, David, Phyllis,

    There’s no real disagreement here, is there? It was daft for Clegg to make the pledge. Having made the pledge, it was daft for Clegg to break the pledge. It was dafter still for Clegg to break it in the casual way he did, without even bothering to pretend that he should try to avoid breaking the pledge. It was daft for Clegg to be brazen and unapologetic for a good year thereafter. It was daft for him then to spin on a sixpence and issue a prefabricated and insincere apology.

    Since then …. OK, he’s stopped talking about tuition fees, and he’s launched all sorts of distracting initiatives like Call Clegg and the Farage v Clegg show, with the aim of making people forget about the pledge. Sadly, it’s all just about as effective as an expression of penitence from a child-abusing priest, or an exhibition of artwork by Adolf Hitler. When you’ve comprehensively trashed your political reputation, you won’t ever get it back.

    Clegg has proved to an entire nation that he can’t be trusted. Nothing he says now will ever change that.

  • Malcolm Todd 29th Mar '14 - 4:04pm

    David Allen

    Yes, up to a point. That point is reached when we equate “It was daft for Clegg to make the pledge” and “it was daft for Clegg to break the pledge”. I agree with both points. But the key thing is that having made the pledge, breaking it wasn’t just daft (nor is it a defence to claim, as perhaps jedi will, that it was simply realistic), it was wrong. The only justifiable stance for any MP who signed that pledge was to vote against the fee increase or resign and fight a by-election on a changed premise.

  • Malcolm Todd 29th Mar '14 - 4:09pm

    Of course, if the pledge was made with the conscious intention of breaking it subsequently, that was also wrong in principle; but I don’t believe that to be the case and it certainly isn’t provable. Clegg and others may have made the pledge in the belief that they wouldn’t ever be put to the test, i.e. that their vote one way or the other would make a difference, but that’s a much lesser order of deception. If I promise you that I’ll give £1,000 to charity if you swim the English Channel whilst fully believing that you’ll never do it, then it’s an empty and therefore (arguably) dishonest promise, in terms of what’s in my intention at that point. However, if you confound my expectation and do swim the Channel, then my earlier dishonesty will be completely obviated if I nevertheless honour the promise I made and hand over the money. A promise, regardless of one’s belief about the likelihood of its preconditions coming to pass, binds you to future action. That’s the point.

    (And though my previous comment was in reply to David Allen, by the way, I don’t mean to be taken as accusing him of not thinking the moral distinction matters; I’m pretty sure he’d agree with me on that.)

  • jedibeeftrix 29th Mar '14 - 4:22pm

    “The only justifiable stance for any MP who signed that pledge was to vote against the fee increase or resign and fight a by-election on a changed premise.”

    I’ll happily accept that, provided the coalition agreement permitted this principled stance…

  • I only had time for a quick look at the green manifesto but I didn’t find any discussion of worrisome developments in GM like this.

    http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/22714-how-extreme-levels-of-monsantos-herbicide-roundup-in-food-became-the-industry-norm

    Are there any plans to fix that?

  • Agree with David Allen and Malcolm too.

    The only thing I would add is that I don’t believe the Lib dem negotiating team made any attempt to make the case for honouring their election promises in the Coalition Agreement. Some commentators seem to suggest that the Tories dug their heels in and the LibDems were forced to give up on the manifesto commitment. That is not true..

    Also the line that we are given now – the country could not afford it – rings a bit hollow as the new system is actually costing more than the previous one did.

  • So they are both fools AND. knaves!

  • Thank you David Evans,very articulately put. That is exactly spot on.

  • David Allen 29th Mar '14 - 6:38pm

    “I’ll happily accept that, provided the coalition agreement permitted this principled stance…”

    No Jedi. You know perfectly well that it didn’t. But because it didn’t, it shouldn’t have been agreed to by Clegg in the first place!

    As Malcolm says, there’s a difference between just making “daft” tactical mistakes on the one hand, and doing something morally wrong on the other. You can’t justify doing something morally wrong just by saying that you were following orders, or by saying that you chose to make an agreement which encompassed doing something morally wrong.

    NB, I do not think we can be morally absolutist about these things. If a politician says “We will cut taxes”, and then puts them up, then generally that falls a little short of complete moral betrayal. Everybody knows you can’t be sure what the economy will do, and that a proposal to cut taxes doesn’t amount to a cast-iron pledge. The public will probably be rather rude about this politician, but they won’t consider the behaviour to be as totally dishonest as Clegg’s.

    Then again, Clegg could have decided to fight a ding-dong battle over fees. He could have claimed that when he signed the coalition agreement he had expected some negotiating power and had expected not to be called upon to agree a tripling of fees. If he had done that, and not shut up until he got at least some concessions around the edges, he wouldn’t have been viewed so terribly badly as he actually was. The public would have called him disorganised and weak, but they wouldn’t have seen him as totally lacking in principle.

    What Clegg actually did was to accept, without real demur, and indeed with some bombastic pride, a policy which was 180 degrees different from what he had promised. He broke his promise glibly, uncomplainingly, without any excuse for not even trying to stick to it. That is comprehensive moral bankruptcy.

    That is also a clear demonstration from Clegg that his stock-in-trade is to sell pigs in pokes, and that everyone must expect him to continue selling pigs in pokes. Nobody will buy. He can say what he likes, but nobody will buy. He could promise to deal with Labour next time, and nobody would buy, because nobody would expect the words to be meaningful. That’s the leader we have. One who can never convince the voter to trust him.

  • David Allen, absolutely spot on !!

  • Steve Bolter 29th Mar '14 - 11:25pm

    Clegg did have a T “ding-dong battle over fees”. The Tories wanted UNCAPPED fees. The majority of Lib Dems either voted against the fees package or abstained. Those Lib Dems who voted for it were not voting for the unlimited fees the Tories wanted (and which Labour were not willing to oppose), but to a negotiated package which capped fees, changed the loans system to make it easier for students from poor backgrounds to go into higher education, including part time education) and modified the repayment system so as not to cripple those graduated who do not get into high paid jobs. Had the Lib Dems not negotiated this package, the Tories would have removed the fee cap, continued to exclude part time students from the loan system and kept the high repayments, which would have made graduates not getting into high paid posts dependent on benefits, by bribing minority parties with concessions.

  • Even before the election the Lib Dem leadership had no intention of keeping the pledge or the promise. They blatantly deceived the electorate and the membership.

    “A month before Clegg pledged in April to scrap the “dead weight of debt”, a secret team of key Lib Dems made clear that, in the event of a hung parliament, the party would not waste political capital defending its manifesto pledge to abolish university tuition fees within six years. In a document marked “confidential” and dated 16 March, the head of the secret pre-election coalition negotiating team, Danny Alexander, wrote: “On tuition fees we should seek agreement on part-time students and leave the rest. We will have clear yellow water with the other [parties] on raising the tuition fee cap, so let us not cause ourselves more headaches.

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2010/nov/12/lib-dems-tuition-fees-clegg

    It was never the case that there was a ding-dong with the Tories

  • @ Phyllis
    The Guardian article referenced by Phyllis ends with “Clegg tried to downgrade the pledge to abolish tuition fees at the 2009 party conference, prompting a backlash from the left. A plan to abolish them over six years was included in the general election manifesto.” As Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander and I assume David Laws didn’t agree with party policy it was completely stupid of them to sign the NUS pledge and then they wouldn’t have brought the party into disrepute.

    @ Steve Bolter – “The Tories wanted UNCAPPED fees.” This has been written by others but none of them that I have seen have provided any evidence for this. The only change the coalition made from the Browne Review recommendations was to cap fees at £9,000 and not £12,000. The inclusion of part students was a Browne Review recommendation.

  • Clegg, Cable and Alexander could have dug their heels in and refused any change. This would have meant poorer graduates paying back more, less independence for the universities and likely significant cuts to higher education. On the other hand, such a strategy would have political advantages, presenting the system as an albatross to hand around Labour.

    As I recall, the initial policy was to institute a graduate tax, which was adjudged to be unworkable. This history seems to have led to the present hybrid system, which curiously works out to be cheaper for the most wealthy than for the fairly wealthy .

    My main gripe is that those who agreed on the implementation of the new system have not vigorously defended its advantages, instead they have either been mute or embarrassedly apologetic. If those who implemented the system do not defend it, how can they expect anyone in the rest of the party to mount a defence?

  • … that should be “albatross to hang around (the neck of) Labour”

  • Stuart Mitchell 30th Mar '14 - 11:18am

    @Steve Bolter
    “The majority of Lib Dems either voted against the fees package or abstained.”

    Not true. Two Lib Dems were absent due to being at a climate summit in Mexico so they cannot be said to have “abstained”. Of the remaining MPs, a majority voted in favour of increasing fees. This would still have been the case if all MPs had been present, since at least one of the absent MPs (Chris Huhne) would certainly have voted for the government.

  • Nick Collins 30th Mar '14 - 1:41pm

    It seems that, on Liberal Democrat Voice, all topics lead to tuition fees. I wonder why.

  • David Allen 30th Mar '14 - 5:01pm

    Nick Collins: Yes, I’m sure Duncan Brack would have preferred us all to discuss his interesting article on the “Green Manifesto”. Well, I do apologise for the way tuition fees has hijacked the thread, but, in a sense, it’s totally on-topic.

    The point is that the public won’t buy a Green Manifesto from Clegg. They also wouldn’t buy a Black Manifesto, or a Puce Manifesto, or any other colour Manifesto (with the possible exception of Orange-Blue, on which Clegg does have a credible track record). From Clegg, a Green Manifesto is just empty words. Until the Lib Dems have a leader who might possibly stick to what he promises, nobody will much care what his manifesto says.

  • Nick Collins 30th Mar '14 - 7:17pm

    @ David Allen: I think it will take far more than the removal of Clegg to restore the LibDems’ credibility. Apart from that, I agree with what you say.

  • David Allen 30th Mar '14 - 7:32pm

    Agreed, sadly!

  • David Evans 30th Mar '14 - 7:53pm

    @Nick Collins – “I think it will take far more than the removal of Clegg to restore the LibDems’ credibility. ” true. but without that first step, the journey cannot even begin.

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    May 2 is very important. It is crucial that maximum effort continues to be put into the local government campaign. In Westminster terms it is probably too late ...
  • Michael Cole
    "We need more than a change of government; we need a change in how we are governed." Yes, indeed. Electoral and constitutional reform is a vote winner. ...
  • Gordon
    Russell, A major point that RFK correctly makes is that Ukrainian voters DON’T get to make substantive decisions. Those are driven in part by the US aggre...
  • John McHugo
    Something else we can draw more attention to is our principled stand for a cease-fire on the Israel-Hamas war (while condemning atrocities by both Hamas and Isr...