Edgbaston PPC Lee Dargue takes part in debate with Birmingham University students

Lee Dargue, Lib Dem PPC for Edgbaston, recently met students from the University of Birmingham to discuss the party’s policies and their concerns. The student website Redbrick described him as an MP. We can but wish. It would not be a bad thing to have the chair of the Lib Dem Mental Health Association in Parliament.

It was inevitable that tuition fees would come up:

Dargue stated, ‘It has caused us a lot of damage.’ He did highlight the fact that ‘not all Lib Dem MPs voted in favour of the tuition fee rise.’ However, he stressed the positive realities of the new system, comparing it to a ‘Graduate Tax’ and reminded students that these loans are ‘no longer tied to your credit rating.’

To continue the discussion, a student asked what the Lib Dems believe is the greatest student problem. In response, Dargue stated that ‘Tuition fees are a red herring.’ He added that his party were more concerned about ‘the cost of student accommodation and transport’ since these are more immediate factors that affect students.

Redbrick also has a report of the event as it happened. Lee said he wanted to see  16 year olds and prisoners have the right to vote, he questioned the need for LGBT only schools, saying:

I don’t believe in segregating people off in schools. We need to mix and work with different people, including the LGBT community, so I don’t necesssarily agree with the LGBT only proposed school.

On immigration he summed up the challenge:

How do you address irrational fear with facts and statistics?

It’s good to see that Liberal Democrat candidates aren’t hiding away and are engaging with students.



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  • Stephen Donnelly 31st Jan '15 - 3:12pm

    Dog bites man story. Of more concern are the seats where we do not have candidates in place, and debates are taking place in schools and colleges, without a liberal representative.

  • Ed Shepherd 31st Jan '15 - 3:18pm

    Tuition fees are not like a graduate tax. They are a debt. A considerable debt of tens of thousands of pounds repayable by anyone who studies for a degree. These debts will cause considerable problems for individuals and for society in the future.

  • Ed Shepherd: Does that mean that you think that anyone who declared themselves bankrupt could have this “considerable debt of tens of thousands of pounds” set aside?

  • stuart moran 1st Feb '15 - 8:09am


    I am a graduate – when will I receive my tax bill?

    If it is a tax then I assume it will be collected by HMRC and will be paid by all graduates on a progressive scale meaning that those who are paid higher will always end up paying more. I assume also that the tax cannot be avoided by paying off a certain amount or paying upfront?

    As a tax I assume also that it is collected by Government and will never be sold off to a private company?

  • Peter Watson 1st Feb '15 - 9:27am

    @Martin “Does that mean that you think that anyone who declared themselves bankrupt could have this “considerable debt of tens of thousands of pounds” set aside?”
    Originally they could be set aside in a bankruptcy, but student loans are treated as income contingent loans and were made non-provable in bankruptcy by the Higher Education Act in 2004, so perhaps Lib Dems should give Labour credit for introducing a graduate tax. I don’t remember many saying that in 2010 though.
    The system we have is called a loan: it is a sum of money to be repaid, it is administered by the Student Loans Company, it is repayable by those who do not graduate, it is avoidable by those who have the means to pay upfront or repay early, and this coalition government has only increased the magnitude but not changed the principles of the scheme they inherited. It is not a graduate tax (just as it was not before 2010), no matter how many times Clegg or others may claim that it is (or use weasel words to say it is like a graduate tax. Perhaps it is the best that Lib Dems could achieve in Coalition with a partner in Government and an Opposition that would implement Browne’s recommendations, but every time a senior Lib Dem speaks about it they remind us of broken promises and give the impression that what they have introduced is the some brilliant idea that they always wanted.

  • Ian Sanderson (RM3) 1st Feb ’15 – 8:56am
    @Stephen Donnelly
    ‘…Of more concern are the seats where we do not have candidates in place, and debates are taking place in schools and colleges, without a liberal representative.’

    Ian, you make a good point that it is not necessary to have a selected candidate to have a good person to put the Liberal Democrat case.
    However, we have declined dramatically as a party since 2010 in terms of membership and local organisation.

    The decline in the number of functioning local parties is one of the unmentioned inconvenient truths of 2015.

    Stephen Donnelly is right to be concerned. Parachuting candidates into derelict seats in the last few weeks before a General Election is a symptom of that problem.
    There is too much emphasis on ‘Building Brand Clegg’ and not enough emphasis on re-building the party.
    We need all our efforts from 8th May devoted to rebuilding the party from the ground up.

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