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22 Comments

  • Paul Barker 12th Jan '20 - 2:10pm

    We can all help by forgiving each other & ourselves.
    We are still recovering from The Coalition, a mistake I & most of Us backed.
    Oddly, bashing each other over the head may not help that Recovery.

  • Well said Paul.

  • Peter Watson 12th Jan '20 - 8:56pm

    @Martin “Hm.. someone who voted in 2010 claiming to have been affected by the coalition tuition fee policy.”
    I think this sniffy attitude is misplaced and unpleasant.
    The Coalition’s tuition fee policy directly affected mature students, part-time students, Open University students, etc. Indirectly it also affected the parents of those who followed a more traditional route to a university level qualification directly from school.

  • marcstevens 12th Jan '20 - 9:49pm

    Mr Watson, the ramping up of tuition fees by 300% was a disaster and many party members or supporters like myself recognise that and spoke out against it. That’s why we had the Lib Dems 4 Change group opposing these measures and Nick Clegg’s leadership signed by hundreds of members but we got short shrift on here and even the B word was used. If tuition fees had increased more gradually it would not have caused such an uproar. Tuition fees had actually been introduced by the Labour government in 1998 but many people conveniently forget that and would’ve been raised had Labour returned to power. The bedroom tax, abolition of the AWB and closure of Sure Start centres etc were also illiberal policies as the effects of them harmed the most vulnerable in society as was the PFI initiative which both the Tories and Labour expanded.

  • marcstevens 13th Jan '20 - 4:14pm

    Don’t bother, I am not a maths geek my point remains and I stand by it and for those of us at the lower end, council tenants like myself, social not orange booker liberalism.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Jan '20 - 12:47pm

    The Coalition formed in 2010 was the only stable government that could have been formed, given the number of MPs for each party. There were not enough Labour MPs to make a Labour-LibDem coalition viable.

    Had the Coalition not been formed, there would have been a minority Conservative government. It’s likely they’d have called another general election within a year (as in 1974), working with Labour to push the message “Get rid of the Liberal Democrat MPs to allow a stable government to be formed”.

    Brexit has shown us what happens when there isn’t a stable majority and everyone votes against what they don’t want – nothing happens because there is no majority, and extremists blame moderates for refusing to compromise and get things going.

    Had there been proportional representation in 2010, the Liberal Democrats would have had two-thirds of the number of MPs that the Conservatives had, and a Labour-LibDem coalition would have been viable. This would have given the Liberal Democrats much more strength in being able to get what they wanted from the coalition.

    Instead, the Liberal Democrats had just one-sixth of the number of MPs that the Conservatives had. As such, and without being able to threaten the Conservatives by forming an alternative coalition with Labour if they didn’t give in, the Liberal Democrats in reality had very little say in the Coalition, being able to swing it only slightly when there was a fairly even division within the Conservatives.

    The Liberal Democrats should have made this clear in the following general elections in 2015, 2017 and 2019: that the 2010-2015 Coalition was mainly Conservative, so what it did was very far from what a majority Liberal Democrat government would do. Also that the 2010-15 government was the result of us not having proportional representation.

    Instead, by saying none of this, the Liberal Democrats have managed our opponents to get away with making the claim that we were in full support of everything the Coalition did, and so a purely Liberal Democrat government would have done exactly the same. This is madness, and I blame the leadership of our party for not doing what was necessary for us to recover.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Jan '20 - 1:29pm

    On the issue of university tuition fees, were the Liberal Democrats in 2010-2015 in a position to force the Conservatives to drop their main policy, keeping taxes low, and instead increase taxes in order for the government to have enough money to pay directly to keep universities going?

    No, and yet in effect it is what those who criticise the Liberal Democrats for the tuition fee issue are saying. I keep asking, and never ever get a proper answer, what do those who criticise the Liberal Democrats say they should have done instead? Massive cuts in other government spending in order to pay for universities? Well, ok, say what more should have been cut … bearing in mind that actually the cuts already made by the Coalition were nasty and damaging.

    Personally, I think that universities should be funded by big increases in inheritance tax, not that the Conservatives would have ever supported that. I find when I suggest this, those moaning about tuition fee increases go strangely silent rather than agreeing with me …

    There is one way that the Liberal Democrats could have kept their policy on universities in the Coalition – massive cuts in the number of universities. You who moan at what the Coalition did would have preferred that? Yes or no … Answer me.

    By reluctantly accepting what the Conservatives proposed in terms of personal payment for university places, and instead putting effort into insisting there should be loans available for everyone to pay for it, with payment back only asked for when they earned enough for it, the Liberal Democrats actually saved the university system. I mean this as a university lecturer – our jobs and careers have been saved by this, as otherwise there would definitely have been big cuts in universities.

    In reality, the repayment of the university loans is not much difference from the extra income tax that might otherwise have been asked for to pay for universities if the Conservatives were willing to consider that. However paid, it would still have to be paid off somehow. This is the issue – people seem to think that the cost if universities is so high that it is a life-time wrecking having to pay off tuition fee loans, and yet so low that it could be paid for by tax in a way that hardly anyone would be affected.

    Again, our party leadership needs to explain all this properly, and doesn’t, so causing us immense damage.

  • Innocent Bystander 14th Jan '20 - 1:56pm

    “big increases in inheritance tax” caught my eye.
    I spent a lifetime of scrimping and saving to have something to pass onto my beloved children.
    And what is that money wanted for? To support a vast and bloated university sector that teaches worthless degrees to the gullible for a handful of weeks instead of the 48 most of us worked for?
    Most are just hairdressing and bricklaying colleges re-badged and should revert to being that. At least they were useful.
    The top ones seem obsessed with displacing UK children with foreign ones presumably because struggling little nations, like China, need our munificence denied to our own youth.
    Thankfully, the LibDems haven’t formed a government. This time (or any time in the next century).

  • Paul Holmes 14th Jan '20 - 2:23pm

    @Matthew Huntbach – and in the event of a fairly immediate second General Election would the Lib Dems have suffered (if they did) as badly as in 2015? Not to mention being slaughtered at every level in every set of elections 2011, 2012, 2013,2014? Not to mention the continuing struggle to claw back previously hard won electoral credibility in 2016, 2017,2018 and 2019? The only real modern precedent is 1974 when the Liberal Party refusal to prop up the Tories in Coalition did NOT result in annihilation in the second GE 8 months later.

    Ref Tuition Fees the LD’s did of course hold a strong hand in that the Coalition could not go ahead without them (as with the DUP confidence and supply more recently). Osborne thought that as we had made such an issue out of Tuition Fees (ever since 1997 not just in the then recent GE campaign) it would have been one of our Red Lines and offered to leave the issue alone as it was. Regrettably, as with PR, Clegg and Co had more or less abandoned all our Red Lines -and indeed entirely reversed our policies and promises on issues such as Tuition Fees and the NHS. Our ensuing electoral destruction is a matter of factual record however much various L Dems write self convincing, erudite pieces on how good the Coalition was, how history will view it differently and so on.

  • Phil Beesley 14th Jan '20 - 5:40pm

    Jenny Barnes: “The only reason that the student numbers have got so high is because Labour decided that 50% of the population needed degrees. Far better to spend education money on early years provision, surestart etc…”

    We can’t determine whether young undergraduates have responded to a government or social signal to get a degree, or whether young people wanted to continue in education. Was the 50% figure a directive or an ambition? Either way, I think it was flawed and unhelpful to understanding how universities could be funded.

    Projects for young children are attractive to politicians because small people look nice on election leaflets. However investment in a five year old takes 20 years before there is a return in tax contributions. HMG gets a quicker return on its investment by improving teen education — but it is harder and less emotionally appealing. And remember that a teenager can’t turn back the clock to take advantage of funds for new learners.

  • @ Jenny Barnes Surestart….. Yes, important, but not something the LibDem-Con Coalition can boast about…… although, in fairness, Gordon Brown could….

    “1,000 Sure Start children’s centres may have shut since 2010 …
    https://www.theguardian.com › society › apr › 1000-sure-start-childrens-ce…
    5 Apr 2018 – The study warns that Sure Start centres are at a “tipping point”, with further drastic … It says centres are struggling to “survive in an environment of declining resources … Sure Start funding halved in eight years, figures show.”

  • @ Phil Beesley “Projects for young children are attractive to politicians because small people look nice on election leaflets. However investment in a five year old takes 20 years before there is a return in tax contributions”.

    Oh, for goodness sake. There speaks Dickens’ Mr. Gradgrind.

    Benthamite Utilitarianism lives and speaks confidently on LDV.

  • Phil Beesley 14th Jan '20 - 7:01pm

    David Raw: “Oh, for goodness sake. There speaks Dickens’ Mr. Gradgrind.

    Benthamite Utilitarianism lives and speaks confidently on LDV.”

    Am I a grouch for proposing an economic argument that teenage education should be treated with equal consideration as that for five year olds? It is logically possible to educate teens and toddlers to equal standards, so we should do both. If we have to do one less well, education for teens should be better funded. I made a very simple argument about tax revenue, but I can tell you why society more generally benefits from better educated teens. There may even be a trickle down effect which benefits children at the start of education.

    Thanks for the reminder about Bentham. It is good to consider people outside the range of conventional liberal philosophy.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Jan '20 - 7:16pm

    Innocent Bystander

    I spent a lifetime of scrimping and saving to have something to pass onto my beloved children.

    Ok, so you’d rather they have to wait until you die than get what they want when they need it? With lifespans these days, by the time one inherit from one’s parents, it’s quite likely one has already reached retirement age oneself.

    This is actually the main reason why house prices have gone so high. Nowadays most people buying houses are using in part money inherited from house. So the price of houses is pushing the price of houses up.

    The consequence of this is that young people these days are vastly less likely to be able to get houses of their own than used to be the case. Oh sure, the “bank of mum and dad” can pass on money inherited from the grandparent, and often this is what happens. So is that real freedom – dependency on your parents and grandparents?

    And what is that money wanted for? To support a vast and bloated university sector that teaches worthless degrees to the gullible for a handful of weeks instead of the 48 most of us worked for?

    What I teach as a university lecturer means students who do well in my module earn more than I do a couple of years after they have graduated and got jobs as a result of it, but then I guess most lecturers don’t teach what I teach (computer programming). So, what you are saying is that it would be better to have big cuts in the number of university places to make it easier to pay for what’s left by taxation.

    Ok, but I think those who think that would have been the better solution need to be honest and admit it.

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Jan '20 - 7:25pm

    Paul Holmes

    Our ensuing electoral destruction is a matter of factual record however much various L Dems write self convincing, erudite pieces on how good the Coalition was, how history will view it differently and so on.

    I don’t think the Coalition was good at all. I’m not saying it was. What I am saying is that the idea that a small party that joins a coalition can get whatever it wants out of it is wrong.

    Small parties that can get what they want from coalitions are those with strong supporters who are all based in one small area, or are just obsessed with minor issues that most others don’t care about. Parties like this can very easily be paid off. Parties whose support is less devoted and is more general and evenly spread, and that’s the Liberal Democrats, find it much harder to get what they want from coalitions.

    I think we needed to make this clear from the start, but of course the useless leader we had when the Coalition was formed did the exact opposite.

    It is, of course, in the interest of the Conservative to pretend they would very easily have given in to us and given to us what we wanted, only we didn’t ask for it. After all, who has benefited most from that false supposition being pushed out?

  • Innocent Bystander 14th Jan '20 - 7:52pm

    I have not been dishonest at all. Big cuts. And a complete change of mission from self aggrandisement to support of the nation’s recovery.
    The bit that can”t, or won’t, support that imperative, can go. The concept that we are the planet’s rich uncle and can call the youth of the world to learn from us is now outdated nonsense and we are in economic survival mode.

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