LibLink: David Laws – Tories will cut schools spending by a quarter

Writing in today’s Telegraph, David Laws says that Tory plans will mean huge cuts to spending on schools:

The Conservatives are offering unfunded tax cuts, meaning they will have to go on making deep cuts to public spending – by far more than is necessary to balance the books.

This would be a huge threat to all we are achieving on education.

Our analysis, based on independent research by the House of Commons library, has found that if the Conservatives are in Government on their own, they would be obliged to force through education budget cuts of £13.3bn a year – that’s a quarter of the entire education budget by 2020.

And now this newspaper has confirmed this – with a briefing paper in black and white from Conservative headquarters.
This paper destroys the Conservatives’ claims to be able to deliver improved school standards. The Department for Education would simply not have the money to protect schools funding. It would not have the money to attract and retain good teachers, to improve early years education, or to continue the Liberal Democrats’ infant free school meals policy.

You can read the full article here.

* Newsmoggie – bringing you comment from a different perspective

Read more by or more about , , or .
This entry was posted in LibLink.


  • stuart moran 7th Jan '15 - 2:12pm

    how will you go about stopping them? Is this a red line?

  • stuart moran 7th Jan '15 - 2:26pm

    I ask this question because your leader is aiming for coalition

    It is also, my perception to be fair, that he (and Laws) would prefer that to be a continuation with the Tories

    If that is the case what would prevent this happening and will you make it clear what you will do to stop the Tories doing this – is this a red line in the negotiations, and if so what will you ask the Tories to do to pay for it

    My guess is that Osborne will do what he did in this Parliament and realise his projections are nonsense and change course in a cad-handed way as he did this time (reference: 2010 statement setting out Government objectives for deficit reduction)

    If there was a coalition with Labour then it would be much easier to agree as their proposals for cuts/taxes are more aligned with yours.

    Can Laws say that, in this case, a coalition with Labour is more likely to deliver your party’s objectives than with the Tories?

  • Our analysis, …. .. if the Conservatives are in Government on their own, they would be obliged to force through education budget cuts of £13.3bn a year – that’s a quarter of the entire education budget by 2020.

    And on the evidence of the last 10 years, Mr Laws will quietly applaud them because he wants to cut the size of the state.

    How does anyone know he wants to cut the size of the state? Because he has repeatedly said so.

    So if he is going to increase spending on schools as this article implies by £13 billion whilst Mr Clegg finds £8billion for the NHS,.

    So which areas of government spending are they going to cut by £21 billion to shore up schools and the NHS?

    They are wedded to Trident and have just agreed to sending troops back to Iraq whilst also bombing the place into the stane age.
    They are aso signed up to build a hugely expensive new miitary base in Bahrain (that haven of democracy and religious freedom).
    So no cuts there!

    Mr Laws says he wants an Orange Book Britain with 1930’s levels of spending whilst at same time increasing spending on schools, mental health, the rest of NHS and the military. Even Danny Alexander should be able to work out that this simply does not add up.

  • John Tilley – I think David Laws would prefer to spend the £40 odd billion (and rising) that is currently spent on debt interest on more productive areas of government.

    Comparison with the 1930s is specious.

  • Off thread, but…I love that look of dumbfounded astonishment on the girl’s face. What a picture.

    It’s just asking for a caption competition. “You made an expenses claim for what..!?”

  • Unusal for Laws to attack the Tories – he’s been doing it a bit recently – surely he’s not worried about losing his seat. Even I can’t see it getting that bad, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see a very significant drop in his majority.

  • stuart moran 7th Jan '15 - 2:52pm


    I agree with what you said

    The point I think I am trying to make, badly, is that Clegg is clearly going all out for coalition and I want to know with who

    Based on what I have seen of policy announcements and approach then the only real option is Labour as the Tory spending plans are massively out of kilter with the other two parties

    If you try to maintain an equidistance then the points you have raised need to be answered – how will the LD persuade the Tories to spend the money and is this just a tactical moan by Laws or does he really see that the education system will be seriously undermined under the Tories

    If the latter is the case then how can they try to pretend that a coalition with the Tories would be feasible

    This question could have been dodged if Clegg hadn’t published an article advocating LD in a continued coalition. In my view he therefore has to say who would be his preference – and please none of this nonsense about largest party etc, surely the preference has to be based on political philosophy!

  • stuart moran 7th Jan '15 - 2:56pm


    If that is the case what is he doing moaning about the Tory plans and why doesn’t he join their party? They are the ones who are making the deepest cuts and the LD plans as I have seen them now are considered by the IFS to be a lot more similar to Labour’s than the Tories’?

    He must surely also be disappointed in the complete failure of the current Government to fulfil their promises on the deficit, why does he not come out and say so?

  • RC 7th Jan ’15 – 2:48pm
    … that look of dumbfounded astonishment on the girl’s face –. “You made an expenses claim for what..!?”

    Brilliant observation, RC. 🙂

  • Helen Tedcastle 7th Jan '15 - 3:05pm

    @stuart moran
    ‘… how will the LD persuade the Tories to spend the money and is this just a tactical moan by Laws or does he really see that the education system will be seriously undermined under the Tories…’

    Yes Laws is probably being tactical but of all the spokespeople on education (including useless ultra-Blairite Tristram Hunt), Laws has at least offered a cogent analysis of the situation in schools and acknowledged the toll Gove’s curriculum and structural policies have taken on the service.

    Of course, Laws’ analysis arises from his position as an economic liberal and statistician but even he can see the damage already done by rushed ideological changes, most of which was accepted in the first two years of this government by our leadership. Clegg’s late Damascus road conversion away from trusting Gove, came as late as 2012, when Gove’s SpAd Dominic Cummings attacked him personally for not allowing the return of the damaging O level/CSE divide.

    No one in front-line politics in England offers anything but a right-wing analysis of education. The fact that Laws is the most coherent has to viewed from that context. It is deeply depressing.

  • Tab man
    You should send you accusation of “specious” direct to Mr Laws as quoted in and indeed interviewed by The Daily Telegraph (which you no doubt regard as a dangerous lefty rag).

    It was Mr Laws who said that 40% was too much —

    Just two years ago, in an interview with the Telegraph, he claimed that the share of the economy accounted for by the state was “out of kilter”……

    He said — Spending as a proportion of GDP should therefore fall, with only health, education and pensions protected.

    It might have been thought, therefore, that he would be the first to support Mr Osborne’s ambition to reduce government spending to around 35 per cent of GDP. 

    After all, before the last election, he was in favour of bringing spending down to precisely that level – and even edited the Orange Book, a selection of Lib Dem policy essays which went so far as to propose replacing the NHS with a national health insurance scheme.

  • stuart moran 7th Jan ’15 – 2:52pm

    I think you make good observations on this. But I am in no doubt that the two individuals have absolutely no intention of forming a coalition with anyone other than the Comservatives.

    Unless of course it is the Conservatives along with the DUP and UKIP.

  • stuart moran 7th Jan '15 - 3:16pm


    Thanks for the post – I bow to your knowledge no education matters and agree with you that it is depressing that we have a right-wing consensus

    I think my question was more simplistic though, about money.

    If Laws is so bothered about the investment then how will he ensure it doesn’t happen. Either he works with labour who are probably on the same page or he convinces the Tories not to make the cuts as they have so clearly set out. I would guess the former is more realistic unless there is something we don’t know.

    If I was really cynical I would say some of these arguments are synthetic and Osborne is already preparing to backtrack if he is re-elected. He can then offer up more money which Clegg and Laws will portray as a success and an indication of their influence……I would say it is too cynical but with the combined u-turn on the economy by Clegg after the coalition was formed and the abandonment of deficit reduction by Osborne I am not quite so sure…

  • “Right-wing consensus on education”.

    Really? I don’t see it. We still have a comprehensive system and no party is challenging it.

  • Actually – time was when academic selection was viewed as a left-wing POV. And perhaps should be again, given the current entrenchment of privelege by the house-price selection system we have currently.

  • Helen Tedcastle 7th Jan '15 - 3:45pm

    @ stuart moran

    On education, I cannot see any noticeable difference between the Tories and Labour on substance except on the ‘issue’ of qualified teachers.The left long ago lost confidence in its analysis when Blair gained control of the agenda and turned teaching into a box-ticking, looking over the shoulder exercise.

    Laws has offered an analysis but you are right that it is unclear how he could or would stop Osborne implementing any cuts on schools.

    I think what is going on is what might be called ‘tango-dancing.’ Of course the leadership of the Lib Dems prefer to work with the Tories – I thought that was a given. Nothing in recent days has given me pause to think otherwise. The fact that all three parties accept a right-wing way of thinking on education doesn’t change that basic fact.

    @ tabman

    ‘ We still have a comprehensive system and no party is challenging it.’

    Comprehensive as opposed to selective I suppose. Don’t worry you can always vote UKIP. They want to return to the failed grammar/secondary modern system.

    I look forward to asking the UKIP candidate in my area which school should be made a grammar, thus making all the others into secondary moderns… I’m sure once parents realise the implications for their own children, this model will be consigned to the dustbin of history once and for all.

  • stuart moran 7th Jan '15 - 3:59pm


    No problems with what you wrote but can you see the point I am making is that there is an incoherence here that the party must address otherwise things could get very messy

    The Tories get a fairly easy ride in the press, the same is not the case for you (apart from certain journalists on the Grauniad) – they will point out that actually the economic policy of the Lib Dem and Labour are closer to that of the Tories, and I guess the Tory manifesto will be so extreme that on other areas the LD will be closer ideologically to Labour

    If that is the case how can Laws and Clegg pretend that a coalition with the Tories is possible – surely they will have to eventually admit that they are closer to Labour. Will your membership and activists accept (with the knowledge on what the reality of a coalition is) that the leadership maintains this ‘tango dance’

    Although I agree that Labour are not saints in the education area I do not think they are anywhere near as extreme as the Tories – qualified teachers, free schools etc are areas where they are different

    Thanks to your leader’s intervention you are not campaigning on your manifesto, you will be campaigning on a coalition manifesto defined by the other two parties – you got away with not having to do this last time, I doubt you will be so lucky this time.

    The decision to keep Alexander in place compounds this

  • Helen Tedcastle 7th Jan '15 - 4:16pm

    @ stuart moran

    I don’t disagree. The Alexander appointment over Vince only compounds the problem. However, Labour are still too prone to triangulating and it is so hard to pin down what they actually believe in beyond their professed love of the NHS – they founded it you know and they still hope that we’ll forget the Blair years (and PFI) and give them the benefit of the doubt.

  • stuart moran 7th Jan '15 - 4:22pm


    Again fair points but if coalition is the aim (and again this is the strategic aim of your leadership……) then you will have to make a choice between the two

    I have more faith in Miliband than Cameron and also I think the fact that the Blairites outside the party are clearly gunning for him gives me some comfort (Hodges and Rental spring to mind). He still has to deliver

    If you took a principled position that coalition is not a strategic aim then you may get away with it but I don’t think anyone really believes that.

    I will ask you – if you had to go into coalition based on what you know which party would you prefer? (emphasis on the word had).

  • Jayne Mansfield 7th Jan '15 - 4:35pm

    @ Helen Tedcastle,
    Oddly, Ukip never seem to trumpet their intention to restore Secondary Moderns for the majority of children.

    I don’t think that those who favour grammar school have thought through the implications for their own child if they do not pass the exam. In fact, I know that some don’t. Friends in Lincolnshire think that private tuition will do the trick, so such a scenario need not concern them.

  • David Allen 7th Jan '15 - 4:39pm

    I think RC wins the caption competition, but I’m amazed to see a picture published in which a girl (probably a member of the catering staff) appears to be indignantly snatching his lunch tray away from David Laws. It would be interesting to know the real caption, but my entry is:

    Laws: “Flipping heck, what a pitiful choice for lunch!”
    Server (politely): “I’m sorry sir, but we’ve had to blow the school budget on your free dinners gimmick, so I’m afraid that’s all we can afford…”
    Waitress: “You think you can come here and sneer at us, and then expect us to give you a photo-opportunity? Give me that tray back! Yeah, OK, take a snap of that then!”

  • Jayne Mansfield 7th Jan '15 - 4:50pm

    Has he handed his tray to the little girl and said, ‘Hold this tray for me , love” ?

  • John Tilley – “edited the Orange Book, a selection of Lib Dem policy essays which went so far as to propose replacing the NHS with a national health insurance scheme.”

    That dangerously right-wing country France has a national health insurance scheme, and managed to come top of the WHO health outcomes ranking.

    Helen Tedcastle – we already have selective education, based on the ability to pay (mortgages in areas with “good” schools). Those who care about education are happy for it to stay that way because they don’t run the risk of losing places at “their” schools to bright kids from poor areas.

  • Helen Tedcastle 7th Jan '15 - 5:39pm

    @ Jayne Mansfield

    Yes, some parents are resorting to intensive tutoring for their children in the hope that they will gain an advantage over others in the exam. The trouble is it is no guarantee.

    Having witnessed the devastation caused to children when they have failed (to enter independent grammars) and will not be consoled that they have not let anyone down, I am more convinced than ever that a return to a selective system fails more children than it helps. I am not of the school of thought that failure of this magnitude at eleven or even thirteen is ‘good for children.’ It is not.

    Of course this is not the only reason why the I think the return to the old failed system would be wrong.

    There is good research from the excellent Professor Danny Dorling, which shows that social mobility is held back by the retention of grammars in areas like Trafford for example:

  • stuart moran 7th Jan '15 - 5:40pm


    That data was from 15 years ago and not long after the change of Government from the Tories who had neglected the health service for a long time

    If you look at a more recent assessment

    The previous editions showed a steady improvement over the first decade of the 2000s

    However, if you want to propose a move to an insurance-based scheme then feel free to do so. I think anyone doing so would not find a home in the LD methinks!

  • David Allen 7th Jan '15 - 5:59pm

    Jayne Mansfield: Laws isn’t looking at the girl, so he can’t just be handing her his tray to hold. She’s looking either dumbfounded or furious, one can’t quite tell which. To my surprise, I now see that the picture doesn’t come from the Telegraph article which is cited here. So where did LDV take it from I wonder?

  • Caractacus – parents don’t pay tuition fees. Students do, upon graduation, when their income exceeds a certain threshold.

  • A Social Liberal 7th Jan '15 - 11:14pm


    Rich parents of students can pay the tuition fees as they are levied, therefore saving their offspring up to £27,000 plus interest.

  • It’s a picture from a visit by Laws to the Mulberry School for Girls on 5 September 2012. More pictures are available here:

    And here’s another:

    Though they don’t tell the whole story, they do suggest that the emotion being expressed was not really shock or dismay. Perhaps Laws had just told a very bad joke.

  • Tabman (off thread)
    With all your comments here and elsewhere, how come you were allowed to comment on the recent “infrequent commenters” thread. I am sure there are others of us fairly regular commenters who would have liked to comment.

  • David Allen 8th Jan '15 - 10:51am

    David-1: You’re right, it looks from the series of photos more like larking about than anything else. The photographer also has an obvious genius for catching the inappropriate expression – such as Laws staring beseechingly towards heaven while Clegg launches into his peroration!

  • A Social Liberal – rich parents can do lots of things for their offspring; what’s your point exactly? Are you proposing we abolish rich parents?

    Tim13 – when I posted on that thread I met the requirements. I just posted on the site a lot subsequently having not been on it or posted for months.

  • Peter Watson 8th Jan '15 - 11:16pm

    @Tabman “rich parents can do lots of things for their offspring; what’s your point exactly? Are you proposing we abolish rich parents?”
    Part of the problem with the tuition fees scheme is that the students with the wealthiest parents and expectations of the highest earnings can pay up front and graduates with the highest salaries can pay off their debt early, and in both cases end up paying less for their degrees than less affluent students and graduates.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?


Recent Comments

  • John Grout
    Worth saying, if 35,000 people hadn't voted Lib Dem last time we'd have been wiped out - but if 33,000 more people had voted Lib Dem, we'd have had double the n...
  • Mick Taylor
    The problem with cigarettes is that they don’t only harm smokers, but also those around them. Thus young children inhale smoke involuntarily when their parent...
  • Martin Gray
    To think that this man follows in the footsteps of Clem, Jo, and Charles - is painful to imagine.......
  • Martin Gray
    Factories were closing all throughout our membership of the EU - only to be replaced with faceless warehouses on the edge of town with insecure and poorly paid...
  • John Grout
    Good to see the long format interview, but I think Liberals of all stripes will raise their eyebrows at Ed's support for a total smoking ban. I respect his com...