LibLink: Now Nick Clegg is leading the Tories by the nose

Ann McElvoy, writing in the Evening Standard, adds an interesting perspective on Coalition life:

Look, for instance, at the policy writhing on tuition fees of the main party in power. On Monday, I chaired a meeting at the University of London on the future of higher education. David Willetts, the universities minister, ran the gauntlet of students shouting “F*** the fees” with the look of a man who knows that he is to this generation of uppity students what Keith Joseph was in my youth: permanent quarry.

Yet his message, through clenched teeth, was that fees would still be capped under a Tory coalition. Nick Clegg had said so on Sunday’s Andrew Marr show — therefore, it must be true. Mr Willetts had the wounded air of a man who had been bounced into confirming something he didn’t like in the first place.

This is little short of remarkable for a Tory party which has for years argued that a cap on fees was counter-productive and restricts the freedom of universities to develop a market in what they offer and match the best in the world.

Watch out, Mr Cameron, those nice Lib-Dems are getting used to having their own way. They won’t give it up easily.

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10 Comments

  • .
    “This is little short of remarkable for a Tory party which has for years argued that a cap on fees was counter-productive …”

    That’s because the Tories never imagined the cap being set so high!

  • “Nick Clegg is leading the Tories by the nose”

    Is it April 1st?

  • paul barker 27th Oct '10 - 4:19pm

    The thing thats new is that both Tories & Libdems are being led by Reality. Not just the superficial Facts of Parliamentary arithmetic & Government spending but the deeper Reality of what Politics is.
    British Parties can be arranged along a Left-Right spectrum but there is a Deeper structure, Ideology-Identity. At one end of the Spectrum you have Labour, a Party almost entirely built around Identity- I am Working Class/BAME/Northern etc therefore I am Labour & at the other The Libdems builr round Ideas & Values. The tories have aspects of both & that is why we can work with them.
    With Labour we will always be talking at cross purposes even when we seem to agree.

  • Rabi Martins 27th Oct '10 - 4:33pm

    Tuition fees with or without a cap are not Liberal Democrat policy – there is no point pretending otherwise. My objection to tuition fees is that it lands young graduates with a loan to repay – even if the start of the repaymnment period does not start till the earnings threshold has been reached. A higher cap simply means a higher student debt – Not something that people from lower income families want to start their working life with

  • Anthony Aloysius St 27th Oct '10 - 4:49pm

    It’s paradoxical, but the effect of imposing a cap on fees is to cut the amount that the highest-earning graduates contribute to higher education (making no difference to the lower-earning majority), and also to cut the amount government contributes to it.

    It’s actually an odd thing for Lib Dems to be supporting, but as the party has got itself into such an almighty mess over this issue, no doubt having pledged to vote against any rise in fees, the MPs feel they must at least support a cap.

  • David Langshaw 27th Oct '10 - 8:00pm

    This is the third article in a row by Ann McElvoy which has kicked the Lib Dems – it seems to be her new job these days.

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