Nick Clegg writes to Lib Dem MPs over tuition fees

Earlier today, Nick Clegg sent the following letter to all Liberal Democrat MPs:

Like you, I am painfully aware of the pledge we all made to voters on tuition fees ahead of the General Election. Departing from that pledge will be one of the most difficult decisions of my political career. It means doing something that no one likes to do in politics – acknowledging that the assumptions we made at election time simply don’t work out in practice. With the benefit of hindsight, I signed a pledge at a time when we could not have anticipated the full scale of the financial situation the country faces now and the absence of plausible alternatives for students to the arrangements we are now advocating.

Our constructive and open dialogue as a party on such a difficult issue for us has only reinforced my view that, whatever our differences of opinion, Liberal Democrats are motivated by a desire to see fairness hardwired into our society. I should stress that no detailed decisions have yet been taken by the Government on how to take forward Lord Browne’s recommendations. We have broadly endorsed them but this is an enormously complex issue and we will take the time needed to get it right. In that time, my door and Vince’s are open to any colleague who wants to make their case.

Most of you will agree that the existing system of the funding of higher education is unsustainable. This is exacerbated by the enormous deficit left to us by Labour necessitating unavoidable cuts in government support for higher education. It must also be remembered that Labour were planning to make massive cuts in the university teaching budget, having earmarked the BIS Department for 20% to 25% cuts. There is no pain free alternative. Unless the current system of Tuition Fees is changed, then either our universities would be bankrupt or far fewer of our young people would get the chance to experience tertiary education. People from our generations were lucky enough to enjoy a university education paid for by the state. In an ideal world, I would like our children and grandchildren to have the same. But we could not be further from an ideal world. We are in a disastrous financial situation that requires us to take tough decisions we would otherwise not have made.

The current system is also unfair in many ways – not least the raw deal given to part-time students and the low level (near minimum wage) at which graduates currently have to start paying back their loans. The Government will respond fully to Browne’s recommendations in due course but some specific proposals deserve highlighting. Part-time students will have their fees paid up front and will be treated for the first time like their full-time counterparts. Poorer students will pay less, while wealthier students will pay more. And a much more progressive system than the current one both makes more generous maintenance arrangements for those on low incomes and raises the threshold at which repayments start to be made.

As Vince made clear, a pure graduate tax, while superficially attractive, simply won’t work. It is not fair, nor will it reduce our colossal deficit. That is why everyone who has looked closely at it has come to the same conclusion – not least the last Labour Government in their booklet ‘What’s Wrong with a Graduate Tax’. If Ed Miliband ignores his Shadow Chancellor’s advice and continues to support a graduate tax, then we should be extremely confident that it is us who are on the right side of the argument.

I understand there will be some colleagues who feel that they cannot depart from their pledge but I urge them to only come to that final conclusion after a thorough examination of all the facts available. As a starting point, I draw colleagues’ attention to yesterday’s response from the Institute for Fiscal Studies – “the proposed reforms to repayments are highly progressive and ensure that poorest 30% of graduates are better off than under the current system, whilst ensuring that the richest 30% of graduates pay off their loans in full.”

The overriding principle for Liberal Democrats is that any system of higher education funding is fair. It should increase the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds; it should increase social mobility; it should ensure fair access for all and not put anyone off attending university; it should increase the already world-class teaching and research at our universities; and it should ensure that those who earn more pay more.

This is one of the most difficult political decisions I have ever had to make and I have struggled endlessly with it, as I am sure you have. I could not forgive myself, however, if we did not take decisions now, regardless of how difficult they are politically, that would lead to a fair and sustainable system of higher education funding for future generations.

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180 Comments

  • Mike(The Labour one) 13th Oct '10 - 5:55pm

    Pretty convenient for Clegg that all the policies he personally didn’t like but were voted through by the Lib Dems have turned out to be impossible to work for.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 13th Oct '10 - 5:59pm

    “With the benefit of hindsight, I signed a pledge at a time when we could not have anticipated the full scale of the financial situation the country faces now …”

    The usual duplicitous claptrap.

  • Sam Hansford 13th Oct '10 - 6:01pm

    Resign/

  • Richard Morris 13th Oct '10 - 6:04pm

    Hmm. Nick seems to be saying that we didn’t investigate the funding of our pledges at the last election properly. If we got the tuition fees sums wrong, what else did we miscalculate on? Which is a shame when for 3 General Elections in a row (maybe 4) we have gone on at some length about carefully costing all our promises, giving us fiscal credibility. I guess from a presentational point of view it’s better than the alternative point of view – that we were fibbing.But it still makes for pretty glum reading for the party. And even glummer for anyone thinking of going to university.

  • Resign

  • Nick. The “assumptions we made at election time” were a fully costed plan costing around £600mn a year. There is no point pretending otherwise when the white elephant is that Trident is being replaced at a cost of at least 10x that leaving a massive hole in our budget plans.

    What doesn’t “work out in practice” is treating the coalition as one entity rather than a partnership of different views. You have always respected our views when you were in the minority. I urge you and Alistair to swallow your pride and urge fellow Liberal Democrats to (at the very least) abstain, as in the coalition agreement, not whip them into line through the back door.

    R Brown
    Liberal Youth Membership Development co-chair

  • David Allen 13th Oct '10 - 6:13pm

    Resign

  • This is a rather staggering admission that the Lib Dems prior to the election didn’t have a clue what they were talking about and this comes from the leader of the party, this is breathtaking and yes he should resign.

  • Stevie Wise 13th Oct '10 - 6:15pm

    If you are the leader of a party who claims that you have a fully costed and workable “six point plan” to abolish tuition fees over six years; who signs a pledge and allows every single one of your party’s candidates to do the same on the basis of your fully costed plan; who is elected partially (if not largely) on the basis of these pledges; and who then does a complete u-turn on this policy just months after getting into bed with the Tories, you have shown yourself to be incompetent to lead that party and you ought to resign. Not to do so would be to damage your party’s reputation so badly that you risk being punished at the ballot box, if not in five years time, certainly within the next few months at the Scottish & Welsh elections.

  • Croslandist 13th Oct '10 - 6:16pm

    “Our open and constructive dialogue on this as a Party”

    This started off with you trying to change our position on fees by press release last September. There was then a genuinely “constructive dialogue” for a few months as the manifesto was being written. You were happy to sign the fees pledge and campaign on fees in March-May. Now Vince has tried to change our position by an announcement in the Commons.

    Where is the open and constructive dialogue, please?

  • Liz Rawlings 13th Oct '10 - 6:16pm

    Resign.

  • Someone please go and change it

    http://libdems.org.uk/education.aspx

  • Richard Morris 13th Oct '10 - 6:42pm

    @ Paulbee – I’m not sure it can be changed. It’s still party policy isn’t it? it’s just not the governments policy. Which says a lot

  • I understand every last Lib Dem MP voted against STV last night as well. Seconded the “resign” call.

  • Unfortunately Clegg has made sure that his party will not receive anywhere near the electoral success that they did in this election.

  • Resign.

  • The LibDem membership has been fully stitched up by Clegg and Cable, both were never fully supportive of the party policy, and see this as the ideal opportunity to ditch it. Why was this not a red line in coalition discussions? We were told that ID cards was one, so why not this? Precisely because Clegg and Cable saw this opportunity, and seized it. The LibDem leadership have what they have always wanted, the control to set party policy. And they are using the cloak of coalition government to do it.

    Well it has finally happened, all three party leaderships have wrestled full control of their parties, from their membership. The membership are just regarded as any other member of the electorate. Their views are considered, but ultimately easily ignored.

    Welcome to new politics.

  • Nick. This is really worrying. Stop.

  • Clegg cannot see much sign of you wrestling with anything. Seem to have had a complete transplant to tory values. You do not need to resign. Just cross the floor and leave the lib dems to find a real leader

  • Colin Green 13th Oct '10 - 7:02pm

    The Browne report basically suggests 2 things. First a reform of how student loans are paid and secondly a rise in the tuition fees paid by the students. The pledge that MPs signed was only to oppose the latter. I call on Lib Dem MPs to lobby for amendments to the bill that allows the progressive change in the repayment of student loans but without the rise in fees.

    Croslandist

    “Where is the open and constructive dialogue, please?”

    My nearest Lib Dem MP, John Hemming, has organised a constituency meeting for members to discuss this. In his invitation he sounds very open and constructive. What is your local MP doing in your area?

  • Norfolk Boy 13th Oct '10 - 7:09pm

    Resign

  • you lied, resign.

  • Can somebody explain to me the significance of posting the word ‘resign’ on this comments thread?

    Are they asking Nick to resign?

    Or are they announcing their own resignation?

    ITWSBT

  • Are any of you “resigning” actually members? I seem to be seeing a lot of names of our regular Labour trolls. Mike (the Labour one) will be saying he’s resigning from the LDs next.

  • It’s clear that after this coalition, Clegg will have to stand down as leader, no matter what the outcome. Someone has to pay tfe price for such flagrant economic incompetence or downright deceit.

  • terence kelly 13th Oct '10 - 7:27pm

    Dont care if you deliberately lied. A distinct lack of backbone and incompetance is bad enough

    Just go. Or at least do the decent thing and join yourtory mates.

  • Yeah course he “struggled” with it. Open your eyes for goodness sakes, he has sold you out!

  • blanco – “Are any of you “resigning” actually members? I seem to be seeing a lot of names of our regular Labour trolls”

    Loyal to the last. Desperately calling all naysayers ‘Labour trolls’ as the ship slides under the waves…

  • Anthony Aloysius St 13th Oct '10 - 7:46pm

    “Are they asking Nick to resign?
    Or are they announcing their own resignation?”

    They’re calling on Clegg to resign. This is the traditional way of doing that. If they were announcing their own resignations they would say “I resign.”

  • Did someone say that every Lib Dem MP voted against the Carswell amendment to add STV to the electoral reform referendum? Is that true? For me, if it weren’t for the fact that if I weren’t actually a fifth columnist for the Thatcherites everyone thinks I am so to resign myself would give the game away, I would resign.

    But those calling on Clegg to resign should grow a pair.

  • Elaine Bagshaw 13th Oct '10 - 7:56pm

    This is complete and utter nonsense.

    There was a working group established 3+ years ago on Higher Education. It took lots of evidence from various organisations and came up a number of options on HE, so don’t claim there are no “plausible alternatives”.

    The leadership mounted a massive internal campaign to try and get us to drop our scrapping fees policy. As chair of the youth and student wing of the party at the end we were put under massive pressure to back the alternative. We refused to, as did the party’s policy committee, because the alternatives were not the fairest or the most progressive.

    We don’t need yours and Vince’s doors to be open. We have told you on numerous occasions since you became leader that we won’t accept this change in policy.

    We had a 6 year plan for scrapping fees that was affordable. This is a choice you are making on ideology, not changes in the finances. We saw all the figures before we published our manifesto. Our policies were costed and affordable, and you signed the NUS pledge knowing that.

    Browne’s review will not do anything to increase social mobility and it will put people off attending. Browne proposed a tinkering of the system and nothing more. And it’s a tinkering that, as usual, will hit those of us in the middle the hardest.

    Every single Lib Dem voter who’s now coming out and saying they feel betrayed is 100% right. We look exactly like Labour and the Tories – completely untrustworthy, saying one thing to get elected and going another thing when in power.

    When Vince and Nick are sat in Notting Hill in a few years time, sharing stories about when they were in government, I hope they’ll spare a thought for those of us who will still be trying to pick up the pieces of the party we have worked so hard for.

  • Elaine, less than 3+. It was in the middle of the last lot of FCC elections and was clearly the reasonI was not elected 🙂

  • Nasser Butt 13th Oct '10 - 8:06pm

    Lib Dems do not come with any preconceived dogma of left or right or center? We have to be pragmatic in our policies and be prepared to change with changed circumstances. Tuition Fees present us with the dilemma of funding the world class Higher Education for all but deciding how to distribute the costs in a fair and progressive in relation to peoples ability/capacity to pay.

    Tuition fees can work if the poor can get the financial help on fees and maintenance funds ( funded by govt’s welfare budget) and the richer student’s families can pay the full fees. This would be a progressive system and take us back to the original education for all concept.

    We also need to ensure that enrollment to courses and universities is based on merit of the students and not on class and money of the Students.

  • I remember Clegg banging on about how the LibDem manifesto was the only one that had been costed. That Trident should be scrapped, the Mansion Tax etc. and of course tuition fees. Also, new politics and standing by your promises. Yes, @blanco, I was a disaffected Labour Party member (well from 1990) but wasn’t that the point of your campaign. The manifest said nothing about ditching the policies that attracted me simply because Clegg and co wanted to be in Govt. Does the welcome scrapping of ID cards and raising tax threshold off set all that is ditched? Never. So I feel entitled to register my anger and complaint. I feel duped. And to those like @blanco who are apologists for what Clegg is doing, you are severely underestimating the anger that I and many others feel. Of course I will not vote LibDem again. But, and I don’t care if you believe me, I genuinely feel sorry for those life long LibDems who have honestly and passionately campaigned over the years on such policies.

    This will be to the LibDems what the Iraq ware was to Blair and New Labour. And the affect of party membership and electoral credibility and support are entirely foreseeable. But much more important than the disaster that this will be for the LibDem, is the horrendous affect this policy will have in closing the door on HE to many kids who will never now, realise their full potential. Shame on you!

  • Anthony Aloysius St 13th Oct '10 - 8:09pm

    “Given that the Govt policy has not been announced, that the whole thing is under review …”

    Isn’t that rather a fatuous thing to say, considering that in the second sentence of his letter Clegg announced that he would be breaking his pledge?

    I take it that’s what people were reacting to. It seems to me a perfecly natural reaction to such a breathtaking display of political cynicism and dishonesty.

  • I remember Clegg banging on about how the LibDem manifesto was the only one that had been costed. That Trident should be scrapped, the Mansion Tax etc. and of course tuition fees. Also, new politics and standing by your promises. Yes, @blanco, I was a disaffected Labour Party member (well from 1990) but wasn’t that the point of your campaign. The manifest said nothing about ditching the policies that attracted me simply because Clegg and co wanted to be in Govt. Does the welcome scrapping of ID cards and raising tax threshold off set all that is ditched? Never. So I feel entitled to register my anger and complaint. I feel duped. And to those like @blanco who are apologists for what Clegg is doing, you are severely underestimating the anger that I and many others feel. Of course I will not vote LibDem again. But, and I don’t care if you believe me, I genuinely feel sorry for those life long LibDems who have honestly and passionately campaigned over the years on such policies.

    This will be to the LibDems what the Iraq ware was to Blair and New Labour. And the affect of party membership and electoral credibility and support are entirely foreseeable. But much more important than the disaster that this will be for the LibDem, is the horrendous affect this policy will have in closing the door on HE to many kids who will never now, realise their full potential. Shame on you!

  • Foregone Conclusion 13th Oct '10 - 8:28pm

    “With the benefit of hindsight, I signed a pledge at a time when we could not have anticipated the full scale of the financial situation the country faces now.”

    With all due respect, this is a load of bollocks. The fact is that the finances of the country turned out to be much or less as we thought them to be before the election. We can’t simply continue playing this card as an excuse to ditch our promises.

  • Jonathon Wilson 13th Oct '10 - 8:36pm

    “I have struggled endlessly” Like 36 hours to ditch the one commitment that stood us out from Labour and the Tories.

    Honestly, you’d have been better saying nothing than printing this risible excuse.

    We can stay in this coalition and lose the only thing we have: our good name. Or we can leave on a point of principle, you know we might gain 100 seats if people saw that we put principle first.

  • doctorsyntax 13th Oct '10 - 8:39pm

    Hello Nick Clegg
    During the election you said many things and was seen photographed with the solemn pledge you now seem ready to break. In the election you said ‘The Tories are fake. You can’t trust them. George Osborn and David Cameron are all about short term advantage.’ You are now getting on very well with these ‘fakes’. Perhaps this is because you have much in common with them.

  • Betrayed Liberal 13th Oct '10 - 8:40pm

    I would say resign but you will just be replaced by another corporate careerist.

    Stand up, grow a pair, tell Cameron that unless a vote on PR is on the table you are leaving. If he refuses, say that you don’t want the blood of the poor on your hands whilst acting as the cover for the worst cuts since Thatcher. Then announce that the Liberal Democrats are leaving the coalition and are a committed centre-left party that campaigns for social justice, fairness and equality, walk across the commons and sit with the opposition.

    Let the Tories try and rule as a minority government or call another election.

    That way you leave with some iota of integrity and will not preside over the demoralisation of your party, its grass roots and activists and will not lead it into annihilation.

    I would also like the moon on a stick please.

  • Jonathon Wilson 13th Oct '10 - 8:41pm

    And of course we would help hell of a lot of young people who might realise what an honest party at the centre of british politics could do.

    The plan is costed. Raise the 40% and 50% tax rates by 1% or even impose a retrospctive graduate tax of 1% on anyone who has been to University?

  • Many thanks for the explanation.

    So what is Clegg to resign from? The coalition (er, wasn’t the agreement endorsed by MPs, Exec and a special conference?) ?; as Deputy Prime Minister?; as Leader?; as an MP?

    And what would be the purpose of such an action?

    Isn’t the rational approach for such proposals as are developed to be placed before our 650 MPs, and for MPs then to vote as they feel appropriate?

    Personally, I will have no problem with Lib Dem MPs who :

    a) take the view that having signed that pre-election pledge they should voteagainst any increase in tuition fees;
    b) take the view that in the current economic and political position the pre-election position is one which they can no longer support.

    And if the legislation falls in the house, then so be it!

  • This will be to the LibDems what the Iraq ware was to Blair and New Labour.

    What absolute bollocks. Hundreds of thousands killed compared with financing (from a report commissioned by the warmonger generals of course in any case) an higher education system that does not impinge on those who do not benefit from it.

    The hyperbole surrounding this is absolutely astonishing. I presume the author of that quote is not a member. If they were I would suggest “bringing the party into disrepute” through utter ineptitude.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 13th Oct '10 - 9:01pm

    crewegwyn

    You really have no problem with an MP who signs a solemn pledge to vote against something in order to get people to vote for him, and six months later blithely says things have changed and it doesn’t apply any more, and does the opposite?

    What would you think about someone who behaved like that in everyday life?

  • John Fraser 13th Oct '10 - 9:09pm

    Nick is the equivelent of a Militant tensancy infiltrator into our party . No i take it back … at least Militant were honest about what they stood for .

    He should resign if the Tories cannot form a proper colaition with a new leader at least a new leader may stand some kind of chance in the general election.

    A leader who does not like his party will distroy his party.

    And if anyobe dares call me a labour troll ……. 🙂

  • In response to some of the earlier comments on the STV amendment, last night, Caroline Lucas (Green), Douglas Carswell (Conservative) and Austin Mitchell (Labour) put forward a set of amendments to the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill which would have added the additional member system and STV with multi-member constituencies as options in the voting referendum:

    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debate/?id=2010-10-12a.265.0 (the actual debate starts here: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debate/?id=2010-10-12a.280.2 )

    Every Liberal Democrat MP voted against the STV amendments except Tessa Munt who abstained (but she voted with the other Lib Dem MPs in at least the previous two divisions). Chris Huhne didn’t vote in any of the three divisions on this Hansard page, I don’t know where he was:

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm101012/debtext/101012-0004.htm#1010133001848

  • Unfortunately this really is just compounding the lies already told.

    There has been no significant worsening of the financial situation since the election. In fact tax receipts were actually higher meaning a slightly better (or should that be slightly less dire) situation exists. It’s really time to accept that this situation is not Labours fault, a pledge was made and has been broken within a matter of weeks. Labour may be at fault for some of the national debt. But let’s not forget that the majority was accrued supporting the financial institutions that if allowed to fall would have criplled the economy on scale hardly imaginable. They mismanaged the economy, they lied to the electorate and they lost an election. This is not about them but about Lib Dem honesty.

    Compromise is one thing, completely dropping the policies that got you elected are another. I hope this is properly reflected on after the next set of election results. The hypocrisy of MP’s will cost councillors dearly.

  • Thank you Andrew. I could almost imagine you are willing me to resign! An entire Liberal parliamentary group voting against STV. Who’d a thunk it? Disgusting! Disgraceful! Disingenuous!

  • John Fraser 13th Oct '10 - 9:33pm

    Thought I had posted a nicely worded appeal for Nick to resign ? Then it disapeared ….. ??? Tell me LDV are not starting to edit please?

  • John Fraser 13th Oct '10 - 9:37pm

    Ah its reappered ….thanks chaps . Didn’t think it so extreme to call for a resignation.. after all we’ve been very quick to ditch two leaders in the recent past .

  • Sorry to double post, but as an addendum to my last:

    One of the reasons I voted Lib Dem was the fact that core policy could not be changed on the hoof by the westminster representatives but required a proper quorum of the whole party. This had been lost to the other parties over the years and allowed both thatcher and Blair / Brown to ignore their own party views at various times. As it stands now on Chld Benefit and Tuition Fees and even on VAT the Lib Dems are a party disconnected from their own MP’s actions. Any who vote for this measure, or even those who abstain are voting against published policy.

    Members should mobilise, call an emergency conference and demand MP’s fall into line or leave. Deselect any that refuse. That would get my vote back..

  • I have voted Lib Dem all my life and support the Browne review. It was plainly obvious that increasing spending on tuition fees is not financially feasible in the near future.

    To those members above: wake the hell up. The Lib Dems did not win the election, they did not get to implement their budget plans. The coalition did NOT agree to scrap trident or introduce a mansion tax or any of the other policies which would be necessary to be able to increase spending on HE. So you have to compromise. Welcome to politics.

  • John Fraser 13th Oct '10 - 9:40pm

    @All

    I am a little confused about those who rightfully are perplexed at this betrayal but who were/ are enthusiastic about the coalition. At least this betrayal was in the coalition document unlike some of the others we’ve seen . Curious to know if it has genuinely taken people by surprise ?

  • Well said Jim Wright!

  • Anthony Aloysius St 13th Oct '10 - 9:49pm

    “To those members above: wake the hell up. The Lib Dems did not win the election, they did not get to implement their budget plans.”

    But the pledge had nothing to do with the Lib Dems winning an election and implementing their budget plans. It was a pledge to vote against an increase in tuition fees. Since the Lib Dem policy was to abolish tuition fees, if anything it presupposed they wouldn’t win the election!

  • A couple of factual points

    “This will be to the LibDems what the Iraq ware was to Blair and New Labour.”
    Labour won the following General Election – and didn’t lose the one after that by much

    Scrapping Trident. Was never in the spending cuts identified in the 2010 manifesto

  • “Our constructive and open dialogue as a party on such a difficult issue”

    What dialogue? 9am Browne report published, 3pm Vince endorses it.

  • Rob Sheffield 13th Oct '10 - 10:13pm

    CON 41%, LAB 40%, LD 11%;

    APPROVAL MINUS 7

    Combination of Tuition fees- the squeezed middle- and EdM first battle with Dave. Emphasis on the former though don’t underestimate latter.

    This is a significant 24 hour turnaround helped by the ginormous foot in the mouths of Vince and Nick).

  • Chris Gilbert 13th Oct '10 - 10:20pm

    Nick, this is really not helping your cause. You signed a pledge yourself. It doesn’t matter how bad the finances were – you signed the pledge on principle. Going back on it shows principles don’t matter in your government.

    There is of course another solution to the funding problem – raise taxes for the better off. Come up with a proper, progressive taxation system which is fair, and instead of making micropayments all over the place, fund public services properly. Reverse the reduction in corporation tax which was insane!

    The deficit argument is a sham – sure, we have a large deficit, but the reason it is so high is because of the recession. In order to reduce it we need growth. Cutting hundreds of thousands of jobs and putting many people on to benefits, whilst spending less is not a good way to boost the economy. Well, at least, that’s what Vince said before the election. Apparently, the publicly available figures have changed since then though. Or perhaps the tories are telling them to do. What’s more likely?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 13th Oct '10 - 10:23pm

    “What dialogue? 9am Browne report published, 3pm Vince endorses it.”

    Actually, there’s a video clip here of Cable endorsing the report before it was even light that morning:
    http://exquisitelife.researchresearch.com/exquisite_life/2010/10/why-david-cameron-may-have-to-nuke-the-lib-dems-on-student-fees.html

  • Ryan McGowan 13th Oct '10 - 10:28pm

    I am a student in university, and so the long-term abolition of tuition fees, though it would not benefit me anymore, is still very much close to my heart. I am disappointed that Nick Clegg seems to be goading the party towards a future “yes” vote – I would be frustrated with mass-abstention but outright disappointed with active approval.

    Yet even I, a first year, can see that undergraduate funding is not the most pressing of issues facing our country.

    Far more concerning a matter, in my opinion, is this news that every LibDem MP voted against the Lucas-Carswell “STV amendment”. If this is true, then that vote, in my mind, represents is a far bigger betrayal of a far bigger principle – the Liberal Democrat commitment to fair elections with representative results.

    Why has LibDemVoice not reported on the outcome of that vote? I apologise if I sound rude or a bit like a content-dictator, but surely this betrayal – apologies for the dramatic language – warrants coverage? I’m tremendously disappointed that not one LibDem MP had the guts to stick up for proportional representation.

    Then again, something seems off. If it were just the bulk of the party, I’d be disappointed, but every last man and woman, barring Huhne, voting against it or refusing to vote in favour of it? It seems a little TOO ridiculous. I mean, there’s betrayal and then there’s every member of your party voting against their number-1 long-term political objective… 😛

  • I’m Lib-Dem to the core – a loyalist, PPC and Councillor (Manchester).

    I’m deeply concerned about this – it feels like the leadership have crossed a red line.

    My instinct at the moment is to fight for my party, rather than resign, but that would mean fighting the leadership – equally unpleasant.

    I’m going to reflect more, but at this point in time, I’m deeply, deeply worried, upset and embarrassed it has come to this.

    Please Nick / Vince – please think again – remember who put you in your position, who fights day in and day out to win extra support in our university cities… it feels like you’ve cut the ground from beneath us.

    Regards,

    …Lev

  • @ Rob Sheffield, I wouldn’t pay too much attention to opinion polls at this stage, Labour have a new leader, which equals little bounce, The Tories are still in honeymoon period, so a little bounce and the Lib Dems are the fall guys, so deflation but it’s really how many true Lib Dems are turned off that’s important for The Lib Dems.

    There is one poll that scores the Lib Dems at 18%, I think it’s ICM, it keeps happening so it’s no fluke.

  • “With the benefit of hindsight, I signed a pledge at a time when we could not have anticipated the full scale of the……….
    ………….Big Society demonstrations which followed in October and November,”
    said Nick Clegg to reporters after the coalition was forced to abandon its plans to double student fees.

  • Clegg has to go. The “coalition” has to end.

    Price Waterhouse Coopers have said today that Cameron’s proposed cuts would lead to an additional 1 million unemployed. That is an unacceptable price to pay to reduce the deficit quickly. Clegg can prate away about how he changed his mind, when and how often, how he didn’t do his sums properly, etc, etc. These are real people whose lives he is proposing to help Cameron to blight. And he will do it. Unless we, as rank-and-file Liberal Democrats, rise up and stop him.

  • Betrayed Liberal 13th Oct '10 - 10:54pm

    The ‘deficit’ reduction argument is just a front for trying to transfer wealth from the poor and the supposedly ‘middle class’ to the hyper-rich.

    Even the arch capitalist Warren Buffet concedes such:

    “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
    New York Times, November 26, 2006.

    Surely the fairest, most ‘progressive’ way to cut the deficit is to tax the hyperrich bankers (who are currently paying themselves bonuses of £7billion in this country http://www.euroinvestor.co.uk/news/story.aspx?id=11327023 and a record high of £144billion in Wall Street in the USA http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39631043/ns/business-us_business/ ) via an increase in income tax? Or raising corporation tax?

    Seriously this is the most insane, unjust period in neo-liberal economics I have seen alive and yet we are still faffing around debating about how the poor how to pay even more (again and again and again) to the hyperrich

    If we carry on this way the middle class will cease to exist and it will just be the hyperrich and the poor. Unbelievable.

  • BTW, I am sick to the back teeth of these whining fainthearts threatening to resign from the party. If you do walk away from us, how the heck are we going to get rid of Clegg?

  • He;s worse than a traitor, he’s a bare faced liar.

    It’s one thing trying to peddle to the electorate that this move is necessary ‘due to the deficit’ (yadda yadda).

    But treating us fellow Lib Dems(who knew the policies inside out) like morons is despicable The plans were fully costed and the deficit was lower than predicted, we know the financial circumstances you found yourself in were better than predicted, yet you dare to lie to your colleagues and supporters that things were worse than predicted?

    I would be moderated for the list of insults I would like to throw at you now.

    There is no need to raise tuition fees, but if you ahd to do so due to political expediency…. give that as the reason for doing so .

    You are not just a traitor to this country, but a traitor to the whole democracy. You campaigned on a platform that you apparently now say you always disagreed with and had no intention of implementing. You signed pledges, you knew of the likelihood of a coalition government and the costs involved, yet you still signed those pledges to win votes. If you can withdraw pledges, can we have another election where I withdraw my vote? If a party can actively support policies that it campaigned against during election time, what is the point of me voting to begin with? Part of being in a democracy is that you vote for a party because you agree with it and feel it represents you, chaning character in government is fundamentally undemocratic.

    You should resign.

  • Richard Morris 13th Oct '10 - 11:15pm

    Simon Hughes has just confirmed on Newsnight what I posted earlier- the party policy to abolish tuition fees is unchanged (and has been reaffirmed in policy committee tonight), which is why its still on the party website. So Lib Dem MP who votes for the current government position will be voting against Lib Dem policy. Regardless of your views on the issue itself (I’m in the ‘you signed the pledge so stick to your word ‘ camp) – it’s a toilet.

  • Listen everyone. There’s time for things to change. There’s 8 weeks of discussions to be had before anything is actually voted on so let’s not all get in a tizzy so quickly. Lobby, lobby, lobby and we might get what we want.

    Personally i never went to university. I worked my way up through my profession from making the tea etc. However now i’d be penalised because i haven’t got a degree and if i suddenly changed careers (despite lots of life experience) i would no doubt not even get an interview unless I’d done some largely useless degree.

    I am against tuition fees too but let’s not pretend it’s all perfect. These bloody establishments are milking us all with loads of mickey mouse courses which mean absolutely nothing and don’t help anyone.

    I’m also not sure a society which looks down on people who don’t go to uni and haven’t got a degree is actually progressive.

    Luckily i have the freedom as a manager to pick and choose who i employ and i don'[t discriminate over education but plenty of people and organisations do – and for jobs which really don’t need a bit of paper.

  • “The Liberal Democrats want to scrap tuition fees and will fight any attempt to raise the cap,” said the Liberal Democrat Shadow Universities Secretary.

    Commenting on the setting up of a review which will look at raising the cap on tuition fees, Stephen Williams said:

    “This review is nothing but a conspiracy between Labour and the Tories designed to keep plans to hike up tuition fees off the agenda until after the General Election.

    “Mandelson has shown he will do whatever it takes to shut out any debate on the future of tuition fees, either in Parliament or the country.

    “The Liberal Democrats want to scrap tuition fees and will fight any attempt to raise the cap.”

    I thought I better post this here before it’s removed from our official site, and why shouldn’t it be, the leadership and more than a few who have been posting here and defending absolutely everything that’s been going on, defending every single change that will hurt this country so deeply and for such a long time, seem to have fully embraced the art of doublethink, can historical revisionism be that far behind.

    (For those who’ve never read it, a lesson from fiction …

    Doublethink

    “Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink. Doublethink is basically the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.” .. From 1984 )

    We as a party decided on this, we as a party, not the leadership, the leadership is specificaly forbidden in our constitution from making making these changes without consultation, unlike the Tories and Labour we’re supposed to have safeguards against these types of fiat changes from on high without reference to the party. Up with this this we should not put.

  • Well, back in April, the tuition fees section was the only bit of the manifesto I simply couldn’t accept as realistic.
    I didn’t believe then that the numbers added up, and I don’t do so now.

    So I understand why this is causing big problems now.

    I am very sorry indeed that this issue could not have been handled more realisticly (rather than following the principles of wishful thinking) at the time when the manifesto was written.

    I am deeply dismayed by the political dilemma that this has caused. I do think, however, that those people who believe that the policy was workable, should take some responsibility, rather than just being outraged about the situation now.

    We have to think about this with realistic levels of university funding in mind, not just the students’ point of view (however important the students’ view is). Think about it like this: if universities are underfunded even more than they are now, we’d simply not be able to provide any form of good higher education any more. We’d be wasting the students’ time as well as their money (maintenance for three years even if fees were scrapped). The system is creaking at the seams as it is – and I am deeply dismayed that this was hardly ever discussed during the election campaign. There is more to this debate than the question of student fees.

  • @Maria

    These cuts will save approx 1.8 billion.

    Raising corporation tax to European average would raise 8 million (so you wouldn’t even need to raise it by a quater of the amount to get to the European average).

    There are so many other ways in which the money could be raised, many of which involved taxation and thus were scrapped by the COnservatives so as to appease their middle class base.

    There is definetly enough money to keep fees at the current level, which is what the debate is, if not to abolish them altogether. You are complaining that the policy put at the electionw as not costed, but it was costed, and it was to remove tuition fees entirely.

    You are being disingenous and, like many others here, bending your views from liberal democrat to righter than COnservative… just to suppor tthe party.

    In any case, if you were correct, which you were not, then presumably Clegg and Co shouldn’t have lied to students by signing that pledge? SO now can we have another election please where they can choose to base for a party based upon parties doing what they say they are going to do.

    We will have another election within 10 months anyway, AV (although it was crap anyway) is dead because of political miscalculation- can’t be won when alienating Labour supporters to this extent. If AV fails, and perhaps even long before that (hopefully triggered by this case) there will be another election, you can count on it. The lib Dems can decided to stick to their policies and suffer badly, or betray their voters and face utter destruction at the next election (soon), the choice seems obvious but no one wants to make it.

  • Maria it’s not really about tuition fees, it’s an issue of trust. You can not give a pledged signed by all LibDem MPs, and then break that very same pledge. It’s what the electorate call lying. And once that label is attached, it is virtually impossible to shake off. What LibDem members should be concerned about the most is the effect this will have on the party within the country. Non of us can truly say what that will be. But I’m guessing it won’t be good.

  • @ Maria “Maria
    Posted 13th October 2010 at 11:49 pm | Permalink
    I am very sorry indeed that this issue could not have been handled more realisticly (rather than following the principles of wishful thinking) at the time when the manifesto was written

    I absolutely agree with you, but it was the leadership of The Lib Dems who signed the pledge, along with their MP’s and it’s well known that The Lib Dems captured the student vote, whereas the Tories have an older following. Changing track now, in this manner, put it this way, if Nick Clegg was a CEO of a business, he’d be an ex CEO by now, you simply can’t change everything you stand for in this fashion and whereas I appreciate that those Lib dems who have dedicated their hearts and souls to the party will continue to engage in cognitive dissonance, it simply won’t wash with students or floating voters.

  • Foregone Conclusion 14th Oct '10 - 12:13am

    What Jayu said. I’m something of an agnostic on tuition fees – in an ideal world they would be funded by taxation, but I appreciate that our universities are seriously hurting under the current system, and there’s not much money around at the moment. This is ultimately about our MPs individual pledges to the electorate, which I think matters a lot more than what our policy says or what the manifesto said or what the Coalition Agreement says. MPs who, in their capacity as MPs, make these kind of personal, single-issue, uncompromising promises should accept the consequences – that they have to live up to them if called upon to do so.

  • @Jock

    Take a second look at the STV/AMS vote. Given that the amendment would never have passed, what was it designed to do? It was clearly an attempt by an opportunistic few across all the other parties to show the Lib Dems up. In and of itself, adding numerous PR options to a referendum ballot paper which already had two options – FPTP and AV – would:

    a) require a whole lot of arguments as to how the votes for each option should be counted
    b) confuse the public
    c) result in the referendum being defeated

  • Sometimes I wonder if Nick Clegg is a long term COnservative plant in the party.

    My tounge is somewhat in my cheek, but Clegg was a member of the Conservative party at Cambridge.

    I wonder if in his memoirs he will be telling the story of how he neutralised the Lib Dems from the inside out.

  • This will change British Higher Education forever and for the worst.

    Do the decent thing and resign Nick.

  • and by 8 million, I enat 8 billion (in regards to raising corporation tax).

    It would be actually very easy for this governemnt to scrap tuition fees entirely, and enact a number of progressive measures, and protect child benefit

    The problem is the ratio of cuts to taxes… the COnservatives do’t wish to confront the cost of £70 billion pounds+ lost in tax evasion by people like Ashcroft and their friend Rupet Murdoch, but they are happy to go after the £1.8 million cost of maintaing fees for students at the current level, and the maximum £1 billion cost of benefit fraud.

    And, that is not to forget that it is not necessary to close the deficit in 5 years, it would not be necessary to close it in 15 to 20 years, we do not have a high level of debt and as a proportion of GDP the deficit is in fact low.It was 150% of GDP in 1945 when Labour created the welfare state… and the country survived.

    The truth of the matter is that the government is full of post-ideological right wing cynics and sophists who care only for their political career and their opportunities after the government and who can argue both sides of an argument with apparently equal passion.

    IThere is a Neo-lIberal consesus which is upping its gear in an attempt to damage the welfare state irrevocably, it is blaming the failures of corrupt and unregulated capitalism on the poor- and making them pay for it whilts the people most able to pay, and most culpable, and most useless to society… and given a free ride and get away scot free.

    I vote Lib Dem to try and break that consensus, but Clegg is a Machiavellian devil. He actually persuaded me to vote for a party which would do precisely the opposit of what I wanted (i.e. dismantle the welfare state) by saying he wanted to support (and even extend re student fees) the welfare state.

    The most cynical ploy in history, trick me into voting for the exact opposite of what I wanted. If there was any justice traitors like that would be strung up.

  • @ Rob

    QUOTE “You are being disingenous and, like many others here, bending your views from liberal democrat to righter than COnservative… just to suppor tthe party.” [/QUOTE]

    I really object to this assessment of my views. This has been my view for some time – and no, I am not a conservative. Tuition fees are NOT the single defining issue of a LibDem supporter.

    As it happens, the tuition fees issue was the only thing I really disagreed with in the maniesto – I voted LibDem on the basis of everything else. I think it’s a bit rich to a) insinuate thateverybody who disagrees with you must necessarily have changed their mind now and b) has to be defined as a Conservative because of this issue. I am most emphatically not a Conservative.

    You might find it surprising, but there are some people who define the LibDems by more criteria than this single issue. I happen to be one of them.

    As it happens, I have experience of what it is like on the receiving end of university funding, and this informa my view. On this basis, I still don’t find your funding suggestions realistic – in any case, it’s not something we could have done in a coalition.

  • @ Jayu
    @ Anthony
    @ Foregone Conclusion

    I have to agree with you. Whatever my view on the tuition fees policy – since the tuition fees pledge was made, and was turned into a flagship policy, too, any U-turn is extremely damaging, and I am truly dismayed about it.

    Which is why I am even more disenchanted with people who still think that defining the LibDems almost as a ‘single issue’ part which is mainly about tuition fees.

    That kind of strategy is and was a very bad idea.

    But now that it has happened, the consequences will be pretty dire, and it does genuinely worry me.

  • @Maria

    But you are being disingenous because this is not about scrapping tuition fees, which is the (apparently costed) policy you objected to, but simply maintaining them at the current level.

    Not only that, it appears several (pledged) Lib Dems are prepared to vote for a rise in fees, without a cap being introduced.

    And no, this isn;t a single issue… but it is essentially the problem of the party in general, the leadership of the party, the direction of the party and the coalition in a microcosm.

    This is just one example from many of how I have been co-opted into a party that campigned on similar views to my own, but is using that vote to implement the exact opposite of what I voted for. It is a travesty of democracy and beyond disgusting.

    Indeed, had the Lib Dems not signed up to a pledge to prevent a rise in student fees I would have even been able to perhaps stomach a cap at £7,00 pounds, although i still believe fees should be abolished (and can be).

    Your expertise on the funding side seems somewhat irrelevant, as it does not matter where the funding comes from but that you actually receive it. I am showing that the funding can be found easily by the government, if it would simply implement more progressive policies like the ones in the Lib Dem manifesto. The fact of the matter is that this decision, along with all the others, is an ideological one, which Celgg has always supported in a clandestine manner bu only now sees to opportunity to force the parliamentary party to back him over.

    My real problem with this is that it means I am not living in anything that could be said to resemble a democracy, and that by betraying our democracy Clegg has become a traitor to our nation not just liberal democrats… yet he still swans it up as deputy PM and prances around the UN.

    What are the other Lib Dem policies that you support Maria? I support all the policies advocated at the last election, I suppose that means you seem to support the Liberal Democrats less then I do. Tell me what are your favourite policies that are being implemented so far, or are actually going to be implemented…. (seeing as the Lib Dems haven’t even kept their word on the coalition agreement itself, which allows them to abstain)

  • TheContinentalOp 14th Oct '10 - 1:25am

    Simon Hughes cut a rather sad figure on Newsnight. His squirming defence of recent developments was unconvincing, befuddled and ultimately pathetic. Don’t see much hope in this guy, the one time ‘great hope’. All rather spineless.
    That old warhorse Campbell was infinitely more impressive. A man of integrity.

  • @George Kendall

    The problem is that Nick is a liability after this tragic farce.
    To even get the ‘miserable little compromise’ of AV the campaign will have to be all guns blazing, hard graft on the ground. We know almost all of the right wing press will attack it viciously so we need someone front and centre, day after day who the public trusts and can articulate the strong arguments that AV will help correct some of the manifest unfairness that distorts our current electoral system.

    That isn’t going to be Nick and sadly it’s not going to be Vince either.
    Charles Kennedy would be ideal IMO as the public still pretty much likes and trusts him. Though he’d have to commit himself fully to it to it as I seem to remember he missed the launching of the AV campaign due to travel problems.

    The public will also not put up with endless referendums on the same subject so if we miss this crucial chance to change FPTP then that could well be it for a generation.

    Trust matters.
    After the expenses scandals and the Banking crisis it matters more to the public than ever in politics.
    “A person’s trust is like a virginity. Once it is lost, you can never get it back.”
    Nick has lost it now and he isn’t going to get it back, yet he is still the very public face of the Liberal Democrats.
    It is in Nick whom we are all supposed to keep blindly trusting that everything will turn out for the best if he wish hard enough, and that the Party we love is safe in his hands.
    I honestly don’t think it is now and I know I’m not alone in thinking that.
    Sooner or later he will have to go.

  • It was clear at the Bournemouth Conference that Nick Clegg didn’t believe the fees policy was sustainable but the reaction in the party caused him to back down. That was the real failure – a failure of courage to take the issue to the party and to argue it out. This failure was compounded by encouraging us to campaign on tuition fees at the General Election and to sign the pledge.

    So we now find ourselves betraying a central plank of our election platform, which, as friend and foe alike have pointed out on this forum, is the actuial issue that will undermine us all (but particularly our leaders) in the minds of electors. The result is that we will be demolished at the ballot box,

    What matters then is how we pick up the pieces of the party in 2015. This will require the new leadership to have shown consistency and integrity during this parliament and it is therefore imperative that MPs such as Tim Farron vote the right way on this issue. Ed Miliband won the Labour leadership by distancing himself from his party’s recent past. Our next leader will have to do likewise if we are to survive as the third party.

    The deeper issue is of course ideological – it is the inability of any parrty leadership to move beyond a neo-liberal consensus in which progressive politics is reduced to support for social mobility. A truly new politics can only begin from rejecting the deep assumptions of this consensus, it isn’t increased mobility within a neo-liberal society that progressives work for, it is a new society itself.

  • Jonathan Dearth 14th Oct '10 - 7:51am

    This issue is not a decision forever. It can and hopefully will be changed. Being in a position to change the voting system is our best chance. This needs to be the focus for the next 8 months, and not get distracted by policies that can be easily corrected later.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 14th Oct '10 - 9:22am

    “I’m very unhappy. I dearly wish that stupid pledge hadn’t been signed. If it hadn’t, I’d have no problem defending this policy.

    But… the pledge was signed.

    By signing that pledge, the party has turned a victory into a disaster.”

    I agree with George.

    The other aspect of it is that in discussing this issue, most Lib Dem MPs are inevitably going to be spending 90% of their time explaining why they are breaking a written pledge to the electorate, so they aren’t going to be able to “sell” the positive aspects of the Browne recommendations – their progressive nature, and above all the fact that for the majority who won’t pay off the full amount (60% as estimated by Browne, 70% according to the IFS) the system would in practice be identical to a graduate tax.

  • @ Rob –
    You seem to live in a world where you and your experience are the measure of all things. It’s surely lovely for you that you can think of yourself as the most pure LibDem supporter, and measure everybody against that standard. You might be surprised to hear that I don’t live by your personal standards – but perhaps it might be nice if you could express that surprise in a more polite manner. You might be surprised to hear that parties are always coalitions of people with different approaches and priorities, and if you want to fit into that world, you really ought to be able to accept different points of view in a more calm and tolerant manner, without immediately labelling everybody who disagrees with you. As it happens, what I like most about the LibDems is a culture of open debate – but I am not sure whether you’d agree with me on that.

    I can give you a summary of my personal approach to politics, which is perhaps summed up by ‘pragmatism rather than purism’. I began to find the LibDems attractive during the last few years as the policies in a sequence of manifestos became realistic, rather than expressing a kind of purism which won’t work in the real world of government. I generally agree with the kinds of liberal ideals the party espouses, and seeing them cast in realistic terms is very attractive.

    Does this mean that I support U-turns? No. In fact, I believe that the party’s tuition fees policy should have been cast in terms that were actually feasible, and the party should certainly have avoided the easy route to catch votes with lofty promises in favour of having a more honest debate with students and, equally important, universities. It looked unpleasant and dishonest to me at the time, and it still does. A proper liberal line would be to face up to realities and have an honest debate – as the culture of the party would usually suggest, but I suppose this holy cow made people forget about that ideal. In your world it may not happen that ideals clash – but know what? In the real world that happens more often that you might think. It did in this case, I believe – and I feel bad that students were not given the chance to have an honest debate about this, instead being lured with promises which could not be kept if the party ever made it into government. This was, in my view, a mistake – and no, I have not decided this now, but I thought so back in April. As it happens, there were people in the party leadership (including Clegg and Cable, by all accounts) who also thought that this policy was not realistic. But I bet that you’d simply say that they aren’t ‘proper’ LibDems. Its easy to define the world by your own standards, I suppose: it means that you never have to undergo the difficult intellectual process of questioning your own assumptions. But in a party which values evidence-based policy, questioning your own assumptions should be a constant process.

    By the way, you don’t seem to understand my argument in terms of fees: even fees as they are have left universities so underfunded that they will hardly be able to sustain satisfactory service for the students, let alone the kind of level of research the country needs. You seem to have no notion of the dire state the sector is in! It seems to me that some people most passionate about this issue never look at that side of the equation, with the result that they are just not very credible the people who struggle along in that corner of the real world.

    Otherwise – well, I refuse to undergo questioning by you to assess my level of ideological purity – that question in itself strikes me as highly illiberal.

  • I was the second person in this thread to call for Cleggs resignation and I must admit it was a knee jerk reaction made in anger, I have since had time sleep on it and consider my post, so am I right to call for Cleggs resignation?- yes, Absolutely right and I’m standing by my original post irrespective of the likes of Blanco calling me a ‘labour Troll’
    Clegg is destroying the party both in the eyes of the electorate and internally, there is no reason me to explain my myself for saying this as all can see for themselves the issues

    As for accusations of being a ‘Labour Troll’ I could easily say the same to Blanco. but his colour would be blue not red, after all It’s in the Tories interest for Clegg to remain at the helm, they get the support they need for their ‘reforms’ at the same time as destroying a rival parties prospects, at least in the short term if not the long term.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 14th Oct '10 - 10:04am

    “By the way, you don’t seem to understand my argument in terms of fees: even fees as they are have left universities so underfunded that they will hardly be able to sustain satisfactory service for the students, let alone the kind of level of research the country needs. You seem to have no notion of the dire state the sector is in! It seems to me that some people most passionate about this issue never look at that side of the equation, with the result that they are just not very credible the people who struggle along in that corner of the real world.”

    But on Browne’s estimates, if fees were raised to £6-8k, the universities would receive pretty well the same total level of funding as they do now – it’s just that less of it would come from the government and more from students/graduates.

    If “top” universities can charge even more than that, then they’ll get some extra money. But a large proportion of it would ultimately come from the government, through outstanding payments being written off after 30 years.

  • Quite how this leader can turn a century of radical politics on their head is beyond me. I did not campaign for this: I did not vote for this. Before any one tells me that you vote for a suite a policies I know that. I voted for what I read and heard regarding tuition fees and trident. Perhaps there was a typo and the words keep and scrap were transposed.

  • “As a starting point, I draw colleagues’ attention to yesterday’s response from the Institute for Fiscal Studies…”
    I love the fact that Clegg quotes the IMF to justify his volte-face. In August he was criticising them for their ‘partial’ report into the budget:
    Nick Clegg slams ‘partial’ IFS report on Budget http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11086137
    Do politicians have no sense of embarrassment when they do things like this?

  • That should of course be IFS in the 2nd sentence

  • I would like to know if people calling for Clegg to resign are asking him to resign from the government, the party, as an MP or as party leader

  • The surest way to save this party is for Cable, Huhne and Webb to walk from the “coalition”, and join with Hughes, Campbell and Kennedy in telling Clegg to go. And they have to do it before Christmas. Cameron will soldier on with a minority government for the next four years (as John Major did), while the Liberal Democrats (1) stop the worst Tory excesses, and (2) rebuild the party’s reputation as a principled movement of the centre-left.

  • @ Sesenco
    I Agree wholeheartedly

  • Grammar Police 14th Oct '10 - 11:46am

    Actually, I’m pretty sick of the nonsense from people here.

    Unless you haven’t noticed, the Lib Dem manifesto, like all manifestos, was written and costed on the understanding that there would be a majority Lib Dem Govt to implement it. It’s crazy not to see that the costings pretty much only work if the entirety of the programme is being put into place. Same for the Labour costings, same for the Tory ones.

    It’s not, because we only got 23% of the vote, and now have a coalition government which has different priorities – it includes some of our manifesto stuff, but not all of it. So of course the ‘costings’ for part of our programme don’t necessarily fit in with this.

  • Grammar Police,

    If Clegg and his colleagues actually followed your advice, it would sound muddled, but it would at least be defensible. But that is not what they are doing. Rather, they are telling us that what they promoted in May of this year was a load of rubbish (in which some of them did not actually believe), and what they then condemned as dangerous, irrational, etc, is now right. The justification for this incredible volte face being a sudden, catastrophic deterioration in the economic situation on election day that no-one apart from them can identify.

    What I say to the Cleggmaniacs fighting a rearguard action to save their idol’s bacon is this. Do you volunteer to be among the million additional unemployed that, according to Price Waterhouse Coopers, will result from Cameron’s deficit reduction strategy? I somehow don’t think Clegg will do, though the electors of Sheffield Hallam might have other ideas if he doesn’t pull his socks up fast.

  • @Grammar Police
    I do see you point but it’s one thing to except that you can’t implement a Lib Dem policy but actively supporting a policy that is entirely opposite is just plain wrong (I’m being polite here btw)

  • AC is a lier 14th Oct '10 - 12:19pm

    Resign.

    You knew the state of the economy before the election.

  • Nigel Quinton 14th Oct '10 - 12:21pm

    I find the most worrying side of this the language of spin that our leadewrship are using to justify their actions. It is Mandelson like in its complete disregard for the idea that we were elected to “change politics for good”. And worse of all Nick is basically saying he has already decided what the government’s position is – ie Browne is good – without any reference back to the party and ignoring clear pledge that he and other candidates made in May.

    Abolishing tuition fees was and is affordable if one makes approprate cuts elsewhere or raise tax, as others have pointed out above. But why can’t we seperate out the issues here? It is one thing to say that HE requires additional funding – I tend to agree with Maria and others that this was something we did not look at carefully enough in the past. It is quite another to lazily assume that this additional funding has to come from students.

    We (LibDems) started from a position that we felt HE should be totally funded by the taxpayer – ie scrap tuition fees. We (candidates) then pledged that even if we could not scrap tuition fees we would vote against any rise in fees. We (conference) then moved (kind of) to a position where we said that graduates ought to pay additional tax to cover the existing level of fees. We (our leaders) are now saying that the level of fees needs to rise and that this should be paid for by students, albeit via a progressive formula.

    The logical position for us to take that is consistent with the pledge is as follows.

    We agree that funding for HE needs to rise – which actually we have been saying for years if not articulating very well in this context. We reject any rise in the level of the burden of this funding on students, and we support measures that distribute that burden more fairly across the graduate population. In other words we support the structure of Browne’s recommendations but propose that the state funds a larger share of it. This is still a long way from our pre-election position that the state supports the entire cost, but does not breach the pledge.

    I cannot see any, repeat ANY, justification for our MPs or our leadership to support any rise in the overall burden on graduates – that is what we pledged and we should stick to it. If not we may as well give up now as a force for change in the coalition. I was impressed with Nick Clegg’s carefully argued position in his conference speech on how to manage being in coaltion but with this letter he has lost my support.

  • @Sesenco
    Posted 14th October 2010 at 11:23 am | Permalink
    The surest way to save this party is for Cable, Huhne and Webb to walk from the “coalition”, and join with Hughes, Campbell and Kennedy in telling Clegg to go. And they have to do it before Christmas. Cameron will soldier on with a minority government for the next four years (as John Major did), while the Liberal Democrats (1) stop the worst Tory excesses, and (2) rebuild the party’s reputation as a principled movement of the centre-left

    Totally agree … this is what we should have done in the first place . Coalitions need parties that have a certain amount of common ground . We have so little in commen with probibly the most extreme (major) right wing party in Western Europe.

  • Look, this transcends even all the arguments about Nick’s ideological leaning to the right of the complexities of being in a coalition. It really does boil down to basic competence and political skill.

    No matter how much Nick or anyone else retrospectively claims the pledge was a mistake, Nick and nearly every other MP used it as a highly visible and effective campaign tool and were happy to do so at the time. To now say and prove to the public that it was a lie is indefensible. It doesn’t matter if you blame it on the economy and it doesn’t matter if you blame it on being in a coalition. Because if you think some of us posting here sound unconvinced by either of these excuses it will be as nothing compared to how the public views them. Particularly those who voted for us on the strength of those promises.

    If ever there was a red line it is one that if crossed makes Nick and the entire Party look like unprincipled liars.
    This even has damning photographic proof for our enemies to use again and again as long as Nick is leader.

    Nick has been trying to convince everyone since May that he is not Cameron’s yes man, but Cameron isn’t a fool and he knows just how deadly this will be on the doorstep to Liberal Democrats. Yet he was not persuaded by Nick to let he and his Liberal Democrat ministers bow out, keep their promises and leave this particular piece of legislation to a Conservative Minster to deal with. Cameron might not have then got the Fee rise through on a vote, but that would have been his decision to push it to a vote he might lose. Or, just for once, Cameron could compromise and implement only those parts of the Browne review that did not conflict with the election pledge.

    Tragically, might it be even worse than that ?
    Is Nick is now suffering from Blairite stockholm syndrome ? Convinced that if he just keeps agreeing to the stronger man’s decisions then eventually everyone will respect him, see the world as he does and he will be proved right in the long run. As Blair did so disasterously with Bush.

    We won’t have long to wait as the cuts were also one of the things we were promised Nick would have a mitigating influence on the Conservatives. So if they are a full on Thatcherite idealogical bludgeoning of public services then we will have our answer.

  • @voter

    Personally, I’d like to see him resign as party leader. I don’t care if he re-joins the Tories, but I’d like a party leader that understands the Liberal principles of the party and negotiates to retain those principles.

    This isn’t about the issue to me so much as what is written above – Clegg says that Lib Dem policy is unworkable in practice, which is about as insulting to the party as you can get. For years we’ve had to deal with people that said “its fine to say that, but you’ll never be in power so it doesn’t matter what you say”, now the party leader is writing the same thing, and it simply isn’t true. LibDem policy is costed and considered using the best information at the time, and reviewed periodically.

    He, of course, understands the harsh realities of the situation, and so he becomes party to keeping Trident but raising tuition fees. If Clegg is right, then the LibDems are worthless and we’ve all been wasting our time all these years, if he’s wrong (which he clearly is), then it’s time for him to go, because he no longer represents us.

    If we don’t get rid of him now, we’ll have to explain his actions in 5 years (after we get wiped out in the election), and that’s not going to be pleasant if it’s in complete contradiction with our aims and goals. I’m not suggesting an end to the coalition, just that we need a stronger negotiator in his place.

  • This shambles was the final straw for me. I’ve been dubious about the coalition since the start, and I have now resigned my party membership.

    This is no longer the party I joined.

  • Utter poppycock. Going into this Coalition was the right thing to do, in fact it was the only realistic option, and I have defended this party against claims of betrayal many times, both on this website and elsewhere, but I am sick to the back teeth with all of this nonsense about our “disastrous financial position”. Our manifesto at the last election was fully costed and the Lib Dem hierarchy knows this full well. If some policies aren’t achievable because instead we’re having to spend billions on rubbish like Trident then so be it, that’s coalition politics for you and sometimes you have to hold your nose and do something you don’t agree with, but don’t you dare pretend that it’s what you want if it isn’t, and if it is then you have no place at all leading a party whose opposition to these policies is so clear-cut.

    Mr Clegg, either you are a fool or a liar. I hope it’s the former and you snap yourself out of it pronto otherwise it will be the end of this party. If you disregard this pledge it will not be easily forgotten.

  • Terry Gilbert 14th Oct '10 - 1:48pm

    Resigning your party membership is not the answer.

    The Lib Dems are now pivotal in British politics. Don’t abandon them to the right.

  • If resigning membership is not the answer could someone tell me what is? The leadership ignore membership (and themselves pre-May); don’t share information at conference (and in one prime [or should that be deputy prime?]) case did not even attend all of it. Maybe they don’t want to hear so we are wasting our time being part of it all. No grass roots = no MP#s = new leadership = re-invigorated and focussed party.

  • @ Terry Gilbert

    You say resigning my membership isn’t the answer, but I can’t in good conscience provide financial support to the party any more, and I have no intention of canvassing and having policies I don’t agree with thrown in my face at every door I knock upon.

    So you tell me what my alternative is?

  • Mark,

    Your alternative is to stay and get rid of Clegg. Walking away will keep Clegg where he is, so you will be cutting off your nose to spite your face.

  • I think something needs to happen to snap our members in Government out of their damnable complacency, preferably sooner rather than later or else it’ll turn out to be a shocking election result or losing the referendum which would set us back a generation. Whether that means a high-level resignation or something worse, or maybe even Simon Hughes breaking down in tears on live TV, I don’t know.

    If Nick Clegg et al continue along this ridiculous course of pretending (I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s pretending) to support these awful Tory policies, thereby totally disregarding the wishes of the membership of this party and the nearly 7 million people who voted for us, as well as promises they themselves had made, then this will be the very last time we see Lib Dems in Government. There is nothing wrong with issuing qualified support for measures this party opposes as part of the normal workings of coalition government, but that is as far as it goes.

  • Why was going into the coalition the only realistic option? I do not understand this

  • Voter,

    In theory there were three options. The first was to let the Tories form a minority government. They would have been able to say “see, we told you so: nothing gets done in a hung parliament”, would have called another election within a few months and won a handy majority.

    Secondly, we could have tried to form a rainbow coalition with Labour and every other nominally left-of-centre party, but mathematically this simply wasn’t practical and in any case Labour showed their own disinterest throughout the negotiation process. It would also have constituted a coalition of losers and been mercilessly pilloried before, probably, collapsing with in-fighting.

    The third option was coalition with the Tories. This would provide a stable government with a workable majority, would satisfy Nick Clegg’s promise to support the party with the greater mandate, which the Tories undoubtedly had, would allow us to check and moderate the Tories in Government and even implement some of our own policies. This should not mean, however, and this is my main point of contention, that we spend 5 years slavishly agreeing with everything the Tories say and go back on our own promises to do so.

  • @Baphomet, the council in Birmingham has a loose sort of unofficial coalition as far as I’m aware, the Lib Dems formed a coalition with the second placed Tories to oust Labour and they’ve worked together for a number of years, so supporting a minority Tory government could have worked with the Lib Dems holding onto more of their identity.

    The Lib dems certainly needed to come up with something that was seen to work, otherwise their electoral reform aim was out the window and despite protestations from the left, the Lib Dems had to show they would work with whomever was avaialble to show that government of consensus was feasible.

    More than anything, the Lib Dems need to retain some real identity, they are seriously in danger of losing their identity within this coalition, it will become less coalition and more assimilation if some senior Lib Dems don’t pull their fingers out soon.

  • That is one possible analysis but it assumes Lib Dem failure.

    After a short term minority government, the people would have had a chance to become enamoured of the Lib Dems (provided the Lib Dems held to their commitments) and there could well have been an increase in the number of MPs for the Lib Dems at a subsequent election.

    A new election with the red lines clearly indicated to the electorate would encourage people to vote for the Lib Dems knowing that they are a party of principle.

    Knowing that the Lib Dems were the king makers and principled could have attracted a lot of good stuff.

    The approach “well it could have been even worse” seems to permit all sorts of things through.

  • So, what is the party doing?

  • Voter,

    If the Lib Dems had allowed the Tories to form a minority government and stuck purely to their own commitments then the Government probably wouldn’t have even been able to get its budget through Parliament. A certain degree of qualified support would have been necessary. Either way it would have been a government unable to get anything much done much as the Tories had suggested would happen. They would have called an election and the electorate would have seen that the only way to resolve this impasse was to vote Tory (as they’re the party closest to a majority). It was the Lib Dems who had been the staunchest defenders of hung parliaments prior to the election so having apparently been proved wrong by means of this neutered Government, I find it hard to see how they would have benefited at all.

    Anthony,

    I agree with most of what you say. IMO however, the problem with issuing qualified support to a minority government is that the more you stick to your own principles the less the Government gets done and hence the more the electorate gets turned off hung Parliaments, plus you can’t really be expecting to get many if any of your own policies implemented. The more you work with the Government the more you blur the line between unofficial cooperation and coalition, only a coalition should (in theory) let you do far more. As you say, the problem is our ministers’ failure to differentiate themselves. At the risk of repeating myself, I don’t see why Nick Clegg et al can’t say “no, we don’t agree with this, but coalition entails compromise and we’re willing to go along with that,” That, IMO, would be the mature and sensible thing to do. I am yet to see any real argument for this… tactic(??)… of pretending to support everything the Government does wholeheartedly. It either isn’t true, in which case our ministers are lying now, or they really do support all this stuff in which case they’ve been lying to us for years. I don’t see how this could ever be the right course of action.

  • My above comment is slightly lacking in punctuation. Such are the perils of typing at the speed of thought. Apologies.

  • @Baphomet
    “If the Lib Dems had allowed the Tories to form a minority government and stuck purely to their own commitments then the Government probably wouldn’t have even been able to get its budget through Parliament.”

    That budget which was an attack on the sick, disabled and vulnerable should never have been supported by the Lib Dems. That was the first betrayal of those of us who voted LD. Clegg, Cable and co lost their integrity and credibility then before this fiasco. It is just that this has upset the Liberal Democrat party more, it does not care about the poor, many voters had already turned against you, this is another confirmation we were right.

  • @Baphomet

    “the more you stick to your own principles the less the Government gets done and hence the more the electorate gets turned off hung Parliaments”

    Genuine question:

    If you believe this what difference – other than personnel – is there between a single party Government and a Hung Parliament that makes you believe a hung parliament is better?

  • Minority government does not have to be a disaster. What about the SNP in Scotland? It takes two to tango. Can we be sure that the Conservatives will be seen as blameless for trying to push through policy without regard for other parties?

    Perhaps I am overly idealistic but I think that the voters can decide for themselves if the Conservatives did genuinely reach out and look for ways to make progress, in mandated ways.

    Perhaps I am showing my ignorance of the way politics works “in the real world”.

  • Anne,

    The budget was a darn sight better than it would have been had it been written by a Tory government. If the Tories had presented their own budget as a minority government, which would undoubtedly have been a lot worse IMO, we would have had the choice to support it or precipitate an early election which would have seen us smashed as a political force and unable to have any influence on a majority Tory government. Compromise isn’t always wonderful, but it’s certainly better than blind tribalism.

    Notalibdem,

    It is simply a matter of compromise. If we want to see our policies implemented and our voters represented in Government then we have to be willing to work with others, even if we don’t agree with them. Dogmatically sticking to our own policies without entertaining ideas of pluralism would see Parliament grind to a halt and then none of our policies would be implemented and none of our voters would be represented. Furthermore I do not, in general, believe that any party should be able to railroad through any policy it damn well pleases and particularly not with the support of only a quarter of the electorate as Labour had over the last few years. A little compromise is a good thing.

    Nick Clegg likes to say that no one party has all the answers but I tend to think that the Tories are pretty much just wrong about everything. Now, I’d love to see a Lib Dem Government able to implement its entire carefully costed, might I remind our political leaders, manifesto, but unless and until we get the support of the majority of the electorate I don’t see why we should be afforded that privilege.

    I hope that answers your question.

  • Sorry, but you cynics need to take your head out of your backsides and be realistic. You’re thinking more about your damn egos than what’s practical. Nick Clegg CAN’T do anything! 1) He is SHARING government with another party, a party that recieved double the votes Lib Dems got; and 2) THERE IS NO MONEY LEFT. He promised something he couldn’t promise, that was his mistake. But don’t start complaining that he has to make this decision, what do you expect? The choice is: either we have free, but BAD education; or pay for good quality. You all pick. I don’t admire Nick’s naivety in the way he made a far-fetched promise, but I do respect him for coming out to apologise and to explain his reasons. There is no alternative, he didn’t trick anyone – we know that the Lib Dems WANT free University, but it can’t be given at this moment – accept that! As for the Trident, I think it’s ridiculous if we common people believe we can judge on what’s good for our security. The reality is we know nothing about international issues. I believe there is sincerity in Clegg’s disappointment.

  • Anon,

    “I think it’s ridiculous if we common people believe we can judge on what’s good for our security. ”

    A truly terrifying statement.

  • Anon,

    By the way, 23 + 23 = 46, not 36, as you claim. But we’re the common people, so who are we to pronounce on simple arithmetic?

    And here was I thinking that abject, unquestioning servility had died with the generation born in the 1900s.

  • Richard Morris 14th Oct '10 - 4:18pm

    Anon – and what a shame you’re too timid to give your name, there is no shame in your views. But I don’t agree with them. All the policies were fully costed, the economic situation has got better, not worse since then, the budget deficit is slightly lower than predicted. Sharing government shouldn’t mean ditching all your core beliefs in reward for…- well what really? We should be fighting for all our policies, not welcoming reports commissioned by another party (Labour) on criteria which we don’t particularly accept.

    And yes – Simon Hughes cut a rather poor figure last night on newnight; at on epoint it sounded like one of the camera operators was penly laughing at him. Let’s hope becoming Deputy Leader hasn’t neutralised his ability to fight for policy.

    Finally braveheart – yes, presumably Simon will have to remove the whip from Nick if he votes against agreed party policy. Won’t happen – but the stink’s going to go on for a while yet.

  • Anon, Sesenco,

    Well, what about the military’s top brass? They’re as keen to get rid of Trident as anyone.

  • Richard Morris – “Sharing government shouldn’t mean ditching all your core beliefs in reward for…- well what really?”

    That is why I’d never be a politican, and why you’d be awful at the job yourself. It’s a tough job. But read Clegg’s letter again. He has clearly stated that the Lib Dems are not ditching their policy, they just can’t carry it out during this bad time. In theory you can write anything down, but it’s another step to actually exercise it in practise. Practically, if any of us had a position in government, we would all suck . Unfortunately you can’t do everything you want. Not to go off topic, but Communism looked awesome on paper, but it was disastrous in practise. This is humiliating for the Lib Dems, I’m sure they must have fought the tories over this. If there’s nothing they can do, don’t shoot the messenger. Maybe the whole country should have voted for Lib Dems – but this is a democracy.

    With the trident: Clegg under-estimated the idea tuition fees – who’s to say he hasn’t for national security? I don’t want it at all! I’m just saying that to abolish it would be extremely naive.

    @Sesenco – I’m not talking about our own individual security. I’m not an idiot who believes the state protects us on a day-to-day basis. I’m talking about international issues. Due to the Iraq war, the middle-east isn’t exactly fond of Britain, and with Iran in the picture, it’s stupid to say we’re all safe. Call me naive and stupid, but what the hell do you know?? As for maths: my mistake, I was referring to seats. Peace!

  • “particularly not with the support of only a quarter of the electorate”

    Surely, you are now allowing the same thing to happen again, only this time it is the Conservatives who are doing things which might only have the support of a quarter of the electorate.

    Do two wrong make a right?

  • “Practically, if any of us had a position in government, we would all suck”

    Well, we could assume that failure is inevitable but that is not the case. You just have to look at the evidence.

    This is why science is so successful. It works on evidence.

  • Anon,

    I thought Trident was designed to protect the United States from the Soviet Union, not Britain from Iraq and Iran?

    It strikes me that the continuation of Trident long after the Cold War has ended is a ruse by the US military-industrial complex to further enrich itself at the expense of the UK taxpayers.

  • Voter,

    Well no, absolutely not. This is not a Tory government (though unfortunately sometimes it feels like one). It is a coalition featuring the ideas and policies of two parties and representing a much larger proportion of the electorate (>60% of those who voted, however that translates). I am highly critical of how the Lib Dem leadership are handling this situation but what we have is categorically not a Tory government and I think the country is a lot better off for that.

    Our job in this Government is to moderate the Tories so that they don’t simply represent the quarter of the electorate that voted for them. Arguably we are failing in that, but do not make the mistake of thinking that going into coalition with the Tories is the same as letting them have free reign.

  • Richard Morris 14th Oct '10 - 5:16pm

    @ anon. I would have thought sticking to your principles rather than shifting them to suit short tem circumstance made you a good politician, not a bad one. I suspect Ming Campbell has rather more credibility than most other politicians at the moment.

  • My argument is not that free rein is occurring but that a minority government would been better, followed by clear red lines in any future negotiation document presented to the people.

    I did not vote Lib Dem precisely because of their lack of credibility on certain issues. (I abstained)

    I would still like to vote for a liberal party but I do not want my preferred policy (eg free speech or a commitment to actually answer the difficult questions during PMQs) to be sacrificed during negotiation behind closed doors. Otherwise I feel I am just voting for vapour.

  • All I’m saying is that most people on this site are bashing clegg, claiming there is an alternative. I’m not sure how many people are actually qualified to make that judgement. I’m angry too, but I think it’s irrational to start hating Clegg for something he has no power over. People are saying that the Lib Dems had all their finances sorted out when they made their manifesto before the election. That is absurd, believe that if you like. The Lib Dems, nor the Tories, knew the scale of this deficit. No one did! Labour kept a lot of figures hidden so they didn’t damage their own election. Weeks after the last gov. left, information was still pouring out regarding the unknown financial waste under Labour. Remember, this was the first election in decades that took place during a recession. Financial promises were always going to be problematic, I’m afraid. Clegg’s mistake was to make that promise; that was naivety, not betrayal. I think it’s clear that any promises made before this election won’t be as easy to exercise as we previously thought. Sometimes life isn’t always an evil conspiracy theory – Clegg isn’t a liar, he’s just stuck. Be a bit more open-minded. Maybe I’m completely wrong, but maybe you all are.

  • Anon, surely it would be Nick Clegg who backed himself into a corner if he promised things when the financial situation was unclear.

    Does that show good judgement?

  • I do try to be open-minded. Indeed, I allow comments on my blog so I can receive feedback

  • john carlisle 14th Oct '10 - 5:37pm

    Forget the tuition fees saga. It is a phony war. The real battle is about to ensue: the NHS. Just focus on that because the LibDem politicians have yet to give a view. If we allow the Lansley reorganisation to go through we will have betrayed, not just the LibDems and the NHS; but the whole nation.
    We need this conversation NOW.

  • Braveheart
    Posted 14th October 2010 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Anon:

    You are Nick Clegg and I claim my £5….

    😉

  • David Allen 14th Oct '10 - 6:42pm

    “Only one of those posting the futile and fatuous ‘resign’ comment is a name I recognise as a regular poster here. Given that the Govt policy has not been announced, that the whole thing is under review and the Govt welcomes feedback as per Vince CAble’s announcement, wouldn’t constructive feedback be more useful?”

    Constructive feedback would be useful if there was any indication that our leadership would be prepared to listen to it. The language being used by people like Hughes and Mulholland does give the impression that a satisfactory deal might be struck if further changes were made. That, in my view, would be a reasonable attitude to adopt. There is a perfectly valid and principled alternative to voting against the Government and, probably, losing the vote. It is to insist on real concessions, to strike a deal, and to argue that genuine influence on what Goverment actually does is preferable to a making a grand but impotent gesture of opposition.

    But if we are to win concessions, we have to hang tough. That’s where Clegg has let us down. As soon as Cameron saw Clegg’s appalling public statement that “Departing from that pledge will be one of the most difficult decisions of my political career. “, he will have been able to breathe a sigh of relief. So it’s a done deal. No threat of a last-minute walk-away from the Lib Dems if, for example, the anomaly which makes the scheme cheaper for the richest is not tackled (as Cable has proposed). No real pressure from the Lib Dems, and so all the more reason for Cameron to listen to the voices from the Right who are demanding no limit on fees.

    That’s why I think Clegg should resign from the leadership – and think hard about which party he should belong to.

  • why is my post at 6.03pm still awaiting moderation? I have not broke forum rules and there are comments that where posted after mine already published?

  • @Anon
    The Budget Deficit is LESS than what was anticipated before the Election.
    The actual figures TODAY are LESS than the figures that where given to the Liberal Democrats before the election in order for them to complete their election campaign and Manifesto.
    STOP! playing the public for fools. Although most of us where not FORTUNATE ENOUGH to go to university to get a higher education. WE ARE STILL CAPABLE of simple maths from when we where taught at Secondary Education.
    It is completely wrong and an insult to the public to keep spinning this dribble, and your party will feel the pain of this discontent unless it wakes up to itself and start delivering (A different way of doing Politics) which was promised by Clegg and that was simply to tell the truth.
    I have just watched last Night’s News Night again with Hughes. And although he was clearly squirming at uncomfortable (especially when presented with the photo of his pledge) At least he was still honest enough to say that talks where still taking place and there was still time to get the Government to move AS CLOSE to the pledge he made before committing his vote.
    Although I would, along with most other people I suspect, Will still not be happy with him breaking his Pledge if he voted for any policy that includes raising tuition fee’s, I at least respect him enough for his commitment to see what they are able to squeeze from the Government first.
    Nick Clegg however has clearly already stated his Intentions in his letter to all Liberal Democrats in the first couple of sentences.
    “Like you, I am painfully aware of the pledge we all made to voters on tuition fees ahead of the General Election. Departing from that pledge will be one of the most difficult decisions of my political career.”
    How he has the audacity to sell out his party and his voters before the final agreement has been put to the vote is staggering.
    Can you honestly tell me that you think for one second that someone who lacks such integrity has the right to lead a party let alone serve as a Deputy Prime Minister.
    If this isn’t a wake up call to all Liberal Democrats and it’s supporters of the dangers That Nick Clegg and The Conservatives are going to destroy their party, then I don’t know what is.
    The only reason that most Tories agreed to this coalition was because they believed that over time they would destroy the Liberal Democrats Credibility and after a period of coalition, they would be able to dissolve parliament and go back to the polls and win a Majority Government.
    Only bit I am shocked by, is how quickly its started and how easily Nick Clegg has walked into a Tory Trap!

  • Dear All

    There is one thing that really confuses me about evrything that has happened. What was it that you saw after the election that made everything different enough for the lib dems to reneg on every election promise, at least the ones that matter. This idea that the situation was much worse than had been known before. What secret information did you suddenly see that changed the world for you? And, why have you not told us that secret information? Okay thats two things

  • Anthony Aloysius St 14th Oct '10 - 7:30pm

    “Unless you haven’t noticed, the Lib Dem manifesto, like all manifestos, was written and costed on the understanding that there would be a majority Lib Dem Govt to implement it. It’s crazy not to see that the costings pretty much only work if the entirety of the programme is being put into place. Same for the Labour costings, same for the Tory ones. “

    This really is arrant nonsense. The pledge that’s about to be broken had absolutely nothing to do with the Lib Dems winning an overall majority. It was an unqualified promise to vote against an increase in tutition fees, whether in government, coalition, opposition or whatever.

    The only real change in circumstances since the pledge was made is that their bluff has been called!

  • Mark Pack Wrote –
    “A quick reminder that our moderation policy is at https://www.libdemvoice.org/the-liberal-democrat-voice-team – especially the references to personal abuse or passing yourself of as more than one person. Ta.”

    Does that mean Anon really IS Nick Clegg? 🙂

  • Anthony Aloysius St 14th Oct '10 - 8:42pm

    I think this open letter to Nick Clegg by Jennie Rigg gets to the heart of the matter:
    http://miss-s-b.dreamwidth.org/1099907.html

  • Looks like the only thing Nick and his loyal acolytes wants is to move on and never speak of this again.
    Anyone else think that’s not going to work ? Anyone else think this might, just might, be thrown in our faces at every election to come as long as Nick is still leader ?

    Anon seems to be going for the comedy option by insisting that we should all be quiet, accept the complete destruction of the Liberal Democrats credibility and reputation for honesty while supporting any and every policy the Conservatives dream up like good little boys and girls because Cameron got 32% and we got 22%.

    It’s not going to happen and it’s a sign of how out of touch Nick has become that he has the arrogance to think we will. It’s long past time that Cameron was the one who started to compromise fro a change and the important figure about the coalition isn’t the number of seats and it isn’t even the percentage of the vote. It’s the majority that without Liberal Democrat support Cameron will get nothing through. Nothing.

    If this wanton destruction of the Party by Nick’s right wing clique continues then there will come a time when the MPs will take matters into their own hands. He isn’t listening and he thinks his way is the right way and the only way, no matter what the cost to the Party. That situation can and will only ever end with one outcome. And it’s not going to be the triumph of one mans ego over the continued existence of a Liberal Party that was here long before he switched sides from the Conservatives, and will be here long after he has gone.

    Fortunately this letter has been knocked off the front pages so it will never come up as an issue again.
    Like ‘fudge’ it won’t!

  • @BaphometThe budget was a darn sight better than it would have been had it been written by a Tory government. If the Tories had presented their own budget as a minority government, which would undoubtedly have been a lot worse IMO, we would have had the choice to support it or precipitate an early election which would have seen us smashed as a political force and unable to have any influence on a majority Tory government. Compromise isn’t always wonderful, but it’s certainly better than blind tribalism.”

    It was not a darn sight better for the sick, disabled and unemployed!!! Might not have affected the middle class I suppose so that’s alright! So the Lib Dem MPs agree with the vulnerable being targeted and being thrown into poverty? Before anyone says it the Pupil Premium will not feed or clothe a child and the £10000 tax threshold does not help the groups I have mentioned. Got news for the coalition, the sick, disabled, poor and unemployed have the vote as well unless of course that is taken away. It would not surprise me!! The Lib Dems have not got any influence and just wait for next Wednesday to watch Clegg and Cable doing their nodding doll act again, perhaps they can pat Tory arms.
    You have already been smashed as a political force, if you do not believe that go and canvas next Thursday!. Fast forward to next General Election, if the Lib Dems have not been completely assimilated into the Tory Party by then how do you think Cameron will attack Clegg? By pointing out the u turns perhaps? He must be beside himself with glee.

  • @Mark
    Shame to hear you that Cleggs policies had forced you to resign . How long had you been in the party.?

  • would be more convinced it was difficult for you Nick if you weren’t grinning inanely with DC when Vince made announcement.

  • Incredulous 15th Oct '10 - 5:31am

    Striking how senior LibDems rushed in to “broadly endorse” the Browne report before any Tory even opened his mouth. A bit keen, aren’t we?

    The road to Westminster may be strewn with “skidmarks” of politicians who take their principles and wipe their rear parts with them. But “New kind of politics”? Give me strength. Yes, we know you get our votes by playing the virgin just to get yourself into the country’s highest paying brothel. But please at least don’t hang up the glowing “Buy one get one free” sign in your window straightaway for us all to see.

    “One of the most difficult political decisions I have ever had to make and I have struggled endlessly with it [ever since Wednesday], as I am sure you have.” Well, don’t be so sure. We know the customers pay more if you “struggle”, darling, but not everyone is in the same line of work.

    If there is a single half-decent LibDem still left out there, they won’t have to struggle with any guilty conscience at all. They’ll just keep their pledge and vote against.

    We can all see what this policy cooked up behind closed doors by an “independent board” of vice chancellors and City lenders is aiming for. This is about wealthy MPs and greedy bankers pricing an entire generation out of higher education so that Jack and Sarah won’t compete with their little Annabel and Tristan for a £12K a year Oxbridge place.

    Not a single student will get a single hour’s more tuition than they do now in return for paying £20,000 to £40,000 for their degree. This money is being squeezed out of students to plug the gap left by cuts to universities” research funding – and I’ll eat my hat it if actually goes into research rather than the vice chancellor’s pocket. Just like our taxes, which we’d gladly see spent on our children’s education, get spent on bonuses for bankers and illegal wars – and then, “Oops, there’s a hole in the budget – didn’t notice it there before the election – let’s get your kids into life-long debt to pay for it”.

    It is very easy for people on six figure salaries, who enjoyed free education and for whom £12K a year is pocket money, to talk about how young people with parents on average wages won’t mind getting saddled with this debt. Their little darlings won’t be repaying mounting debts through their nose at commercial interest rates well into their 50s and struggling to get a mortgage and feed their own children alongside it.

    So, how do Messrs Gove and Willets and Ms Tether plan to recruit their “top teachers” out of a pool of graduates in £40-50K of debt who then need another £20K to get through their PGCE, just to earn this priceless £21K at the end of it? How would we recruit research scientists – or are we just going to outsource any work requiring brainpower to China and India, where they have the sense to invest in it?

    I can see what the Tory boys get out of this. I can’t see what LibDems get, other than public contempt they’ll rightly deserve if they let this through.

  • What really worries me, tuition fees aside for the moment, is what the hell is going to come out in Osborne’s speech very shortly, if the Lib Dem leadership fold as they have done over tuition fees, what else will they be nodding and smiling in agreement to next?, I shudder to think.

  • The fact is that the Ministers, Tory and LibDem, who running the country now are from overwhelmingly wealthy backgrounds, therefor nothing they do in relation to student fees will affect them in the slightest. I doubt that the Tory front bench people know where their local state schools are; nor do their kids have to stoop to student loans – with lots of wealth life is so simple. As for the Lib Dems, they are even worse, they used to have some connection with the rest of us but now, after a short time with their Tory buddies, they see life from a different angle. I suppose I am just full of the politics of envy. Silly me.

  • If there was a minority government, then the Conservatives would not be able to force this tuition fee measure through. They would have to win the argument.

    It still seems to me like this may have been the better option.

    People who disagree, are you sure that the country would just give up on a multi-party approach and vote more for the Conservatives in a new election? If so, why?

  • LDV Bob
    I do not see many signs of revolt from the Lib Dem MPs

  • Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that Nick Clegg seems to have completly lost his Mojo.

    whilst he was campaigning for the Liberal Democrats and taking part in the leaders debate, He always came across as stead fast, clear and decisive. For me he always looked as though he was a man who was speaking confidently on issues that he and his party truly believed in.

    Now when I am watching on the news, he comes across as totally the opposite, Their is no conviction in his voice whatsoever.

    Not only has he abandoned the core of his party and what they believe in, but it also appears as though he has lost his own core in himself, rendering himself weak and unstable

  • Has anyone noticed how the government will scam students if it follows Browne`s suggested “levy” to control excessive fees ?
    Every £1000 of fees above £6000 has a rake off to the government (report p.37). Browne`s suggested £7000 fee to cover the total withdrawl of government funding for the humanities already gives the government £60 per student that the student will be paying back for 30 years.
    If Oxbridge goes for fees of £12000 a year the government rake off from the student`s £36000 is over £9000. Every £1000 over £12000 the government takes £750 but it would still be worthwhile for Oxbridge to try, may be, £20,000. The student pays back £60000, the government gets £27720.
    Fees at these rates give big profits on staff costs to Oxbridge colleges, allowing them to accumulate all their endowment income. In 2008-2009 Oxford colleges had £738 million in land, £1550 million in shares and cash (www.oxford.ac.uk)- up from £1.2 billion in 2001. Cambridge has more.(THES 13/7/01)
    Browne hits teachers and the children of teachers and showers money on Oxbridge and government.

  • The Lib Dems campaigned on a pledge to scrap tuition fees. Not to introduce a “fair system” of fees. I helped campaign for them, I voted for them, I urged others to do the same because I believe that higher education in this country suffers from gross underinvestment, especially in research and getting from theoretical ideas to viable businesses. Yet the Lib Dem leadership want us to approve cutting the budget by 80%? I’m sorry, not only did we not vote for that, we voted for the oppposite of that. It’s unnacceptable.

    The Liberal Democrats had a very large student support prior to the election. But instead of protecting its progressive policies it has got drawn into blaming Labour for all our problems and is about to sell its core support out. I can’t believe the Conservatives would be so stupid as to cut 80% from the university budget, let alone the Lib Dems. I’m in shock. I thought these were educated men and women running our country, with at least a basic understanding of economics and the underlying causes of economic growth. I guess I overestimated them. This is a naked assault on science. The money saved will hardly dent the deficit. But it will ensure that the next generation our worse off than the current one. That we rely on our parents for longer, that we lose our freedom and our financial potential and that as a nation we lose our academic ability. It’s lose-lose-lose.

  • Matt,

    “I can’t believe the Conservatives would be so stupid as to cut 80% from the university budget,”

    The reason they are happy to do so may be because the top universities (especially Oxbridge) do not rely that much on state funding, since they receive huge amounts of private funding, both from industry and ex-students (walk round Oxford and Cambridge and observe the lavish facilities, not conspicuously available at an upgraded poly).

    It looks as if the government will have to amend the Insolvency Act to prevent students bankrupting themsevles to get out of paying the fees. Banks, finance companies, loan sharks, etc, aint gonna like that.

  • I have voted LibDem for as long as they have been in existence at national and local level. It is now looking very like the LibDems are collaborating on an 80% (79% -82%) cut in the funding of teaching at universities. You couldn’t make it up. In Greece they are rioting in the streets at 16% cuts. That is not our way but please be sure of one thing: NEVER, NEVER, NEVER AGAIN will you be getting my vote. Hang your heads in SHAME.

  • And if Liberal Democrats are still unwilling to heed my warnings on the Tories intentions.
    To overtime destroy the Liberal Democrats into Insignificance, so that they can dissolve parliament and go to the polls again and win a majority government. Then I suggest you read this http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/
    and
    http://www.lordashcroft.com/pdf/sheffield_hallam_poll_tables.pdf

    Conservative Home has two new Constituency polls conducted by Populus for Michael Ashcorft and looking at the constituencies of Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne.
    Full tables are on Lord Ashcroft’s website here and here.
    Taking Eastleigh first, Chris Huhne’s seat is a Con/LD marginal. In 2005 it was an ultra-marginal with only 568 votes in it, in 2010 Chris Huhne extended his majority to 3864 (7%) – the shares of the vote were LD 47%, CON 39%, LAB 10%. Lord Ashcroft’s poll has currently voting intention in Eastleigh at CON 42%(+3), LAB 21%(+11), LDEM 31%(-16) – suggesting the Lib Dem vote collapsing towards Labour and letting the Conservatives through.

    Moving onto Sheffield Hallam, this is currently a pretty safe Lib Dem seat for Nick Clegg, with the Conservatives currently in a distant second place. The topline figures for general voting intention in the Populus poll are LDEM 33%(-20), LAB 31%(+15), CON 28%(+4): an even bigger collapse from the Lib Dems to Labour, but as Labour start off in third place Nick Clegg narrowly holds on.

    Isn’t it time Liberal Democrats asked themselves WHY IS LORD ASHCROFT conducting polls on his own supposed coalition partners.
    Is it possible he is testing the temperature and to see if it is time to recommend to the Conservatives to pull out Coalition and steal Liberal Democrat seats?

    I wonder!!!!!!!

  • @Voter

    We’ll see how many vote against Fees won’t we ?
    And voting against the Leadership is going to be something more will do more often if Nick keeps this up.

  • Perhaps it may be right for all those who did receive free university education, to now pay back their fees based on todays prices, seeing as all parties seem to say we are all in this together.

  • dave thawley 15th Oct '10 - 9:47pm

    Time for Nick and Vince to consider their positions. If they like tory policy so much they should join the party of their choice. I hope someone manages to get a vote of no confidence going so we can get rid of them soon. If they want to keep representing us they need to start fighting for Liberal policy instead of Tory policy – now.

  • Michael Gove is always so keen to quote “The Swedish Model” when discussing the perfect approach to education.

    So let’s follow his example and quote the Swedish model for university education – it’s free to all EU citizens. Or we could quote the Danish model or the Finnish or Norwegian one, or how about the Polish one? All free to EU citizens.

    What do they know that we don’t?
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/sep/15/students-university-netherlands-scandinavia

    This whole tuition fee debacle is simply a backdoor to force people from poorer backgrounds into other forms of non-academic, vocational HE. It is a disastrous abandonment of fundamental Liberal Democrat principles and, if the parliamentary party doesn’t have the balls and the integrity to oppose it, it should be met by the fiercest opposition by the rank and file.

    What’s involved in calling for a vote of no confidence in the leadership now that we’ve had all the clap-trap about “voters can now sack their MP”? Let’s have it then, let’s take them to task. We’ve shown great restraint until now and the party seems to be well and truly over – in every respect…

  • Liberal Democrat members have a stark choice. Take your party back from Clegg and his Orange Book Tories, or come on over to Labour, strengthen our libertarian credentials, and help us to get rid of what is in effect an extreme right-wing Tory government as soon as possible. Surely Ed Miliband’s conference speech struck more chords with Liberal Democrat members than Clegg’s? The Liberal Democrats haven’t protected the nation from the worst excesses of Osborne, Gove and Pickles, they’ve almost given them free rein.

  • David Farrand 19th Oct '10 - 11:14am

    I thought you were different from the tories but you are just as bone headed as them and can’t see more than 3 or four years ahead. Goodbye Lib Dems. You stand for nothing now.

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