Nick Clegg’s message to the National Union of Students Conference

All party leaders (apart from Nigel Farage) were invited to submit a short video to NUS for their recent conference. Given the Greens supposed popularity among students, it was, shall we say, surprising that they didn’t put one in.

Nick Clegg’s did not shy away from the issue of tuition fees, but he did point out how much less people would be paying per month than under the old system, giving them more money at the time when they needed it most, when they were starting out on their working lives. He went on to talk about 3 issues which showed what the Liberal Democrats offered young people – on drugs, mental health and help with housing costs.

You can watch all the videos submitted here. Nick is on first. It was a pretty reasonable effort in the face of NUS’s unpleasant £40,000 Liar, Liar advertising campaign. It’s worth pointing out that however badly we handled the tuition fees issue, what we did when confronted with a situation when there was no money left, we spent it on breaking down barriers for disadvantaged people. A generation of kids from poorer backgrounds are already benefitting from the extra a money Nick Clegg sent their way to help them in school and from the extra year in nursery.

I would hope that students who aren’t happy with the Labour dominated NUS would give Nick a fair hearing and judge us on the good things Lib Dems have brought to the government, not just one of the major things we got wrong.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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114 Comments

  • Have any Lib Dems retweeted this comment. I heard Clegg on LBC this morning and was impressed by his grasp of this detail which totally eluded Cameron.

    Jack Blanchard, Deputy Political Editor, Daily Mirror
    @Jack_Blanchard
    tweets:

    Unlike the floundering PM yesterday, Nick Clegg manages to correctly answer both London and national living wage rates. H/T @JamesMcGrory

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 23rd Apr '15 - 3:21pm

    Caractacus, not confused at all. The “debt” is not a debt like we would think of it. It gets written off after 30 years with no consequence if it’s not paid off. That’s not the same as any other sort of debt. The measure is effectively a graduate tax.

    And, no, actually. Nobody lied. If you tell a lie, you are saying something that you know to be untrue. The intention was to be able to deliver on that pledge but it turned out not to be possible. It was a misjudgement, a mistake, an error, but not a lie.

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr '15 - 3:37pm

    @ Caracatus….
    So if a leader you like or agree with does something you don’t like would you disown them quite so quickly?
    As a party if we disown or denounce our leadership & MPs quite so quickly is it any wonder the public see as some sort of social club with zero loyalty. Disappointing.

    Very much agree with Caron as well in terms of the difference between a misjudgement and circumstances, not a lie in which you intended always not to do something.

  • The intention was to be able to deliver on that pledge but it turned out not to be possible

    I thought that it had been established that at the time he was promoting the pledge, Clegg already knew that it was unaffordable, and had said he was uncomfortable with it, but was overruled by others within the party who wanted to shore up the student vote?

    So he was making a pledge he knew he couldn’t (and therefore was not intending to) keep, in order to win votes.

    That is lying, isn’t it?

    If I promise that I will help you move in order to get something from you, knowing full well that the weekend in question is just before a deadline so my work is almost certain to call me in and therefore I will be unable to follow through on my promise, but not telling you that until after I have got what I wanted from you, am I not lying?

  • I know this has been done to death over the last 4 1/2 years but no one has shown yet it wasn’t possible to keep the pledge. It was a decision from the leadership not to make keeping it a priority. After all many MP’s did keep it.

  • Caracatus

    “Are tuition fees something “we got wrong” (not we really, just Nick Clegg and some of our MPs, it was nothing to do with the rest of us)”

    Actually the party had it wrong by having a bad policy. The leadership got it wrong buy coming up with a policy that elevated higher education fees above far more important issues and committed finite resources to the wrong area. Student maintenance loans are too low but people obsess over the fee rate which doesn’t have to be paid back until people at least reach an ok wage (not the very low wage of the old system).

    If “free” (paid for by someone else) education is the objective then there would be far cheaper ways to do it than the approach advocated by the LibDems prior to 2010.

    We have to accept that education has both private and public benefits so the costs need to be shared. The question about continued retraining that is going to become more important in the future needs to be addressed. Where the state needs to provide subsidy it has to be in a fair way and lower cost options need to be prioritised over the “magic money tree” ideas.

    That said the idea of the LibDem leadership to have loads of candidates sign a pledge on such a niche issue was more than a misjudgement it, was a massive disaster which was foreseeable, and now very hard to recover from.

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr '15 - 6:12pm

    @ Psi….nicely summoned up.
    @Steve….yes it has been done to death…..

  • Stephen Hesketh 23rd Apr '15 - 6:28pm

    Steve Way 23rd Apr ’15 – 5:51pm
    “I know this has been done to death over the last 4 1/2 years …”

    Indeed, but no less true today than it was the first time it was stated.

  • @ Caron Lindsay
    “It was a misjudgement, a mistake, an error, but not a lie.”
    Or it was a broken pledge or broken personal promise.
    It brought the party into disrepute.

    @ Psi
    “Actually the party had it wrong by having a bad policy.”
    This is one point of view. However I think our policy is still to abolish tuition fees but I can’t remember when we want to do it by.

    The pledge of course was not a policy of the party, each candidate made a personal decision to sign it after being advised to do so by the campaigns department (I believe).

  • “…. A generation of kids from poorer backgrounds are already benefitting from the extra a money Nick Clegg sent their way to help them in school and from the extra year in nursery.”

    This is an assertion which is not born out by the facts.

    There may actually be some truth in it. Eventually we will know, but we do not know yet because five years is not long enough to be able to measure the success or otherwise.

    Fanciful claims which attribute this to Nick Clegg in person are also unhelpful. The SofS for Education who put most of these things in place was Mr Gove was it not? Remind me how popular is Mr Gove in the education world nowadays?

  • @Caron Lindsay
    “it turned out not to be possible”

    You know that’s wrong – the 21 MPs who kept their pledge are proof of that.

    As for the Lib Dem MPs who broke their pledge, including the coalition negotiators… perhaps you can offer an explanation of in what way it was “impossible” for them to keep the pledge, because nobody else ever has.

  • Those who voted for believed it wasn’t affordable in the economic situation. Those who voted against either thought it was or didn’t want to go back on a previous stance.

    Let us now move on from this, Arguing about five years ago amongst ourselves is utterly pointless two weeks out from the polls. If it is a key issue for you then make some more calls for those MPs who voted against.

  • @ Caron Lindsay
    “It was a misjudgement, a mistake, an error, but not a lie.”

    Nope. It was a lie. For the students who are now saddled with a life time of debt it is like this. My Lib Dem MP signed a personal promise from them to me as one of their constituents promising that they would vote against any rise in tuition fees. They voted to treble them. That’s a lie in my book, no way back from that one either as I’m sure the party is about to find out… Treat your core voters like that and you can’t realistically expect them to vote for you again.

  • Alex Sabine 23rd Apr '15 - 7:43pm

    Spot-on, Psi.

  • Ryan McAlister 23rd Apr '15 - 8:03pm

    Why were UKIP not invited?

    A no platform policy for a mainstream political party, however much one disagrees with them, rather sums up the juvenile nonsense that the NUS is.

  • Peter Watson 23rd Apr '15 - 8:11pm

    Amazingly, even now we have four parallel threads debating tuition fees:
    https://www.libdemvoice.org/nick-cleggs-message-to-the-national-union-of-students-conference-45599.html
    https://www.libdemvoice.org/liberal-youth-members-fight-nus-liar-liar-campaign-by-donating-to-liberal-democrat-campaigns-to-trollnus-45519.html
    https://www.libdemvoice.org/nick-clegg-outlines-pay-rises-for-public-sector-workers-45575.html
    https://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-why-i-believe-students-should-vote-for-the-liberal-democrats-45557.html
    Some compare details of the new scheme with the old, completely missing the point that most voters only hear “broken promises” and don’t care about the details of any of the alternatives.
    And all of the discussions combine to demonstrate that the party’s position on tuition fees was and is a complete shambles. Some Lib Dems, including the leadership, defend the new scheme as a good thing in and of itself. Yet the leadership has apologised for having to introducing it. Promises were made to vote against increasing fees but we are told they could not be kept. Except by those who kept them. And the promise to vote against was being negotiated away to abstention in the Coalition Agreement within days of the election and before Lord Browne published his report.
    The party’s policy was to scrap fees, now it defends fees, but it still aspires to scrap them. The right level of fees was (is) zero, then it was £6000, now it is £9000. The notion of reducing fees to the level that Lib Dems thought they would be is dismissed as a middle-class subsidy but increasing them cannot be considered since the unplanned consequence of the £9000 level is already an unexpectedly large increase in off-the-book spending on universities that will have to be paid for by future taxpayers. And the more the current scheme is presented as the right one, the more it implies that the Lib Dem position in 2010 was the wrong one even though it still aspires to it.
    None of this puts the integrity or competence of Lib Dems in a good light, and that is reflected in the way every other policy is viewed. I don’t think I have heard the word “pledge” used as often by journalists in any previous election campaign.

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr '15 - 8:34pm

    @ ATF and Ryan agree fully with both your statements., well said.

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr '15 - 9:33pm

    @ Caracatus so if Nick stood down all is forgiven? So playing the man not the ball, how very typical. It may make you feel better that he as leader takes all the blame and that its his fault 100%. Its obvious you just want his head and you wont be satisfied until you have it.
    I suppose until you get the person you desire as leader you will be campaign more against Nick than those we should be fighting, really sad.
    The blood lust amongst some is truly perturbing.

  • @Caron
    “And, no, actually. Nobody lied. If you tell a lie, you are saying something that you know to be untrue. The intention was to be able to deliver on that pledge but it turned out not to be possible. It was a misjudgement, a mistake, an error, but not a lie.”

    No, they lied – that’s the problem with making a pledge like that. You commit yourself to future acts regardless. They lied in a spectacularly stupid fashion because they were told to by a clueless leadership who probably got out of the wrong side of the bed that morning and stupidly paid attention to some idiot, newly-graduated SPAD. One can argue the toss as to who the major fault lies with but they lied.

    Regardless of that, if the party is going to attempt to reconnect with students it is imperative to let this episode get behind it – and the only way to do that is to willingly embrace the truth: “Yes, we lied, we’re sorry, but let us propose something new.”

    This refusal to accept the lie is just holding the party back. It’s simply denial. LDV has a laudable desire to want to protect the party – but this reluctance to face up to the truth on a number of number of different issues is just damaging it.

  • Rabih, wanting a half decent leader is not blood lust, its self preservation. Under Clegg, we dont need a single taxi to get our MEPs to work, a pogo stick or unicycle will do the job. What scares me is all the other things he can mess up if he is not removed shortly after the election. A blind loyalist who will follow Clegg to oblivion is far more dangerous to the party than a person with the ability to think critically.

  • I came across this forum by accident, but glad I did. At the age of 40+, I’ll be voting Lib-Dem for the first time ever. Previously – before coming into power – I thought the Lib-Dems were a bit wet, a bit too left and and wishy washy. I have been impressed with most of the LibDem policies unveiled as sensible and realistic. I liked that it was economically sound but also takes account of those most vulnerable. I might even join the party at this rate! I’ll also say, from a public point of view, rather than an insider, I’ve been impressed with Nick Clegg – seems on the ball and also has the guts to speak to real public on his LBC show. As for the tuition fee row – let it go. While ill advised, it has to be realised that in coalition you won’t always get everything – the price of power, coalition style. It’s better to bend a little and achieve a lot, than allow principles stop you from doing what is right. It come across as a little naive, but I also think the LibDems come across as one of the more positive parties.

  • @Caron Lindsay
    “The ‘debt’ is not a debt like we would think of it. It gets written off after 30 years with no consequence if it’s not paid off. That’s not the same as any other sort of debt. The measure is effectively a graduate tax.”

    Wrong on all counts. Many debts get written off. Taxes do not cease to be payable after a certain amount of time when the original debt (for that is what it is) has been paid off.

    “Nobody lied. If you tell a lie, you are saying something that you know to be untrue.”

    With this in mind… what evidence do you have that it was “not possible” to keep the pledge, as you keep claiming?

  • @ Alistair Its not blind loyalty its just I don’t prescribe to what you say, I’m not blind nor to I buy to this theory of oblivion and again just because you insist that everything will be better post Clegg doesn’t make it so. Thing is the party is known for doing this to leaders, it has form, and I think we will never agree on a leader that satisfies us all. Again just because you want him out and I want him to stay doesn’t make you right nor does it mean your thinking is clear and mine is anyway clouded.
    I am all for debate, I enjoy it, but when all I get is people who defend Nick are deluded, dangerous, blind and cant think critically….just from your post I do wonder if only some of you could turn that passion outward we may do slightly better out there and we may need at least need a two seated rickshaw for those MEPs.

  • Ultimately the disaster is the damage done to people, our party and the values of Liberal Democracy by the decision to break the pledge. Over 2,000 councillors lost. That’s 2,000 less people to fight for and deliver liberal democracy to people put down when their Labour/Conservative/Scot Nat local council chose to trample on their rights. The vast majority of people no longer trust or believe us and Nick is the personification of that mistrust to them and we will continue to decline so long as he remains leader. He stood up and promised an end to broken promises in the PPB. As leader he then broke the pledge. Leaders lead by example, and people mainly judge parties by their leader.

    It was clear in 2011 that things were going badly downhill with the Scottish results. Council results have been bad every year. In 2014 he compounded the problems by making such a mess of the Euro debates with Farage we lost all but one of our MEPs. In many parts of the country they were the only elected Lib Dem representative left. Now there is no-one to fight for people in those areas. He led the party into the mire and it is he who has to go. The alternative is a continuing decimation of the party over many more years, and sadly the people who continue to support him and pretend it will all come right in the end (as they have done over the last five years) are just refusing to accept their responsibility for the decimation, and are just helping to drive us down.

    The Lib Dems are a great party with a great tradition, and is full of many wonderful selfless people who work unceasingly for their communities. It is the loss of these people that should make us angry and give us all a rallying call to turn things around. The Liberals in the 1940s and 50s worked tirelessly to preserve and sustain the party in those dark days – Until Jo Grimond came and gave it a clear vision and real leadership. He was followed by many fine men and women, David Steel, Penhaligon, Nancy Seear, and many more, who together built up the party to what it has become. We can’t just allow it to collapse around us because some of us don’t want to face facts.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 24th Apr '15 - 8:01am

    Rabih, Blood lust is a bit much, I think. There is a group of people for whom Nick can do no right, that is certainly true. However, these conversations do not get any more civilised if we introduce violent analogies into them.

  • @ Caron Lindsay

    Why was it possible for Mike Crockart and Charles Kennedy to do the “not possible” thing and deliver on their pledge but not possible for others eg John Hemming and Lorely Burt?

    PS I hope Mike and Charles continue to do “not possible” things and save their seats.

  • @Lee welcome to the forum. It’s great to have you here and testament to the positive effect of being in government for the first time in decades, even if according to some of our posters you shouldn’t exist!

  • Matthew Huntbach 24th Apr '15 - 8:49am

    Mr Wallace

    Nope. It was a lie. For the students who are now saddled with a life time of debt it is like this.

    If it was paid for by straight government borrowing, it would still be debt which people in this country were saddled with, albeit more evenly spread. But the Tories wouldn’t have agreed to that.

    I do not see anyone here accusing the Liberal Democrats of being liars proposing an alternative way of paying for universities – which would have to be the one that the Tories would agree to, so that rules out extra taxation. So, what, all of you saying this, would you like to see in terms of extra cuts on top of those we have already had to pay for it? I rather suspect that give the horrendous nature of the cuts we have seen, any such cuts would also go against Liberal Democrats manifesto statements.

    Of course, one way of keeping the pledge would have been to close down most universities, but have fully subsidised tuition for those left. How would that go down with the NUS? Note that there HAVE been big cuts in Further Education spending, which is still directly government funded. So it is almost certain that had Higher Education remained under direct government subsidy it would now be facing the big cuts other areas of government spending are facing. NUS – THAT is what you are saying you would prefer.

    The reality is that 57 Liberal Democrat MPs cannot dictate government policy. It has to be a process of negotiation, and the consequences of pushing harder on this issue would inevitably have had to be further concessions elsewhere.

    I am sorry that these rather obvious points do not seem to be getting made by anyone but me. Not even the party leadership, whose exaggerated boasting about their influence on this government, and claims that it is 75% Liberal Democrat in policy, which I am sorry to see has been revived as a publicity line, make it harder to get across the limitations which the party face in practice. The reality is that 57 LibDem MPs have no more influence on the government than the 57 most right-wing head-banging Tory MPs.

    I wish that political debate could be on these lines, rather than about insisting on setting down absolute lines and supposing they can be obeyed regardless of the situation. Politics doesn’t work like that. You have to work with how things are, and that is not always predictable. Again, it doesn’t help that the party PR people themselves put politics in this “promises” way rather than talk about unpredictable reality.

  • Jane Ann Liston 24th Apr '15 - 8:53am

    Labour have managed to let their broken promise on tuition fees go; it’s time we did the same. And Nick has apologised; Labour have not.

  • A lifetime ago, for the few brief months that I was a student, the NUS was dominated by Jack Straw along with other Labour people and some Marxists who interestingly ended up being Labour Cabinet ministers alongside Jack Straw.

    It took a long time for Straw to be exposed for what he is in the recent press scam.

    What does this tell me about NUS and politics? It tells me that party leaders might be better talking to those young people who get a proper job rather than those who go to university and study PPE, intending to become SpAds and thereafter spend their lives in the Westminster Bubble.

  • TCO 24th Apr ’15 – 8:37am
    @Lee welcome to the forum. It’s great to have you here and testament to the positive effect of being in government for the first time in decades, even if according to some of our posters you shouldn’t exist!

    Can anyone point me to the comments that say “Lee” shouldn’t exist?

    I do not seem to be able to find them.

  • @Jane Ann “Labour have managed to let their broken promise on tuition fees go; it’s time we did the same.”

    I agree wholeheartedly. Its clear that there are many people such as Mr Wallace who closed their minds on this issue 5 years ago and are not prepared to change them. That’s their choice, we’re a democracy, and I hope that they find what they’re looking for in other parties.

    We need to move on and engage with people like @Lee above who are prepared to be more balanced in their approach.

  • Matthew Huntbach 24th Apr ’15 – 8:49am The reality is that 57 Liberal Democrat MPs cannot dictate government policy. It has to be a process of negotiation, and the consequences of pushing harder on this issue would inevitably have had to be further concessions elsewhere…….. The reality is that 57 LibDem MPs have no more influence on the government than the 57 most right-wing head-banging Tory MPs……

    One MP can dictate government policy on a specific issue….After all, Callahan’s government was voted out when a mere 11 Scottish Nationalists refused to budge on the Referendum on the Scotland Act and put down a motion of no confidence…The defection of a couple of “head-banging Tory MPs” certainly affected the rhetoric of the Conservative party….

    I appreciate that, despite the claims of “75% are LibDem policies, etc.”, the party could not get everything it wanted. However, there should have been ‘red lines’ on the NHS (which far from saving money has cost £Billions and even Tories admit was a mistake), on ‘Bedroom Tax’ which has saved nothing and on the “pledge”….

  • Politicians sometimes have no choice but to make U-turns. In making them they will be accused of being liars. The real point of this U-turn was that Clegg handled it in a crass and inept manner at every stage. From what I can see, he continues to do so.

  • @ caron….understood….although the fervour for which some dislike Nick does border on that sometimes, however I will refrain in the future.

    @ Lee as TCO says welcome to the forum and also to the party, good to hear that not just Nick but the party overall even through our touch patch has attracted you to the fold.

    @ Matthew, actually agree with majority of what you are saying so while we have our differences I think your last post sums things up very well.

    @ Jane….could not agree more….feels like we should post up the sons from Frozen…again!

    @expats….you still here??!

  • that’s tough patch….and song….

  • Rabih Makki 24th Apr '15 - 1:03pm

    @ Caracatus…as I have been asked to back up many of my claims can you back up your “1 in every 100” claim about Tories switching to Lib Dem and that 2/3 left us when in reality our core vote has been and never was 23% but between 12-15% at best and the rest were protest/anyone but the other two voters who would naturally swing between elections regales of tut ion fees. Again such a simplistic argument when in reality things are much more nuanced and complicated.

    @ Phil….not sure how apologizing(ad nausea) and holding up his hand when many politicians wouldn’t in the same situation is him still handling in an inept and crass way. Think that’s your take, which in itself is ill informed and point scoring rather than factual.

  • David Evans 24th Apr '15 - 2:20pm

    I agree with Phil. It was the fact that the party had for many years built on the reputation of its candidates for honesty and hard work; that was gradually building up a core vote into the upper teens of percent. The PPB “An end to Broken Promises” was (or at least we mere troops thought was) a reaffirmation of our efforts in that area. It was our USP. Sadly events after that wrecked that strategy.

    As we all know (or certainly the last few doubters will know after May 7th) that has all but gone for the party as a whole. However, there remain a good number of exceptional MPs and councillors who have managed to make personal honesty their watchword, strong enough to survive this tempest. Building on this is the only way back and we need to start as soon as possible after May 7th.

  • Yes. People thought we were different and then we turned out to be just the same. A huge disappointment. I have never understood why no one has ever said in our defence that, with all the cut backs and the sacrifices that the poor and ill would have to make, it would have been immoral to give students that kind of hand out.
    I can only think that our leaders were just thinking about deals at the time. The disadvantaged came well behind constitutional change in our wish list and so the party lost it’s conscience.

  • Alex Sabine 24th Apr '15 - 4:09pm

    Peter Watson: You sum up the position nicely and there is little I disagree with in your analysis there. The exact nature of the apology – what the party apologises for – does seem to have morphed from one thing to another and back again, depending on who is doing the apologising and to what audience.

    As I understand it, though, Clegg and Cable have apologised for the foolish decision to sign the pledge, which elevated the status of the whole issue above the role they intended for it, which was that it was a second-order issue (not one of the four front-page manifesto commitments) and not a deal-breaker in a coalition scenario. They also point out that it was not possible to deliver on Lib Dem policy and would not have been possible in coalition with either of the two main parties. So there is an element of apologising for including such a politically unrealistic policy in the manifesto which they knew was likely to be undeliverable unless they made it a coalition ‘red line’, and they had no intention of doing this because it was wasn’t deemed to be as high a priority as other issues like the £10K tax allowance.

    Sometimes they add the justification that the policy was unaffordable given the size of the budget deficit, and that somehow they couldn’t have been expected to know this before the election. The second part is a weak excuse since the enormous scale of the deficit had been clear since at least the March 2009 Budget and Vince Cable had written a paper that autumn called Tackling the Fiscal Crisis which recommended a larger fiscal tightening (approximately 8% of GDP) than the Labour government had laid out.

    The first part – unaffordability – was not true in any fundamental sense, since the cost of implementing the Lib Dem policy would likely have been of the order of £3 billion, ie expensive but feasible in the context of a £700 billion annual budget. But it was true given the priorities of both coalition parties, expensive new commitments like the tax allowance policy and the decision to ringfence large areas of government spending from cuts. It would be more accurate to say that they concluded that scrapping fees would have been an unwise use of scarce resources. Personally I think that was the right judgement, but it was political dynamite given the high-profile pledge. I would hope that lesson has been learned and the Lib Dems will not give such hostages to fortune in this campaign. (I note they haven’t done so in relation to the Davies commission on airport capacity, although candidates in constituencies under the flightpath are doubtless tempted to do so.)

    Clearly Clegg, Cable and other Lib Dem ministers have also defended the new fee arrangements on their merits, and pointed to the continued strength of university participation and the strong applications figures for students from poorer backgrounds. They have, as you say, criticised the Labour plan to reduce fees to £6,000 on the ground that it is regressive. How this fits in with a long-term aspiration to scrap fees altogether I cannot explain! It’s disturbingly like the Green Party polarity between ‘short-term policies’ and ‘long-term policies’ pointing in opposite directions. It reflects the unresolved divisions between those who think the new arrangements are essentially here to stay and (insofar as they give universities more money and a more reliable source of income) indeed better than the old ones, and those who see free higher education as a principle that should be proclaimed anew and put back on the agenda.

  • Rabih Makki 24th Apr '15 - 4:13pm

    We all seem to be planning for the absolute worse posy May 7th, not that I think it will be a happy night, and not concentrating on the here and now and also forgetting that even if we lose 25-30 of our Mps(and yes will be a great shame whoever they are) that we may still have a part to play in forming a government and talk of leadership change and policy shifts the day after a GE are not just navel gazing but breathtakingly short sighted.
    I accept the reality, but plan for the worst I agree but also hope for the best, it seems many want the worst so they can clear house and start again….as if it were that simple.
    No matter if you dislike Nick or not, or his team or his leadership in general this talk just baffles me and of more concern than some verbose comments by me & others to Caron or anyone else looking in will be the utter defeatism that permeates this forum, it does us no favours and plays in to the other parties hands.
    Sure others will say I am being unrealistic or bearing my head in the sand but clearly I am not, I may know what’s coming, I just don’t have to lie down and accept it.

  • Alex Sabine 24th Apr '15 - 4:22pm

    The 2010 Lib Dem manifesto put the cost at about £1.8 billion by 2014-15, but that was relative to a ‘no change’ scenario which both main parties accepted was not an option. The Browne review was due to report and they would respond to it. It was clearly going to recommend a different balance between taxpayer and graduate funding, ie a higher graduate contribution of some magnitude. So the cost of scrapping fees altogether needs to be compared with the cost of the alternative policy actually pursued in order to estimate the public expenditure cost had the Lib Dems been able to secure implementation of their manifesto policy. This is hard to pin down exactly but you can look at the savings BIS made – most of which came from cutting the HEFCE grant – and add these to the £1.8 billion manifesto costing to get an idea of the likely figure. It’s in the ballpark of £3 billion, maybe slightly higher.

  • @ Rabih Makki
    “we may still have a part to play in forming a government”

    I am not sure what legitimacy we would have in playing a part in the government after May 7th if we lost more than 28 MPs. Our MPs will have a part to play in changing the procedures of the House of Commons to give power to the MPs and away from the Executive and will vote on matters before the house.

    If one is a party member and believes that the handling of the coalition has been carried out badly for the party and those with experiences of working with others parties in Councils, Wales and Scotland were ignored and that the leadership often didn’t pay enough attention to what some of the members were saying, then wanting to change the leadership and learn from the many mistakes made is important. Also the quicker it is done the sooner we can start to change the public’s perception of the party and start rebuilding the party, hoping it will not take 25 years to recover the losses in our councillor base.

  • Rabih Makki 24th Apr '15 - 6:19pm

    @ Michael BG, I do love how the members and others are now washing their hands of the coalition, I know not everyone was happy with it to begin with but to stick the knife in as the party is already in the fight of its life and doing it under the pretence that members need a change and never wanted any coalition(or at least that’s what you’re inferring) is pretty low.
    Yes the party may well need to look at its course post election but to throw the baby out with the bathwater as this stage is ridiculous.

    As for legitimacy lets see…UKIP 1-5 MPs….DUP 8-10 MPs…Greens 1-2 MPs…SNP 40-50 MPS….Plaid 3-5 MPS

    So either they will have far far less MPs, only represent one part of the country or both.
    If your argument that a party that loses seats isn’t legitimate is extraordinary, why? So for self interest you want to step aside and let either a bunch of left wing nationalists or right wing bigots supplant us?
    We are a political party, here to serve the people, we are not a social club with only our members to keep happy. I think if we stepped out and let one of those other parties above supplant us it would be a bigger betrayal to the country than tuition fess could ever be. While some members would be happy would the voters forgive us for not stepping up….dare we take that chance if its handed to us to walk away and leave others to decide the countries fate over the next 5 years. Seems like some are more interested in the party, or themselves then what we are here for…to help, protect and make this country better. Does seem some of us are so caught up in our party worries we have lost sight of the bigger picture.

  • Rabih Makki 24th Apr '15 - 6:23pm

    @ TCO…..Indeed Captain Mainwaring!! 🙂

  • @Richard
    “Why was it possible for Mike Crockart and Charles Kennedy to do the ‘not possible’ thing and deliver on their pledge but not possible for others eg John Hemming and Lorely Burt?”

    You’re wasting your time – Caron (and all other Clegg apologists here) have refused to answer this question countless times.

    In some ways, these fictitious excuses for breaking the pledge strike me as being worse than the original pledge breaking itself.

  • I wonder what those commentators who agree with the rise in tuition fees but criticise the pledge for being a politically unwise move, think of the Party Political Broadcast where Nick promised ‘No More Broken Promises’ ? I have always felt that the “Tuition Fees Betrayal” referred to not just the tripling of fees but that it referred to doing so within the context of that PPB.

  • @Alex Sabine 24th Apr ’15 – 4:09pm

    Interesting analysis which I think pushes to the heart of the problem: what’s worse for me is not so much the lying issue as the judgement one. In effect the party leadership made fees the red line without even realising they’d done so. I’d say that both the membership and probably the voters realised the implications of the pledge as a red line before the leadership did. That’s the first failure of judgement. The second was, once realising the mess they were in, failing to come up with any coherent plan to extricate the party from the mess. Clegg should have presented fees to Cameron as a red line because at the very least it would have forced Cameron to present the circumstances that would have given the Lib Dems a get-out clause: to have engineered a situation where all the MPs could have voted for the fees, or all against. That some did, and some didn’t, gives an appearance of not taking a pledge particularly seriously. It also gives an impression of rather too much flexibility over red lines.

    Why is this important now? The issue of the lie is of historic value. The issue of judgement is ever-present. My fear of voting for the Lib Dems now is not that the leadership might lie over a red line, but that they might not recognise what one is, and that if circumstances force them to abandon it, they may not be competent enough to trade that red line for anything of equal value.

  • Rabih Makki 24th Apr '15 - 7:27pm

    @ Phyllis…..not that any of us agree but we may have the nous to work out that you cant do everything you want in a coalition if you compromise, I think you can look back at every party through time and pick up on things they said they would/wouldn’t do and then didn’t…oh and up until 2010 they did that with majority’s for the vast majority of the time.
    Not saying that makes it right but the kicking we have got and self harm we continue to do seems completely out of proportion to the “crime” so to speak, compared to what others have done its just baffling, totally baffling after 5 years why we have not moved on.

  • Rabbi Makki “@ Phyllis…..Not saying that makes it right but the kicking we have got and self harm we continue to do seems completely out of proportion to the “crime” so to speak, compared to what others have done its just baffling, totally baffling after 5 years why we have not moved on.”

    What is your definition of “the ‘crime’, “?

  • stuart moran 24th Apr '15 - 7:58pm

    Matthew Huntbach

    I say this as someone that respects a lot of your posts here but I must say that this question you pose has been answered before ad infinitum

    Firstly, I will say that I am aware that some of what I say will be challenged based on accounting norms but in the end that is all smoke and mirrors – and also something that has been a bane on our finances (private and public) for years

    HE is paid for via the following simple mechanism (ignores any income from donations etc):

    Cost= Government revenue A + Government borrowing B + Student Contribution C + Student debt D

    At the moment we are told that there is no A available as we are in deficit and there is no up front fee so C is also 0 so it goes to

    Cost = B + D

    So in the end HE is pretty much all funded through debt. As time goes by then C will increase as students start to pay back their debt but no-one really knows when that stream will come on line and how much will actually paid back. Listening to the Coalition it seems that the rhetoric suggests very little of C will come back into the coffers as it is not ‘real debt’

    Thereforethe equation suggests that HE is mostly funded by a Government debt….it just depends when it appears on the books. -now or for a future generation to pay

    I have no issue in Government investing in HE…Government can also borrow at a much lower interest rate so in the end would surely make sense

  • Stephen Hesketh 24th Apr '15 - 8:55pm

    Bolano 24th Apr ’15 – 7:22pm
    Excellent post Bolano. Sayings involving the words piss up and brewery or arse and elbow spring to mind.

    Phyllis 24th Apr ’15 – 6:57pm.
    I agree. How a professional politician and professional advisors where unable to see this is juggernaut is unbelievable.

    Rabih Makki 24th Apr ’15 – 7:27pm
    ” … totally baffling after 5 years why we have not moved on.”

    Three points Rabih 1) I don’t have the figures but I would hazard a guess that the party membership criticism of Clegg grew as we lost more and more councillors and then MEP’s. This reached a peak last May after yet another failure in leadership and strategy 2) Why do you believe that ordinary members should ‘move on’ when it is increasingly clear that Nick Clegg as a politician and leader of this party is simply and sadly toxic with voters and 3) Clegg and his inner circle have shown themselves not be able to recognise that their core strategy has failed and have, right to the bitter end, not sought an alternative approach.

    If ordinary voters are unable to forgive and forget, and Clegg himself will not accept what the electorate are telling us election after election, why on earth should Lib Dem members ‘move on’?

    If your business was haemorrhaging customers and your co-directors where daily pointing out the problems they were encountering in your particular market, what would be your response?

    As a self-declared successful businessman, I rather suspect you would not be suggesting they move on/get over it.

  • Stephen Hesketh 24th Apr '15 - 9:05pm

    Lee 23rd Apr ’15 – 10:34pm
    “I’ve been impressed with Nick Clegg – seems on the ball …”

    Lee, whilst Nick Clegg may appear to be on the ball, he is frequently to be seen running round and round on the centre spot while the game is being played out elsewhere. He has also been known to score the odd own goal or three.

  • Matthew Huntbach “The real problem would come if the law required to allow universities to charge tuition fees was vote down, but so was any alternative plan to raise money to subsidise universities. Had that happened there would have been a crisis, because universities would have been left with the funding that supposed the tuition fees would have come in, but no actual tuition fees coming in.”

    But no actual tuition fees are coming in now under the new system. Nor are most of them likely too, or not for a very long time, so we are told. So higher education is now funded on ‘the never-never’ . Isn’t that right?? Genuine question.

  • @Stephen Hesketh with “friends” like you …

    @Lee there is a tradition within a small section of the party to disagree with the leader no matter what.

  • Alex Sabine 24th Apr '15 - 9:59pm

    @ Stuart Moran

    Leaving the accounting issues to one side – and I do wonder if all those exercised by the long-run contingent liabilities feel the same way about public sector pension schemes, for example, which are not even included in the calculation of public sector debt – there is something which your equation doesn’t account for.

    That is the 28% increase in per student funding as a result of the new system. One of the main reasons why the estimate of loan write-offs has risen is that more universities charged the full £9,000 fees than the government expected. This has increased the estimate of the long-run Exchequer cost compared to the initial projections. By the same token, it means universities are much better funded. Perhaps they don’t need that money and are over-charging students, I’m not in a position to judge. But we should at least be clear that they had a lot less to spend per student under the old system: roughly £6,000 less over the duration of the average course. No doubt this is one reason why universities are not keen to go back to haggling with the Treasury.

  • @ TCO….indeed, instead of my replying back to each individual which is getting to the point of repetitive strain I would say exactly that, some no matter what the leader does, good, bad or otherwise they will disagree and think that’s being radical.

    Although I will see to Stephen business and politics are very different and when people compare is does make me laugh. One is built on people liking/agreeing with policy or an emotional pull with a moving set of goal posts and almost daily public/media comment….the other is mostly to do with profit, revenue and growth between private businesses without such moving components as public or media interest(for the large majority) ….comparing the two in any way is astonishingly simplistic and not valid.

  • stuart moran 24th Apr '15 - 10:16pm

    Alex Sabine
    The contingent liabilities question is an interesting one – we already have seen how public sector pensions have been heavily modified in order to meet future liabilities. Are you suggesting that the same will happen to future student debt repayments in the future if these liabilities don’t look like being met? What guarantee is there that the terms and interest rates charged will always stay as they are now?

    Your argument on the 9000 does not make any difference – there may be more money but it still comes from debt. It just means that D is higher

    My argument still stands that the best thing is to put the debt into the public sector at low interest rates rather than piling it on to individuals – this is a philosophical question and I am coming from the point that I do not think the bulk of fees should be on the individual. I would like a completely funded HE system but accept some contribution can be justified but at a much lower level.

    Perhaps we could also consider something novel like raising taxes (starting with corporation tax and high band income tax) – the argument that all these people will flee if that happens is a chilling one as we will inevitably seen a further ‘pay as you go’ public sector which will not be a happy situation for anyone apart from, again the rich.

  • Stephen Hesketh 24th Apr '15 - 10:42pm

    TCO 24th Apr ’15 – 9:19pm

    It may surprise you to know that Nick Clegg’s 2010 GE debate performances actually rekindled my active involvement in the party and also the membership and involvement of my daughter. It would be a big mistake to believe that I was always anti Nick Clegg. Although clearly from a different wing of the party, I was happy to give him the benefit of the doubt. It was he who provided all the doubt I needed.

  • Stephen Hesketh 24th Apr '15 - 11:08pm

    Rabih Makki 24th Apr ’15 – 10:14pm
    “… Stephen business and politics are very different and when people compare is does make me laugh. One is built on people liking/agreeing with policy or an emotional pull with a moving set of goal posts and almost daily public/media comment….the other is mostly to do with profit, revenue and growth between private businesses without such moving components as public or media interest(for the large majority) ….comparing the two in any way is astonishingly simplistic and not valid.”

    It surprises me that you say that. In my experience a significant part of business success is built on human relationships and trust and another part on having the right product for the target market. l believe my simple analogy – and what can go wrong – is inconveniently closer than you care to admit.

  • Stephen Hesketh 24th Apr '15 - 11:20pm

    Rabih Makki 24th Apr ’15 – 10:14pm
    “… Stephen business and politics are very different and when people compare is does make me laugh. One is built on people liking/agreeing with policy or an emotional pull with a moving set of goal posts ”

    OK … and I think you provide here the reason why political people are attached to VALUES and why those of us who do subscribe to mainstream Preamble Liberal Democracy can’t simply move on in the detached way you would like us to.

    So much easier for those who believe in some form of power-based centrist managerialism.

  • @ Stephen, …I agree business to an extent is built on human relationships, but then again most things in every day life are. However the difference is that with politics, say as with sport business is not tribal, you are not voting or looking for someone to buy in to on that emotional level, with your heart as such as well as your head. Some business may be based on heart but most is head and its not as with politics buying in to a vision for your every day life for the next 5 years or beyond.

    Business also has values but in a different way to a political party, however again as with others your throw away line of “…detached way you would like us to” please indicate how my values have shifted? Also please clarify that your values from when you are say 16, 25, 40 and 60 stay exactly the same, they don’t ever shift or change in any way? Yes your core values may stay as such, and mine are so please don’t question them, but others may with age, experience and life in general change. To say otherwise would make you extremely odd and I cant believe that that life experience does not and would not change your viewpoints & hence values on some things.
    Strange why you say anyone with some shifting values is almost a lesser person, but is that not what a “floating” voter is….would you stand on a doorstep and berate them for being so? Sorry I stick to my argument that saying look at me for my never changed values makes you an oddity not the normality, in life not just politics.

  • @Stephen @Rab this is an interesting debate. I would argue that I don’t believe my outlook on life has changed dramatically since I was 18 but how I would address things has. When we’re young we imbibe what our parents give us. It’s only when we test that vs our experience that we temper what we thought were certainties.

  • @ TCO….some of us have core belief and values that stay with us all our lives, others less so, but for those who don’t(and much like yourself TCO mine have not changed since I was in my teens to an extent) life, experience and the outside world do have an affect, anyone saying they don’t must live in a bubble. That doesn’t mean as I believe Stephen may be alluding to I or others shift those value for expedience, that’s not the case, but accepting the reality of certain situations means being adaptable and accepting compromise if need does not mean I’ve sold out on my values…and I do take umbrage to anyone who try’s to insinuate as such.

  • David Evans 25th Apr '15 - 1:32am

    Somehow a few people seem to think that the public are wrong, most of the party is wrong, but Nick is usually right and they are always right. They are the siren voices of doing nothing. Moving on when you are approaching a cliff edge involves changing direction or simply accepting your fate. Those who have encountered political success and failure usually realise this. Those who don’t realise it, really don’t want to move on at all.

  • @ Rabih Makki
    Please can you not infer things from what I have written. I have stated recently on another thread that I supported the formation of the coalition as did many people who feel that Nick Clegg has handled being in coalition very badly and feel he should have followed the advice of those who have been in working relationships with other parties in councils, Wales and Scotland.

    I do not state that just because a party has fewer seats it should not go into government because if that was the case I wouldn’t have supported the formation of the coalition. However the question of legitimacy for a party that has just lost half or more of their MPs is important. If the SNP had 100 MPs and were reduced to 50 or less their legitimacy should also be questioned. There should be no question of legitimacy because all of a party’s MPs represent a region of the UK. We are after all one nation.

    You may not have noticed but I was in fact saying we shouldn’t be in government. I think I made it very clear we should have a role in voting in Parliament and this may involve votes of confidence.

  • Matthew Huntbach: On tuition fees, I suspect that the political move would have been to delay and push the issue to the precipice, this would have entailed university department closures, redundancies and restrictions on university places. At the same time someone would have to seed an idea similar to the current scheme amongst opposition groups and the NUS. At which point Lib Dems would have been able to cave in and the current scheme would have been called a workable graduate tax arrangement.

    The downside would have been that real people would have lost jobs in HE and real people would have been denied places on university courses.

  • A lot of people here have really drunk the Cleggite Kool-Aid on fees. How many graduates aspire to earn £20-£30k their whole careers? A halfway decent teacher could well end up repaying the whole £27k, paying a combined marginal tax + repayment rate of 29% on all income over £21k. While a third division footballer with no qualifications on £40k pays only 20%. And don’t pretend we haven’t used some of the public money saved to reduce taxes for those on £150k – this is not a policy Clegg has said he will reverse, please note!

  • Stephen Hesketh 25th Apr '15 - 8:13am

    Rabih Makki 24th Apr ’15 – 11:39pm

    I can accept much of your comment regarding the differences between business and politics but both are susceptible to failure when they lose sight of the needs of their customer base. Nick Clegg inherited a Waitrose but thought he would be more successful by telling people it wasn’t either a Poundland or Poundshop. In a retail sense he wreaked the brand.

    Regarding what you describe as a throw away line of “…detached way you would like us to”, this was not an insult to yourself but a statement of Preamble-believing Liberals being wedded to those values and so being attached rather than detached!

    I do not know you how on earth can I indicate how your values have shifted? Today though you appear much happier with Nick Clegg’s Centrist managerialism than me. My values have always been green, egalitarian, Liberal and driven by a commitment to fairness.

    Your “Yes your core values may stay as such, and mine are so please don’t question them” seems a bit touchy for someone with your robust posting record.

    Again, as others have commented, you are prone to putting words in people’s mouths. Where on earth did I say that “anyone with some shifting values is almost a lesser person” ?

    Also not sure where the floating voter bit came in. Canvassing is entirely different to expecting party members, and above all the leader, to share the values of our Preamble. Individuals will vary in their views as to the best way to achieve these values through the discussion and adoption of party policies.

    Thank you however for your laughable, “look at me for my never changed values makes you an oddity not the normality, in life not just politics.”

  • @Terry. Brown and Balls were very happy to tax all income over £10k at 40% for the vast majority of their tenure.

  • Stephen Hesketh 25th Apr '15 - 8:25am

    Clearly that should be wrecked!

    Also, I will be too busy delivering literature and ‘berating floating voters’ to discuss this further today.

  • Stephen Hesketh 25th Apr '15 - 8:27am

    TCO 24th Apr ’15 – 11:47pm
    “@Stephen @Rab this is an interesting debate. I would argue that I don’t believe my outlook on life has changed dramatically since I was 18 but how I would address things has. When we’re young we imbibe what our parents give us. It’s only when we test that vs our experience that we temper what we thought were certainties.”

    Agreed.

  • Stephen Hesketh 25th Apr ’15 – 8:13am
    “….My values have always been green, egalitarian, Liberal and driven by a commitment to fairness.”

    Quite so. It is obvious from the consistent comments you have made in LDV for a long time that you hold these views.

    Your values would be recognised by Liberals and Radicals of one hundred years ago, throughout the nineteenth century and as far as the English Civil War amd beyond.

    I was reminded recently of The Areopagitica. For those who are not familiar it, this was Milton’s defence of the freedom of the press. Recent joiners of the party will not be aware that a copy of The Areopagitica was passed on from president to president of the party as a symbol of the office they held and of course as a reminder of what we are about.

    That something written by Milton around 370 years ago has a continuing political relevance today perhaps puts into context some of the “Nick Clegg or die” comments which are appearing from a vocal and unrepresentative minority in these threads.

    There will still be people recognising the values that you hold long after Clegg’s unique speech on hearts and brains in oalitions have been forgotten.

    Your Liberal Values will shine through in decades to come whilst the somewhat trifling adjustments to income tax thresholds and Nick Clegg’s record on tuition fees or his enthusiasm for the bombing of Libya will take their rightful place somewhere in the scrap-heap of history.

  • @Stephen Hesketh “Agreed”

    Amen to that 🙂

  • @stuart moran
    “The contingent liabilities question is an interesting one – we already have seen how public sector pensions have been heavily modified in order to meet future liabilities. Are you suggesting that the same will happen to future student debt repayments in the future if these liabilities don’t look like being met? What guarantee is there that the terms and interest rates charged will always stay as they are now?”

    There is no guarantee whatsoever – in fact the current system has been designed so that various key parameters can be changed very easily by this or any future government. There have already been reliable reports that the government is actively considering freezing the repayment threshold rather than increasing it with inflation as originally suggested.

    If, say, the Tories win an overall majority and start tinkering with the loans in this way, Lib Dems will no doubt attack the Tories viciously for doing so – but the fact of the matter is that the Lib Dems will themselves be partly culpable, since they allowed the system to be designed so flexibly in the first place.

    “Perhaps we could also consider something novel like raising taxes (starting with corporation tax and high band income tax) – the argument that all these people will flee if that happens is a chilling one as we will inevitably seen a further ‘pay as you go’ public sector which will not be a happy situation for anyone apart from, again the rich.”

    When people suggest that a particular tax move will cause some rich people to flee the country, my response is to shrug my shoulders and say “so what?” We need to get over this idea that the rich somehow provide wealth for the rest of us. Mostly, it’s the other way around.

  • @ David Evans….you are not some great sage, talk of approaching a cliff 2 weeks prior to an election tells us a lot more of your personal hang ups with Nick to the detriment of the party, you are not some political mind as you seem to think you are and we are all political simpletons…just that we fight on while realising the danger not just shout & panic and lash out like you are.

    @ Mathew…agree with majority of your point re the party and tuition fees and that the party does not deserve what it is getting now….less so re Nick….but overall you make some very good points and some on here should take note not to just fall in to the trap set by those with vested interest in running the party down .
    Your last line is did draw a smile and me nodding in agreement.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Apr '15 - 10:20am

    One thing I am sorry to say about the tuition fee system is that it has not made students more attentive to their work. HUGE amount of effort that I put in as a university lecturer are wasted because students do not turn up to lectures, do not read the material I have written or suggested to them, do not work on the exercises I have carefully put together because doing those exercises is how you learn the material, do not read the feedback I have given on the work they have done.

    It is crazy – students are paying for it, but they are not taking what they have paid for.

  • Matthew Huntbach 25th Apr ’15 – 10:00am
    “….Again and again in this very place I wrote pleading to members of this party not to vote for Clegg as leader because I could see right through him – he was, as I called him, “the great right hope”.”

    It is worth remembering that more than 49% of those members who voted in that leadership election agreed with you, Matthew.
    More accurately I should say “managed to get their ballots through the post in time” to have their votes counted.

    Of the 62,727 voting papers issued, only 20,988 votes went to Nick Clegg.

    Less than 51% of the members who voted opted for Clegg to be leader.

    I did not start criticising Nick Clegg or his small group in public until the vote on the proposal to bomb Syria and the shameful U-turn on subsidies for new nuclear at Hinkley. Late summer, early autumn 2013.

    Since then I have frequently been accused of being “always against him”, “a hater” and on more than one occasion a member of the Labour Party.

    This tells you more about the accusers than it tells you about me.

    I acknowledge that I was wrong. You were right. I should have spoken out earlier.

    Clegg had been leader of the party for almost six years before I spoke out.

    The only consoloation is that nobody can say that I did not give him and his Orange Book Tendency time or that I jumped to hasty conclusions.

  • Rabih Makki 25th Apr ’15 – 10:19am

    Rabih, is there any chance you cold use punctuation marks? I am not being rude or personal but I am sure you would like people to understand what you are trying to say.

    I am not a pedantic stickler for grammar but it is sometimes difficult to understand what you have written.

    For example, these four lines
    “@ David Evans….you are not some great sage, talk of approaching a cliff 2 weeks prior to an election tells us a lot more of your personal hang ups with Nick to the detriment of the party, you are not some political mind as you seem to think you are and we are all political simpletons…just that we fight on while realising the danger not just shout & panic and lash out like you are.”

    If you could use shorter sentences and traditional sentence construction it would help the reader.

  • Matthew Huntbach “both of you effectively assuming I am a Cleggie”.

    I was asking genuinely for clarification as it’s very confusing to me how we are told that we must charge tuition fees – even though there is no money coming in under the new system.

  • Rabih Makki 25th Apr '15 - 1:21pm

    @ John….sorry that’s just my style, very hard to change at this point in life.

    As for your almost suggesting Nick does not or did not have a mandate from members to become leader, to say this 8 years on is quit disgraceful and again shows the depths some will stoop to.
    You can look back at many leadership and other elections of all types when only a certain percentage voted for the winner, but your insinuation is not only wrong but says a lot about you.

    As for you speaking out and saying you were wrong, how nice of you, however I wonder if people will accept your apology or be as harsh as they have been with Nick after his apology re the fees and refuse it.
    Likely you’ll get an easier rise for your conversion, we all make mistakes….although seems sum aren’t allowed to make any.

  • Stephen Hesketh 25th Apr '15 - 1:32pm

    JohnTilley 25th Apr ’15 – 9:01am

    Thank you John. My only note of disagreement is that they are obviously the shared values of all of us ordinary Preamble-believing Liberal Democrats up and down the country. They are the eternal values of Radical Liberalism which, even if Nick Clegg and the ‘Reclaiming Liberalism tendency’ have wrecked the present party, will rise again and ultimately succeed.

  • stuart moran 25th Apr '15 - 1:32pm

    Matthew

    I have never assumed you were a Cleggie!

    I understand what you are saying and accept some of it

    The problem is the ‘pledge’ and this was a mistake made by the leadership in order to put clear blue water between them and Labour especially. The problem was that it was never going to be deliverable so it made the people who signed it and did not go through with it look very untrustworthy….also Clegg, as usual, spectacularly messed up the aftermath

    We can argue ad infinitum about the current situation (which I find is based on very shaky ground, and to be honest, lack of openness and honesty) but I think the main issue is that tuition fees has been a good example of how the LD, and especially, the leadership, have acted in Coalition. This is why they have lost so many voters….’no more broken promises’!

    By the way, LD seem to have no policy on HE funding…something about a review is the best we get!

    Just a final point as well regarding the manifesto. It seems to have far more in common with Labour’s and the SNP’s than the Tory one but we all know that Clegg would prefer a Tory coalition again……what gives? Is the manifesto going to be junked again asap

  • Rabih Makki 25th Apr '15 - 1:41pm

    @ Stephen….Radical Liberalism….yes always one to trot out when things don’t go your way, and was a real vote winner before in GE. If what you say was right we would have broken through years ago, that we did under Nick must really stick in your gullet.
    That you think you own the “radical” label is laughable, it is not only yours to own nor yours to trot out, much as those of you on the left seem to think is the case.

  • Stephen Hesketh 25th Apr '15 - 1:42pm

    Matthew Huntbach 25th Apr ’15 – 10:00am

    I hope you didn’t take from my comments that I had voted for him in the leadership election!

    When he came to speak to us he was obviously a soggy Centrist and lacking in any passion towards our mainstream social and economic values. What I saw is what we got.

    I do however believe it important for the ultra-loyalists to know that many of us did in fact give him a chance once he was leader and that this continued during the last general election. As so often though, it was the gut feeling which proved correct.

  • David Evans 25th Apr '15 - 1:56pm

    Rabih, neither of us is a sage, but I do know my onions. All I do is point out the naive over optimism quite a few in our party have, who think that it is just so easy, and that they never need to learn or do anything differently. Even as recently as last year and three years of consecutive large losses in Labour facing areas across the country, some constituencies in London chose ignore the problems we faced and tried to take control of their council. They spread themselves far too thinly and lost more seats than they should have.

    I don’t have any hang ups with Nick, however often you may choose to say it is so. What I do not like is his failure: losing councillors, MSPs, AMs, members and MEPs across the board. Never in the past 50 years have we had a leader where everything has gone in the wrong direction simultaneously and over such a long period. There have been tough times, including the Lib Lab pact, but never such a consistent decline in Liberalism/Liberal Democracy, nor so many wounds inflicted by failure at the top.

    Also I never shout, panic, or lash out (physically or verbally) but plan and help to deliver success for the party in whatever way I can. Are you sure you are not confusing me with a guy you see in the mirror each morning in some way?

  • Stephen Hesketh 25th Apr '15 - 1:57pm

    Rabih Makki 25th Apr ’15 – 1:41pm
    “@ Stephen….Radical Liberalism….yes always one to trot out when things don’t go your way, and was a real vote winner before in GE. If what you say was right we would have broken through years ago, that we did under Nick must really stick in your gullet.
    That you think you own the “radical” label is laughable, it is not only yours to own nor yours to trot out, much as those of you on the left seem to think is the case”

    I thought it was great that we made a breakthrough into government. What sticks in my gullet is that Clegg squandered the opportunity through his lack of differentiation and political ineptitude.

    Read John Tilley’s piece again. Radical Liberalism goes back hundreds of years. I am but a flea on the shoulders of giants and legends. True radicals work for the common good and place this above passing short term personal interests of themselves and certainly of any temporary leader.

    I have never encountered a Radical ‘keep things as they are-ist’, but if you wish to adopt the position be my guest. I have a sneaking suspicion that it won’t be quite as long lasting as Radical Liberalism though.

  • Rabih Makki 25th Apr '15 - 2:42pm

    @ David, again with the utter negativity, you say its all failure, downward spiral, loss and decimation. You refuse to accept the good things that have come from being in the coalition that we have had chance to implement.
    I accept things have not always gone to plan and we have been hung out to dry on some things without getting the credit for others. However blaming only Clegg or his team while not even thinking any other outside nor internal issues could be at play is short sighted an completely unfair. You may “know your onions” but its only the onions you want to know and you ignore anything else, that’s your choice but doesn’t mean its the only viewpoint or the right one.
    As for the last line….no…I have more hair!

    @ Stephen, again pinning it on the one man is my issue. Yes opportunities may well have been squandered but to pin it continual and exclusively on Clegg while easy doesn’t mean its right. So again its a hang up about him and also says to all the other 56 MPs and those in the party you have zero influence or idea, you are so weak that one man did all this while you stood by and did nothing. That’s pretty much your and others insinuation, that everyone else was clueless, weak or just plain inept.

    I never said I was a “are-ist” whatever that means, again you judge me without knowing and wonder why I am so punchy on this forum when people throw such thing’s at me without having a clue. Just because I support Clegg means I cant be or am not a radical? If that’s what you are saying then that’s truly depressing and untrue.

  • AC Trussell 25th Apr '15 - 5:16pm

    The media has endeavored to destroy Nick and the Lib/Dems, because they were starting to look like a threat. They could do the same to Mother Teresa; when they all gang-up and relentlessly ridicule or ignore.

    The student fees problem has only become such a terrible thing because practically ALL! the media have made it one.
    Being Labour or Tory- they have relentlessly repeated (hypocritically) “LIB/DEMS STUDENT FEES”” for five years!!
    It has gone way over the top. The public is now “conditioning” (Pavlov’s dog). Of course they used it to destroy the Lib/Dems -being the little (then growing!) interloper in their game.
    But they have repeated it so much; they have marked all politicians with the “can’t be trusted” slogan.
    It has entered all of society. Interviewers still repeat it and comedians feel safe to insult Nick Clegg at every opportunity.
    Of course; their half of the media are very quick to drop any story about Labour’s or Tory’s many “broken promises” so it is not possible to sustain and dominate so much.
    At the same time as they were “conditioning” the people’s thoughts about the Lib/Dems; they were intentionally NOT reporting the truth about how much better and “progressive” the way it works, really is!
    I still hear-all the time, about :the poor worried students up to their neck in all this debt; can’t afford to go to uni.(sob,sob)
    The bias media in this country never say’s: Don’t worry, it’s not really a debt; it’s like graduate tax.
    So even if you end up on average wage- as most obviously will- you will only pay £1.00 per day! ( 25,000-21,000 = 4,000 x 9%= £360 per year- not much for a university education.
    The average course is £44,000. £360 per year x 30yrs= £10.800.
    So £32,000 will be written off- it was designed that way.
    If you earn £30K it’ll still only be just above £2.00 per day.
    And of course hardly any of the media is shouting about the fact that Ed Milliband is giving £10,200 just to those on £37,350+ and nothing-nada! to those that earn less than £33,500.
    The media is destroying our society to achieve political ends.

    s.

  • Rabih Makki 25th Apr '15 - 5:28pm

    @AC Trussell….you have put in far more eloquently than I have and I thank you for that.
    You’ll still get attacked from the usual bunch on here as no matter how sound or cohesive your argument is(and it is) they dislike/hate Nick and a certain wing of the party is such that it matters not.
    Thank you though for putting in terms some may think are at least worth considering.

  • Nick Clegg is not the Liberal Democrats. He is a person whom the Liberal Democrats have hired to be a public face for the media and to make certain political decisions for them. If any Liberal Democrat has an opinion that Clegg is doing a good job, then it is his or her right and duty to say so; and if any Liberal Democrat thinks Clegg is doing a poor job, then it is also his or her right and duty to say so. Clegg now has a seven and a half year record of accomplishments, and the overall success of his tenure can be judged by comparing where the Lib Dems are now with where they were in 2007. Rating Clegg’s adequacy as a servant of his Party is a matter that can be discussed dispassionately, and one in which whether one likes him as a person or not is completely irrelevant.

  • @John Tilley did you forget to mention that those 49% voted for someone who had to resign from the cabinet and then as an MP, then went to prison for perjury. That would have worked out well.

  • AC Trussell 25th Apr '15 - 5:56pm

    Rabih Makki. Wouldn’t it be great if a national would print it?
    In our dreams i’m afraid. 🙂

  • David Evans 25th Apr '15 - 6:07pm

    I agree a lot with what AC Trussel says. The press and the other parties have used it to hammer us. That’s Politics. Of course in the past they had to invent things to attack us with because we had spent years building up the Lib Dems as an alternative to all that. We told the truth and worked hard for our communities. The “An end to broken promises” PPB that Nick did in 2010 proudly proclaimed that.

    Then came tuition fees and Nick gave the press the chance. Indeed it was more than a chance, it was an open goal, with the ball two yards out and then Nick kicked it in for them. Hence we are now looked on as being just like the rest. It isn’t fair on all those who had worked for years to build it all up, just as it isn’t fair that some students are worried about the size of their debt, because some people still regard reneging on a debt as a personal dishonour. Call them old fashioned if you like, but many aim to pay it all back, because it is a loan. In the end they may not, but that will be 30 years hence, and the problem is that for most of those 30 years they will blame the Lib Dems. That’s politics too.

    It will take years and probably decades to rebuild our reputation. My mum and dad were part of it when it was deeply unfashionable to be a liberal in the 1940s and 50s, but people like them held on and gave us something that Jo Grimond could reignite in the minds of the British people and to hand on to two later generations to build up further. Now we will have to do it all again.

  • Rabih Makki 25th Apr '15 - 6:12pm

    @David-1….although their is the accomplishment of getting our policies on the statute book for the first time in over a generation…Id say that’s pretty damn good. Compared to Paddy or CK no not as popular with grass roots or members but did he do the job he was bought in to do, that is get us to the point where we can implement some or all our policies…then that’s a yes, kind of the job description. Being a nice guy(although he is) good on chat shows(though he is) a man on integrity(though he is…my opinion) and many other things as Paddy or CK were/are was all well and good but under his watch like it or not he achieved what they did not or could not. You can argue how he did it and what it cost, but if that was his main job then he delivered…and may do so again.

    @TCO…quite…@ AC…never going to happen but yes indeed,

  • @ Rabih Makki
    I am sure all party members will agree that we have got lots of the policies in the 2010 manifesto enacted. David Steel got an act of Parliament passed which is still in place (nearly 50 years later). We had a policy to increase education spending to the value of 1 penny on Income Tax, it was done funded by 1 penny on National Insurance. We had a policy to give independence to the Bank of England it was enacted without us being in government (nearly 20 years ago). The triple lock and the pupil premium are likely to stay for some time. I would hope that the idea of increasing personal allowance as way to cut income tax rather than decreasing the rate of tax stays with us for a long time. Same sex marriage will be permanent but I don’t remember it being in the coalition agreement.

  • David with regard to ” because some people still regard reneging on a debt as a personal dishonour”
    If it had been presented differently by the media; it wouldn’t have been seen as such.
    I know it’s not the same, but you don’t say that the average “worker” starts out with a debt of £120K (ish) and pays it off at 20% when they earn over £10.500 for 45years.
    They won’t “blame the Lib Dems” if the media ever explains that there wasn’t much choice.
    Anyway, according to “History of Ideas” radio 4; all money is debt .

  • Was just looking for a video at that conference from UKIP, the party which won the last national election in the UK, is polling considerably higher than the Lib Dems, and won the last two by elections to be held.

    You would think that the NUS, as a democratic organisation would allow them to speak, wouldn’t you?

    Well you would be wrong. I haven’t seen much about this denial of freedom of speech to a major political party in the media either, have you?

    What a country we now live in. The NUS don’t condemn Islamic State but do censor UKIP, and the main political parties send videos like Clegg’s to their absurd, unrepresentative conference.

  • David Evans 27th Apr '15 - 3:20pm

    AC Trussell, I’m sorry to say that your naivity in the world of real politics really shows when you say ‘They won’t “blame the Lib Dems” if the media ever explains that there wasn’t much choice.’ The vast majority of the population decided that they blamed the Lib Dems and particularly Nick Clegg four years ago, and it was clearly demonstrated in the AV referendum where a particularly nasty “Vote no to stop Nick Clegg campaign,” was orchestrated. People don’t trust us and you don’t get trust back by the media saying “he didn’t have much choice.” You have to earn it, and it takes years and years. Sadly the boat you want to call back has now long sailed and will never return.

  • David Evans 27th Apr '15 - 3:27pm

    Rabih, Nick’s Job Description, like that of every Lib Dem everywhere, is to make the most of all opportunities to persuade the British public that Liberal Democracy is a political movement worth supporting and the Liberal Democrats are a party worth voting for. He had the best opportunity of any Liberal Democrat in more than half a century and blew it.

  • @David Evans the job of any political party (and by extension any politician who is a member of that party) is to deliver as much of its programme as it is able on behalf of its voters. It is not a social club, or a pressure group, or a think tank.

  • David Evans 27th Apr '15 - 9:57pm

    Actually TCO, all political parties are all of these things, but your short sightedness in thinking a “programme” (however you or others may choose to define it) is the only job of a party, shows how little you understand what liberal democracy is all about. As the preamble tells us, Liberal Democracy is about balancing fundamental liberties, and balancing them over a long period of time, not a quick fix of bits of a programme and then “That’s it, mission accomplished. We can decline and go into hibernation for another half century”. Fighting for people oppressed and enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity is a continuous mission, not a do once and it is over sort of job. Ultimately, you don’t achieve anything worthwhile in a campaign by losing half of your troops in the first few battles.

  • @David Evans all political forces and parties go through cycles of exhaustion and rebuilding. Ideas have to be tested in practice and found wanting or successful. To deny this is to deny the essence of democracy.

  • Sorry TCO, exhaustion is not a description of what has happened over the last five years, and as such is irrelevant. As for “denying” your so called “essence of democracy”, I think I have rarely read such a pretentious expression to justify such a trivial argument.

  • @David Evans out of curiosity how old are you roughly speaking? I have a theory I’m testing.

  • TCO, out of curiosity what is your emotional age? I have this snarky little theory I’m testing….

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