Opinion: A letter from students to Lib Dem MPs

LDV has had sight of this letter, written by a group on facebook, and sent to Lib Dem MPs.

Dear Liberal Democrat MPs,

We, the undersigned students, recognise the benefits of tuition fee reform and urge you to vote for it.

We see that our annual loan repayments will fall due to the substantial rise in the loan repayment threshold, and that the grants system will become more generous. We see that part-time students will no longer be forced to pay up-front fees and that poorer graduates will benefit from a rise in the repayment threshold.

We feel that the NUS, by spreading the myth that the reforms will dissuade poorer students, has done far more to reduce social mobility in relation to higher education than anyone else to date. We recognise the fact that the poorest graduates will be better off under the reforms both in overall terms and in terms of their annual repayments. We hope that the myths will be dispelled so that poorer students may be encouraged. In particular, we see that extending the graduate income -based repayment scheme to part-time students will make it easier for the poorest, banishing the daunting prospect of up-front fees.

We recognise that changes to funding will allow funds to follow students, enabling them to vote with their feet and make universities accountable to them alone rather than to faceless bureaucrats in Whitehall. We see that the funding lost through central cuts will be replaced by the money from higher fees, still borne by the government up-front.

We recognise that the coalition’s reforms are far superior to any graduate tax proposed by the opposition. We note with interest however, the hypocrisy of the NUS by proposing a time-limited graduate tax almost identical to the government’s proposals. We recognise the deficiencies of this graduate tax that, unlike the coalition’s proposals, allows no link of accountability of universities to their students.

After a lamentable start to the way these reforms were presented, we urge you to continue to stress the benefits of reform and attack the widespread fear-mongering by the NUS and other groups.

We urge you, however, not to favour some national groups above others. It would be unfair to English students if Welsh students were to benefit from the generosity of the reform of the graduate repayment system whilst not being charged the raised headline fee.

In short, we have bothered to read the Browne report and the coalition government’s proposals, unlike our protesting peers. In fact, we find it shockingly absurd that students should protest a more generous deal. We applaud the measures that the coalition government has proposed and once again urge all Liberal Democrat MPs to vote for them.

Know that some students stand with you in taking this decision.


Click this link to see the level of support on Facebook. – having started only earlier this week, our number grows with every day.

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112 Comments

  • Anthony Aloysius St 3rd Dec '10 - 2:55pm

    We see that our annual loan repayments will fall due to the substantial rise in the loan repayment threshold …
    In short, we have bothered to read the Browne report and the coalition government’s proposals, unlike our protesting peers.

    Evidently not, or they would have worked out that £21,000 in 2016-2020 will actually be a lower threshold compared with wages than £15,000 is today!

  • So.

    The Lib Dem Youth wing have started a campaign to support the Lib Dems.

    700 members and LDV is celebrating.

    In all honesty – the strategy, tactics + communications on this have been abysmal from Cowley Street.

  • Grammar Police 3rd Dec '10 - 3:01pm

    @ Cuse: given Liberal Youth is campaigning for Lib Dem MPs to vote against raising the fee cap, I don’t think it’s them!

  • Sunder Katwala 3rd Dec '10 - 3:08pm

    Its a good initiative for party supporters to try to mobilise some pro-government students, though the strongly LibDem facing nature of the message makes the chances of it being a genuine popular uprising from the campuses and factories not so plausible. And the LibDemYouth campaigners should be able to increase their support beyond current numbers of 600 or so: there is a sizeable minority, perhaps as many as 1 in 8 students who this could reach out to.

    YouGov shows the government’s policy is supported by 14% of students, with 78% against.

    And 14% of students think the LibDems are right to ditch their promise, though 80% disagree.

    That is helping the LibDems are holding on to 15% of the student vote, even if this is quite a sharp fall from the 45% of students they had in the general election.

    So it is absolutely and impecaably correct for the letter writers to say that there will be some students who agree with the LibDems if they vote with the Conservatives for the government proposals. Even if other students disagree.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 3rd Dec '10 - 3:08pm

    Paul

    “But that threshold going to be regularly reviewed and updated.”

    Are you disagreeing that the threshold will be lower compared with wages than the current threshold?

  • paul barker 3rd Dec '10 - 3:19pm

    Sorry if this seems odd here but most of you will be unaware that our London Region Conference has been called off due to the threat of violence from demonstrators. This shows the real nature of the Labour/NUS campaign.

    In the face of this intimidation all our MPs should vote in favour of the Coalition proposals, any vote against, even an abstention will be a victory for violence & a defeat for Democracy itself. If thugs see that their methods work they will use them again & again.

    If Parties cant meet for fear of political violence then our Democracy is under threat, compared to this the original issue of Fees becomes trivial.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 3rd Dec '10 - 3:32pm

    Paul

    Obviously you haven’t been following developments. There was quite a lot of fuss about this a couple of weeks ago:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/nov/17/ifs-withdraws-tuition-fees-approval

    The threshold will be introduced at £21,000 in 2016. That’s a cash figure – it doesn’t mean the equivalent of £21,000 in today’s money.

    And it’s going to be updated only about every 5 years, which of course means that on average it will lag a further 2-3 years behind the growth in wages.

  • A highly specious letter of which David Cameron himself would be proud. So many erroneous points, so little time to respond! I do agree with the statement: “We recognise that the coalition’s reforms are far superior to any graduate tax proposed by the opposition.” Quite apart from the unworkable nature of a graduate tax, I find the very idea of a tax on learning and the acquisition of knowledge thoroughly despicable – people should be taxed more highly because they have higher salaries not because they have jobs that require university-level education.

    The increase in tuition fees (and the appalling Browne report) was originally mooted as a means of raising additional finance from graduates to pay for the universities, however this letter makes it sound like the flow of cash will be in the opposite direction! That the sum total paid by graduates will actually decrease! If some graduates are going to be better off under the new proposals, as suggested, then it is pretty obvious that many more are going to be considerably worse off. Do the authors of this letter really believe that only ‘the very rich’ will fall into the latter group and suffer a financial hit? If they do then they are very naive and gullible.

    Graduates who come from fairly average or modest backgrounds (whose parents, whilst not ‘poor’, do not have sufficient disposable income to pay the fees upfront) will face huge debts upon leaving university, and these debts will increase at a significant rate due to the addition of interest charges, such that once their earnings do rise above £21000 the graduates will face substantial monthly repayments for most of their working lives. The more generous the proposed scheme is to students from very poor backgrounds (waiving their fees etc) then the harder it will have to hit those students from average backgrounds, unless of course, the scheme is to actually raise less money than at present, which runs contrary to the whole point of the change. This is particularly unjust since after leaving university a graduate from a very poor background (with no fees to repay) may actually earn more than one from an average background (with huge fees to repay)!

    The Browne report is fundamentally flawed. All Lib Dem MPs (including Nick Clegg, Vince Cable and others in the Government) should honour their promise to the electorate and vote AGAINST the report and a rise in tuition fees.

  • Tom Papworth 3rd Dec '10 - 3:44pm

    Anthony,

    The link leads to a typical piece of Guardian journalism:

    Guardian: “The policy journal Research Fortnight says the IFS has disowned its conclusions in two reports on the government’s proposals”

    [lots of text follows, before one reaches]

    Guardian quoting IFS: “A spokeswoman for the IFS said: “We don’t disown anything and we don’t think BIS misled us in any way…Its not going to make that big a difference”

  • Tom Papworth 3rd Dec '10 - 3:49pm

    Terry,

    Talking of things beng specious: Graduates who come from fairly average or modest backgrounds (whose parents, whilst not ‘poor’, do not have sufficient disposable income to pay the fees upfront) will face huge debts upon leaving university, and these debts will increase at a significant rate due to the addition of interest charges, such that once their earnings do rise above £21000 the graduates will face substantial monthly repayments for most of their working lives.

    As the debt will only affect them once they are earning substantially above the median wage, and as it will increase at a rate likely to be slower than their salaries raise, the ‘debt burden’ should not deter anybody. As for facing substantial monthly repayments, at £21,000 it’ll cost them something like £7 a week. I’m not sure that’s really going to undermine the sense of achievement or satisfaction that they derive from their well-paid, graduate jobs.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 3rd Dec '10 - 3:53pm

    Tom

    I only provided that link as a convenience for Paul, as he had somehow missed the details of what is being proposed. There was a lot of press coverage in other places too. What I said previously doesn’t depend on what the Guardian’s opinion is (or the IFS’s for that matter).

    The fact is that the threshold will be £21,000 in 2016 money – not today’s money, and not 2012 money – and it won’t be raised for another 5 years after that.

    The consequence is that – as I said – it will actually be lower in comparison with wages than the current threshold.

  • Anton Howes 3rd Dec '10 - 3:57pm

    I’d like to point out that this campaign was NOT started by LibDem Youth, nor even by LibDem supporters. Nor does it come from any Conservative Party initiative although the founders (myself and Thomas Byrne) are members.

    If you read it through, it’s not meant to be party-political in the sense that it comes from any partisan grouping. It is very much a grassroots movement, and we’ve been working hard to try and recruit as many students as possible, arguing our case and attempting to dispel NUS myths.
    On Wednesday night the number of people who had “liked” the letter was just under 400 – now it’s over 700. As Sunder quite rightly points out, there are quite a few people still to join this campaign. We’re hoping for 1000 by Sunday.

    Unfortunately, some people have taken this as an affront to Labour. It really ought to be an affront to the NUS for misleading so many students and damaging social mobility.

  • oh come now. Surely you can’t be saying that the venue is scared of peaceful protest? They are presumably worried that a bunch of thugs are going to turn up and start smashing up the premises? With NUS t-shirts on.

  • @Tom

    You write, “As the debt will only affect them once they are earning substantially above the median wage …” Eh? The threshold of £21,000 is BELOW the median wage! Repayments of about £30 a month on a salary less than the median wage is significant, and your central point seems to rely on some shaky assumptions.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 3rd Dec '10 - 4:04pm

    Tom

    “As the debt will only affect them once they are earning substantially above the median wage …”

    Absolute nonsense.

    In 2009 the median wage for all employees was £20,644. For full-time employees it was £25,428:
    http://www.statistics.gov.uk/pdfdir/ashe1109.pdf

    Even now, £21,000 is close to the median wage for all employees (including part-time workers).

    But as I have only just pointed out to you, the relevant date for evaluating the threshold is _not_ today, but 2018-2019. By that time, according to the Treasury’s own projections for the growth of wages, wages will have grown by around 40%. The threshold will be far below the median wage.

    As I say, in comparison with wages, the threshold will be lower than it is now.

  • @matt – I think there is something in what Paul Barker writes. I find that the constant vilification of the Lib Dems has nudged me from feeling slightly embarrassed by our U-turn to a position where I want the party’s MPs to vote for the reform and make the case for it.

    The policy, whilst contradicting the pledge made by candidates, contains many progressive elements; when I paid off my student loan I found what annoyed me wasn’t the overall amount, but the size of the repayments and the fact that I started paying them whilst I was still earning not very much – two problems dealt with by the coalition plans.

    Those opposing the reforms leave themselves open to accusations of madness when they seem to argue that the reforms are little short of the work of Satan. And the mock hanging of Nick Clegg was disgusting – and frankly borderline-insane.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 3rd Dec '10 - 4:09pm

    “Vince cable confirmed on last weeks politics show that the 21k was based on 2016 wages and not today’s wages.”

    He’s obviously extremely muddled, because only three days ago on 5 Live he said it was current prices:
    http://exquisitelife.researchresearch.com/exquisite_life/2010/11/another-gaffe-by-cable-as-he-again-struggles-to-master-his-brief.html

    As you can see from that link, William Cullerne Bown checked with his department, and they confirmed that it was 2016 prices.

  • When was this ‘letter’ sent? Or does it in fact exist only as a Facebook group, which people just click to ‘Like’ when asked to by their friends? Given that groups such as”I Secretly Want to punch slow walking people in the back of the head’ and ‘I flip my pillow over to get to the cold side’ have over a million people ‘Liking’ them, forgive me if I don’t completely buy this as some great revolutionary moment in the history of student politics.

  • @Tom Papworth – actually, it’s £7 per month, not per week… so 75% less than you thought. And I remember having to pay £100 per month to pay off my fees when I was earning much less than £21,000.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 3rd Dec '10 - 4:30pm

    Of course, it’s also worth remembering that there are two quite different questions here.

    There is the question of the repayment scheme, which the letter above tries to address (though its authors have failed to grasp what is actually being proposed).

    But there is also the question of how high fees should be, which it barely addresses at all. That is the question that MPs are voting on next week, and that’s the question that the MPs’ personal pledges relate to.

  • May as well read

    Dear Liberal Democrat MPs,

    We the Tory students don’t want you to get in the way of another step closer to privatised MP, please don’t.

    Yours,

    Conservative Future.

  • Edit: MP should read HE in second line.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 3rd Dec '10 - 4:35pm

    “actually, it’s £7 per month, not per week… so 75% less than you thought. And I remember having to pay £100 per month to pay off my fees when I was earning much less than £21,000.”

    This, I think, is a figure taken from an open letter by Nick Clegg. Your comment shows how misleading his example was, because what the letter didn’t make clear was that the figures related to someone earning £21,000 in 2016 (that’s what I am guessing, anyway).

  • Anthony Aloysius St 3rd Dec '10 - 4:53pm

    “The Letter was emailed to all Liberal Democrat MPs, we’d have liked to have put together a more professional site or a petition, but given a lack of time (It was set up in the past few days and the vote is on the 9th) we chose to use this method.”

    But the letter almost entirely relates to the repayment method, and says barely anything about the rise in fees.

    The rise in fees is what the vote next week is about. MPs won’t be voting on the repayment method until next year.

  • I didn’t label the NUS as thugs, I said that some thugs would turn up and would be wearing NUS t-shirts.

  • David Allen 3rd Dec '10 - 5:12pm

    “I find that the constant vilification of the Lib Dems has nudged me from feeling slightly embarrassed by our U-turn to a position where I want the party’s MPs to vote for the reform and make the case for it.”

    Yes, that’s a standard psychological reaction. It ought to have a name (like “Stockholm syndrome”), it’s so common. Maybe “Millwall supporter’s syndrome” would be suitable.

    On a human level, it is a very understandable reaction, and one can sympathise. As an approach to deciding on policy, it’s [email protected]

  • I voted Lib Dem, and I agree completely with that letter.

    I don’t give a damn about the integrity of our MPs. What I want are sensible and progressive policies, and if that means going back on a pledge (and lets face it, it was a shameless piece of politics for Liberal Democrat candidates to sign it in the first place), I’m happy. Ultimately, what is in the interests of low earners and students should trump the interests of the Party, and if people want to punish Liberal Democrat MPs for going back on their pledge to endorse an entirely sensible policy, then so be it.

    These proposals will raise the threshold significantly (and before we get some dodgy inflation calculations reeled out again, whether the limit is raised to £21,000 tomorrow or 2016 it is still significantly higher than when graduates have to pay now), and more importantly, it will keep the threshold tied to earnings in the future. They will put an end to people having to pay for part-time degrees up front, and they will ensure that the only ones who pay for tuition are those who can afford it.

    I support many of the protesters causes, such as on the EMA and Higher Education cuts, but on tuition fees they just seem hypocrites to me.

  • Patrick Smith 3rd Dec '10 - 5:35pm

    During this abysmal weather window I have had time to read the David Laws book `22 Days in May’ that I roundly support in honourable intent .It has also took my mind away from the footballing shock waves resulting in the reported `stitch-up’ in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup voting this week.

    I believe that there are some students who fully endorse the `Coalition Government’ intent, as it stands so far, to vote up students fees by a triple increase margin to £27K over a 3 year degree.

    I know that that the majority of lower earnings families are also from vulnerable families and many had voted on May 5th 2010 in expectation that Liberal Democrats would achieve most , in reduction of Student Fees as compared to Labour or Tory led proposed increases- post the Browne Report.

    I share the concern with the 100 Liberal Democrat PPCs that more can still be done to reduce the likely higher burden of student fees, to be put on the shoulders of many debt torn students.We surely will look for their support and `Activism’ in campaigning for Liberal Democrat change over the next years?

    The skewed `Deficit Reducing’ targeting towards students at a time when some 9 Billion Euros has been pledged for the Ireland `bail-out’ does suspend belief.

    Students also can observe that already £3M has been racked up by the still unreformed `MPs Expenses’ system, over the first 6 months of the `Coalition Government’ and it will resonate as disproportionate financial reforms,unless more help is given them.

  • Incidentally I’d actually support fees raising even further and not allowing anybody to pay them up front.

    Then our fee system really would be a progressive Graduate Tax.

  • Have just looked at the Facebook page and was sorely tempted tp press ‘like’, just for the hell of it and to prove that ANYONE on Facebook can do this, I resisted! Desperation is truly setting in. 52000 minus 700 = ? and that is just the estimated people on the march not all that are against the rise in tuition fees.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 3rd Dec '10 - 5:53pm

    Athirat

    “These proposals will raise the threshold significantly (and before we get some dodgy inflation calculations reeled out again, whether the limit is raised to £21,000 tomorrow or 2016 it is still significantly higher than when graduates have to pay now), and more importantly, it will keep the threshold tied to earnings in the future.”

    Is that supposed to make some kind of sense?

    You think the threshold should be tied to earnings, but when it’s pointed out to you that – in comparison with earnings – the threshold is actually going to be reduced, you try dismiss it as a “dodgy calculation.” Not on the basis that you’ve checked it and got a different answer of course – simply because you don’t like the result. And you then have the barefaced cheek to say yet again that the threshold is going to be “raised significantly”!

    Astonishing.

    The supporters of this policy keep saying they wish people would read the proposals and debate the issues with them, but when they are faced with the reality of what is being proposed, they simply bury their heads in the sand and carry on repeating the same misleading spin. Very sad.

  • @athirat
    “I don’t give a damn about the integrity of our MPs.”

    You may not but I think you’ll find that very very many Lib Dem voters sedcued by the promise of restoring faith in politics care very much indeed about the integrity of MPs.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 3rd Dec '10 - 6:01pm

    Welsh Liberal

    “Also with the threshold being reviewed ever 5 years the next time to increase the threshold will be 2015, …”

    No. As I keep saying, the threshold is going to be introduced at £21,000 in 2016. Then it will be revised every 5 years.

    The projections for salary growth, as I said, are the Treasury’s own figures from June this year. That’s up to 2015, which is as far as they go. For the remaining years up to 2018-2019 I used the average projected growth rate for 2011-2015. (I suspect that’s an underestimate because the growth rate is projected to increase throughout that five-year period.)

  • Why has LV published this anyway? This is getting ridiculous if you have to desperately fall back on something like this A Facebook page like this is not credible and if they think it is I have found one with more members. There are more. Get real LV. http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/group.php?gid=13550879731

  • Anthony Aloysius St 3rd Dec '10 - 6:14pm

    “Otherwise, AAS is right about the £21,000 limit. The timing of it, allowing for inflation, makes it not that big an improvement, although, subject to inflation, it may be a marginal improvement over the old £15,000 limit.”

    Thank you.

    Of course, wage inflation is generally higher than price inflation. Apparently the policy is to keep the threshold in line with wage inflation in the long term, so that seems the more appropriate comparison. In those terms the new threshold will be perhaps 1-2% lower than the threshold is now. Certainly well below the median salary, even if part-time workers are included.

    In terms of price inflation, I reckon the new threshold will be about 3% higher than the £15,000 threshold was when it was introduced in 2006. Compared to now the rise would be maybe 16%.

  • daft ha'p'orth 3rd Dec '10 - 6:27pm

    Others have already pointed out factual errors in the text itself. I’d like to take issue with this bizarre idea that 700 people on Facebook constitutes a ‘grassroots movement’ worthy of mention. Consider:

    1,121 people joined ‘Nick Clegg: Shut Up And Take Your Shirt Off’
    1,769 people joined ‘Mummy, Mr Cameron Took My Future! :(‘
    35,225 people : Combined membership of two Facebook groups entitled ‘David Cameron Is Now “In A Relationship With Nick Clegg”‘.
    170,102 people joined ‘Students against higher tuition fees’
    310,735 people joined ‘I bet I can find a million people who DON’T want David Cameron as our PM’ (interestingly, a companion group entitled ‘I bet I can find a million people who DO want David Cameron as our PM’ got 9,800 members).
    In the 2001 census, 390,012 people claimed to subscribe to the Jedi faith.

    The Jedi are a grassroots movement. The student protests are to a surprisingly large extent a grassroots movement, given that the NUS contribution in recent weeks has been Aaron Porter standing around crying, ‘What? What just happened? Come back!’. The letter and Facebook group referenced in this opinion piece and authored by Conservative Party members may or may not be ‘grassroots’ – only the authors really know just how unprompted, natural and spontaneous it is – but given that it consists of circa 1000 Facebook clicks, it’s not much of a ‘movement’.

    On another note, just examining the language used in the letter is enough to build up a fairly clear image of the intended target audience for this piece. Shockingly absurd, you say? Yes. Yes, it is.

  • This website and in particular its editorial line are continuing to reveal themselves as a complete joke. Not only do most of the articles here relating to controversial matters not reflect party opinion but the irrational and thus far unexplained stance of the party leadership, but they also suppress by omission all of the very legitimate (and, in themselves policy-sinking) criticisms raised by Anthony Aloysius St and others.

    I would suggest that Anthony, since you seem to be the most informed and articulate posting here above or below the line at the moment, you should submit an article to the site outlining your queries that everyone here can see allowing us to have a real debate rather than this top-down illiberal stitch up that the site is helping to foist on people at the moment.

    In addition, whilst I have no problem with people coming to their own conclusions over this when they understand and look at the facts (and it appears the writers of the petition do not understand all the facts in regards to such things as the ‘progressive’ threshold or even what the vote next week is actually about)….. this articles argument is intellectually bankrupt and its tendaciousness utterly deplorable.

    There is no value in ‘argument from numbers’, or ‘argumentum ad populum’. That is purely illogical. One stance is not at all more correct merely because more people support it. Secpndly, if you are prepared to sponsor this tiny group which seems to be mainly supported by Conservatives and people who won’t be affected by the fee-rise, why not sponsor one of the much bigger groups set up by Lib Dem voters (or ex-lib dem voters)?

    The editorial line here is misleading and wrong.

  • Colin Green 3rd Dec '10 - 6:33pm

    Athirat,

    “I don’t give a damn about the integrity of our MPs.”

    On this point, you and I disagree. I oppose the policy, not because of the rise in fees (although I do) and not because the method of repayment is better than we have currently (it is a bit I suppose). I oppose the policy purely because we’re going back on a promise. And lying about the fact we’re going back on a promise. And lying about the new threshold being so much higher than the current threshold. Integrity is one of the highest principles and MP could have and one, it seems, is so lacking.

  • paul barker 3rd Dec '10 - 6:54pm

    The meeting is a dull but vital part of democracy along with leaflets, stalls & peaceful demonstrations. The Head of Haverstock school made it clear that our conference was to be turned away because of the threat of violence.Breaking up meetings is the sort of thing the BNP does, do we want that sort of thuggery imported into mainstream politics ?
    All the arguments about the Fees Pledge are irrelevant now. The question is do we want to encourage violence by rewarding the thugs ? Its time for Liberal Democrats to stop apologizing & stand up for Democracy & the rule of law.

  • Sunder Katwala 3rd Dec '10 - 6:58pm

    George Potter

    I apologise. I had thought it might involve a pro-leadership group within the student LibDems, mainly following an earlier comment, because it is such a party-facing message and frame. I accept your point about the student LibDems. I don’t in fact closely follow LibDem student politics!

    It should have said “the letter writers”

  • Anthony Aloysius St 3rd Dec '10 - 7:30pm

    Wage inflation higher than price inflation? You’re not a civil servant, are you…

    I did say _generally_ …

  • Patrick Smith 3rd Dec '10 - 7:34pm

    I suspect that an Emergency Motion opposing the proposed triple hike in students` fees would have been tabled debated and voted on at the postponed London Regional Conference. What a shame!

    As a Member delegate I would have attended and voted for any new motion asking for greater assist for our beleagured students with higher accommodation costs in the Capital.

  • Yes the Conference would have voted against the hike in tuition fees. As will, I suspect, many if not a majority in the Parliamentary Party. It’s just Clegg and Cable that are out on a limb.

  • David Allen 3rd Dec '10 - 8:10pm

    “All the arguments about the Fees Pledge are irrelevant now. The question is do we want to encourage violence by rewarding the thugs?”

    Oh, I see. Any cause which is ever supported by any act of violence at all should be immediately opposed by everyone else. It was right for FIFA to vote against us, once they heard about that pitch invasion at Birmingham last night. And so OK, the ANC’s victory against apartheid was mainly peaceful, but it wasn’t entirely, so let’s bring back the white supremacists forthwith! Incidentally, we could do with a boost, could we get a bogus hitman to throw a snowball at Nick Clegg’s cat?

  • @Paul Walter
    “But that threshold is going to be regularly reviewed and updated”
    Apparently only every 5 years.

    @Paul Barker
    “In the face of this intimidation all our MPs should vote in favour of the Coalition proposals, any vote against, even an abstention will be a victory for violence & a defeat for Democracy itself. If thugs see that their methods work they will use them again & again.”

    There was no information to suggest it would be violent, the headmaster of the school did want there to be any type of protest on his grounds. They have a right to protest but not break the law.

    To the authors of the letter I think two things. Firstly well done for having your say, I disagree but think that informed debate requires two points of view. Secondly, as self confessed Conservatives you can be content that those you voted for are following the promises they made on this issue. The problem is that Lib Dem candidates all signed a personal pledge and stood on a platform of “No more broken promises”. If they vote for the rise in fees (and that is the element being voted for on the 9th) then they have lied to the electorate.

    Some elements of the proposals are more progressive then the current system. But to be truly progressive they would need to stop the up front payment of fees, and take measures to pemalise early repayment and link the repayment level to a centile of UK wages (reviewed yearly). Either way my personal belief is that higher education should be free, a belief shared by the Lib Dem party as it is still their policy.

    As I said before two points of view are required in every debate. Unfortunately too many Lib Dem MP’s have two points of view. One for the electorate pre the close of the ballot boxes, and another for their new friends in Government.

  • Anthony Aloysius St – Its been pointed out that it is a marginal improvement, though my point was more to do with it being linked to earnings – which it currently is not. The proposed system is a huge improvement on the status quo and one I whole-heartedly approve of.

  • Anthony Aloysius St “the threshold is actually going to be reduced”

    You then go on to say in a later post: “In terms of price inflation, I reckon the new threshold will be about 3% higher than the £15,000 threshold was when it was introduced in 2006. Compared to now the rise would be maybe 16%.”

    Reduced? Come on!

  • Anthony Aloysius St 3rd Dec '10 - 9:15pm

    “We’ve done our best with the resources available to us. We’ve managed to produce a policy better than that on offer from either of the other two main parties, and we’re the bad guys.”

    I don’t understand this. Regarding the threshold, shifting the £21,000 figure from 2012 to (in effect, taking account of the fact it will remain applicable for 5 years) 2018-2019 has produced a repayment scheme that is much less progressive than the one proposed by Browne. I’m not clear whose idea that was – given the fact that Cable seems to be in a complete muddle about it, maybe it was Willetts. But I don’t see how the party can claim credit for improving a scheme that has been made worse.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 3rd Dec '10 - 9:23pm

    athirat

    “Anthony Aloysius St “the threshold is actually going to be reduced””

    You have edited my comment in a downright dishonest way. What I actually wrote was the following:
    “You think the threshold should be tied to earnings, but when it’s pointed out to you that – in comparison with earnings – the threshold is actually going to be reduced …”

    And in the second message you quote, as you can see, I give comparisons with respect both to wages and to prices – and I explain why the comparison with wages “seems the more appropriate comparison.” And you have indicated yourself that you think the threshold should be linked to wages, not prices!

    Please don’t tamper with quotations from my comments in this way again.

  • @Paul Barker
    “All the arguments about the Fees Pledge are irrelevant now. The question is do we want to encourage violence by rewarding the thugs ? Its time for Liberal Democrats to stop apologizing & stand up for Democracy & the rule of law.”

    How exactly is going against a key campaign promise and a personal pledge made to the electorate standing up for democracy ?

    So if any cause attracts thugs it must be wrong. What about the 50,000 peaceful demonstrators ?
    In my time I’ve seen mindless idiots at everything from football matches to church services. The name of the Party gives it away the MP’s believe in Liberal values not blanket punishment.

  • paul barker 3rd Dec '10 - 10:54pm

    Lets be straight, the NUS has been under Labour control for decades, the intimidation & vandalism arent the result of outsiders or anarchists they are part of Labours plan to break our will .They believe we are the weak link in the coalition, the soft underbelly.
    If we give our enemies any reason to think they have won this round they will use the same tactic again. That is a lot more important than any arguments about Fees or whether we broke a promise.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 3rd Dec '10 - 11:01pm

    “Lets be straight, the NUS has been under Labour control for decades, the intimidation & vandalism arent the result of outsiders or anarchists they are part of Labours plan to break our will.”

    What a smart move it was for the party to instruct its candidates to sign the NUS pledge, then …

  • @Paul Barker
    If the NUS were so bad, why did the leadership insist all candidates signed their pledge. Less than 100 Labour MP’s signed the pledge. Lib Dem MP’s are the targets of protests because they made students a major target of their election campaign.

    “If we give our enemies any reason to think they have won this round they will use the same tactic again. That is a lot more important than any arguments about Fees or whether we broke a promise.”

    So the new politics is to be described in these terms. You sound a lot like Thatcher during the miners strike.

  • how much does trident cost?

  • @Neil
    Enough to pay for free education if it’s scrapped !!

  • The attitude towards the NUS by people who signed a pledge and broke it disgusts me to my core.

  • daft ha'p'orth 3rd Dec '10 - 11:46pm

    @paul barker : The NUS is not the problem. I would recommend avoiding the temptation to think that anyone who disagrees with you must have been put up to it by some sort of evil mastermind. This is tin-foil hat talk. If Labour were such evil geniuses they would not be where they are today.

    Is it so hard to believe that people get up and protest just because they, their families and their friends are told that if they ever want to study in this country again, the result will be that they owe an inconceivably huge sum of money to the government, a sum that most will not be able to pay off, and that will be held over their heads for an entire generation? Sure, a few of the people who tag along to said protests will turn out to be in it for the graffiti opportunities and/or chance to misbehave in public, just as, regretfully, a few MPs are in it for the chance to make pots of cash and/or misbehave in public.

    This ‘intimidation’ of which you speak is itself an interesting phenomenon. Protestors are generally very angry but otherwise perfectly acceptable law-abiding citizens. Clegg et al were the darlings of this bunch six months ago, shaking hands and all that. It is intimidating to suddenly discover that the party has upset several tens of thousands of people so much that they chose to protest, but that’s reality. It’s intellectually bankrupt to escape the issue by dehumanising them via rebranding, calling them ‘rabble’, claiming that they’re only upset because they can’t/won’t read and don’t understand the propositions, or blaming all ills on a Labour plot, as you do here. Ever heard of the Kuebler-Ross model of grief? Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

  • @ Paul Barker: Posted 3rd December 2010 at 6:54 pm | Permalink
    “All the arguments about the Fees Pledge are irrelevant now. The question is do we want to encourage violence by rewarding the thugs ? Its time for Liberal Democrats to stop apologizing & stand up for Democracy & the rule of law.”

    There is nothing democratic about ducking protest, nothing whatsovever and by calling for people to vote one way due to the threat of violent protests, the only hands you are playing into are those of violent protesters.

  • Third time lucky 😉

    Vince Cable has done another U-Turn on fees and has now said he will vote FOR them to be increased.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 4th Dec '10 - 8:32am

    Here’s a BBC report on the shambolic negotiations within the parliamentary party:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11915836

    I presume there are still a significant number of people wavering between abstention and opposition, otherwise they wouldn’t be going to such lengths.

  • Whoops! Vince has changed his mind yet again.
    Who knows what his view will be in a few days.

    Cable gives contradictory views over raising student tuition fees
    By Nigel Morris Saturday, 4 December 2010

    Vince Cable the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, disclosed last night that he would vote in favour of raising student tuition fees in next week’s crucial Commons vote, only to backtrack in a later interview. Mr Cable, whose department has responsibility for universities, said: “Obviously I have a duty as a minister to vote for my own policy – and that is what will happen.”

    The Business Secretary told his local paper, the Richmond and Twickenham Times, that he had contemplated abstention as an “olive branch” to colleagues who were struggling with the issue. But he also said: “There is a dilemma. I’m very clear I regard the policy as right and as a member of the Cabinet I am collectively responsible for the policy. There is no doubt that is what I should do.”

    * However, last night he moved back from his comments, when asked about them on student radio.

    Challenged over his newspaper interview, the Business Secretary said: “I didn’t announce anything. I think there might have been some slight misunderstanding.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/cable-gives-contradictory-views-over-raising-student-tuition-fees-2151108.html

  • As I’ve grown older I’ve tended more and more to take a much longer view of crucial decisions taken amidst controversy or sever pressure and I don’t mean just in the political arena.

    LibDem MPs are getting tied in knots over how to salve their conscience and coalition perks – but also retain votes to ensure their return to Parly after the next GE – and the students have taken to the streets to exercise their right to peaceful protest which, interestingly, many Libdems seem to think should be banned.

    It’s all very stirring times but when we look back at it all in say 10 years what will we see. I suspect by then that the whole coalition policy on funding universities will have collapsed and has either been completely rejigged or that it is in the process of happening. I don’t actually think it matters whether it is Labour or the Tories that are in power. The unis will have been damaged and a lot of kids from poorer backgrounds won’t have been able to go to uni.

    One thing I am certain of is that we will be firmly back to a FPTP government and that our one disastrous dalliance with a coalition government will have taught the British public to steer well clear in future of that cop-out to evade responsibility.

    There’s no doubt, in my mind, that the LibDems will be a broken rump of a party and pretty irrelevant on the UK national scene and it’s sad that all the proud principles of radical social Liberalism will have been lost for a policy that won’t last a decade.

    In 20 years people will be saying ‘What was it that happened to the LibDems again?’.

    I don’t think this is fanciful and it will happen because the LibDem MPs and members have totally missed the main issues here: 1) If they vote for an increase and break their personal pledge then they will be seen as unprincipled liars. Oh they can twist and turn and argue about how progressive the Browne Report is – if they do then they have never read the twaddle or any of the damning critiques that have been published. They have got lost in the meaningless statistics as no one really knows what the proposed legislation actually entails , least of all Vince Cable who is so obviously out of his depth. I find it hard to work out whether he is actually worse than Goves in terms of mastery of his departmental brief.

    2) They have failed to see that this is an ideologically driven agenda by the Tories to alter the way universities are funded and to make students eventually pay 100 per cent of their tuition costs. And don’t repeat back the mind-numbing mantra that it’s not students but graduates. Graduates may be doing the paying-back but it’s students who rack-up the debt. And what happens if you drop-out and don’t graduate who pays the debt then? Oh gawd, I’m even getting drawn into the nonsense that’s going on.

    So LibDems have a stark choice to make – either stand by their principles on the pledge and fight to ensure that students don’t have to pay the full cost of their tuition or see their party destroyed in credibility terms and be lost in the wildeness along with AV and all the other forms of PR for UK General Elections.

  • On a slightly different tack re the various options that appear to be considered by the LibDem MPs for next week’s vote on tuition fees.

    The public and students don’t really care what way any individual LibDem MP votes – what they are interested in bottom-line is whether the legislation is passed or not. If it is passed with support from any LibDem MPs then that is what will be remembered and in the longer term the opprobrium will be heaped on the party. Oh the individual MPs will all suffer at the next GE but in time it will be the party that carries the shame.

    I remember how the SNP brought down the Labour Government in 1979 and ushered in Thatcher and that one act of betrayal effectively stymied the SNP for 25 years at least. And what is more it is still remembered by the Scottish working class who bore the brunt of the milk-snatchers ‘reign’.

    I can’t actually remember the names of the individual SNP MPs but I’ll never forget what their party did. Oh I’ve mellowed and now realise how naive they were and perhaps in 25 years from now – should I last that long but doubt it – I would come to the same conclusion about the naive LibDems who were taken to the cleaners by the Tories who were so much better at the game of reality politics.

  • The Lib dem Mps voting for the increase – turkeys voting for Christmas. All they’ve done is expose themselves for being the Tories that they actually are – shame on them.

    As for all this nonsense trotted out about the rule of law and violence – reality check please, this is not the miner’s strike or the poll tax riots. Though the latter did have a great effect in getting rid of the evil one – more of the same please.

  • EcoJon

    Agreed as a Scot that period has ingrained in me a deep and enduring hatred of the tory party – I would rather have cancer than vote tory! The ‘orange’ book brigade are fast approaching that same level of hatred but they have surpassed it in relation of my level of contempt for them. The neo- con apologists should just understand the suffering that all this will have but it is beyond them, like all evangelicals they are blind to a greater truth – that the market is nothing it is people that count.

    I really can’t wait for the AV vote and the next set of elections.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 4th Dec '10 - 11:32am

    “Vince Cable has done another U-Turn on fees and has now said he will vote FOR them to be increased.”

    But wait! What’s this? It looks as though he hasn’t stopped turning (or should I say spinning?) yet …

    “But in another interview – this time with student radio station SMUC – he appeared to perform another about-face.
    He denied saying he planned to vote for the increase, claiming there had been “some slight misunderstanding”.”

    http://tinyurl.com/337otc5

  • Anthony Aloysius St 4th Dec '10 - 11:42am

    How on earth could such a “misunderstanding” have arisen? Was what he said to the Richmond and Twickenham Times vague or ambiguous?
    “Dr Cable said: “Obviously I have a duty as a minister to vote for my own policy – and that is what will happen.””
    http://www.richmondandtwickenhamtimes.co.uk/news/8719692.Vince_Cable_will_vote_FOR_tuition_fees_rise/

    Hmm. Well, I suppose by the party’s current standards, that could mean almost anything.

  • To sum up….

    1. There’s definitely going to be a three way crash now that we know the line on mass absention isn’t going to hold.

    2. The vote on Thursday is going to be held with any detail being released on many points. We don’t’ yet know what actual support there will be for poorer students. Splitting the votes in this way is just rank cowardice as Clegg just wants the issue to go away as quickly as possible

    3. There is still complete misunderstanding about the threshold figure (as the above ‘letter’ shows – the only thing that is ‘clear’ is that Clegg has been thorughly misleading on this point (as was Alexander on Question Time – and Cable doesn’t even seem to know what day it is on this one) and therefore this is a blind vote without the facts. The threshold figure has been rolled out time and time again as justfication for the progressive nature of these proposals and yet it all unravels under any sort of investigation.

    4. And to cap it all there is increasing evidence (the HEPI report for example) that is convincing me that this whole turmoil could actually mean increasing costs the economy, not less, but with a ravaged higher education sector for years to come.

    This whole thing is a fiasco. I actually believe looking back over the last couple of weeks the biggest issue now is not going back on pledges… (bad enough as that was seen by many people) but the sight of so much wiggling, strange justifications, u-turns and misleading statements.

    Clegg must make the record books – the whole Liberal Democrat brand that was so carefully sold to the public at the election has been completely thrown away in a matter of months.

    Clegg might ‘win’ on Thursday but I’m sure this is going to blow up in his fact and I have little sympathy.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 4th Dec '10 - 11:59am

    I would guess that the line is supposed to be that they are not meant to be making any definite statements about how they will vote in public, and Cable forgot this and just blurted it out when he was being interviewed.

    Unfortunately he is making Mr Bean look like a consummate professional at the moment.

  • It is clear that to retain credibility, and to be true to their values, and the undertakings that they made to their electors, Liberal Democrat MPs must vote against any increase in student tuition fees. Backbenchers are not in any conflict. They were elected as Liberal Democrats to pursue Liberal Democrat policies and values, not to prop up a right-wing Tory government. The payroll do have a conflict, and they must either abstain or resign and vote against. I would accept abstention as an honourable action if the ministers in question feel that an orderly exit from the “coalition” is to be preferred to a sudden and unplanned one. But make no mistake, the “coalition” has to come to an end very, very soon, and Clegg and his Orange Book acolytes must be deposed. The alternative is the destruction of the party. That is now obvious to (almost) everyone, I think.

  • Tony Miller 4th Dec '10 - 12:22pm

    It may be a bit late to inject some facts into this string, but to answer Anthony Aloysius St, the figure of £16,000 for the academic year 2010/11 will have risen to £20,700 by the 3rd quarter 2015 (year 2015/16). This is based on the independent forecast by Towers Watson for RPI increases (the higher of the two inflation measures) and making the generous assumption that wages will rise continuously by 2% pa more than this. Both measures are of course significantly higher than either the government forecasts or the Bank of England is obliged to target.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 4th Dec '10 - 12:41pm

    Tony

    It really would help if people were willing to read properly what has been written.

    As I’ve said several times, my calculations were based on the Treasury’s own projections for wage inflation, published in June this year, for the period 2011-2015. Thereafter I used the average projected rise for that period (which is almost certainly an underestimate, as it’s smaller than the Treasury projections for 2014 and 2015).

    And as I have also explained several times, the appropriate comparison is not with projected wages in 2016, because the threshold will be revised only every 5 years, so the £21,000 figure will remain in force until 2021. So the appropriate comparison is with midway through that period – 2018-2019.

    On that basis, the current threshold (which of course is £15,000, not £16,000), adjusted for projected wage inflation to 2018-2019, would be about £21,300.

  • Brigton Beach 4th Dec '10 - 2:10pm

    It just continues to get worse for the Lib Dems who now, with the publication of this letter, have a couple of ‘tory boys’ as a guide for their moral compass – hilarious. Please, please let the media get a whiff of this!!

  • “Athirat
    Posted 3rd December 2010 at 5:33 pm

    I voted Lib Dem, and I agree completely with that letter.

    I don’t give a damn about the integrity of our MPs. What I want are sensible and progressive policies, and if that means going back on a pledge (and lets face it, it was a shameless piece of politics for Liberal Democrat candidates to sign it in the first place), I’m happy. Ultimately, what is in the interests of low earners and students should trump the interests of the Party, and if people want to punish Liberal Democrat MPs for going back on their pledge to endorse an entirely sensible policy, then so be it.”

    Im a part time mature student, and an LD member, living on income support and DLA and raising a family, and I agree with Athirat.

    I believe that all adults in the whole country should have access to free at the point of demand adult education, for fun, for work, for self improvement, for whatever reason they like, just like I believe we should all have access to public libraries. I believe that this could be affordable and should be one of our top priorities as human beings. I dont even think it would be difficult to organise, all you really need to organise a class is a venue, an experienced guide, and students. Even equipment is not always necessary, and could be shared or borrowed – my point is, free adult education for everybody isnt a daft or unachievable idea.

    But our adult education system operates in a completely different way – it takes a majority of our adult education funding and locks it up for access by a tiny minority – even that minority only get access for a few years and thats their lot. Should a chemistry graduate want to try something out in the lab once her course is over, too bad, so sad – this years intake only.

    So our system hoards resources away from our communities, access given temporarily to only a few. It also limits the types of courses on offer in an unimaginative way – subjects are seperated in artificial ways; many subjects aren’t included at all; and the time frame in which they are offered itself stops many people from being able to participate.

    We need radical reform of our adult education system and these protesters havent even begun to consider the issue – they haven’t even noticed there is a problem! As far as they are concerned, everything is how it should be because it works for them. They fight for a continuation of a status quo that perpetuates inequality and stops communities from accessing educational resources that belong to us all. They fight for continued temporary access for a minority. Then that minority go on to better employment opportunities than the rest of us, which is not saying much these days.

    Do these proposals go far enough, no they dont. But it is an improvement. If all adults have equal access to higher education, even via loans, thats a better system than the current one. Why is anyone obsessing over student debt stopping people from buying houses or cars? Are they aware that an enormous number of people own neither and never will? This is consumerist rubbish. The protests are consumerist rubbish. ‘I want this but I dont want to pay for it, so give it me free! But its okay because everyone can have some. Except they cant, because Im not really sharing – all the activities funded through the NUS and all of the resources hoarded by the library remain are just for me and my fellow students. The rest of you can fuck off’.

    There is an alternative to raising fees as much as is suggested. Make students pay the cost of tuition, room, and equipment hire. Open up everything else. Let the public use university libraries, gyms, labs, class rooms, subsidised bars, halls. Unlock your resources and only pay for your classes. Id be okay with that.

    But while students are hoarding it all, let them pay for it.

    On integrity – I have more respect for a person who admits a mistake and moves on to doing something right, than for the person who sticks by a stupid promise made for the wrong reasons. Keeping the ‘pledge’ to save face when the proposals are fairer than the current system is not a position of integrity.

  • that should have read “all of the resources hoarded by the universities remain just for me and my fellow students”

  • David Wright 4th Dec '10 - 6:53pm

    AA H said “On that basis, the current threshold (which of course is £15,000, not £16,000), adjusted for projected wage inflation to 2018-2019, would be about £21,300.”

    Nobody seems to have noticed that the current threshold does NOT increase with inflation; if the law does not change it will still be the same in 2016. So 21,000 IS a large increase then. Whether it’s a big enough increase is another matter.

    Also, it’s not true that MPs are not listening; all those I’ve spoken to clearly are. They find themselves torn between the pre-election pledge to vote against any rise, the coalition agreement to abstain if they don’t agree with the post-Browne proposals, and the fact that the proposed changes DO have some benefits, (not least for the 2 million part-time students who will no longer have to pay their fees up-front).

    Personally, I think the personal pre-election pledge to vote against any rise in fees takes precedent, and I helped my local party write to every Lib Dem MP urging them to vote against the increase. I am delighted that 3 of the 4 MPs in our region have now said they will do so, (one soon after getting our letter). But I recognise that those who disagree with me do so after a lot of thought, and feeling that they are doing the right thing.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 4th Dec '10 - 7:22pm

    “Nobody seems to have noticed that the current threshold does NOT increase with inflation; if the law does not change it will still be the same in 2016. So 21,000 IS a large increase then.”

    You mean that if the government lets the threshold decline in real (wage) terms for another 5 years, then bringing it back up to nearly today’s level will constitute a large increase? Sadly that’s all too typical of the kind of arguments we hear these days in defence of Lib Dem positions.

    But actually I did comment earlier on the fact that the threshold seems set to remain at £15,000 until 2015. That in itself should be a cause for concern, because adjusted for the growth of wages that would be the equivalent of only about £12,200 in today’s money.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 4th Dec '10 - 10:11pm

    More on the shambles from the Telegraph:
    The Business Secretary has warned the Deputy Prime Minister that unless he votes for the proposal to raise fees he will endanger the entire future of the Coalition.
    During one fraught confrontation, Mr Cable demanded Mr Clegg “hold his nerve” and told him the party would “look ridiculous” if Lib Dem ministers voted against the proposals when they go before the Commons in a crucial vote this Thursday.

    It is understood Mr Cable has long planned to vote for the legislation, but has been repeatedly blocked from saying so explicitly by Mr Clegg who is demanding they keep the party’s options open.
    In a sign that the row could destabilise the coalition, senior Conservatives have expressed fury behind the scenes that Mr Clegg is endangering the key policy by considering abstention.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/liberaldemocrats/8181410/How-Nick-Clegg-and-Vince-Cable-clashed-over-tuition-fees.html

  • Anthony Aloysius St 4th Dec '10 - 10:21pm

    William Cullerne Bown muses over why – as there are relatively few declared rebels – the party leadership doesn’t go for a whipped abstention, with the “four Cabinet ministers” voting in favour:
    http://exquisitelife.researchresearch.com/exquisite_life/2010/12/tuition-fees-playbook-the-key-events-and-decisions-in-the-next-five-days.html

    Judging by the Telegraph’s report, it may well be because of Clegg’s concern for his own plummeting ratings.

    Now about those “four Cabinet ministers” – I could have sworn there used to be five, but I can’t for the life of me think who the other one was …

  • mark Wilson 10th Dec '10 - 6:50pm

    @Mark Valladares

    Mark i am familiar with what a pragmatist you are but I think you miss the point.

    There must also be a place for Idealism. When i joined the party in 1981 call me idealistic at 18 but that was one of the things that appealed to me about the Lib Dems. Their fresh thinking outside the traditional Left / Right thinking of the time was refreshing. But to me the promise the MP’s made was one they should not have made if they were not committed “at all costs” to follow through on. All credit to Norman Lamb he is the only MP that has recognised the true significance of making that pledge and apologised on Question Time for making that pledge. This issue has lost the distinctive edge they had over the other parties, and made them well a truly “mainstream” in thinking.

    My only salvation in the political process that i have left, and which still has a Lib Dem slant to it is the Referendum Vote next year. However the campaign for AV is not a unique flagship of the Lib Dems. But strangely the decision by the Lib Dems on Tuition Fess has made me even more determined to want to make sure we do get a YES vote on the Referendum. Sadly I think the impetus for a YES vote will now be spurred on by a desire by many to recapture the political process from the political elite in light of the perceived treachery of politicians and to give the Lib Dem’s a good thrashing at the ballot box. But hey! that’s democracy for you!

    Perhaps my lasting concern over the Tuition Fess issue is whether an underlying split comes to the surface within the LibeDems. Will Social Liberals like myself be happy to drift along in the same Liberal current as the Economic Liberals of Laws, and Clegg. Only time will tell, and possibly a Leadership challenge?

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