Opinion: Richard Huzzey – “I resign”

Vince Cable and Nick Clegg have pursued a strategy that has resembled a poorly-scripted comedy as much as a bitter tragedy in the past month.

This week we have reached the final act of a farcical and disastrous process whereby Liberal Democrat MPs have squirmed to escape an explicit pledge and desperately tried to equate their promise to the level of a policy aspiration.

By now all readers know the argument that a pledge is more than policy and the arguments why more help for part-timers does not balance out the damage of full marketization of fees. So, instead of repeating them, I am going to explain why I’ve decided to resign from the party.

I’ve been a party member since I was 17 and I thought—to borrow a phrase from Charles Kennedy—that I’d be carried out of this world with a gold rosette (or at least a by-election helper’s sticker). Yet, I cannot defend the breaking of the pledge over student fees. There are a raft of excellent reasons why those of us feeling dismayed and betrayed should stay as members and fight. In fact, I’ve used them myself when arguing with others in the past. As a member of a democratic party, you can argue from within that the Browne reforms are wrong and that the next Lib Dem manifesto should repeal them. That, of course, is the status quo. But it doesn’t matter, when Lib Dem ministers ignore the Federal Policy Committee and backbench rebels like Julian Huppert and Tim Farron. MPs who ignore pledges to electors will ignore pledges to members.

There are – understandably- concerns about the wisdom of conference delegates triggering a special conference to ‘recall’ the leadership’s policy and subject it to a full and open debate. Yet, in the absence of stomach for this, and in the absence of meaningful ways to pressure a change of course from within the party, there seem to be few viable alternatives to resignation.

Resignation is a blunt, empty, extreme response by members to MPs breaking their pledge. However, for a powerless grassroots member, resignation is the only viable weapon to pressure the powerful. It means disappointing and angering most of my closest friends, who will feel I’m deserting them in a struggle for the party’s soul. But I don’t see how ordinary members like myself can – in these extraordinary times where coalition contingency has rendered internal democracy meaningless – register our protest in any other way.

Because I care about the Liberal Democrats and I don’t want to see the party become a British version of Germany’s FDP, I am going to resign. Paradoxically, this ‘nuclear option’ appears, to me, to have the best chance of preserving a party I’d want to be a member of. I think leaving is my only way of proving just how much loyal, devoted liberals have been devastated by the fees debacle. I don’t make threats of resignation idly and I hope that by following through on this decision it will cause some MPs to reconsider the party’s current direction; indeed, I would encourage other grassroots members to do the same and use the last, humble means of protest at our disposal.

I can’t attend conferences, because of job commitments, so election as a conference rep holds little chance to make a difference. I can’t believe any pledges to members from MPs who have broken their pledges to voters.

Therefore, until the next presidential election in two years, resignation is the only weapon I have to express my opinion of the party leadership.

I realise that not every Lib Dem member has the luxury of my lack of personal ambition. I can resign because I don’t need continuous, uncontentious membership to qualify for future preferment. I want to see my talented, budding approved candidate friends become successful PPCs and MPs in the future, so I wouldn’t like them to follow in my footsteps. I don’t want to see my friend Mark, who holds my old seat on Oxford City Council, cease to represent that ward. But amongst us footsoldiers, the penalties of resignation are personal and fraternal pain, balanced against the comfort of knowing we’re not financially contributing to the costs of printing apologia for a betrayal we abhor and the hope of shocking others into action.

So, because I’m a liberal and I care about the party and any other action seems hopeless, I’m resigning.

Richard Huzzey is a former member of the Lib Dem Voice editorial collective, a former Oxford City Councillor, a former local party officer and, as of today, a former member of the party.

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  • What’s the process to cancel my membership? I couldn’t find it on the Lib Dem Members site.

  • A brave and honest post.

    I’ve only once not voted Lib Dem, and that was a tactical vote where the Lib Dems had no chance of winning. Sadly, I will seriously switching to the Green Party. Even if I don’t, I will be looking back on this vote for years to come and all the spineless MPs who have broken their bond and promise with the electorate.

    The only way back for the Lib Dems is decapitation (not literally) of the leader and a new Lib Dem leader – otherwise the party will disappear up its own coallition.

    The true issue isn’t over the cuts, its over the statement that further education isn’t valued by the party. Funding is being slashed and private debt replacing it. The concept of free education, badly erroded by labour, is gone, perhaps forever.

  • Nick?

    Surely you aren’t Mr Clegg?

  • Richard,

    Well said, if only more LD MPs would do the same.. It a shame its come to this.
    I will be speaking to my local candidate tomorrow and resigning.

    Sad day for British politics

  • John Fraser 9th Dec '10 - 7:47pm

    You have my sypathy richard I resigned a few weeks ago after 25 years … over the vicious attack on the unemployed . t the rate things are goinf forget the FDP the Libdems could become more like the far right danish liberals Venstres

  • A principled stand as ever Richard. A sad day for the party on so many levels.

  • TheContinentalOp 9th Dec '10 - 7:57pm

    I hope people read this and stop the blanket blaming of the Lib Dems. I’ve read enough on this site in recent weeks to know the prinicples, integrity and sense of fairness I voted for still exists among a huge swathe of the Lib Dem membership.

    Good luck in reclaiming your party.

  • Have fun in Labour. Enjoy spinning their next war.

    “I don’t want to see the party become a British version of Germany’s FDP”

    Yeah, it feels really crap to support a party that actually participates in government, doesn’t it? Maybe the Greens are a better fit for you.

  • Well done, and very well said.

  • mark Wilson 9th Dec '10 - 8:06pm

    Hi Richard,
    Although i am a former member of the Lib Dems between 1981- 1995 being a member since I was 18, and a former Birmingham City Councillor I would nonetheless urge you not to resign from the party. I agree with you the importance of being a principled, as well as being a pragmatic politician. This I would say has been one of the shining examples of being a Lib Dem.
    However no matter what Senior Lib Dem Members, and those in the Coalition Govt say, it was known at the time that the country was in an economic mess, and therefore Lib Dem MPs should not have signed the pledge with the NUS as they must have known it was a pledge they could not have kept..
    Perhaps more fundamentally is this the sign of and a beginning of a split within the Lib Dems. Perhaps what makes you feel so uncomfortable is the possibility such a split may occur again. Since ceasing being a member of the party I have become aware of a difference of political emphasis similar to that befell the SDP. The division appears to be between Economic Liberals, and those Social Liberals who have a broader Social conscious on economic matters.
    Am I Imagining this?

  • patrick murray 9th Dec '10 - 8:07pm

    richard really sorry to see you go.

    to edward – i have known richard for many years, i served with him on the council where he did more than almost anyone else to beat the greens, and fight against the labour party. he has given up years of his time to work hard for residents, students and the party. however you feel about this particular issue, your comments do him a disservice.

  • “I hope people read this and stop the blanket blaming of the Lib Dems”.

    No chance of anything but that happening while Nick is Leader I’m afraid.

  • Richard,

    I am really sorry that you are resgining. I’ve met you a few times in the past at Conference and you are someone I really like and respect. The last time I saw you I didn’t really enter into conversation as I was distracted by a serious personal problem. I was also going to explain that if I saw you again as it appeared I was ignoring you.
    Personally, I think you’ve got this wrong but I hope you eventually come back.

  • An eloquent and honest post.

    How many of us have spent years fighting off the irksome accusation that ‘lib dems can say whatever they want because they’ll never have to implement their ideas’? The usual response ‘no its a party of ideals and a fully costed manifesto’. Turns out the doubters were right after all and we were just naive to hope for more integrity from the Lib Dems. I feel betrayed.

  • Have voted for years for the Lib Dem but now I will never vote for them again especially after their short sighted support of the changes in student fees. Lib Dem partnership with the Conservatives will destroy this party from within as some MPs have fogotten their principles and election pledges just so that they can continue with their taste in power.

  • Joe Donnelly 9th Dec '10 - 8:27pm

    I don’t really see how this is a resigning issue.

    YES, Nick Clegg shouldn’t have signed that pledge if he didn’t mean it.
    YES, the PR and general discussion has been really poor from the party.

    But the only reason I would resign from the party is if I felt it wasn’t a Liberal party anymore and I see nothing in this tuition fees rise that isn’t Liberal. I’m somewhere between a Social and Classical Liberal, and if anything, I see the tuition fee rise and accompanying legislation as MORE liberal than what went before. Now it truely is about the individuals choice about what they want to do and as long as its always free at the point of entry and the pay back threshold and timescale is reasonable it won’t inhibit poorer students from going.

    Its a fallacy when Lib Dems/Labour etc have been suggesting that the media furore and socialist furore against the rising fees will put would-be students off because they think it does cost more at the point of entry means that we shouldn’t implement a policy which is completely different to that furore.

    I’d like to see a well put liberal argument against tuition fees rising in the way that they have that doesn’t just descend into socialist market bashing.

  • It’s very difficult to resign from a party that you have joined because you perecive it to be the best ‘fit’ with your beliefs both political and other and for which you have fought and campaigned for.

    I spent 20 years in the LP where I supported the party through thick and thin and when I lost the vote – which was a lot of the time – I did the democratic thing and accepted the majority thing and presented the united face. I should point out that because of my job I wasn’t up for public office so had no personal ambitions in that direction.

    Slowly I came to question my position and left the party for another one but it was a brief affair and I had jumped from the frying pan into a furnace 🙁

    I resigned from the other party and after a couple of years in the wildeness went back to the LP. I then spent many years as an activist, much like before, but with a huge difference – I only worked for people that I believed had principle and whose politics approximated with mine. In opposition that was fairly easy but in power it’s amazing how the carpetbaggers come out of the woodwork and then of course there’s the lure of the ministerial payroll vote which is more effective than a three line whip.

    Then when Blair became leader I resigned and became more involved with my union. I have decided to rejoin the LP but that decision has been driven by the election of the Tories as I feared the attack that would be launched on the weaker sections of society. At first I thought the LibDems would have been able to curb Tory excesses but it has become increasingly obvious that Clegg just isn’t tough enough and I have to question his ultimate political goal and those close to him.

    So Richard, I am sure you will benefit from your time in the wilderness and it not only will give you a time to reflect but more importantly it provides an element of distance/detachment that allows a rethink of what is really important to you and it may well lie outwith politics.

    I came to realise that machine politics were not for me and I really came to understand how important it was in picking any elected reps to try and get people with inbuilt principles who won’t sell them out at the first opportunity.

    Obviously the plum elected job is that of MP with a party in power and LibDem members I think are waking up to what I have said here before viz – any power can corrupt and even if it starts at a low level it can grow and become deep-rooted in any party.

  • TheContinentalOp 9th Dec '10 - 8:36pm

    “Maybe the Greens are a better fit for you.”

    The Tories are certainly a better fit for you Edward.

  • I feel betrayed by clegg and Co and I just voted for the party and have never been a member.

    If they are losing loyal, longstanding servant such as you they really should start to take notice. They won’t though, you’ll be driven out so the “New Tory” experiment can continue. One day Clegg will be a Tory Peer or European Commisioner and you may get what’s left of your party back.

  • Simon Courtenage 9th Dec '10 - 8:55pm

    Dear Richard

    I am feeling (and thinking) much the same as you. I haven’t yet decided to resign, but I am seriously thinking about it. My only problem is what alternatives exist. Labour under Ed Miliband? I only wish the SDP was still around.

  • @Joe Donnelly

    I think you miss an important point and that is that a lot of people from poorer backgrounds will balk at the thought of having tens of thousands of debt. That is what might stop them going to uni. Things have changed economically since fees were first introduced and there isn’t the same perceived job prospects out there.

    Also you are falling into the trap of getting emeshed in the statistics of it all. This isn’t actually about the fee increases – it is about the fundamental change in the way university tuition costs are funded with the 80 per cent cut in government contribution being paid totally by students/graduates because this is an ideological policy driven by the Tories.

    LibDem MPs should have been voting on the future of Universities and not the amount of fees and repayment options – next move will be to axe the remaining 20 per cent of government funding and again load this onto students.

    And the other thing that students and prospective ones worry about is whether the government will actually abide in the future with the repayment plan or could it become more draconian.

  • Because I care about the Liberal Democrats and I don’t want to see the party become a British version of Germany’s FDP, I am going to resign. Paradoxically, this ‘nuclear option’ appears, to me, to have the best chance of preserving a party I’d want to be a member of.

    What utterly bizarre logic. Seriously. This is literally the same as saying “Because I want to win this argument I am not going to take part in it”.

  • @JoeDonnelly

    Firstly I would like you to know that I am worried that there seems to have recently been a proliferation of people in the party sharing your views, time and time again the party has a whole has democratically voted on supporting the abolishion of tuition fees. Do you feel it liberal for the leadership to take a position that is opposite to the one affirmed by the party? I certainly don’t, and I think it has little to do with the manufactured belief that there is a classical liberal/social liberal divide. The true divide is between social liberals and careerists or perhaps in some cases neo-liberals (and libertarians), historically speaking ‘social’ liberalism is just the continuation of classical liberalism, not a revision or even distinct.

    “I’d like to see a well put liberal argument against tuition fees rising in the way that they have that doesn’t just descend into socialist market bashing.”

    Ok, I’ll give you one.

    This ‘choice’ you speak of is illusory. It is becomming necessary to hold a degree to be qualified for the most basic of jobs. With low employment and ‘flexible labour markets’ if people want any kind of decent wage they must be competitive, which means there is immense economic pressure on them going to university. Now there are ways of rectifying this… providing educational alternatives to university , changing the silly and unjusitified expectations of employers and cutting places and closing down failing universities and courses… the coalition are doing none of these things.

    Choice in this economy is illusory, and that is why the notion that education should be defined by choice is worthless. You only have a lot of choice, economically speaking, if you have a lot of money. When people are basically being sheperded into universities in order for them to get a basic degree which employers require them to have for proof of skills which you could pick up on the spot in 6 months, if they were patient, means that people are being pushed by economic forces into going to university. Essentially what I am saying is that it is increasingly becoming the case that university degrees are seen as the standard level of education for new employees, which means that people have to pay unjustified and exorbidant fees in order to get a decent job. Really, if there is no choice in the matter, if futher education is actually becoming a necessity, then there is now a stronger case than ever that the taxpayer foot the bill, just like they do for primary and secondary education (for the same reasons).

  • I was a Lib Dem voter since 1992. Not any more.

  • The only solution to save the party, and lets face it the Liberals have always had a fairly tenuous existence (since the 1920s), is for party members to dismiss their leader. Perhaps then an iota of credibility and public support will be retained. However, it’s probably too late. If Clegg goes the government will fall and a general election with the Lib Dems on 9% will cast them back into the electoral dark ages of 10 or fewer MPs.

  • Paul Elgood 9th Dec '10 - 9:40pm

    Seeing a long term activist resign such as Richard is devestating to me. He is decent an honest and has my highest respect.

    Paul E

  • Emsworthian 9th Dec '10 - 9:42pm

    I decided not to resign but just forget to renew after 30 years. People who put their
    position before princilple are not worthy of anybody’s support. The party suceeded
    where Labour and the Tories failed by orchestrating its own demise. Nice one Nick.

  • Richard, I respect your choice, but as someone who has already been a hair’s breathe from resigning It’s sad to see someone who has spent their entire adult life in the party leaving it like this, I can understand the feeling of powerlessness at the moment when the leadership and very many of the parliamentary party seem to be ignoring the wishes of the wider party.

    I’ve been very ill lately and wasn’t able to campaign in the last election, I did what I could by talking up our MP to non lib dem friends. He today voted for the tuition fee’s increase in direct violation of the pledge he signed, above and beyond that on a personal level what he today supported is completely at odds with his stated belief in the importance of goverment support for Higher Education that he expressed to me in a personal conversation.

    I can no longer trust him at all, not just on this issue but as a disabled person on the things that he’s empowering this Goverment to do. I’m not resigning, I refuse to let the elements that have seized the reigns of power in this party get away with what they’re doing with no regard to the structures of the party. Those who have broken their pledge and acted against party policy really don’t seem to understand just how very damaging this has been for the future of the party, they’ve tarred us all with the same brush where the public will never again believe anything we say.

    I’m not resigning because, while health allows I will still be an activist within the party, but an activist for the removal of those who are destroying our party.

    I hope once the dust has finaly settled that you can rejoin the party and help to rebuild it.

    @Edward – Re.

    “Have fun in Labour. Enjoy spinning their next war.

    “I don’t want to see the party become a British version of Germany’s FDP”

    Yeah, it feels really crap to support a party that actually participates in government, doesn’t it? Maybe the Greens are a better fit for you.”

    Ditto the comments above. How you can say this to someone like Richard Huzzey who has spent so much time and effort on behalf of the party. Have fun in the Tories Edward, it’s obviously where you and your ilk are going to end up after the next election now you’ve destroyed the electoral future of the party that many of us have helped spend years building.

  • Well done.

    You have both my respect and my support.

    I did it in June. Yours is more powerful.

  • There is no way they will be forcing me out of MY party. I will continue to support my local MP who thankfully had the integrity to vote against and even was a leading figure in the internal campaign to vote against rising tuition fees.

  • Resignation isn’t an autoroute into another party.

    It’s a statement of principle.

    To those (like Edward) who respond to this letter with spite – you should be ashamed. To those who query “but if I left where would I go”? there is an answer – nowhere. Until this party can reclaim it’s identity – it is far better to be outside. Clegg, Laws, Cable Huhne et al have performed such a coup – the view of posters such as Sesenco that you can “change from within” is just naive.

    Clegg has got his own little political party plaything – and he wants it in Dave’s camp at all costs.

  • Respect…

  • Vince, Nick and others supported the policy, indeed devised it, as the best option available. Yes we should not have got into the situation where we boxed ourselves into a corner with the pledge, but we should rally around those MPs who voted for the policy today. Like Simonkaye If I could take our extra memberships I would – but as a gesture of solidarity I’m making a(nother) donation to the party tonight.

  • “I don’t want to see my friend Mark, who holds my old seat on Oxford City Council, cease to represent that ward.”

    Don’t worry I’m staying put!

  • Joe Donnelly 9th Dec '10 - 10:34pm


    ‘I think you miss an important point and that is that a lot of people from poorer backgrounds will balk at the thought of having tens of thousands of debt. That is what might stop them going to uni.’


    ‘and I think it has little to do with the manufactured belief that there is a classical liberal/social liberal divide. The true divide is between social liberals and careerists or perhaps in some cases neo-liberals (and libertarians), historically speaking ‘social’ liberalism is just the continuation of classical liberalism, not a revision or even distinct.’

    Just because something has been claimed to be ‘revised’ by someone doesn’t mean people can’t still have the same view, this is quite obvious because if I know argue against your points and claim to have moved on and progressed the argument from them, that doesn’t mean people might not still think your right and I’m wrong. It’s also just a little immature to start saying that anyone whose not ‘your kind of liberal’ is a careerist, do you honestly think EVERYBODY who supports Clegg, myself included is a careerist just because we disagree with you?

    ‘This ‘choice’ you speak of is illusory. It is becomming necessary to hold a degree to be qualified for the most basic of jobs.’
    ‘if futher education is actually becoming a necessity, then there is now a stronger case than ever that the taxpayer foot the bill, just like they do for primary and secondary education (for the same reasons).’

    I’ve picked those two quotes as I think they best shortly summarise your general arguments conclusions for me to attempt to retort but first thank you for providing a proper riposte.

    This just seems like a depressing argument to me, your letting circumstances which I think are variable be fixed i.e. your assuming that because further education is becoming something of a necessity (something I don’t think I disagree with much) that means our laws should accept this as a permanent fact. Whereas, I in part see the higher tuition fee loans and part-marketisation of the degree system as being the solution to the problem of necessary degrees.

    Lets first take the alternative option of not tackling the rising tide of general academic educational qualifications, if were not careful, soon every job will need a Masters qualification and then soon after a ph.d, at what point does it stop. All a degree effectively is, is a big flashing advertising sign for you saying, look how clever I am, if everyone has one, then everyone needs something else as a unique selling point. The worrying thing we are seeing now is another unique selling point is internships and therefore the demand for these internships is high, therefore firms don’t have to pay interns, therefore they can only be taken up by people with rich/middle class parents.

    Now, my hope is that through degrees actually having to be thought of as an economic choice (I have no problem with people doing a degree for intellectual curiousity but im not sure the state should subsidise that any more than the state should subsidise going to watch a football match or other hobbies) this will mean that for jobs where the pay actually doesn’t match the degree qualification needed one of 4 things will happen:

    A) the jobs salary will rise
    B) the cost of the degree WONT be 9k a year but will be an appropriate cost for the return the job gives you
    C) a small minority of people will choose to do the job regardless and see the small loss they make as equivilant to the happiness gained through doing a job they love

    and fourthly and most importantly:

    D) the job will drop its qualifications quota to bring in more supply.

    Sorry for the lengthy answer and if anyone has a better knowledge of problems with markets like this (which undoubtably many many people do) then please correct me.

  • @ Edward –

    I think Richard knows about governing – he was an Oxford Councillor.

    What he cannot stomach is lack of integrity.

    A sad day for Liberalism. Good luck Richard.

  • Joe Donnelly 9th Dec '10 - 10:39pm

    Just realised I never actually replied to this.


    ‘I think you miss an important point and that is that a lot of people from poorer backgrounds will balk at the thought of having tens of thousands of debt. That is what might stop them going to uni.’

    I think I kind of addressed this in my original post. If poor people are baulking any more than rich they are just wrong to do so. There perfectly justified in being wrong because of all the mis-representing of what the tuition fees will actually mean by Labour, the NUS and the media over the last few weeks but that does not mean we should change our policies, we just need to make sure people understand what the truth actually is.

  • I seriously hope Vince is going to cancel going on the Strictly Come Dancing christmas special……..

  • Richard –

    “I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me.
    A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day.
    An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crushing down! But it is not this day!”

    Aragorn Elessar to the men of Gondor and Rohan before the Black Gate

  • Hi Richard – I am honest in saying I disagree with your stance, but I admire your conviction, and think that the party will be slightly less without people like you.

    Good luck and hopefully we might see you back one day 🙂

  • To Richard,

    To those people that shamefully have supported this proposal I would ask the following question. What is the next principle that will be foresaken? NHS? If the arguments that students should pay for a service when circumstances allow, couldn’t we extend that to sick people? Shouldn’t we charge for GP’s visits after all the deficit is so large. ?

    What about a whole host of benefits and services which are now up for grabs as a result of your inability to honour a pledge. If your word means nothing and your principles are for sale what other services are in danger after all The coalition believes in smaller government doesn’t it? Private is better than public, and why can’t business make money from providing health care?

    The Tories have always sold their principles to the highest bidders and it seems that Lib Dem principles are for sale too.

    My last question is why did you sell them so cheaply?

  • @Joe Donnelly
    “but that does not mean we should change our policies, we just need to make sure people understand what the truth actually is”

    When you say change your policies I take it you mean the coalition policy not the policy mandated by the party and on which all Lib dem MP’s were elected ?

    This used to be the most democratic of the parties accountable to members like Richard and able to be trusted by voters like me.

  • So the betrayal of the majority of ordinary people who put their faith and trust in the party and gave them their votes is complete. I respect anybody in politics who has genuine beliefs and core principles, and I stupidly trusted that the likes of Clegg and Cable fell into this category, One taste of power and a Cabinet wage and principles become expendable. The Liberals will pay for their morally corrupt antics with resounding defeats in future elections and that will serve as some small consolation for me.

  • Mike(The Labour one) 10th Dec '10 - 12:23am

    I must say I think this isn’t the right approach. We left and stopped getting involved with the Labour party over Blair, and it didn’t help one bit. We just gave the neoliberals the party without a fight, that’s all that happened. It isn’t Clegg’s or the infamous 36 aye/abstainers party any more than it is your party.

    Yes, there’s also a bit of self-interest here too! I really don’t want Labour flooded with more neoliberals upset at the bad press just at the moment it looks like there’s a slim possibility of getting something resembling a Labour party back. Be bourgeois in your bourgeois party please.

    Anyway, chin up. If it was a Lib Dem majority, according to Clegg, the cuts would be far deeper…[http://www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/5831523/clegg-heir-to-thatcher.thtml]

  • Dan is wrong about unity. Unity now would just show how pointless and spineless we are. I want Clegg to go asap. Good article, but please stay around and help us oust him in 2011.

  • Me too. December 9th 2010 – this is a day In will remember. When Clegg goes I may look to rejoin. I cannot be a member of party whose use of words like ‘progressive’ and ‘fair’ to justify all manner of things has reduced those words to meaningless jargon.

  • This is a devastating day. I don’t believe the twaddle that the leadership have spouted about tripling tuition fees being necessary to curb the deficit, just as I don’t believe that politicians should make pledges which they don’t intend to keep.

    I do still believe, fundamentally, in liberalism, as i have since 1982. Not sure that I still believe in the Lib dems though as the best keepers of that flame.

    What to do?

  • Peter Chegwyn 10th Dec '10 - 1:43am

    Well… while many of our MPs were doing their best to press self-destruct yesterday I was doing what I’ve enjoyed doing for 36 years as a party member… giving the Tories a good kicking.

    There was a Council by-election in Fareham, Hampshire yesterday, next door to me in Gosport. The result? A Lib. Dem. Gain turning a Conservative majority of nearly 1,400 into a Liberal Democrat majority of 250 on a 36% swing.

    How does one do it? Same way as always. A good local candidate, a good local campaign with lots of good local Focus talking only about local issues… and no mention whatsoever of Nick Clegg and tuition fees.

    To those who think our Party is doomed thanks to the abysmal antics of the present Parliamentary leadership I’d simply say “Don’t resign”, don’t walk away, stay and fight because the Party outside Parliament, its principles and ideals, is still worth fighting for… and if we continue campaigning in the same way as we have always done then we can win sensational victories like that in Fareham yesterday even when our TV screens are full of the worst possible publicity for our Party in Parliament.

  • Peter, well done, that is good news and I take your message on board too. It is after all, OUR party, even if some of our (current) elected representatives seem to feel that they’ve grown a bit too grand for it – and us. And yes, it’s them that’s changed, not us.

  • “and no mention whatsoever of Nick Clegg and tuition fees.”

    Do you think that’s going to work next May or for very much longer after that ?
    Nick’s a liability and pure electoral poison and that’s simply unsustainable for a Party Leader.

    Nick was happy enough to stab Menzies in the back (Ming the Mediocre, according to Clegg, is hesitant and disorganised, commits avoidable errors and lacks momentum) then take over from Menzies when his popularity was dragging down the Party. So there would be some ironic justice when Nick has to go the same way because “questions about leadership are getting in the way of further progress by the party” as Menzies himself conceded at the time. Nick and the right wing clique around him still to out of touch to concede that yet, but heand they will have to eventually.

  • As a liberal who’s not in the Lib Dems, this is one of the reason I am unsure of joining the Lib Dems. From the outside it seems as if there’s at least two different camps in the Lib Dems and they have very different views of what liberalism is. For me this is troubling because it seems the only way the party can move forward is by alienating a section of its party a la Labour. I also find it difficult to know the future direction of the party as each wing of the party seem to want to take the party in quite a dramatically different direction to the opposite wing of the party.

  • if i applied for a job and lied on my cv i to get me the job. i would be sacked how can nick clegg still have a job in the government when his campaign was based on a lie

  • Andrew Wimble 10th Dec '10 - 8:27am

    It is clear that the party leadership has made a big mistake here. If the new policy is correct then signing the pledge in the first place was a big mistake, while if the new pilicy is wromg then the mistake is in supporting it in violation o fthe Pledge. Personally I think that the mistake was for any MP or canditate to sign an absolute pledge knowing that if they did have influence in government it would almost certainly be as part of a coiilition, meaning that compromises may be neccessary. The issue of coilition fees has not only dammaged the party, it has dammaged the whole idea of coilition politics.

    I am not going to join the list of people threatening to leave the party but I do believe that it is important that lessons are learned from this.

  • What surprises me is that there has been no move to organise resistance by the many people in the party who can’t stomach what Clegg, Cable and Laws are doing. In the past we have had groups like Radical Bulletin to oppose the seemingly inevitable drift away from the party’s principles by the leadership (Thorpe/Steel/even Paddy). In the era of the internet and all the other methods of social interaction that allow like-minded people to come together I cannot understand why this is not happening. I’m not leaving the party I’ve worked for all these years, but the time has come to start working to take it back from those who have deviated so far from our principles: and the greatest of these is that we are trustworthy.

  • Grammar Police 10th Dec '10 - 9:09am

    @ Tony; maybe because this is a u-turn not a lie. Have you never changed your mind about anything?

  • Grammar Police 10th Dec '10 - 9:11am

    @ Richard H: “Resignation is a blunt, empty, extreme response by members to MPs breaking their pledge.”

    You said it. It’s sad when anyone resigns, especially someone who had worked very hard for the party, but I believe that if one feels that the party is going the wrong way they should stay and fight (this is *exactly* what didn’t happen in the Labour party).

  • Well done all in Fareham! But my feelings are coloured not just by the turmoil nationally, but also by the fact that my good friend Ann Raymond’s vote in the other byelection at Warrington was absolutely trashed. Now I well know that Ann has previously been a good councillor elsewhere, and would have been a great candidate where she was standing. And I am very sure that this was almost entirely down to how people feel about the Lib Dems at this moment.

  • Grammar Police – I don’t think I accused anyone of lying: but, we garnered huge enthusiasm from young people at the general election because of our policies (not just on tuition fees) and approach to politics, and that enthusiasm and trust has been betrayed by the leadership. They may have changed their minds: I’ve certainly changed mine about them.

  • Andrew Wimble – The mistake was to accept Tory / Osborne Gov of Bank of England analysis of the economic situation and then decide Univ funding had to be slashed. And for Clegg et al not to declare whole heartedly that the party would work towards eliminating fees when the economic situation was better. One of the undeclared issues here of course, and whether we call this a “lie” or a subject we prefer to remain discreetly silent about is moot, is the split here between those who want to argue between various versions of the same thing, ie graudate tax, increased fees etc, which demands “repayment” by graduates or the view which says that HE should be tax-funded. Nick Clegg did not want to sign any pledge, and he did want the change, and the coalition has allowed him to go ahead with his preferred policy (or similar). This is well documented. So it wasn’t a U turn on his part, GP. Was it a lie? Or his pledge a lie? people must form their own view, I think.

  • Just want to say that today i am both proud and sad to be a Liberal today.

    Proud because I genuinely believe that the policy is a good one and in many way’s progressive and I genuinely believe that a 100% Tory government would have delivered something far far worse for students from poorer backrounds and therefore confirms in my mind the benefits Liberals are bringing to government.

    But i am also sad. We have learnt a harsh lesson. We spent so many years in opposistion that i believe we allowed ourselve to jump on any bandwagon that was ‘Anti’ government without asking ourselve ‘How would this policy work if WE had to make the real decisions, in government?’ On this one subject, tuition fees, we got it wrong. The pledge should never have been signed, it should never have been the policy of the party and that is an opinion i have always held.

    I am sad because a pledge was broken and that will matter in the years to come, Labour will never allow the public to forget it and i might add there will come a time when Tory candidates will use it against us as well!

    I have never written here before, and i type as i think so apologies if this is a ‘ramble’ I am sure someone with wit will shoot me down but I will not desert this party, i will continue to vote Liberal Democrat and i will continue to campaign come the elections.

    I feel very very sad today.

  • I commend Richard for his difficult but necessary decision. The Liberal Democrats signed their own death warrant yesterday.

  • Richard,

    We only met a few times, but from what I saw at the time, I fully agree that if someone like you is leaving the party over this, then things have got pretty serious.

    I left the party a few years ago now, as even then it was becoming clear the way things were going. I’m still a passionate liberal and a committed democrat, I just don’t see those concepts having much sway in much of the party any more.

    I’m now achieving far more of my political goals outside of the party than I ever did in it, so don’t fear to the outside world. Be reassured that you don’t need to be part of a party to further your beliefs in society, in fact it seems easier not to be really.

    Enjoy the next chapter of your politics!

  • Dominic Curran 10th Dec '10 - 9:53am

    @ Mike (thelabourone)
    “Be bourgeois in your bourgeois party please.” – Not having been raised in the age when this sort of language was normal, could you tell me what you mean by this, please? Do you mean middle class? Because Labour’s ALWAYS been that.

  • Steve Simmons 10th Dec '10 - 10:01am

    “Proud because I genuinely believe that the policy is a good one and in many way’s progressive”

    Progressive means that contributions rise as a percentage of gross earnings with higher incomes. The policy is quite definitely regressive, with those on higher incomes contributing a smaller proportion of their salaries (over 30 years) to the funding of HE than those on middle incomes. Instead of changing the policy to actually make it progressive (in line with Lib Dem policy), Clegg changed the definition of progressive.

    The argument the tories used for this regressive policy is that higher earners would likely go abroad to study for their degrees rather than pay a higher amount in graduate tax over the 30 years. However, this could easily have been mitigated by a smaller graduate tax together with a slight increase in general income tax (thus ensuring the funding was indeed progressive at the same time as removing the ‘incentive’ for high-earning graduates to study abroad). The policy, as it stands, hits the majority of graduates (on middle incomes) the hardest. The result will be that many will leave the Country after receiving their education, so the taxpayer will end up paying for the benefits that other Countries will receive.

    Can I ask why do you think this awful policy is a good one?

  • Richard, I respect your decision, but it’s important I think to acknowledge why others don’t want to resign.

    I’m a councillor – in Scotland – and since May have had a number of thoughts about this. Ultimately, though, I’ve come to the decision that it’s better to stay within the party and argue – loudly and vociferously – against the policies I disagree with.

    Just to be clear, if I’m asked about tuition fees, I will make it quite clear that Nick Clegg and Vince Cable were fundamentally wrong in their judgement. I disagree totally with the policy, and am only relieved that, in Scotland, we remain opposed to tuition fees and our MSPs are making this point strongly. It does disappoint me, though, that a number of Scottish MPs who are not government job holders still voted against their party policy and also the clear will of the Scottish party as demonstrated in Dunfermline in October.

    But I also have to consider what’s going on locally. We’re in a joint administration in my Council, fighting against decades of Labour decay, neglect, and financial mismanagement. My local authority is now in a much better place than it was in 2007, even with the cuts we’ve had to make, and I genuinely believe that it’s because of the involvement of the Liberal Democrats in the administration that this has happened.

    I also need to look at the Scottish Parliament, and the work our MSPs are doing there – in education, holding the SNP government to account on the lack of teacher appointment, in transport, showing up the SNP incompetence over the last couple of weeks.

    Even at Westminster, and even on the thorny issue of tuition fees, although I disagree with the policy I can’t help but think it would have been worse still with a full-on Conservative government.

    But still I find myself thinking – should I go? In the end, I probably won’t. I’ve always looked on the Liberal Democrats as something of a family. Families occasionally have disputes, sometimes minor, sometimes serious. There might even be factions who don’t speak to each other for periods. And yes, there is usually the odd “black sheep.” But ultimately, the ties that bind us – or the political views on which we agree – are stronger than what divides us.

  • Andrew Wimble has it right. We (yes “we” – I’m not jumping ship after 50 years) will always now have it hung round our necks that our hapless leading candidates had themselves videoed signing that poisonous pledge. Not only was it known then that the economic situation could not allow such a pledge to be implemented but also the September 2009 conference showed that the leadership was well aware that a policy to eliminate even the tuition fees and top-up- fees already introduced by Labour (both of them against their own manifesto commitments) was going to be undeliverable. Here is an extract from the Guardian story at that time –

    “The [Lib Dem] leadership has put the brakes on the abolition of tuition fees because Clegg believes it is impossible to justify the £12.5bn costs of the policy over the lifetime of a parliament while Britain is struggling with a fiscal deficit. This stands at around 12% of GDP.
    Clegg outlined his approach when he was questioned about the policy at a question and answer session today. “There is no question mark over the policy of the Liberal Democrats to scrap tuition fees,” he said. “The only question mark is about when we can afford to scrap tuition fees.”
    The Lib Dem leader said that delaying a policy with a £12.5bn price tag was an example of his approach of being honest with the electorate as Britain copes with such a severe recession. “We have got to treat people like grown-ups,” he said. “It is a policy which has significant financial implications. None of us know precisely yet what we can afford. The issue is simply on the affordability.”
    But Clegg was given a taste of how his tough approach to the public finances is alarming activists. Conference delegates backed a motion calling for the abolition of tuition fees for all part-time and full-time higher education courses.”

    This (in my view and that of many other Liberal Democrats – unrealistic) conference decision forced the manifesto writers merely to kick the commitment into the long grass (talking about phasing over 6 years).

    To then enter into these pledges in -yes- a grubby attempt to garner student votes was one of the greatest errors our Party has made. Whose idea was it? Why did Nick Clegg, Vince Cable et al go along with it?

    One sure thing – our candidates must be strongly advised never again to enter into any such pledges on any issue whatsoever.

    Also conferences – always proud of their inclination to kick authority in the teeth – might just pay a bit more heed when the Party leadership tells them the unwelcome truth about what the country can and cannot afford.

    Resignation? – no way. Looking back over my 50 years there is no other party which comes close to the overall positive record of our Party. Stick with it!

  • Peter Chegwyn 10th Dec '10 - 10:13am

    While I understand and respect the feelings of those saying they will resign because of the shambolic performance of our current Party leadership, walking away from a fight just hands victory to your opponents.

    What I tried to say in a previous post above is that if you care for Liberal values and beliefs you should stay and fight for your beliefs within the Party.

    And if you campaign in a good old-fashioned Liberal way, as we did in Fareham yesterday, you can still win elections at a local level irrespective of what is happening in Parliament and how it is being reported in the media.

    Tony Hill is right in what he says. In the past we had the ALC, Liberator or Radical Bulletin to align and campaign with. Maybe it’s time to create a new group within the Party for those who want the Party to remain Liberal and true to its core values and beliefs?

    Leaders come and go but the need for a genuine Liberal Democrat Party remains as strong as ever.

    I’ve spent too long fighting to remain within the Party to walk away now.

  • Poppie's mum 10th Dec '10 - 10:20am

    Well done Richard.

  • Peter Chegwyn 10th Dec '10 - 10:21am

    P.S. And I’ve derived so much pleasure from defeating conservatives at every opportunity during 36 years of Party membership that I don’t see why I should stop now!

    Our stunning by-election victory in Fareham last night, turning a Conservative majority of 1400 into a Lib. Dem. majority of 250 on a 34%+ swing, shows we can still win irrespective of what the national Leadership are doing.

  • You talk about our Party, Matt. What is “your” party? Labour by any chance? The Party that (probably forever) broke the mould of free university education – against its manifesto commitments? The Party that even at this time when this issue is at the forefront of British politics has no policy whatsoever and whose “leader” mumbles that it would be unwise for him to make any comment as to whether he might try to reverse the coalition policy if (heaven forbid) he were to be entrusted with power in future?

  • And by the way we gained a Mole Valley District Council seat from the Tories (ousting them as single biggest party) the day after the Comprehensive Spending Review was announced.

  • Steve,
    Can i refer you to the IFS report which says:

    ‘The highest earning graduates would pay more on average than both the current system and that proposed by Lord Browne, while lower earning graduates would pay back less.’

    Is that not more progressive?

    They go on to say that students not in the bottom 30% of parental income will all pay more BUT that the
    ‘graduates from the 6th and richest (10th) deciles of parental income would pay back the most under the proposed system.’

    So according to the the IFS the policy is more progressive than the the current system.

    Of course there is the option of making university tuition 100% free which would i assume be progressive in your eyes but i am not sure that the majority of middle England TAX payers would be over joyed at the TAX rise they would have to suffer to pay for it.

    Graduates from ALL backrounds benefit from significantly higher earnings and should in my opinion contribute. As far as i can see the safe guards are in place to ensure students from poorer backrounds are not put off going to university and that universities have admissions policies to make sure ALL students have access.

    I still hear students saying their parents cannot afford the fee’s!

    Their parents don’t have to find the fee’s! Are they not listening or are they deaf to the argument?

    I believe this is progressive but i am still sad at the mess my party has gotten into over it.

  • Mark's Constituent 10th Dec '10 - 10:41am

    You can assure your friend Cllr Mark Mills that he will struggle to come third if he stands for election.

    In a ward that only students live in, your former party will be deservedly punished.

  • Coun Susan Press 10th Dec '10 - 10:49am

    I have read the long list of comments which are eerily reminiscent of how us in the Labour Party felt over Blair. I didn’t resign. But then TB took six years to lose trust – this lot have had less than six months.
    The 17 per cent by-election swing away from the Lib dems in Warrington last night indicates where this is going.
    ie oblivion for many Lib dem Mps and councillors,
    I am sorry for those who feel betrayed. You have every right to do so.
    But my suggestion would be, obviously, to ditch any illusions in the appalling Clegg and Cameron and join us in the Labour Party – where EVERY MP opposed this disgraceful measure. We on the left who put up with new labour for so long are, as Mike said, slowly inching it back and picking up members all the time.
    But it is going to be a long fight………

  • Clegg desperately wants people like Richard Huzzey to resign from the party so he can merge what is left of it with the Conservatives without any serious opposition.

    Until last night, Clegg was getting it all his own way. At 5.30pm on Thursday, 9th December he lost control of his backbenches. How much longer can he remain leader of a party, a huge part of which refuses to follow him?

    I will not be resigning. I will be using my membership to stick it to Clegg and help install a leader we can trust and respect.

    No, Richard. When Clegg is losing and the members are winning, that is no time to be jumping ship.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 10th Dec '10 - 11:29am

    Funny that no one has mentioned the following election result last night:

    Bewsey & Whitecross, Warrington UA. Lab 1032 (71.1%, +18.1), LD 221 (15.2%, -16.5), Con 118 (8.1, -7.1), Green 47 (3.2%, +3.2, Ind 33 (2.2%, +2.2). Swing of 17.3% from LD to Lab since May this year.

    Perhaps of a little more relevance than the one in Fareham which was just a contest between the Coalition partners.

  • I am so dissapointed in the LibDems.

    I have voted for them for over a decade – perhaps two (only once did I stop in 1997 to vote Labour).

    My faith in democracy has been destroyed. Is democracy then just one cross in a box every 5 years and the politicians can then just make it up?

    I’ll never vote Lib Dem again.

  • Peter Chegwyn 10th Dec '10 - 11:57am

    Susan Press from Labour refers to the 17% swing in Warrington.

    I refer again to the 34% swing from the Conservatives to the Liberal Democrats in Fareham.

    Labour were humbled in 3rd place in Fareham just ahead of UKIP.

  • @Coun Susan Press
    “join us in the Labour Party”

    Sorry but the Labour party has an extremely long road to travel before they can be trusted again. Let’s not forget that many of those same MP’s who voted against this last night also voted both for the initial introduction of fees and the subsequent rise. They are the same MP’s who supported some of the most iliberal and borderline right wing policies that have graced parliament since Thatcher.

    The Lib Dems were apparently a bastion of integrity and honesty until this was destroyed by Clegg and Co, but that does not mean a move to Labour, for most of us who voted Lib Dem at the last election it means that at present we have no one party worthy of our vote. My biggest dissapointment was Simon Hughes I felt he was some hope for the future but like those who voted for he has broken his word to the electorate.

    Sad time for democracy.

  • @Joe Donnelly 10.39 9/12 who states: ‘If poor people are baulking any more than rich they are just wrong to do so. There perfectly justified in being wrong because of all the mis-representing of what the tuition fees will actually mean by Labour, the NUS and the media over the last few weeks but that does not mean we should change our policies, we just need to make sure people understand what the truth actually is’.

    All I can say Joe is that you frighten me with your tone and I keep having visions of ‘truth’ serum being injected into anyone disagreeing with your LibDem vision of truth.

    You will obviously needs to dose those LibDem MPs who voted against as, according to you, they have been hoodwinked by Labour, NUS and the media as well.

    In any case I don’t think anyone has been asking LibDems to change their policies which as I understand it is to scrap tuition fees over a six year period with various yearly ‘milestones’ and I won’t even mention the individual pledges.

    I have personally, as a former LP member who still votes for the party, been trying to determine the best way to fund unis and reluctantly I have come to accept that uni education cannot be free if it is to continue expanding – there is of course another argument as to whether continued expansion is desirable.

    However my efforts at deciding between Browne and the LibDem amendments to Browne and a graduate tax have been stymied because of the lack of actual details and the amount of contradictory info that has been released by Clegg and Cable. I am fairly intelligent, having received a free uni education some 45 years ago, but I have to admit the task is currently beyond me.

    However, I will repeat and I make no apology for repeating this: The vote last night wasn’t on making it easier for poorer students to get to uni – it was actually about totally changing the funding structure for our public university system and I cannot accept or support that particular Tory-driven ideology which is designed to suit the Russell Group unis.

    I really wonder whether poor old Vince actually believes he can keep the cap down to 6K except in exceptional circumstances and that the more ‘desirable’ unis won’t be automatically charging 9K and making sure they don’t have to shell-out matched funding by not selecting poorer students to begin with.

  • @JoeDonelly, 9 Dec, 10:34pm

    You make an interesting argument but what you say actually seems to point to the opposite direction. Just as internships are more available to those from higher-income families because of the effective opportunity cost of lost wages, making degrees an economic choice would do the same thing. We could keep going with your logic and start charging fees for A-level education, to stop so many students taking those too.

    You’re right about qualification inflation, and also that to a large extent degrees are used as signals to employers. But the issue of numbers of degree holders should be addressed directly. Doing it with a market is inefficient (it’s still rationing, by ability and willingness to pay rather than academic merit), unfair and arguably illiberal.

    As for degrees as pure intellectual development…if we don’t publicly subsidise this, where should we stop? Orchestras, museums, libraries. I think there’s a good liberal argument (made for instance by the political philosopher Charles Taylor) that a thriving liberal democracy needs an educated and cultured population to support it. Marketising everything isn’t as straightforward as it might seem.

  • Steve Simmons 10th Dec '10 - 12:07pm

    “Can i refer you to the IFS report which says:
    ‘The highest earning graduates would pay more on average than both the current system…
    Is that not more progressive?”

    The new system is regressive (as was the old). You could argue it is less regressive, but to say it is more progressive is a bit of a distortion given that it is still a regressive form of taxation (in absolute terms) and in contradiction to the Lib Dems stated policy aims of funding HE through progressive taxation.

    Your original comment was:

    “in many way’s progressive ” – you didn’t mention a comparison to the previous system.

    The IFS report’s title is misleading ( http://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/5366 ): “Higher education reforms: progressive but complicated with an unwelcome incentive ” . What they mean is progressive in comparison the previous system.

    Besides, even if it was progressive across all income deciles, then if you multiply the amount payable by say x10 for each income decile then it is still progressive! Progressivity is not the only issue here – the trebling of fees and the burden of funding being passed almost entirely on to graduates is particularly iniqiutous.

    Given that the average graduate earns 160k more over their lifetime (from the first source I found on google), then they already pay an extra 40k in income tax (at a reasonable guess of 25% of 160k) compared to non-graduates. It could therefore be argued that graduates already pay for the tuition they receive without any fees. The only realistic outcome of the policy that I can see is for the market to drive down student numbers by a large percentage to the point where the smaller supply of graduates will push up their salaries until it becomes economic again to study and pay the fees.

  • @Peter Chegwyn 11.57

    I have to observe Peter that neither Cameron or Clegg will give any local election results the slightest thought as we all know just how ‘local’ they usually are and especially the local electorate who know exactly what the score is in my personal experience.

    They may have some concern about Scottish or Welsh national assembly or parliament results but not a lot. The only results that will matter to them are Parly bi-elections but often there are personalised or local aspects to them that mask any broader message.

  • @Joe Donnelly: sorry for misspelling your name!

  • @Richard Huzzey: thank you for a very interesting article. I think this is a difficult question, though I was an extremely inactive member and so in a different position to, and lacking the experience of the party of, you and many on this forum. (I quit in summer over benefit cuts – I was leaving the country for the year so this seemed the only way I could “participate”.) But I do worry about a “New Labourisation” of the party that others refer to above, through people who disagree leaving. It seems to me that, no matter what the good qualities of those at “the top” of the party (and I’m sure they have many), people at the top always do have power, so if we disagree we’re always in a weak position arguing against them. But that argument still needs to be made. Maybe though you will continue to do that from outside the party.

  • I am proud of my MP John Pugh, Southport.

    John signed a pledge and it meant so much to him that he speak honestly and act honestly that he voted against the government. I have told John that I will continue to lend him my vote whilst he stands for parliament; it will be a personal vote, not a party vote.

    I am withdrawing my financial support for the party and my vote for LibDems at all other elections. I am not a party member, but have voted LibDem for the last twelve years after leaving the Labour Party when it was stolen from me by a Tory named Blair.

    Now that your party has been stolen from you by a Tory named Clegg I truly feel for you, Richard and for all decent members of your party.

  • It’s always sad when someone feels they have to leave the party and I understand its an individual decision.

    However, this party belongs to its members and we need to make sure the leadership are reminded of this. This means we need people who feel disaffected, angry, upset etc not to leave but to stay and help fight.

  • John Roffey 10th Dec '10 - 1:15pm

    As 9 of those who voted against the motion yesterday also rebelled on the Lisbon Treaty and since only the 21 who voted against yesterday are likely to survive the next GE, will the party become Eurosceptic?

  • @Peter Chegwyn
    “Labour were humbled in 3rd place in Fareham just ahead of UKIP”

    I’m no fan of Labour, but what was the previous result ? Also I think loacal polls often throw up discrepencies (either way) as people can really vote for a person..

  • @Hywel 9th December 2010 at 11:35 pm

    I think Hywell I would rather go for Shakespeare’s St Crispen’s Day Speech especially for those who voted against. After all yesterday’s vote against truly is a story of courage and will be remembered as will the craven acts of others.

    Twice I have suffered tremendously with a minority for my political conviction and I really can confirm that those who actually walk through that fire and toss aside patronage do emerge as a band of brothers who know who they can trust and the others who have no principles or perhaps are just craven.

    Just to remind – although full version at: http://www.eduref.net/kct/crispen/

    ”This story shall the good man teach his son;
    And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
    From this day to the ending of the world,
    But we in it shall be remembered-
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition;
    And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
    Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.”

  • Paul Kennedy 10th Dec '10 - 2:01pm

    The pledges were perfectly sensible and not difficult to keep even for the 3 or so Tories who had signed them.

    I am desperately disappointed about what happened yesterday, but also proud of our new President Tim Farron and the majority of backbenchers (plus two honourable resigners) who kept their promises despite intense pressure to demonstrate their ‘loyalty’ to the leadership.

    I agree with Paula. We need to stay and fight.

  • David Allen 10th Dec '10 - 2:04pm


    Two years ago I resigned the chairmanship of my local party in protest at Clegg’s brand new policy of “big permanent tax cuts”, but retained my membership. For me, that was the time when Clegg first “came out” as a truly right-wing ideologue, after having fought a deceitfully bland campaign to win the leadership. Staying on as a Lib Dem member has helped me avoid the charge of “Labour troll” which is often levelled indiscriminately against all critical posters on this blog.

    Two weeks ago, by the way, I went back to our local AGM with the rather ambitious proposition that our members should now re-elect me as Chairman, on the clear basis that I do not support the continuation of the coalition in its present form. I soon realised that I had put my local colleagues into an impossible position. None of them felt that our small local party should “declare UDI”, as one member put it (though I’ve made a mental note to ask them again next year!). However, few of them wanted to vote in a way that would indicate wholehearted support for the coalition’s record either! I therefore withdrew my nomination so that they didn’t have to make such a choice. Meanwhile, members from our party and many others registered our strong opposition to fees at the Regional Conference. As Tony Hill says, we now urgently need to find better ways to make the leadership listen to the grass roots.

  • @matt: “It stopped being a party that belonged to its members, the moment that all the All the MP’s who voted for or abstained on last night’s vote.”

    These are the two options – vote for or abstain – that were in the coalition agreement that was endorsed by virtually all Lib Dem conference reps at the special conference in May.

  • David Evans 10th Dec '10 - 2:20pm

    “However, for a powerless grassroots member, resignation is the only viable weapon to pressure the powerful.”

    On the contrary, resignation is giving in. Those few who kept the party going through the 1950s didn’t give in and the party was still there when we came to support it. The only way it will disappear is if we let them take it over.

    I am a liberal because I believe that its main aim is to prevent the abuse of power by the powerful. The real viable weapon is to make sure that those in the party who get into positions of power are regularly reminded of this and when they do fail, as they have so badly this time, to publicly and repeatedly remind them of the unacceptability of their behaviour.

    This means standing up for your values and those others who support them, not leaving them alone. Richard, I would urge you to reconsider ….. Don’t get mad, get even.

  • David Evans 10th Dec '10 - 2:28pm


    “Funny that no one has mentioned the following election result last night:

    Bewsey & Whitecross, Warrington UA. Lab 1032 (71.1%, +18.1), LD 221 (15.2%, -16.5), Con 118 (8.1, -7.1), Green 47 (3.2%, +3.2, Ind 33 (2.2%, +2.2). Swing of 17.3% from LD to Lab since May this year.

    Perhaps of a little more relevance than the one in Fareham which was just a contest between the Coalition partners.”

    I can only guess you have never been to Bewsey. The astonishing thing there is that the Lib Dems ever got 31.7% of the vote in this Labour heartland. A little bit of knowledge and judgement always helps when looking at statistics.

  • @William
    “Of course there is the option of making university tuition 100% free which would i assume be progressive in your eyes but i am not sure that the majority of middle England TAX payers would be over joyed at the TAX rise they would have to suffer to pay for it. ”

    Sorry William but that is current party policy. Your argument is the current Tory and last Labour policy.

  • Mark's Constituent 10th Dec '10 - 2:55pm

    I’d be genuinely astonished if the tough option amounted to anything other than muttering whilst stuffing endless copies of Focus through letterboxes.

    Sitting on your backside until it all blows over is not really a tough option at all.

  • @matt – So, at best, a score draw with the membership sending inconsistent messages.

    Don’t misunderstand my position. I was a candidate in May and I believe I would have stuck to my pledge & rebelled on the basis that it was personal and therefore not something that could be traded away by the leadership; that said, I think the changes are arguable good ones – graduates will have to earn more before they start to repay, their repayments will in all instances be less per month than now, with the wealthiest graduates paying more and the less well-off paying less.

  • Steve Simmons 10th Dec '10 - 3:37pm

    I’m going to answer you comments a bit more directly because I’m so incensed about them.

    “Of course there is the option of making university tuition 100% free which would i assume be progressive in your eyes but i am not sure that the majority of middle England TAX payers would be over joyed at the TAX rise they would have to suffer to pay for it. ”

    It isn’t a question of being progressive/regressive in my eyes. It is a question of whether the system is progressive/regressive according to the strict definition. The system is regressive above middle incomes and is therefore contrary to Lib Dem policy. Why are you in the Lib Dems if you don’t support a liberal policy that was democratically decided? Please leave and join the tories.

    “Graduates from ALL backrounds benefit from significantly higher earnings and should in my opinion contribute.”

    They do. As they earn more money then they pay more income tax.

    “I believe this is progressive”

    It doesn’t matter what you believe. It is a simple matter of fact that the new system is fiscally regressive above middle incomes. There’s absolutely no doubt about it whatsoever. To say it is progressive just because you ‘believe’ it is, is ridiculous.

  • Peter Chegwyn 10th Dec '10 - 3:54pm

    EcoJon – You may well be right that Cameron and Clegg won’t take a blind bit of notice of local by-election results but local councillors and party activists do. My reason for posting the Fareham result is that it shows all the Lib. Dem. councillors and activists who are p*ss*d-off with the Party leadership that if they continue campaigning and working hard in their own local areas they can still hold their own seats next May and beyond irrespective of whatever the Party leadership does.

    Party Leaders come and go. I’ve been around long enough to see seven of them and remember the Lib-Lab pact – I worked full-time as a Liberal Party Agent at that time and it was damn hard. At least our present Party Leader isn’t accused of shooting dogs!

    Whatever the Party Leadership does it’s up to the rest of us to defend our local government base and ensure there is still a strong grassroots movement to pick up the pieces when the present Leader departs. I don’t like what’s happening in Parliament any more than anyone else but it just makes me all the more determined to keep beating Conservatives at a local level at every possible opportunity.

    P.S. Good to see Fran Oborski posting here. A superb local councillor who stuck true to her principles and held her Council seat as a Liberal through thick and thin.

  • Peter Chegwyn 10th Dec '10 - 4:03pm

    Steve Way. You asked for the Fareham figures. Here they are with a comparison with 2008 when this particular seat was last fought:

    2010 2008
    Nick Gregory (LD) 933 (49.8%) up 36.6% 331 (13.2%)
    Con 687 (36.7%) down 31.7% 1715 (68.4%)
    UKIP 93 (5.0%) down 7.7% 318 (12.7%)
    Lab 124 (6.6%) up 0.9% 144 (5.7%)
    Green 35 (1.9%) up 1.9% – (0%)
    Turnout 35%

  • Peter Chegwyn 10th Dec '10 - 4:06pm

    Sorry, figures not come out very clearly. I’ll try again:

    2010 2008

    Nick Gregory (LD) 933 (49.8%) up 36.6% 331 (13.2%)

    Con 687 (36.7%) down 31.7% 1715 (68.4%)

    UKIP 93 (5.0%) down 7.7% 318 (12.7%)

    Lab 124 (6.6%) up 0.9% 144 (5.7%)

    Green 35 (1.9%) up 1.9% – (0%)

    Turnout 35%

  • Respect… Richard

    I cannot get my head around those who think everything is ok, and start on about regressive and progressive, thread after thread etc etc… Jeez don’t you guys get it?

    Most of the Liberal Democrat MPs… Lied to the electorate, Lied to party members
    Even the media is reporting your party lied to get votes

    The electorate, you must know who I mean, the public… can forgive some things, but openly lying they will not forgive or forget, you have 3 years before the country goes onto electoral footing again, that is if the Liberal Democrats can stay together with themselves and the Tory’s in government until then…
    I feel sorry for those who are going to suffer over the next few years because of those lies…
    Liberal Democrats MPs and the party as a whole deserve everything that is going to happen… betraying TRUST is a cardinal sin…

  • Joe Donnelly 10th Dec '10 - 4:24pm


    Marketising everything isn’t the solution no, I’ll accept that, markets don’t always work. However, I’d argue that there is nothing in the current proposals that means the market will ration those who go based on their families wealth like you seem to suggest.

    I think for me the limit for charging is after A levels, thats the point, thats where personally I think fully subsidised education should stop, the reason I think that is I think as society we have decided that you become a full liberal independent agent at the age of 18, so at that point you need to start to bear some responsibility for your choices and actions, debt depending on your degree and university is part of that in my opinion.

    Your point about subsidising degrees for intellectual curiosity is similar to subsidising operas, theatres etc is an interesting one I’ll admit. However, I’m really really not sure that it is indeed necessary for the government to intervene and subsidise high pleasures like theatre and yet not subsidise people going to football matches, that has always struck me as a kind of indirect snobbery.

    My general arguments I’ve been making are that its perfectly possible to be a liberal and agree with these education reforms, I’m a liberal and I fundamentally think I do agree with these reforms (of course I’m open to debate and would happily be pursuaded by a better argument). I just really hate this polarisation in the Liberal party where all of those on the ‘left’ of the party are suddenly claiming people like me aren’t liberals.

  • well, for what it’s worth, have thought it through and decided not to quit. The offer that members disappointed in the current leadership might join Labour is laughable (and just shows how opportunistic Labour supporters think), and though I was tempted by Fran (and suspect, deep down, my heart lies with the continuing Liberal Party) I long ago decided that the Lib Dems were the best means of seeing liberal ideas put into action. I have though cancelled arrangements through which I have been contributing to party funds, and I shall choose not to support those who reneged on their public plesge so disastrously.

    this isn’t about left or right wing liberals, or social or classical liberals though and we should dis-engage from that sort of language.

  • Joe Donnelly 10th Dec '10 - 4:38pm


    haha re-reading how I phrased it I understand how it may have across slightly 1984ish, it wasn’t meant that way. All I’m saying is that the reality of what these reforms will mean for poor students is very very different from what the media and the Left have been stating it as. In reality it just IS NOT anywhere near as bad as they have painted it.

    I do however completely agree that not enough time was put aside in parliament for a proper debate but I do wonder how open Labour were ever going to be to actually constructively debating and providing solutions, they seemed to go into machiavellian opposition mode as soon as the Browne report was due to be realeased, a report they commissioned.

  • Dominic Curran 10th Dec '10 - 5:09pm

    I resigned yesterday after 18 years of membership (it was wierd to think that someone born the day i joined is now eligible to vote themselves). It wasn’t actually over tuition fees, it was after the drip-drip effect of months of capitulation to the reckless millionaires that are the majority partner in this coalition. I understand that Nick Clegg wants to prove that coaliions can work so that he can win the AV referendum, the problem is that in showing how happily he sits with the Tories he’s managed to alienate libdem voters and activists – who are precisely the people who would otherwise have campaigned for and voted for AV. Now that the party is such a tranished brand, i doubt many people will pay a libdem canvsasser any attention when they come knocking up to ask them about AV.

    I think Baldrick would have called that a cunning plan.

  • @J Frankcom: “If Clegg goes the government will fall and a general election with the Lib Dems on 9% will cast them back into the electoral dark ages of 10 or fewer MPs.”

    I don’t really follow this logic. The electorate is going to punish the Lib Dems at the next election either way. Why let Clegg and his ilk drag the party down further? Why not prove to the people that the real party won’t stand for what they’re trying to turn it into?

  • John Roffey 10th Dec '10 - 5:58pm

    Surely the problem will be resolved after the next GE – only the 21 who kept to their pledge are likely to keep their seats because the broad opinion is that it was wrong to break this promise.

    NC might hope the electorate will forget these broken pledges by the time of the next GE, but those who did will be targeted mercilessly by Labour with slogans like ‘Would you trust this person to be your MP?’ [with a picture of the pledge being made] – and other sharp reminders.

  • David Allen 10th Dec '10 - 6:00pm

    “Why not prove to the people that the real party won’t stand for what they’re trying to turn it into?”

    Reading the student demonstrator comments on the BBC, a surprising number do give our rebel MPs a bit of credit. The long term fall-out for our party need not necessarily be as bad as we think. But – Only if we really change the party. Muddling onwards with a few token gestures from the leadership about how they promise to do a bit more listening will not do.

  • Peter Chegwyn

    You seem to have forgotten to describe the winning candidate in Fareham’s background. I think this says it all really:

    “Lib Dem candidate Nick Gregory stood last year as a Tory in county elections for the Portchester division where he was beaten by a Lib Dem. Mr Gregory said: ‘Basically I had a change of heart. I wanted to stand for Fareham West which is where I live and where I have my business, and I felt I could do that better as a Lib Dem.”

  • Philip Rolle 10th Dec '10 - 6:30pm

    I can understand my anyone should wish to resign over tuition fees.

    There is a broader consequence, though, of breaking a pledge and doing so in such a blatant way. It is that democracy is itself sullied. The Lib Dems said: “we’re different”. Now they have been shown as exactly the same as the rest. Liars, deflectors, dissemblers, moral contortionists.

    A vote has arguably become irrelevant. Whoever one votes for, one votes for the self-serving.

    There is a democratic deficit. A vacuum. And what fills that vacuum? Violence. People feel strongly enough to take to the streets in frustration and disillusion and take direct action.

    “All right thinking people would condemn such action” says the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. Well I don’t condem it. If politicians act in the way that Nick Clegg has over tuition fees, then direct action must be expected. For if Mr Clegg has succeeded in making this a resignation issue for the politically committed, he must also be presumed to have made the democratic process into something that some ordinary voters will now simply bypass.

    What greater indictment of a liberal party could there be?

  • toryboysnevergrowup 10th Dec '10 - 7:57pm

    @David Evans “The astonishing thing there is that the Lib Dems ever got 31.7% of the vote in this Labour heartland”

    Of course I was being a little kind to the LIbDems – because I quoted the change in the figures since last May. If I quoted the figures since the original election 2 and half years ago the swing to Labour would have been 30.5% – and why was there a byelection? Did I mention that the previous LibDem councillor (and parlimentary candidate in Warrington South) resigned so that she could concentrate on her career in academia (and I wonder why that was!) .

    If you haven’t yet realised the Lib Dems are falling apart in the North – 3% in the opinion polls and the mess in Rochdale provide further evidence if any is needed. Or perhaps you should look at the bookies odds in Oldham East and Saddleworth.

  • I most certainly will give 100 per cent of my effort at the next GE to unseating Swinson who I believe to be a disgrace to politics – is she campaigning in Scotland against the Scottish Parliament decision not to increase fees – No of course she isn’t because she’s a politician. And btw I am a LP supporter and abhor the nationalism of the SNP.

    I will be chapping the doorsteps in East Dunbartonshire next May and at the next GE to make sure that the electorate understand Swinson’s position and as I’m retired I think I’ll make a difference.

  • @Joe Donnelly

    Joe why don’t you stop digging? If you are correct in your viewpoint then all the LibDem MPs who voted against are wrong so why not take this up within your present party and unseat them or give them the truth serum lol. However as those voting against are following party policy perhaps you should be looking at joining another party more in line with your views.

  • Matt,

    “The Final Vote was 323-302
    So just 11 more dissenters were needed for the vote to have been lost.”

    Well, precisely. I keep making the point that the Liberal Democrats would have far more influence over the Tory government by forcing it to govern as a minority than by propping it up.

    The 27 are going to have to apologise for what they did at some stage if they wish Liberal Democrats to work for them at the next general election, whenever that is.

  • @matt 10th December 2010 at 6:36 pm

    I usually agree with you but I’m afraid my contempt for those who abstain is greater than that for those who voted in favour, for whatever reason, but especially for payroll vote self-interest

  • @Joe Donnelly 10th December 2010 at 4:38 pm

    I really find it difficult to follow your logic. Why do you think there is something wrong with the LP commissioning Browne – this is a normal process. OK the party commissioning may set the terms of reference but after the report is presented it may be accepted, rejected or amended and there might even be a supplementary report if the terms of reference are altered as in this case by the coalition government which has decided not to accept Brownes’ recommendastions in full. This is normal politics.

    Joe, I don’t want to appear cheeky or ageist here but I am beginning to wonder what age you are and how long you have been involved in politics. I am 65 and first became involved politically at age 9 delivering Co-op party leaflets and, in various ways, have been politically involved ever since then. Over to you 🙂

  • @Peter Chegwyn 10th December 2010 at 3:54 pm

    Peter – there’s a lot you say I can’t disagree with. But I think you’ve got to realise that next May you won’t be looking at an isolated by-election in which the national media has no interest in. There will be national interest and, perhaps unfairly, the tuition fee issue will be what the national media will push because it’s easy and a helluvat lot of jourmos are lazy and incompetent.

    Before any journos have a go at me I would point out that I have spent 30 years as a journo and won many awards for invrstigative reporting and have a really good rep in the field and have never lost a court action against my reporting and never had a complaint to the PCC against me upheld

  • Peter Chegwyn 11th Dec '10 - 12:41am

    I don’t disagree with you EcoJon but my point in posting the Fareham result was to demonstrate that good local campaigning Lib. Dem. councillors and candidates can still win irrespective of what the Parliamentary Leadership are doing.

    If the remarkable victory in Fareham on Thursday helps to keep a few decent people within our Party and if it helps convince them that they can still win seats next May then that surely has to be worthwhile.

  • Joe Donnelly 11th Dec '10 - 3:01am


    I don’t want to sound cheeky or ageist but you signed up at 9 to a political party of your own free will and still support them at 65 despite the Labour party holding a fundamentally different set of values (basically a complete rejection of socialism) since then. Just sounds a bit tribal to me. But yes your right I’m not as old as you, I made the decision to join the Liberal party 4 years ago when I was 15.

    I dont think that just because I disagree with party policy on this matter means I should be in a different party to be honest. You do realise how party policy is formulated in our party don’t you? Theres debate and then voting, I’m by far not the ONLY member of the party who didn’t support this as party policy, the party is a coalition of various positions, a compromise. But a the moment there is no party closer to my beliefs than the Liberal Democrat party so I’ll stay put here thank you. Oh and sorry for the slightly patronising tone, maybe you should apologise for yours as well.

  • Peter

    You do seem to focus on the Fareham result rather than the one the same night in Warrington where the LD lost a seat to Labour.

    For you it may be good winning in Fareham – with an ex-Tory council candidate from last year I may add- but to me who counts myself as centre-left this is a bad thing. Do you now see the battleground to be on the centre-right rather than the centre-left? If so then policies will need to reflect that and, for me at least, it will be the last time an X will find itself in the LD column.

    After this coalition there can be no more pandering to centre-left and centre-right candidates in different parts of the country and that is probably why there is a collapse in support in ‘Labour’ areas.

    I wish your party (no longer mine I think) luck in challenging the Tories on the centre-right but I think you will find that difficult to do. If it splits the Tory vote though then I will be happy

  • I think, bazsc, if that did happen, many of us would leave, including, I am speculating, Peter, and the “party” which would then result would fall apart fairly quickly. I think those in the leadership who have had a (not so hidden) purpose of moving the party to the right had hoped they could do it by stealth, but now the majority of the party are catching up with where their project has got to, they are voting with their feet. This is unsustainable, but where it wnds is anybody’s guess.

  • bazsc,

    A crucial difference between the Warrington and Fareham results is that the former had a 17.3% turnout and the latter a 35% turnout. Proportionately, more than twice as many people voted in Fareham (though fewer in absolute terms, because Warrington, being a UA, has bigger wards).


    The idea that Peter Chegwyn could be campaigning on the centre-right is laughable to anyone who knows his record. Peter played a big role in several of the famous byelection victories of the 1980s. Anyone who wants the Liberal Democrats to win should heed his words.

  • @Joe Donnelly
    “You do realise how party policy is formulated in our party don’t you? Theres debate and then voting”

    You highlight one of the reasons I voted Lib Dem, democratic responsibility. However the total lack of respect of this by the leadership means it is meaningless. Whatever you say, do, or vote for Clegg will do whatever his fellow “New Tories” agree on.

    Get rid of Clegg and replace him with a real Lib Dem and some of the damage of this episode will be repaired. Do it soon enough and most of the votes will come back.

    Mind you there are only those who voted against to choose from. The payroll vote and the cowards who abstained will never regain the publics respect.

  • Sesenco

    Okay point taken but I still think the point I make is valid – The LD are collapsing in the North and South West – even if ipsos/mori polls are out there is a clear message. How do you win back these voters when the message being given is centre-right? This is rhetorical as I understand your position and mine on this are pretty close from reading your other posts – I think more personal for you than me.

    I am in agreement with Matt as well. I believe that all education up to 1st degree should be free or with a modest fee – pretty much like the rest of the world. £9000 (and it will be £9000 I am sure) is amongst the highest fees for a state University in the world – even more than the US. This is a complete disgrace and to those who say we cannot afford it I would direct you to the OECD comparison on HE spending.

    It is a question of priorities – less on defence, more on education

  • Sir Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
    Gordon Birtwistle (Burnley)
    Tom Brake (Carshalton & Wallington)
    Malcolm Bruce (Gordon)
    Don Foster (Bath)
    Stephen Gilbert (St Austell and Newquay)
    Duncan Hames (Chippenham)
    John Hemming (Birmingham Yardley)
    Norman Lamb (Norfolk North)
    David Laws (Yeovil)
    Jo Swinson (Dunbartonshire East)
    David Ward (Bradford East)

    I do not think any of these MPs have much to fear from the student vote.

  • Praguetory: I think Don Foster might, there are 2 university institutions in Bath now.

    Really, any country which has to charge its people £9k a year to attend higher education is a failed state. Who else does this? But when that country is also wasting lives and resources in pursuing illegal wars and is afraid to ensure that its corporations are paying their way ….

  • @Praguetory
    “I do not think any of these MPs have much to fear from the student vote”

    It’s not just the student vote. I am a father of two (one 18 and already at University and one 6) and I will not vote Lib Dem again (unless I see a substantial change) as I care about both the higher education system in general and the education my youngest will be able to access. I also care that my children learn telling the truth matters, integrity is better than advancement, and that you only have one good reputation.

    All the BS about this funding world class universities is just that..BS.

    The 80% cut in the teaching grant means these fees may, just, allow most universities to continue to exist.

    It’s parents as well as students, and it’s the whole question of trust more than just this single issue. People remember when they are lied to, just ask Blair.

  • My partner Jenny is even more furious about this debacle than I am, probably because she joined the party to vote for Clegg (which I didn’t). Her belief is that we have walked into a trap set by the Tories: put Cable (the most popular politician in the country) in charge of the process to destroy his reputation; trash Clegg’s appeal to the electorate as someone who offers a fresh start in politics; alienate the support of students and other young people which was so important to us at the last election; and irrevocably tarnish the party’s image as being trustworthy. Result? At the next election we are pushed back to the Celtic fringes of the 1960s leaving the way clear for a Tory government with an overall majority. Job done.

  • Clegg has to go for there to be any chance for the LD – he is reminding me of Brown after the ‘non-election’ where he does not seem to have anywhere to go. He will lose us the (those who support it) AV referendum as I cannot see Labour going too much out of their way to support it.

    The students are also not going to let this go in the short-term, especially with the act needing to go through Parliament again in the New Year. The reactions of the police are not helping his civil liberties claims and things may get worse. Imagine if the police used water cannon on students protesting against the rise in fees?

  • Peter Chegwyn 11th Dec '10 - 12:42pm

    As always my good friend Tony Hill speaks a lot of sense.

    To Bazsc – I don’t know the detailed circumstances of the Warrington result except, looking at past figures, it would seem to have been a Labour heartland in not-too-distant times so maybe the result there wasn’t quite as bad or as unexpected as you’re suggesting. Labour won there in May so it’s no great surprise if Labour win there again in December. Of course it’s going to be harder for us to win seats in Labour areas when we’re stuck in Government with Conservatives but it’s not impossible. We have both held and gained council seats in Labour areas over the past six months.

    Thanks to Tim13 and Sesenco for pointing out that I am not a Conservative, never have been, never will be. I detest much of what the Conservative Party stands for and I enjoy beating them at every possible opportunity.

    It follows that I am no great fan of the Coalition or the direction in which Nick Clegg is leading our Party but it is nothing new for Liberals to find ourselves with a Leader and acolytes on the right. We’ve been here before and survived. I’m sure we will do so again though I do fear our Party will pay a heavy price at the polls if the Parliamentary Leadership continue acting in the way they have been since May. They need to learn some lessons and fast.

    As I see it there are three more time-bombs heading towards us in the next six months:

    i) Another spate of mass public demonstrations against the cuts – public sector workers and the voluntary sector joining students on the streets – how will Liberal Democrat Councils and Councillors react to savage cuts in services which we value and how will we campaign to protect those services which many Conservatives will actually enjoy cutting?

    ii) The Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election – I helped Chris Davies win the seat in 1995 and I went back and canvassed for him again in 1997 when he sadly lost to the awful Woolas. The by-election early in the New Year is one of the most important for 30 years – important to all three main parties for different reasons. We should win it and win it well. So what will be the fall-out if we don’t? And why isn’t the Party employing Chris Rennard to run the campaign? His face may not fit in some circles but he’s by far the most experienced and best by-election campaigner we have and it is plain stupid the Party not paying him to direct this crucial by-election campaign. I suspect there are many activists who would leave the plum duff and Christmas pud behind to head for Oldham if they got the call from Chris… but who may not bother otherwise in present circumstances.

    iii) The AV Referendum. I think we’ll lose the vote. How will the Party react then?

    Sorry to ramble on and please don’t rant at me in return – I’m a sensitive soul.

  • @ Joe Donnelly 10 December, 4:24pm

    Although I don’t spend a lot of time here, having read your comments on this thread you definitely sound like a liberal to me – though one I’d disagree with! – and I take issue with people saying you shouldn’t be in the party. But I think you have to bear in mind that there are also issues here of party democracy and honesty here – and long-standing members of the party are going to feel betrayed by a central Lib Dem position seemingly abandoned and a very explicit pledge broken. That is a separate issue to whether fees are right or wrong.

    So what we’re disagreeing about is what liberalism means in practice. I think matt’s response to you 10:34 about public subsidies to higher education makes a very important point. Also, as well as being about personal responsibility, liberty also is about opportunities – I don’t see why 18 should be a cut-off age for that (again, should we stop the over-18s from accessing libraries and ask them to buy their own books?). I’m glad though you seem to be accepting that universities shouldn’t be marketised (I think?).

    About museums/orchestras/operas/theatre: I wasn’t arguing for higher pleasures, which I think is a mistaken and meaningless term. I understand your indirect snobbery point, but I find it strange to imagine that middle/upper-class taxpayers want to pay more tax to subsidise their own selves to go out on weekends. If anything, it would make more sense to argue that arts lobby groups are an overpowerful special interest. But going back to “higher pleasures”, what I really think is that there is a value to these things beyond mere enjoyment. Imagine our society without widespread opportunities for continued learning (libraries and museum), cultural spaces which help us understand humanity (music, theatre) and a strong academic sector. It’s easy to scoff at these things but I think we’d be be in more trouble, the effect of these is more pervasive and indirectly widespread, than we realise.

    The same might be for football but there is no danger of football dying out without public support. Widespread bachelor’s-level education though is in a different position.

  • @Peter Chegwyn
    You may be a sensitive soul, but you also represent everything that made me vote Lib Dem. Until your ilk reclaim the party then I no longer have a party I can vote for. I echo all of your views on the Tories and have no love for Labour. Both parties lied to me in the past, and therefore both have little chance of my vote in the future. Words cannot truly express the anger I feel that the Lib Dems have followed suit. The betrayl is worse due to the fact that they specifically campaigned on an integrity ticket.

    But Clegg is not just to the right of centre and now a liar, he is a Tory in all but membership. Add Laws and Alexander to that list and sadly now Cable as well. It it looks like a rose and smells like a rose etc..

    If any of these turncoats hold senior positions come the next election then they will be a liability.

  • Joe Donnelly 11th Dec '10 - 1:36pm


    I completely agree that breaking pledges is a separate issue and in my first post I agree that its a complete cock up on that front, I was just dealing with this claim within the Lib Dems that seems prevalent that this is an entirely evil and illiberal policy.

    I do kind of agree that for a liberal society information has to be free and easily available so people have the information needed to make free and informed decisions, I just think whats subsidised and what isn’t is not consistent and is very biased towards the London middle class intelligensia.

    I don’t agree that universities should be fully marketised, all I’m really arguing is that there ARE liberal benefits to part-marketisation, mainly that it really does become the individuals choice in picking whether to go and what degree to do and they bare the benefits or loss of that choice. I still think everyone should be able to go to university if their ability makes that worthwhile regardless of family wealth, I just think people shouldn’t be able to do a Media studies degree at Bolton university for no other reason than all their friends are going to university and it seems like the best thing to do, and then they spend 3 years on a drinking holiday and come out with what is a marginal debt over a lifetimes repayments (because lets face it the repayment schedule on tuition fees now is not crushing for anyone).


    To be honest thinking about it I think i do agree with much of your argument and realise I failed to recognise that degrees aren’t just an issue for 18 year olds and if we make it so we consign people to being stuck with their choices made at 18. However I do disagree with lines like this:

    ‘That is why I am a believer that everyone should be given the opportunity of gaining, A levels, and their 1st Degree, free of charge, no matter what point in life, they decide to take up that opportunity.’

    I don’t think everyone should be given the opportunity regardless, I think everybody should be able to get a degree free at the point of doing it if they are of able ability for an academic discipline. I see no point in the would be plumbers of the country doing a degree, or even that all nurses these days now have to have done a degree. In fact I think as a country we put FAR FAR too much store on just one type of intelligence, namely academic. We need to come to a realisation that it should be possibly to be considered socially successful by going down a vocational route or an artistic route, not everyone is going to be good at academic though. I’m reading a degree at the moment but I’m absolutely hopeless at learning languages and really had to work to learn a musical instrument and come out of my art GCSE unembarrassed, these are different forms of intelligence that should be respected and not neglected and pushed through the academic degree system. The reason I’ve highlighted my non-snobbery over different intelligences so much is that so so often when I come to say that I really don’t think 40% of the population need to be doing degrees and that a degree should probably just be an elite academic qualification (open to all regardless of family wealth but still incurring debt like a proper decision should) then you are often shouted down as a snob.

  • @ john 10 December ,4:26

    I think the left vs. right, social vs. classical talk is problematic because it’s binary and divides people into two camps. But isn’t this partly about genuine disagreement, and isn’t it difficult to discuss when we have to suppress that? I *am* more of a left-liberal, because, whilst liberty is important to me, so are other political values such as reducing economic and political disadvantage (something more historically associated with “the left”). I think the discussion of e.g. the benefits cuts is restricted when we have to pretend that we only care about benefit recepients’ liberty, and not for instance unhappiness and the daily struggle of poverty. As you may know, Isaiah Berlin finishes his essay on the two concepts of liberty by arguing that we shouldn’t try to redefine everything in terms of liberty – there’s nothing wrong with having plural values.

    I’m not sure this is divisive because the Lib Dems can still be unified by their firm commitment to core liberal issues like civil liberties, etc – I personally may have left the party but I can never join Labour because of extraordinary rendition etc. But it would avoid claims like “you’re not a real liberal because we have decided as real liberals we believe x and y”. Instead, we could say all liberals believe x, but can disagree on y vs. z, and have a democratic decision on which is current party policy (respecting that that could change).

  • @Joe Donnelly 11th December 2010 at 3:01 am

    Joe – I would advise that you re-read my post as you have become a trifle confused. I did not say that I joined the Co-op party at the age of 9. I said I delivered Co-op party leaflets at that age – because my mum was a Co-op party member and active trade unionist.

    She came home from serving in the WRAF during WWII and worked in the Co-op bakery but couldn’t be a baker as only men could. So her big fight was to win the right for females to rise above being bakers’ assistants and along with many others she helped bring this about. So, just for the record I have never been a member of the Co-op Party.

    I did get very involved as a young teenager in YCND campaigning against Polaris and joined the YCL as they were an exciting bunch and I really fancied a girl at school who was a member 🙂

    But later teens saw me join the LP and if you have read previous posts of mine you will see that I have had quite an eventful time in that party between being expelled, after party enquiries into me, leaving to join another party, returning to the LP after a gap and resigning when Blair became leader – before Iraq which I happened to support.

    I do not accept that the LP has fundamentally rejected socialism and I for one will remain a socialist till the day I die because that belief was forged in the poverty and hunger of my background and my deep conviction to try and better my lot and that of others like me. I saw the LP as a window of opportunity to bring this about. Obviously the LP has changed over the decades as has society and if Marx were alive today he would have altered views on capitalism which, of course, has shown a tremendous ability to alter and adapt to changing circumstances.

    I note that you say the LibDems is a compromise party made up of a coalition of various positions but all political parties are formed from internal coalitions and the LibDems are no different to any other in this respect. The different positions can cause internal dissent and these are often manageable within a party. But when it comes to being in government the fault-lines can run much deeper and when exposed can cause serious splits.

    Btw thank you for your explanation: ‘You do realise how party policy is formulated in our party don’t you? Theres debate and then voting, I’m by far not the ONLY member of the party who didn’t support this as party policy’.

    I’m quite well aware that the right wing of your party doesn’t support party policy on tuition fees and no doubt on a host of other things as well. The party has lost control of Clegg and the payroll vote and time will tell what damage their pro-Tory coalition policies will have on the future of the LibDems as a whole.

    Personally my ‘democracy’ means that after debate and voting that I support the policy which gets the majority vote even if I was personally opposed. Democracy brings duties as well as rights. According to your explanation, as I understand it, this concept is foreign to the LibDems.

    I trust you will not take it as patronising when I say that I don’t actually accept your proposition and by far the majority of LibDem posters I have read do not accept it either as they believe that their elected reps should follow party policy and not use the Coalition Agreement cop-out to edge the party to the right.

  • Peter

    Thank you for taking the time to respond.

    I am currently a voter without a party. Labour have got a long way to go to earn back my vote and I find myself still agreeing with a number of grassroots LD. I always vote though and at the moment it would have to be for Labour as I cannot allow any vote of mine to be used for the Tories.

    I was astounded that the party opted for a full blown coalition with just a few days talks with a party who seem to have completely different values than they do – both non-libertarian and socially conservative.

  • Peter Chegwyn 11th Dec '10 - 2:11pm

    Bazsc – Last paragraph – I totally agree!

  • @ Richard Huzzey

    At the General Election in 1997 the Labour Party made five specific pledges to the electorate. These were on pledge cards given to people in the streeet and on the doorstep. I gave out many of them. If the Labour Leadership had broken those pledges, I too would have resigned, just as you are doing. Fortunately, I didn’t have to. You can just about live with the breaking of manifesto commitments, but never pledges.

  • @Joe Donnelly

    OK, I respect your view and have to admit I’m arguing for a more controversial position here (it also, I think, helps explain why we should have the BBC). I’m sorry though but I’m not sure you’re taking my point. I’m not talking about information to make individual decisions, whether life-choices or consumer choices, though that’s important too. I’m talking about the wider society which “forms” those individuals – our understanding of what human life is about, what liberty and all these other values mean. It’s been argued, and I agree, that the narrow, “economic” if you like, model of free and informed indviduals making their life decisions would collapse, because those individuals wouldn’t care enough about supporting and maintaining the liberal democracy they lived in. Individualism is a fallacy because “individuals” as we think of them would not be the same in a different sort of society. If theatre and opera trouble you, try focusing on libraries. I think it’s really important that they have fictional books too.

    I don’t buy the London middle class intelligentsia argument for the reason I give earlier. “They” will always have access to those things – and they could afford the higher prices with their less taxed incomes. But the fact that *anyone* can go see the BBC Proms in summer for £5 is something we should be proud of. (There is also plenty of art and culture going on outside London – and public support is useful to the people who work there too.)

    What links the culture discussion to higher education is that it is *not* just about individual costs and benefits. We *all* benefit from having a more educated society. It’s not just an individual choice because everyone is affected – there are externalities. I have to say I don’t completely disagree with you that individuals maybe should bear part of the cost – this may be more of a question of deciding the tradeoff. If you disagree that particular subjects like media studies are of wider value (and in the world we live in, that’s questionable), that needs to be addressed directly. Similarly if particular institutions are delivering low-quality education. But note that in a variable-fee “market”, students with financial concerns might have an incentive to head towards the very courses you worry about.

  • Why don’t you start a party for disatisfied Lib Dems and then you can always be in opposition and promise the earth, like the Lib Dems used to. Being a part in government you cannot promise the earth. There must be enormous self satisfied comfort in having principles that will never become government policy but for those of us in the real world politics is about the possible. This is why as a conservative voter I welcome the coalition. I do think the Lib Dems will split and Nick Clegg will lead those interested in government and those that are not can do what they want, but sadly never be in power. I say this as I am sure the AV vote will be lost because those Lib Dems not satisfied with 65% of their policies being enacted by this government have proved that permanent coalitions will not work, and this is because of the head in the clouds members of the LIbDems.

  • This sounds so horribly like a lot of people I knew when I was a member of the Ecology Party, later the Green Party.

    They only felt comfortable in opposition. When there came along a whiff of {oh, the horrors!} responsibility, they ran away screaming: “This isn’t what I came into politics for!”

    I cornered one after a conference session and asked him why, if he was so against Ecology Party members standing for council seats or as MPs, he had joined a political party in the first place? “Don’t you WANT to make a difference?” I asked him. He could not provide an answer.

  • Well, all this will teach the Lib Dems that if they are serious about being in govt again, they don’t say stupid things before the election that will come back to haunt them. Perhaps they never in their wildest dreams actually thought they would be in government.

    On the students, I’m afraid so much rubbish has been talked about this. Indeed, the protesting students really don’t appear to have actually read the proposals. Not one interviewee i heard over the past few days could actually articulate what the policy was. They were totally illiterate on the subject. All they could come away with was nonsensical slogans that had no bearing on the reality of the policy. So much for 13 years of Labour education policy.

  • @ D Gould

    Why should politics and principles be mutually exclusive? Oh, I forgot, you’re a Tory.

  • I am amazed that intelligent Lib Dems won’t admit that proportional representation, which they want, almost ensures coalition government. Coalition means compromise. The LD MPs who voted against increased university fee maxima were completely unprincipled and self-serving. They had previously accepted the deal was that they could abstain. Instead, they postured, hoping to keep their seats and, dare one say it, their ego-boosting and financial perks.
    And who would support PR considering Israel, hell bent on Armageddon.

  • @Big Al 11th December 2010 at 3:22 pm

    I am surprised at what you say about student ‘s being totally illiterate about the tuition fees policy and unable to articulate the policy.

    On the contrary, I found the students, and a lot of them were schoolchildren, to have a good grasp of the main principle proposed and that was a total shake-up in university funding with 80 per cent of teaching costs being transferred from the state onto their shoulders.

    I have found many on the right of the LibDems attempting to hide the actual issue by trying to switch debate onto how progressive repayments would be for poorer students after graduation. But the students have seen through the deceit with a clarity that more mature section of the population, who are also under attack, have yet to do.

    It might not please some LibDems but their pro-Tory stance has been well and truly twigged. In some ways the LibDem leadership have done society a favour bt politicising and radicalising a whole new generation.

    I don’t think Clegg had a clue about how much anger is actually bubbling up among many of our young people. They’re not stupid, many know they are regarded as second-class citizens and I laugh when Cable witters on about opening up access to the Russell Group unis but when asked the other day how this was going to be achieved he couldn’t specify. The only way it will be done is by legislation and do you think for one moment the Tories will act against Russell Group Unis to force them to take larger numbers of the great unwashed into their ivory portals – I don’t think so.

    Something is stirring in the youth of this country which is making thousands of youngsters join with the anarchists who previously could only muster dozens or a few hundred. It isn’t good for democracy and the more we attack them the more frustrated and angry they will become. We have to give them hope and the prospect of jobs earning more than the minimum wage with poor conditions.

    And btw students aren’t the only ones confused by LibDem policy on the issue, so am I because I still haven’t seen any real detail but just a constant stream of Media announcements which are often contradictory and misleading. It appears quite a few of your NO Voting MPs are also confused and unwilling to accept the policy without knowing what it actually is.

  • @Top Cat 11th December 2010 at 4:50 pm

    See what you say and don’t agree. But you open up an interesting point if your reasoning is followed – why did those who voted FOR not abstain as allowed under the coalition agreement. They must surely be as ‘completely unprincipled and self-serving’ as those who voted Against.

  • It’s so sad, isn’t it? You join a fanciful, irresponsible and childish protest movement at the age of 17, and spend many happy years carping at almost everything and everybody from the sidelines. And then all of a sudden, without any warning and as a result of some horrible mix-up, you find yourself in government and part of the real world. What a nightmare. You have to start taking responsibility for your actions, and making real decisions, just like a grown up. The only sensible thing to do in these circumstances is to run away and hide until it is all over. Then, when you are comfortably out of government and of no consequence whatsoever, you can come out and start carping and complaining at everyone again, quite as if nothing happened.

  • So nobody again seems to notice what is really going on here, which is implementation of a truly Liberal policy of using education to overcome the ignorance that keeps those with the very poorest life chances trapped in poverty, with the deprivation & crime that goes with it.

    Everything Nick Clegg & our ministers have done in education is targetted at the very poorest – those who suffered most under both Tory & Labour governments, particularly in the past 13 years. From the extra preschool support, through the targetted pupil premium to the tuition-free years & maintenance grants at university, everything we are doing is pure Liberalism, and we should celebrate it.

    Just think for a moment about the effect of that policy of requiring universities that charge the full £9000 to provide a second free year to those on the student premium. This will actively encourage those from the poorest backgrounds to choose the top universities which charge the full fee, as they will incur just one year’s tuition fee debt of £9000, (less the £3290 pa grant), rather than 2 X £6000. David Lammy take note.

    And what else – no upfront fees for anyone, including, for the first time, the 40% who study part-time. No repayments until graduates’ salaries reach £21K, uprated annually in line with average earnings, then repayments at 9% of salary above £21K. The ‘debt’ does not affect credit ratings and only the level of monthly repayments is taken into account for mortgage calculations.

    Typical monthly repayments of a £27K tuition debt:

    £22K £7.50
    £25K £30
    £35K £105
    £50K £217.50

    Hardly onerous. Fair. Progressive. Liberal.

    I congratulate Nick & our ministers for this truly Liberal reform.

  • David Allen 11th Dec '10 - 9:14pm


    Standard right-wing bully-boy tactics. Anybody who does not agree with us neocons will be scorned and pilloried. Our neocon trick is to keep repeating a lie until a critical mass of people believe that it must be true. Saddam Hussein, you know, was part of Al-Qaida. George Bush kept on saying so. Tuition fees are the only possible way to finance universities. The idea that the taxpayer might be able to do it is completely ludicrous, and anyone who thinks they can remember it happening needs to be packed off to a care home.

  • Nick (not Clegg) 11th Dec '10 - 9:48pm

    I agree with Sesenco

    I have not resigned.

    I have reduced my membership sub to the minimum and stopped all donatioons, including my sub to LibDem News. And I’ve stopped all external campaigning.

    I am retaining my membership in order to vote in the next leadership election. I will not, of course, vote for anyone who is a member of the current government.

    Meanwhile, let’s step up our internal campaigning. Clegg is trying to kid the press (or himself) that he is leading a united party; let’s show him that he isn’t

  • Hello EcoJon,

    Fair arguing point. Except the principle of the coalition agreement was that if they couldn’t support they could abstain not oppose. If they didn’t accept this they should not have accepted the agreement. I see this as the usual Lib Dem policy of being all things to all men (sorry – persons) . This cannot work in government.

  • charliechops1 12th Dec '10 - 8:38am

    I am a former member of the SDP who did not join the Lib Dems because I did not feel that the social; democratic cause was safe with the Liberal Party.I believed that the new party would collapse under the weight of its own egos, As it now stands the Lib Dems are a right wing Social Conservative party with lingering social democratic yearnings. I do not believe that you can insert a cigarette paper between Clegg and Cameron: they are the Tweedle Dums of contemporary politics. But pause a little: the issue of payment for university fees is not dead yet. Can Governments do anything they like? I don’ think so.

  • @Colin W
    “£22K £7.50
    £25K £30
    £35K £105
    £50K £217.50

    Hardly onerous. Fair. Progressive. Liberal.”

    Over the 30 year repayment period, the graduate on £50k will contribute a smaller proportion of their income than the graduate on £35k. it is only ‘progressive’ to those that don’t know the definition of progressive.

    In reality it is unfair, regressive and against Lib Dem policy on funding HE through progressive taxation

  • @ColinW
    The actual calculation is complex because of the need to model inflation and interest rates, but using those figures you quoted, the graduate on 50k takes just over 10 years to pay back the loan prinipal at £217.50 a month, whereas the graduate on 35k takes over 21 years to pay back the loan principal at £105.50 a month.

    The way you presented the figures is completely misleading and distorting.

  • Sungei Patani 12th Dec '10 - 12:21pm

    You say you are taking the “nuclear option”. I suspect that the impact of your announcement will make a damp squib seem spectacular.

  • I wish I were attending university in the future. Thanks to the new provisions for poor students, I’d come out of things around £3k better off, and my repayments would start later too.

  • The most obvious lessons to be learnt from this situation? For the Lib-Dems; never make pledges, especially when a high horse has been mounted declaring that other parties do and we don’t. For students; remember how easy it is for opinion to be roused by the press and for demonstrations to be mounted whch are then gatecrashed by people who don’t know one end of an exampaper from another but may have a wholly different agenda. For the ‘They’re all as bad as each other and I’m not going to vote for any of them’ brigade; this is a democratic country and we all have the right to vote. It is comparatively easy to destroy the system through violent reaction but it is incredibly difficult to rebuild society afterwards. It is tragic that the party has had to deal with this because people will look no further than the three way split. They should be thinking more along the lines of, ‘here is a party that doesn’t roll over and agree to whatever those at the top tell them. Our party allows us to have that freedom. If the Labour Party had wanted to fight the system of fees which they introduced they should have negotiated with us but they were not interested. I really respect and feel for those who want to resign but would rather they stay within the party.

  • Steve Bradley 12th Dec '10 - 3:26pm

    Of those who voted for the change, Don foster’s decision seems the least sensible.

    There is a very large student population in Bath – approx 10,000 physically in the city at election time.

    What will probably save him, however, is the fact that the Tories are in second place there with Labour and everyone else very far behind. Even if large numbers of students deserted Don, they wouldn’t be sufficient to boost the electoral fortunes of anyone other than the Tories. And they won’t want to do that.

    So Don Foster is probably in for a rocky few years but seems likely (though not guaranteed) to survive. That would be due largely to the lack of an attractive voting alternative for angry students. He’s still leaving himself a bit vulnerable though.

  • Sounds like the party can ill afford to lose people like you Richard…. but I’m sure it must be something that is happening more and more. It would be interesting to find out what the actual membership IS today in comparison to pre General Election!

    Although I sympathised with (what I thought) the LD’s stood for, I never joined the party. I now see that was the correct decision, and would certainly have resigned from a party which has so thoroughly betrayed its basic principles as the LD’s have felt constrained to do as the price of coalition.

    For those of you insisting there was no alternative, or that you have to make compromises, that simply doesn’t wash. The Coalition wasn’t inevitable; your leaders sold you cheaply, you got little in return for being Cameron’s lightning rod, and you now face political and electoral oblivion….. seldom can so many decades of hard work and hope have been squandered in so short a space of time by such a bunch of political pygmies.

    The sooner you get rid of Clegg and his cabal the better for your party, and the country as a whole!

  • Nick (not Clegg) 12th Dec '10 - 4:09pm

    @ Galen 10

    Spot on.

  • Has anyone else seen this article?


    Adds weight to my conclusion that this move is going to cost the government more … so why is it happening??!

    It seems to serve only to deter poorer and average-income students from higher education and to saddle the rest with a truly depressing level of debt just as they start out in their lives. I am sickened by this!

  • Galen 10,

    “The sooner you get rid of Clegg and his cabal”

    You have to be IN the party to do that.

  • I voted lib dem for the first time in my life (and I know four others that did the same). For me it wasn’t the pledge but it was the image that Clegg successfully portrayed, that the liberal democrats would bring back honesty to politics. Well that’s obviously not the case. So where to from here? All of us five have already decided not to vote LD again but labour haven’t shown they can be trusted (besides they introduced the concept of tertiary education being for the rich!). We feel totally betrayed – (and I feel for the true LD members amongst you who have seen your party being the ones to give the Tories power!

    The other message the LDs portrayed was that the party could hold their MPs responsible and control them. In my view the only thing that could turn this around is immediate decisive action by the party against Nick Clegg and Vince Cable. They must be deselected/expelled and nothing else will do. The lid dems are responsible for allowing these Tory policies through, if they hadn’t agreed to a coalition with the Tories it would be a minority Tory government which would have been much better for the country then this coalition (yes that’s in my view but it’s my vote after all!).

    Nothing short of decisive action against Nick and Vince will be enough to get our votes back.

    Good luck with this.

  • “The sooner you get rid of Clegg and his cabal

    You have to be IN the party to do that”

    Like Nick was when he stuck the knife in Menzies and Menzies was more popular thean Nick ever will be now.
    Nick’s dead weight who cannot possibly fight another election as Leader so it’s a question of when not if Simon or someone else replaces him. If it were done were best done quickly, as I’m sure Nick agreed with at the time when he ousted Menzies.

  • Mark Shepherd 12th Dec '10 - 7:16pm

    I resigned from the party in June due to many uncomfortable policies of the ‘new look’ right of center Liberal Democrats. I am horrified by the recent events that are affecting the party and the members who have decided to stay and try to stop the ‘orange bookers’ from cuddling up and snuggling down too much with the Conservatives.

    Even though I and MANY people resigned from the party, it is very difficult to get the party to recognise our resignation.

    I and hundreds of others were able to vote in the presidential election despite thinking that resigning from our local parties and sending copies to Cowley Street would be enough. I would not be surprised if we are still registered as party members, one would think that the party was trying to not reveal the whole truth about the parties membership haemorrhage.

    We delivered leaflets, knocked on doors are persuaded people that we were different… that has be proved to be true as this is one party that doesn’t seem to allow you to leave or resign from it.

    Mark Shepherd
    Former Liberal Democrat member, supporter and campaigner and now deciding who to join and campaign for at the next general election.

  • Mark Shepherd 12th Dec '10 - 7:36pm

    The comments above should have read…

    ‘I am horrified by the recent events that are affecting the party and have sympathy with the members that have decided to stay and try to stop the ‘orange bookers’ from cuddling up and snuggling down too much with the Conservatives’.

    Mark Shepherd.

  • The Lib Dems should have got the tories to sign up to their remodelling of the election process immediately.

    At this rate, their two main pledges (PR and Tuition fees) will both be lost. In the mean time, the Lib dem power house is showing us that they are indeed like every other party, only interested in self preservation and will bend over backwards to avoid their promises if staying in power an extra few years is granted.

    I will never vote Lib dem again, shambolic coalition.

  • Nick (not Clegg) 12th Dec '10 - 8:41pm

    @ Mark Shepherd

    You are ,of course, quite correct. The party keeps publishing figures purporting to show new “growth” based on new members who have joined since the election. it is only offsetting against these those who have lapsed (i.e. not renewed their subscriptions withn three months after their expiry). It is ignoring those, like you, who say they have resigned but who are still less than a year and three months on from paying their last subscription.

    Those who are still involved in trying to run Local Parties know that, on the ground, things are very different. We are losing members, campaigners and deiverers in droves and, hence, becoming invislble as a campaigning force in many wards up and down the country The effect of this will be seen (or . rather, not seen) in campaigns for next year’s local elections and referendum. In many place those campaigns will be invisible or non-existent: and the results will reflect that.

  • @Leo Wing

    With 8% of the MPs (for 23% of the vote), what on earth did you expect the Lib Dems to do?

    “The Lib Dems should have got the tories to sign up to their remodelling of the election process immediately.” Er, how precisely? Kidnapping them and holding them hostage? How precisely was Cameron supposed to sell that to his backbenchers?

    Really, comments like yours defy any intelligent analysis.

  • @ DC

    And a minority Tory government would have been better how, exactly?

  • I don’t agree with the views of (just) the majority who supported increasing tuition fees. I am also lukewarm about the coalition. None the less Lib Dems have had some influence on policy such as the pupil premium. income tax threshold increase etc. If we renege on civil liberties, at which the previous Labour government was the most illiberal then I might reconsider my position.

    Having not been alive when there were last Liberals in government it seems strange to me to see us being blamed. Sadly all governments are blamed and we need to try to stiffen the backbone of our ministers and try to ensure the coalition government does not follow more stupid policies. But is is a coalition and we are the smaller partner. I intend to go out and campaign for our party in next year”s local elections. We may go down locally but it won’t be for the want of trying.

  • Ian Sanderson (RM3) 12th Dec '10 - 10:30pm

    @ Stuart ( Posted 10th December 2010 at 2:10 pm)
    @matt: “It stopped being a party that belonged to its members, the moment that all the All the MP’s who voted for or abstained on last night’s vote.”

    These are the two options – vote for or abstain – that were in the coalition agreement that was endorsed by virtually all Lib Dem conference reps at the special conference in May.
    Posted 10th December 2010 at 2:17 pm | Permalink


    There has been regional conferences up and down the country over the last couple of months, where they have all been voting that MP’s should stick to the pledge and oppose tuition fee’s as it remains Party Policy to Abolish Tuition fee’s over 6 years.

  • Ian Sanderson (RM3) 12th Dec '10 - 10:54pm

    Sorry my post (10.30pm) got posted before I finished writing. (Probably by some glitch in the thousand miles of internet between me and my home in Greater London. It took me about 10 minutes even to see what had happened.)
    @Stuart (Posted 10th December 2010 at 2:10 pm)
    ‘@matt: “It stopped being a party that belonged to its members, the moment that all the All the MP’s who voted for or abstained on last night’s vote.”
    These are the two options – vote for or abstain – that were in the coalition agreement that was endorsed by virtually all Lib Dem conference reps at the special conference in May.’

    matt (Posted 10th December 2010 at 2:17 pm)
    There has been regional conferences up and down the country over the last couple of months, where they have all been voting that MP’s should stick to the pledge and oppose tuition fee’s as it remains Party Policy to Abolish Tuition fee’s over 6 years.’

    Unfortunately, conference reps (and other members attending) in Greater London didn’t have the opportunity to air this question, as our conference on 4th December had to be pulled at the last moment because of security alarms with the bands of protesting students roaming Central London.
    The venue, used successfully several times before, was a school which would be quite easy for a mob to break into. Furthermore, on a Saturday morning, the London LibDems using it would share it with other groups, some school-age.

    Sad when vigorous protest (normally part of democracy) gets in the way of democracy in action.

  • Ian Sanderson – Although true to say that “the special conference backed the coalition agreement”, it is quite clear that the leadership and “the establishment” in the party are trying to forget about the amendment on tutition fees, which made it quite clear that they were advising / telling / ?instructing the Parliamentary Party to ensure any outcome would NOT entail the raising of fees, so as to ensure the pledges made would not be broken. This caveat was clearly forgotten. Without that and the (I think) 8 other amendments passed, I rather doubt that the coalition agreement would have carried. Even so it was a bit “iffy”, when David Rendel told us that the Committee – inserted amendment he had submitted had been significantly weakened. I think such a conference now would be much more even, and possibly even show a majority opposing the coalition.

  • @ Robert C

    A minority Tory government would not have been able to get these radical right wing policies through parliament and lib dems on opposition would have stuck by their principals. Yes that might have brought us another election sooner rather then later – but lets face it, that’s what we want right now anyway (those of us that were first time lib dem voters).

  • @ Robert C above at 9.00 and 9.02 PM

    “With 8% of the MPs (for 23% of the vote), what on earth did you expect the Lib Dems to do?”

    If your negotiators had had the balls, you should simply have pointed out that for 23% of the popular vote, the price of a Coalition was 23% of the Cabinet positions, and a MUCH more substantial impact on the levers of power than you achieved. Since it’s a central tenet of LD policy that the current electoral system is deeply flawed, why play by their rules?

    If the Tories didn’t like the price, then you should have dared them to rule as a minority: you could then have ensured their defeat when they tried to bring in the regressive measures you are now enabling. After that, you could have approached a new GE from a position of strength, rather than the abject weakness we see now.

    Don’t expect all of us to fall for the misguided meme that “there was no alternative” and “it’s better than a minority Tory governement”: it patently isn’t the case. There WAS an alternative, and it’s hard to see how a minority Tory government could have been much worse than what you have now.

  • @ Sesenco

    Of course you have to be in the party to get rid of the cabal; so given the fact that many who would be most motivated to support this measure will already have left in disgust, and the procedural difficulties of making this happen, I think your party is basically screwed………sorry 🙁

  • @ DC and Mark Shepherd

    I share your sense of disillusionment, and bewiderment at where to “go” politically; none of the major parties seem to reflect my beliefs, and I’m not sure the Greens are coherent enough…. it’s deeply sad that the LD’s have proven themselves wanting.

  • Nick (not Clegg) – It is my belief that what you describe relating to membership figures is going on. It would be interesting to hear from members of the “party establishment” about this. It cannot do the party any good in the long term to conceal the real position. It will also be instructive to see whether the outcome of the tuition fee vote has resulted in a spike of resignations. But, of course, if leavers are only shown as having resigned 15 months after their last annual sub is paid, and not from the date of actual resignation, then we will probably have two peaks, one in August 2011, one in March 2012.

    I have heard from some MP held seats that they have increased membership during the autumn, but generally the position is flat or slow decline.

  • @ Galen 10

    “If the Tories didn’t like the price, then you should have dared them to rule as a minority: you could then have ensured their defeat when they tried to bring in the regressive measures you are now enabling. After that, you could have approached a new GE from a position of strength, rather than the abject weakness we see now.”

    Your scenario is pure fantasy politics and wishful thinking – frankly it is nonsense. What possible “position of strength” would the Lib Dems have had? The party has no money to fight a second election and would have been blamed for everything that happened. Labour has £20m of debts.

    The Tories would have ended up with a majority, able to push through massively more right wing policies: immediate renewal of Trident, abolition of the minimum wage, privatisation of public services, no transport investment, pupil premium, vote on electoral reform or £10,000 personal allowance, disastrous “renegotiation” with Europe.

    I really do get sick and tired of people trying to create fantasies about how wonderful a second election would have been. If you think what’s happening now is bad, it is NOTHING in comparison to what could have happened.

  • @ Galen 10

    The more I read your posting trying to justify the fantasy of a Tory minority government as being better than the current situation, the more I hang my head in despair.

    How precisely does your fantasy scenario make things better in ANY way at all? What would have happened is that the Tories would have been able to pick and choose the precise moment when they could provoke an election, daring the Lib Dems to bring them down and therefore take all the blame, labelling them as “irresponsible”.

    To say that there is no alternative is not a “meme”. It is the cold hard reality. Why can’t you get that into your head and stop indulging in twisted, self justifying theorisations about what you would have like to happen in la-la land.

  • charlichops said “As it now stands the Lib Dems are a right wing Social Conservative party with lingering social democratic yearnings.”

    That’s neither true, nor fair, although it would accord with my own views of the SDP in the 80s.

  • More nonsense from Matt.

    You don’t give up, do you?

    There is plenty of stuff the Tory right wing would like to do, but didn’t dare mention in advance of the election. I see you have failed to talk about any of the other points I mentioned.

    As for Labour winning, their opinion poll rating has only now just recovered to a point where they would have any chance of a majority. If people are faced with putting back into power a party that has just ruined the public finances, wrecked education and was kicked out with just 29% of the vote six months ago, with a naive leader with poor opinion poll ratings and no policies, how do you think they would really vote?

  • In any case, Labour is bankrupt, with £20m of debts according to Prescott.

  • cant help[ feeling that this is a little like the old clause 4 argument in labour years ago were labour were taken over by the likes of blair and the aims of the party were slowly shifted to make them more electable at the expense of the members ideals the point been will current liberals recognise there party in ten years if they abandon there principles in favour of party unity or a quest for power
    i left labour and actually voted liberal ever since cos i hoped they had the strength of there beliefs but [not to be to harsh] seems u got your own blair [obviously not on the same level] willing to change his mind when power calls i wonder if a welfare state COULD EVER BE SET UP THESE DAYS

  • I look at a lot of things that some LibDems claim have been achieved through the coalition diluting Tory ideology.

    Many are a matter of debate but the one that really identifies LibDem self-delusion is Trident renewal. Trident will be renewed and the planning continues with money being spent on it. The Tories have again conned the LibDems on this issue. Yea it’s been pushed back a little to help the Tories balance the books.

    But Trident renewal will go ahead and any LibDem who thinks otherwise ought to take a reality check.

  • @ Robert C

    You can protest all you like, but frankly your theories about what might have happened are no more likely than those I originally posted, indeed I and many others would argue thay are much LESS likely to have happened.

    The fact remains that your party and leadership massively “underperformed” when it cam to the negotiations for the Coalition. NO major cabinet positions, an commitment to a referendum on AV rather than STV, no cancellation of Trident, and swallowing the Tory line on cuts whole. Hardly impressive by anyone’s standards.

    As Matt has pointed out above, most of your much vaunted successes are actually small potatoes, or existing money dressed up as something else.

    Of course party loyalists and orange bookers (who won’t actually be too uncomfortable in the Tory party when the LD’s self-destruct) have an interest in fostering the “there was no alternative” guff, but don’t expect the rest of us to be at all convinced. History will show that the decision to enter a Coalition with the Tories was a huge mistake, but having done so, it’s not even as if you can point to it having been good for the party, still less the country as a whole.

    Having managed to pimp the LD’s out for a relatively trivial price, it’s hardly surprising that Cameron rather likes his position… he can watch the LD’s implode, look forward to the strong possibility that the AV referendum will result in a “No” possibly delaying electoral reform for generations, and use you as the chair to tame the carpet biters of the Tory right. It won’t be the Tory right giving you a mauling though, it will be the electorate.

  • The Lib Dems need to get out of this coalition before it destroys the party (if in fact it’s not too late already).

    Initially I was in favour and supportive of the coalition: it allowed politicians (mainly tory ones) to make hard decisions that needed to be made without being leashed by the extreme elements of their party. It also allowed us to get rid of a labour party that had become far too comfortable in power and verging on corrupt.

    However I think it is becoming increasingly clear that cameron is simply using the “austerity” programme to disguise his more-thatcherist-than-thatcher programme of public vandalism. With every new measure announced you can see the general public losing out and his oxbridge cronies winning. Mass privatisation of the state in the name of austerity. You only need to look your electric bill to see how that works for the average person.

    The tuition fee row has already made sure that the lib dems will lose a lot of votes at the next election (anyone under about 23 is simply not going to vote for them). At the moment they look like a lot of old women wringing their hands too frightened to confront their leaders for fear of losing any chance of one day being appointed assistant PPS. To salvage any modicum of respect for the party the head of this monster needs to be severed. Clegg, Alexander and Cable need to go.

  • Roger Roberts 9th Dec '16 - 12:28pm

    This is an article from 2010 !!!!

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