Opinion: Why I believe students should vote for the Liberal Democrats

I have had a hustings with students at Edinburgh University and a meeting with the Edinburgh University Students’ Association. They have produced a manifesto and I will detail my response.

  1. They have asked for a phasing out of tuition fees and better support for the diverse needs of post graduate students. 

Obviously I couldn’t commit to the former,  But I would like to point out that raising tuition fees was a Conservative policy, one that the Lib Dems could not block!

As more coalitions are formed, I’m sure the British Public will recognise the limitations of individual manifestos as well as appreciate the opportunities for wider representation and trimming of the extremes of left and right. As for the latter, I have been personally affected and I did not do a postgraduate degree as I couldn’t afford to. Not just the fees but also the time off work in my 30s.

When we talk about high skilled jobs and a new economy we really need to also discuss how we are going to train our workforce and the skills development by means of post graduate study. We need to commit to investing in what will provide excellent returns, not just financial but also the advantage of having a highly educated population which I’m sure nobody will disagree with!

  1. End unpaid internships

They have asked to end unpaid internships lasting longer than 4 weeks. I think this is fair. Those with limited means cannot go on working for free! The first 4 weeks would be enough time for both the student and the provider of the internship to discover if they can work together or if the internship is worth their time and if they choose to stop within that time period, damage is limited. Once someone has decided that they can have this student or graduate beyond the 4 week period, I think it is only fair that they pay.

I have promised not to have unpaid internships in my office if elected. I will allocate resources in the office budget for the purpose. As a party whose raison d’être is fairness, I don’t think any Liberal Democrat could object to this.

  1. Bring back the post-study work visa

This is something that I feel very strongly about and will fight with every fibre of my being to bring about. If we want our universities and our students to attract and retain the best in the world, we must be prepared to act and not submit to the anti-immigrant right!

As I’ve said repeatedly, you don’t take a diamond from a mine, shape it to brilliance and put it back in the mine!

I have seen many students return to their countries unable to work in the UK with their degrees, due to the removal of that visa category. I strongly support reinstatement. Also many such students especially from India have told me that a British degree without British experience is useless! Employers would find them more employable and would do so on higher wages if they went to them with such experience. Now we wouldn’t want to discourage future students from applying on that basis,would we?

Unlike UK students, those from outside the EU have to pay upfront fees and those fees can rise year on year! The first thing we should do is fix the fees at the outset, so a student from overseas can plan properly and decide. I thank Edinburgh University for taking a lead on this matter. Providing a three year post study work visa can not only help the student get valuable experience, but also, especially for students from the third world, help them to significantly reduce their financial debt as they would be unable to command the big salaries needed to reduce the debt in their own countries. Also, at the end of the three year period, the student can decide that they wish to make the UK their home, which if they do, we should welcome with open arms a good citizen and taxpayer. Why wouldn’t we!

If they choose to move on, they will leave with fond memories of us and may further trade and cultural ties between us and whichever country they move on to!

It really is a no brainer! Speaking for myself, I will fight for this, and I think other Liberal Democrats should too.

We really are the party of students. Yes, we’ve had a hiccup, but that only serves to prick our conscience and strengthen our resolve to work better for students to not only compensate them but to serve them in the best way possible.

 

 

 

* Pramod Subbaraman is the Liberal Democrat PPC for Edinburgh South

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168 Comments

  • @Caracatus as I understand it the Lib Dem MPs who voted for were members of the government and were bound by collective responsibility to the coalition agreement and the government. The ones who voted against were not members of the government and hence not bound by collective responsibility.

  • I think the LibDem leadership making a pledge not to increase tuition fees and then voting to triple them, is a bit more than the “hiccup” you describe.

  • @TCO – given the prominence the LDs had made of the abolition of tuition fees, it should have been the one policy, above all, which was absolutely non – negotiable.

    Everything else in the manifesto could have abandoned with less damage to the LDs. In my experience most people don’t read manifestos, but they remember that pledge and they remember it was broken.

    As Ronald Reagan once remarked – “if you’re explaining, you’re losing”.

  • Tony Greaves 20th Apr '15 - 11:55am

    The new Labour policy to “cut tuition fees” to £6000 is of course a promise to cut repayments in the future for higher-paid graduates but the not cut them at all for lower-paid graduates. It is essentially a political pretence.

    Tony

  • Hopefully we’ve learnt never to sign pledges in the future. Candidates shouldn’t be signing pledges to vote one way or another come what may. Parliament is not an electoral college.

  • @Alex Macfie I quite agree; who’s idea was it to force the candidates to do this?

  • TCO 20th Apr ’15 – 11:43am ………[email protected] as I understand it the Lib Dem MPs who voted for were members of the government and were bound by collective responsibility to the coalition agreement and the government. The ones who voted against were not members of the government and hence not bound by collective responsibility….

    So the 36 who broke their pledge were all members of the government? I wasn’t aware there were that many ‘government positions’ on offer…..
    As far as collective responsibility goes; It might well apply in a single party system but why should it in a coalition? After all differences passed without comment on HoL reforms, etc….

  • You could agree to the phasing out of Tuition Fees, but I’d turn the question around to the students ‘Who do you think should pay for your education’ – because one way of another, education has to be paid for.

    If the answer is ‘The general Taxpayer’ then I’d say fine, that was my opinion in 2010, and actually I’d be happy to continue to back that idea, but unfortunatly the majority of voers in 2010 voted for parties who oppose this. Go out an make the argument for why your education should be paid for, stop knocking the one party that includes many people who support you.

    Alternatively, we need to come to some compromise where the student pays for some of their education and the tax payer the rest. And what we could come up with a system where the student only pays for their share like a tax, alongside their tax, when they can afford to, so those who benefit most financially from their education contribute a bit more, would that be fairer in the way progressive income tax is fairer? Would that be a reasonable compromise while we try and win the earlier argument? Because that was what the Liberal Democrats have done in government, with all others against them and only 57 MPs (at that time). They didn’t implement the policy in the manifesto and pledge but with a small group of MPs got the best deal available.

    Oh, and if the Labour Party REALLY wanted to improve the policy they would rause the point at which and over which repayments are made to, say £24K, not lower the ‘cap’ to £6K per year of education. Because as Tony Greaves says the current policy is a sham, just a way of Knocking the Lib Dems, not helping the people they claim to help,. They would rather political point score by not accepting what the current policy is, than try to make the lives of people they claim to support any better.

  • @expats having now read about this it seems Clegg, Cable et al. warned the party not to saddle them with an unworkable policy but the left wing activists at conference forced them.

  • Alex Macfie 20th Apr '15 - 1:49pm

    No, it wasn’t the activists who forced them, as they tend to understand how politics actually works. It was the party’s campaigns department, who thought it would make a good PR stunt but did not think through the implications of publicly signing a pledge with such fanfare.

  • Matthew Huntbach 20th Apr '15 - 1:55pm

    Caracatus

    But that would not be true, as the Lib Dems could have voted against as they had promised to do and some did. Are you saying the Lib Dem MPs who voted against the increase in tuition fees could not have done what they did ?

    If enough LibDem MPs had voted against tuition fees so that universities could not charge them, but otherwise they voted for the government’s budget, what would have been the result?

    Since that budget had funding for universities dependent on them being able to charge tuition fees, universities would have been left without funding, and most of them would have to close down. Maybe one or two of the top ones could keep going through research income and fees from overseas students. But how does that look? “We’ve kept to our pledge. Er, ok it means the only universities left open are Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, UCL and LSE. But you won’t have to pay fees if you get a place at one of them, and they have few dozen scholarships they are offering to UK, though obviously most of their students now are from overseas. So if you’re in the top 0.1% of sixth-formers, that’s nice. Otherwise, sorry, no university place for you. But at least we kept to our pledge”.

    Now sure, it wouldn’t have got to that, but that IS really what the line “all they had to do was vote against tuition fees” leads to. The point is, that if that’s not what you want, it ISN’T just a matter of voting against tuition fees. It’s also a matter of voting for some other way of funding universities to keep them running.

    Perhaps Pramod can tell us what was the other way of funding universities that the Edinburgh University Students’ Association proposed. Now, THAT is the issue. That is why the whole debate on tuition fees is so frustrating, since it always seems to ignore that issue. We desperately need sensible politics in this country which acknowledged that things have to be paid for and has some idea of the sort of budget that is required for the big things. Otherwise, the political right always wins, because the political right says “We’ll cut taxes”, and everyone says “Hurrah, we like that” and doesn’t think through the consequences. That’s what’s happened here. The political left are stumped, because their “nah nah nah nah nah” attacks on the coalition and the Liberal Democrats dosn’t actually mention payment, and so when a timid mention is made of tax increases, the right again say “Booh, hiss, nasty rotten lefties, that’s just the politics of envy”, and little old ladies in big houses are wheeled out and made to cry to make all of us on the left feel ashamed for having suggested the tiniest weeniest bit of property tax.

    Not having tuition fees and still having university places open for all who qualify meant having an alternative way of paying for them that a majority in Parliament would agree to. Remember, that’s in a Parliament where not that much less than half the MPs are Tories, and the biggest pledge of the Tories is always to keep taxes low, especially taxes on rich people.You might say “Oh, pay for them by getting rid of Trident”. Again, sure, nice idea, but how are you going to get majority support for that?

    Now, this is what I think should have been done to resolve the tuition fees dilemma. A free vote agreed on both abolishing tuition fees or at least not increasing them beyond where Labour left them AND on whatever extra taxation would have paid for them. That would have made it much more clear that the LibDem policy in this could not be followed through because the Tories would never agree to the necessary taxes. It would then have put Labour in a dilemma because they would either have to agree to the extra taxes, or propose an alternative. Which they know they could not do. So, that would have effectively shut up the “nah nah nah nah nah”s.

  • TCO 20th Apr ’15 – 1:34pm………@expats having now read about this it seems Clegg, Cable et al. warned the party not to saddle them with an unworkable policy but the left wing activists at conference forced them……….

    Those nasty activists, eh? If what you say is true then it was nothing more than a cynical ploy to grab the ‘Student Vote’. After all, promising ‘an unworkable policy’ is dishonest, to say the least…

  • Chris Stallard 20th Apr '15 - 2:42pm

    So Pramod Subbaraman is arguing that the Lib Dems can be the party of students?

    …and to think, they said satire was dead!

  • Alex Macfie 20th Apr '15 - 3:20pm

    @expats: As I stated it is not true. Lib Dem grassroots activists are not like that: unlike (some) Labour and SWP-equivalent activists we are not of a Leninist mindset where elected representatives are delegates who should be expected to stick rigidly to a prescribed party line. Any grassroots activist in our party, if consulted, would have said how foolish it was to ask parliamentary candidates to sign any sort of “pledge” to vote in a particular way on any issue, regardless of the circumstances. Activists tend to think in the medium or long term, not just short term grabbing of a particular group of voters. That is how we as a party have built up local support over many decades. No, this did not come from activists, it came from the PR people at central HQ who are very keen on publicity stunts but have no idea of what it means politically to prescribe that all candidates should sign a “pledge” on one specific issue.

  • David Evans 20th Apr '15 - 3:34pm

    Most of this debate is totally futile and based on massive supposition. The simple facts are.
    1) it was party policy,
    2) it was supported by a fully costed set of proposals, showing it could be financed,
    3) it was perfectly reasonable for MPs to sign the pledge so long as they intended to keep it,
    4) Nick, through his negotiating team, gave in on it rather than insist.
    The problem is clearly in Step 4, and few people are currently prepared to forgive the Lib Dems for what Nick chose to do.

  • The tuition fees débacle is only one facet of a bigger problem: the shift of the Liberal Democrats from a broadly left-of-centre consensus to a much more narrowly targeted centre-right position. This may seem like a small detail to people like Clegg, Laws, and Alexander, but to people who are not locked in their bubble it looks huge.

  • David Evans
    The simple facts are:

    1) Clegg and the party leadership didn’t want to make this party policy
    2) Conference, egged on by CK and others, voted to make it policy in defiance of the advice of the leadership
    3) We know the rest.

  • David Evans 20th Apr '15 - 4:52pm

    TCO – I don’t remember step 2 of your so called simple facts at all. Sounds to me like a debate was held and a decision made. You must get up to date, Egging on is so 1960s.

  • If Clegg and “the party leadership” were uncomfortable with a policy agreed to by Conference they could have resigned.

  • Alex Macfie 20th Apr ’15 – 3:20pm

    @expats: As I stated it is not true. Lib Dem grassroots activists are not like that: unlike (some) Labour and SWP-equivalent activists we are not of a Leninist mindset where elected representatives are delegates who should be expected to stick rigidly to a prescribed party line. Any grassroots activist in our party, if consulted, would have said how foolish it was to ask parliamentary candidates to sign any sort of “pledge” to vote in a particular way on any issue, regardless of the circumstances. Activists tend to think in the medium or long term, not just short term grabbing of a particular group of voters. That is how we as a party have built up local support over many decades…….

    Luke 18:11 .

  • Rabih Makki 20th Apr '15 - 5:13pm

    @ David Evans & David-1

    …and still you go on and on…until Tim comes in, takes us back to 20-23%….and we get no sniff of power and hence back to being a debating group at best.
    I think a few people are adverse to power, its grubby to you, it has to be pure and power in any form, be it as a parent, a boss or politician is never so.
    You are in the wrong game gents if you want to keep your hands clean, might be unpalatable but true.
    Oh and David-1 if people resign every time something they don’t like goes through then we would be a (bigger) laughing stock then we are at times, especially when it comes to our leaders…a ridiculous and rather childish comment.

  • @David Evans and @David-1 we all know that the people who go to conference tend to be the most committed and in many constituencies they struggle to fill the quota. Its unsurprising that conference delegates tend to represent the extremes of party opinion rather than the mainstream.

    The time and cost requirements of attending conference would also mitigate towards students and empty-nesters; in other words both those demographics who you would expect to be in favour of scrapping tuition fees.

  • Rabih Makki 20th Apr '15 - 5:24pm

    @ TCO….completely agree, having been to conference many times(although not in the past couple of years) thats a big issue, its exactly who is representing “us” and just from my own local party frankly they don’t represent me at all….they may as well be from Labour or the Greens, and there in lies just one issue with distracting policy at conference to a (very) narrow field of people instead of say the larger membership(who are much much mire diverse than conference goers) Not only would that be truly democratic but I can guarantee you we would have never signed up to the tuition fee(or any other) “pledge” and we would have a set of much more radical yet attractive policies for the electorate.
    Something to think about maybe.

  • David Evans 20th Apr '15 - 5:59pm

    Dear Rabih, Rarely have I read such an incorrect set of assumptions written in the most patronising terms – except for the last Cleggite who believed that being in power meant stopping being a Liberal Democrat and being “grown up,” and the one before that, and the one before that. In order of your points:
    • 20-23% will take a long time to get back to, such is the damage done to our party in the last five years;
    • Power is essential, but it is essential that you use power to change things, not that power changes you. Nick still hasn’t worked it out.
    • Sadly it is you who are in the wrong game if you are happy to sacrifice half your councillors for a few ministerial posts.

    As Jo Grimond rightly said “Liberals should be on the side of the governed, not the governing.” Making it work when you are in power is not easy. Sadly Nick thought it was all over when he became DPM. Very shortly someone will say “It is now.” Hopefully it will just be to Nick, not to Liberal Democracy, but there will be a heck of a lot to do then.

  • David Evans 20th Apr '15 - 6:08pm

    TCO & Rabih – I can only presume you don’t go to conference very often. Or if you do, you have your eyes shut. If you take a look at the average conference, the young ones are mainly the SPADs and party workers. The middle aged ones are MPs and the rest are voting members!

    As for whinging that voting Reps don’t represent you, have you asked for a pre-conference local party meeting to discuss the agenda? It always helps to ask! Now that is being grown up in a positive way!

  • Rabih Makki 20th Apr '15 - 6:26pm

    David I have been to plenty, they are in a word soul destroying most of the time!

    Your broad brush stokes of the “young ones” being the SPADs and workers is simplistic and wrong, the middle aged ones being the MPs(as if that’s an issue, at 41 im middle aged so not sure what you’re getting at) the rest are actually not just middle ages, they are (and my eyes are open trust me, for wanting to avoid many) older, from the left of the party and dislike still to this day any “professional” politician and would prefer us to go in to opposition and be liked again. they want zero to do with the grubby bits of power or government and really its a nice break for them to debate, meet friends and maybe pass some policy they know will never see the light of day….well until 2010.

    i think if you sent a none party member or none politically leaning member of the public to Liverpool say in March they would agree with me, it hardly represents the membership let alone the voters at large.

    As for your last point, there in lies the issue the local party like your good self are interested in just chatting to themselves or what they want, what other want or the public, well that’s kind of a distraction.
    I do ask oh trust me I do, but while I am a grown up (whatever that means) I find that some of those closer to God then me have an issue with relinquishing any power to anyone outside there small, slightly inbreed, slightly insular circle.
    We complain about “jobs for the boys” in the Tories,,,Jesus some of our local parties make the Mafia look reasonable. Now you can argue the toss about this but you are either very lucky not to come across this….or one of those that thinks its all lovely as it is. Either way please don’t judge my efforts, if local parties were truly democratic conference and how the party was run would be vastly different…and for the better!

  • @Rab I agree. I’ve never been to conference; I have precious little annual leave and what I do have has to be spent with my family.

    My experience of local party was a small coterie of 50 something left leaning councillors who divided up the conference slots on the nod. They were the only ones with the time and disposable income to spend a week at conference and took pride in disrupting the leadership for its own sake “because we’re radical”.

    The Tories were alway the baby-eating enemy an Labour an the Greens were “just like us”

  • TCO 20th Apr ’15 – 7:00pm
    My experience of local party was a small coterie of 50 something left leaning councillors who divided up the conference slots on the nod. They were the only ones with the time and disposable income to spend a week at conference and took pride in disrupting the leadership for its own sake “because we’re radical”.

    TCO,- your experience is fascinating, which local party was this? I cannot think of anywhere nowadays with 50 left leaning local councillors, except maybe Sutton.
    Have you ever considered going to the conference just for the weekend ? (assuming that you do not work at weekends).

  • Rabih Makki 20th Apr '15 - 7:32pm

    @ TCO….could not agree more about your analysis of a large proportion of local parties, that’s first and second hand that oi have seen or heard and its frankly beggars belief in our so called democratic party people still do exactly that….and then in the same breath come out that they are “radical” when in fact they mean just a disruptive and against the leadership for the sake of it, not because it actually achieves anything most the time.

    When a party is so insular, so inward looking, and talks almost exclusively to itself and then finds itself in power no wonder most within freaked out, its almost beyond the bubble they frequent and they just don’t like it.
    I also agree re other parties, this fanciful assertion that Labour or the Greens are our natural allies(Labour especially despise us, hate us and think its hilarious we look at them like some love sick teenager!) when both they and the Tories are as bad as each other…neither are like “us” whatever “us” is and neither would pi** on us if we were on fire…yet we still lust for the left.

    Until both local parties start thinking unlike some closed ship/trade union and those at conference truly represent the members as a whole and not self interest we will forever have this internal bickering. For me its simple, the love for the left in the party is so strong I just don’t get why many don’t go (back) to Labour or the Greens.
    The come back, because we are Liberals is almost laughable because thats usually not the case when you drill down most are social democrats or old school Labour at heart.
    Not sure when the word Liberal ever meant a left leaning, socialist minded person…but still they persist.

    Oh well at least a few of us on here and beyond are not so TCO and no matter how much they gang up and beat us down after 25 years a member Ill not be shifted by the haters.

  • David Evans 20th Apr '15 - 7:44pm

    Thank you Rabih, but, to put it quite simply I believe you are totally incorrect in your assessment. I am sure you believe it, but you just seem to be full of opinions but lacking in almost any facts. In essence you are just plain wrong.

    I suggest you google “Lib Dem Conference” and look at images of the conference hall (ignoring those that are just of the front row – perhaps a bit self selecting). Then I suggest you try answering the points in other peoples’ posts rather than just generate a load of other random claims about people at conference you clearly know nothing about. Finally I suggest you spend just a bit more time reducing your verbosity factor. A 92 word sentence with four clauses and two sets of bracket embedded is quite simply impossible to follow.

    TCO – A local party with 50 councillors!!! So they controlled their local council, but liked disrupting the leadership. Are you sure you were awake in the local party meetings, or was it all just a bad dream? 🙂 🙂

  • Rabih Makki 20th Apr '15 - 8:00pm

    Well thanks for the tips David, my, my if my posts are to hard to follow good forbid our Manifesto, or a conference motion….that must push you right over the edge bless you!

    Ok Ill keep it simple for you, don’t want you getting a nose bleed. I am not wrong, i just don’t agree with you, if your married/in a relationship you’ll maybe get that…so that’s that answered.

    I have been to conference many many times trust me and I see what I see, if you see this lovely mix of a cross section of the party then you might be doing some of the stuff that our friends at Liberal Youth want to decriminalise.
    These are not random claims but ones you just dont want to accept, but they are true, or for many of us, like it or not.
    Verbosity, like that, think we need more not less of that in the party….I think thats what in essence we could do with, otherwise its just a love in telling each other how lovely we are…sweet nut completely a waste of time.

    We should meet in Bournmouth in September and lets go around conference for a few hours and test our theories, do some sample polling as such and some vox pops and really see what conference has to offer.
    Genuine offer, be happy to do that….loser gets the drinks in!

  • @Rab sounds a great offer 🙂

  • @Rab I’ve sent you a pm on LinkedIn

  • Rabih Makki 20th Apr '15 - 8:30pm

    @ TCO, lovely, just accepted your invite. Be good to chat.

  • “raising tuition fees was a Conservative policy, one that the Lib Dems could not block!”

    What evidence do you have that the Lib Dems even tried? I have asked this question many times here, and nobody has ever offered an answer.

    Given that negotiation is a two-way process, please explain what irresistible tactics the Tories used that were impossible to block.

    If you don’t know for a fact that the Lib Dems even tried to block the Tories, shouldn’t you issue a correction and stop telling young voters things that you don’t know to be true?

  • Rabih Makki 21st Apr '15 - 9:16am

    @ Stuart…..what evidence have you got the other way? Yes fees rose but what evidence or otherwise have you got that the party didn’t try to stop this or limit it in negotiations?
    Plus and yet again after 5 years you miss the other things that did get in the negotiation and focus almost exclusively like anyone thats half glass empty mindset on the negatives….easy to do but not always helpful.

    As for an apology Nicjk has given that quite publicly and fully, the man has done that and for “young voters”(who by the way in 2010 didnt vote in the numbers for the party they told the pollsters they would…….) to continually throw it back in his face is like a petulant child not accepting an apology and using this at every turn to throw back in his face.
    I use those words on purpose because you can imagine in your own life thinking Ive said sorry, Ive said we should not have done it and said sorry again…and still they don’t relent, you get pretty pi**ed off and end up thinking ok enough!

    Its seems utterly mad that we are getting totally obsessed by this one thing, that effects still a small % of the population, compared to the broken premisses of other parties on much bigger and far reaching issues. the reasoning of “but we expected more from you” is not only patronising but so totally unrealistic that it shows a lack of awareness and maturity that any party can do everything it wants even in coalition.

    If these same young voters think no other party can/have/would let them down good luck to them….but be prepared to be thoroughly shafted by them all(sad as that is)….welcome to the party pal…..as the saying goes.

  • TCO

    Which local party did you say that was ?

  • I do think that Pramod may have been a victim of a joke : Scottish students don’t pay tuition fee’s! so why are students at Edinburgh University and their Association bothered by them? Particularly as NUS Scotland seem to be more concerned about bursary funding (ie. maintenance grants/loans)…

    I find it telling that the NUS are campaigning against MPs who broke tuition fee pledges rather than directly against tuition fees and the student loans system. Perhaps their lack of direct concern is because when the current tuition fees and student loans system are assessed they broadly match the NUS’s stated criteria for being fair and progressive and they are broadly in favour of a graduate tax.

    Also I don’t see any real argument for changing the way post-graduate study is funded, given that even back in the 1970’s and 80’s, there was very little state funding on offer.

    I think the one thing Pramod does allude to is that we need to re-evaluate the overall package being offered to oversea’s students, particularly those from countries with lower income levels, so as to keep our offer attractive in a global education market. Something that we should be concerned about, given the extent to which overseas students contribute to the funding of our higher education sector. However, any changes do need to be evaluated as we’ve seen in the past just how easily people found ways to abuse student visa’s.

  • David Howarth 21st Apr '15 - 12:08pm

    Could I just say, as a member of the policy working group on higher education policy in 2008-9, that the account given above by TCO of the way the policy was made is complete nonsense. The policy was extensively debated in the parliamentary party in 2008, a debate in which Nick, Vince and others took an active part. A position was agreed that then went to the Federal Policy Committee, on which the leadership and the parliamentary party are very well represented (e.g. it is chaired by the leader or the leader’s nominee). The FPC settled the contents of the paper and of the motion that went to the Harrogate conference in 2009. In no way was the policy forced on the leadership by ‘activists’ at the conference. The conference basically rubber-stamped the policy of the parliamentary party and the FPC.
    Subsequently the policy went into the 2010 manifesto, for which it had to be agreed again by the parliamentary party and the FPC in the spring of 2010 . At that stage the policy was watered down in the light of the financial crisis to be a phasing out of fees over 6 years at a cost of about £600m in the first year, rising to £2bn in the sixth year. (By way of comparison, the reductions in the main rate of corporation tax announced in 2010-11 were designed to have an equivalent final year cost of more than £5bn).
    The ‘pledge’ is totally separate and came from the campaigns people.

  • @ David Howarth….that last line is crucial and I think is the one we have the issue with. That it went from a costed part of the overall manifesto to a “pledge” that drew far to much attention and painted us in to a (red)corner is the problem.
    Think we won’t ever do that again….and to do that with the NUS who lets face it have very much their own agenda to push was the short sighted bit….so its the campaign people that dropped the ball….all be it seeming like a great idea at the time.

  • Rabih, you say “Its seems utterly mad that we are getting totally obsessed by this one thing, that effects still a small % of the population, compared to the broken premisses of other parties on much bigger and far reaching issues.” The simple electoral fact is that the other two parties have a much larger and more institutionally loyal voter base. Conservative built over generations and based around the well off, older people, and other key groupings; while Labour’s is likewise built on generations of support for Trades Unions, the disadvantaged and Public Sector workers. We had spent thirty years building a support base around working hard for our local communities, doing things better, and telling the truth.

    We went into a general election campaign promising “An end to broken promises” and Nick broke the biggest one of all. This one act has totally undermined that thirty years of work. It affects all the population and not just a small % and it has a bigger effect. Clearly, if it only affected a few s you claim, our national loss of support would be much less than it is. Our problems over the next ten or twenty years will be to get the public to change their mind about the simple view that we are all untrustworthy.

  • David Howarth 21st Apr '15 - 12:42pm

    @Rabih
    Sorry I don’t understand. You and TCO were complaining about the conference. The conference has nothing to do with what the campaigns department of the party HQ decides to do during an election campaign.

  • Rabih Makki 20th Apr ’15 – 7:32pm
    “….the love for the left in the party is so strong I just don’t get why many don’t go (back) to Labour or the Greens.
    The come back, because we are Liberals is almost laughable because thats usually not the case when you drill down most are social democrats or old school Labour at heart.”

    Rabih, for someone who says he joined the party 25 years ago I find your words confusing. Which party did you think you were joining?

    Did you not notice that the Preamble to the constitution of the party incorporates the rallying cry of the French Revolution ? By any objective definition of left and right, the revolutionaries of 1789 were not on the right.

    The policies of the party in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when you joined, were significantly to the left of where they are today. Yet you joined a party of the left or centre left and now complain that it is full of people on the left. You describe people who are members of that party as being “haters” although you give no justification for such extravagent language.

    Did you never consider that somewhere along the line that you might be the one who made a mistake?

  • Rabih Makki 21st Apr '15 - 3:08pm

    @ David Evans…..I understand the history and i thank you for letting us all know. You line that “Nick” as a sole person broke it, that he and he alone sis this and didn’t in fact put it to the parliamentary party and they (in majority) go along with it shows you are still playing the man and not the ball, and that is your issue….you cant get over the fact because you and the electorate(fed by both wings of the red tops and online trolls) have hammered the man that in turn then hammered the party vote….plus the other small parties playing a part. That you think this one thing undermines 30 years of work is not just ludicrous but so outrageous it does make me think that you are either just spouting this to wind people up or to justify things in terms of the party internally falling over itself not to back Nick and now panicking at the kicking we may get….the word scapegoat springs to mind….and the word John Major used about certain people in his part in 92 as well…but Im to polite to use them David.

    @ David Howarth….Not sure we are confused or you my friend, never said that the campaigns guys did have anything to do with conference…just that the whole tuition fees debacle is somewhat down to them to spring a big thing on the public in 2010…conference being loaded with the left of the party and older members is another thing.

    @ JohnTiley….I joined because I thought Paddy was an immense and charismatic character and I put up with the parties left leaning stance because of that, but was/am an economic Liberal at heart. Now the party is more in tune with my thoughts as well as the current leader, so from 25 years I have 7 happy and the rest just getting along….but unlike some not throwing my toys out the pram when I didn’t have the leader or policies I wanted.
    Im in the right party trust me and the party at least to a point is in tune with my thinking now….so maybe its not me thats made the mistake in the long run John.

  • Matthew Huntbach 21st Apr '15 - 8:55pm

    Rabih Makki

    ….but unlike some not throwing my toys out the pram when I didn’t have the leader or policies I wanted.

    Why do you use such insulting language? Party membership and party activity is voluntary. If you have captured the party and turned it so far away from the one I joined that I no longer have any interest in working for it, why do you suppose you can compel me to do so by issuing insults against me if I do not?

  • David Howarth 21st Apr '15 - 9:28pm

    @Rabih
    So what precisely were you talking about when you said:
    “@ TCO….completely agree, having been to conference many times(although not in the past couple of years) thats a big issue, its exactly who is representing “us” and just from my own local party frankly they don’t represent me at all….they may as well be from Labour or the Greens, and there in lies just one issue with distracting policy at conference to a (very) narrow field of people instead of say the larger membership(who are much much mire diverse than conference goers) Not only would that be truly democratic but I can guarantee you we would have never signed up to the tuition fee(or any other) “pledge” and we would have a set of much more radical yet attractive policies for the electorate.”
    Certainly sounds as if you are saying both that the conference forced the policy on the leadership, which isn’t true, and that the ‘pledge’ was a direct consequence of the conference decision, which also isn’t true.

  • @Matthew I think Rab likened it to a marriage, and you don’t (or shouldnt) walk out if the door at the first disagreement

  • @David Howarth “Certainly sounds as if you are saying both that the conference forced the policy on the leadership, which isn’t true, and that the ‘pledge’ was a direct consequence of the conference decision, which also isn’t true.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8421092.stm

    This report from the BBC states:

    “At the party conference, when the leadership suggested sticking to their commitment to scrap tuition fees might be too expensive, there was strong public dissent from senior figures, including the former leader Charles Kennedy.”

  • David Howarth 21st Apr '15 - 9:58pm

    @TCO
    As you said, you weren’t there. The issue was whether the abolition of fees should be a long term aspiration or an immediate priority. The motion passed at Harrogate didn’t resolve it but the manifesto version of the policy did. The compromise was that fees would be phased out over 6 years. That version of the policy was approved both by the parliamentary party and by the FPC.

  • Alex Sabine 21st Apr '15 - 9:58pm

    @ David Howarth
    Thanks for your first-hand account. I wouldn’t say the fees policy was ‘forced on the leadership’ but I believe there was a push to change the policy, including from Nick Clegg and (I believe) Vince Cable? Clearly they lost that argument but secured the staged phase-out and the downgrading of the policy such that it wasn’t one of the four ‘front-page’ commitments. That, of course, was scant defence against the charge of betrayal given the ill-fated decision to sign the pledge. (Clearly there is a distinction between having a policy and signing a pledge, as you say.)

    You are right to point out that the fiscal cost of phasing at tuition fees was not huge, £1.7 billion by the end of the parliament according to the 2010 manifesto.

    However this would go directly on the Treasury’s books (unlike the upfront cost of funding loans, which – other than the subsidy element – are treated as temporary financial transactions under the system of resource accounting the Treasury has used since the end of the 1990s). Given the ‘ringfence’ in place over a large area of public spending including health, pensions, schools and overseas aid, it would have almost certainly meant BIS cutting £1.7 billion from other programme spending. I wouldn’t necessarily have had a problem with cutting industrial subsidies, for example, but Vince Cable in his new more interventionist guise presumably wouldn’t have welcomed this (new guise compared to his previous stance that the department should be scrapped and government industrial support functions largely wound up).

    Moreover, the costings in the Lib Dem manifesto were based on phasing out fees at the prevailing level. The same figures cannot be used to compare the cost of phasing out fees relative to the alternative policy that was actually pursued (raising fees to £9,000). Merely phasing out fees at the old level would (rightly or wrongly) have left the universities with much lower funding per student than they now receive.

  • David Howarth 21st Apr '15 - 11:22pm

    @Alex
    I was merely objecting to the idea that the fees policy was foisted on the party by ‘activists’ at the conference. As to the internal debates in the Parliamentary Party and the FPC, you might think that, you might very well think that – I couldn’t possibly comment (though I still have all the documents).
    On the affordability of the policy, the annual saving the £9000 fee was supposed to make was indeed around £1.6bn, on the assumption (optimistic as it turned out) that 29% of the money paid out up front would not be paid back. But the key point is that requiring BIS to make such savings was a political decision, not a technical one about accounting methods. The crucial decision was not protecting the universities and student support budgets in the first place. That was a political decision by the centre of government, not a decision by BIS. Of course BIS was in a difficult position, but they were put in that position by conscious political choice.
    Also taken at the centre were decisions about the balance between taxation and spending. That’s why I gave the example of the £5bn a year cut in corporation tax. Instead of making that tax cut, other programmes could have been protected, or even increased. That decision was also political and not technical and also nothing to do with BIS.

  • @ Matthew, seriously are you thin skinned that that quote upset you, that was me going easy, in my mind I could and would have said worse but thought better of it as this is not the time or the place to really let some, no one on specifically on this forum by the way, what I really think….and I accept that would be a two way process, but better that then all the back stabbing that goes on sometimes. I also compel you to do nothing, you do what you want , if you want…mine is not a rallying cry for anyone except those who may feel or think in a similar fashion.
    I can’t wont and never will please all the people all of the time, at best some people some of the time….a lesson our party forgets when it try to play nice with everyone and gets accused of being “fence sitters” or “wishy washy” ….although under Nick and the last 5 years those insults have rather been done away with.

    @ David Howarth my main point was that it caused a lot of internal friction, it was something that was pushed through, or however you want to word it, because it was seen as a vote winner without ever thinking we would have to follow through with it, especially in a coalition. When your gut tells you, this doesn’t sit well, sometimes its best to follow that and not keep ploughing ahead on sheer principle….which is all well and good but as we have found out it can end up with a real s*it storm. Not for a moment am I espousing not holding principles, especially those we hold as or core ones, but this was not one and from reading what you and others are saying it was hardly a policy that was ushered through with smiles and back slapping by all.

  • David Howarth 22nd Apr '15 - 12:30am

    @Rabih
    If a policy is both something you should do as a matter of ‘sheer principle’ and is also a ‘vote-winner’ don’t you think it might be worth ‘following through’ on it? If not, what kind of policy would be worth it? An unprincipled and unpopular one?

  • @ David
    I accept and agree with your point about the party processes.

    On the affordability point, I’m actually agreeing with you that it wasn’t in any fundamental sense ‘unaffordable’. But then nor is renewing Trident or raising the personal tax allowance or spending 2% of GDP on defence. It is a question of priorities and trade-offs. Those trade-offs are more acute when the government is running a huge budget deficit and has to reduce that deficit.

    The idea that either the tuition fees policy or the 2010 Lib Dem manifesto was ‘fully costed’ is simplistic and misleading. On a superficial level it is true, in that there were offsetting tax cuts and tax rises of approximately £17 billion and there was a series of itemised spending commitments that were more than covered by spending reductions elsewhere.

    This would be fine if it wasn’t for the fact that it was clear that any incoming government would have to make large net tax rises and/or spending cuts in order to tackle the massive deficit. The Lib Dems recognised this and specified that the bulk of the fiscal tightening should come on the spending side. (The only net tax rise was to be a bank profits levy; Clegg and Cable said that aside from that measure fiscal tightening should be focused on spending reductions. To quote from the manifesto: “Over and above our planned new levy on the profits of banks, we will seek to eliminate the deficit through spending cuts. If, in order to protect fairness, sufficient cuts could not be found, tax rises would be a last resort.”)

    The manifesto contained new spending commitments totalling £5.4 billion per year by 2014-15, and spending reductions totalling £16 billion (bizarrely, the bank profits levy was scored as a spending cut rather than a tax rise). So on the face of it there was a net saving/yield of £10.6 billion. In fact, however, the genuine saving was considerably lower than this. For example, one of the biggest savings came from a proposal to cap public sector pay rises to a cash limit of £400 for 2 years: but the Labour government had already set out plans to cap public sector pay on a slightly different basis and these savings were part of the existing Treasury baseline. The Lib Dem plan was simply an alternative way of achieving the same goal, not an additional saving of £3.6 billion relative to unchanged government policy.

    So the true net saving was not as high as £10.6 billion; but in any case this figure – amounting to about 0.7% of GDP – was a small fraction of the savings the Lib Dems themselves acknowledged needed to be made. There was therefore a massive hole in terms of unspecified spending reductions which the manifesto did not set out even in terms of the broad aggregates. The latest (2015) manifesto doesn’t allocate the departmental cuts required up to 2017-18 but it does at least give total spending figures which set out the ‘envelope’ within which any new spending commitments will have to be met. The 2010 manifesto did not do that. The fact that it shows a spending commitment in the form of scrapping tuition fees and savings that notionally finance it does not cut much ice given the need for much larger overall savings. The UK public finances do not work in such a way that specific pools of revenue are hypothecated for particular uses: it all goes into, and comes out of, the same pot. So the reality is that the tuition fees policy along with the other spending commitments would have to be financed from a shrinking overall budget, and the failure to specify the cuts meant the increases could not be regarded as funded.

  • In essence the point I am making here is the same one that Adam Corlett made in his recent post highlighting the hole in UKIP’s fiscal arithmetic. Their plans too are ‘fully costed’, in the sense that there are £32 billion of tax and spending ‘giveaways’ funded by ‘takeaways’ of the same magnitude. The costings are professionally presented and have been audited by a respected economics consultancy. The slight problem is that a plan in which the two sides of the ledger merely balance each other does nothing to reduce the budget deficit which they say they regard as vital…

  • Eddie Sammon 22nd Apr '15 - 12:58am

    Rabih Makki, I’ve read most of what you have said here and I agree with what you say. I first started reading about the Liberal Democrats and politics seriously in 2012 (I had a casual interest before then) and I was astonished at how out of touch the party was with public opinion. I think it has got better, but my first thoughts were “the party needs to move to the right a bit on the economy and toughen up majorly on crime, defence and immigration”.

    My views have made me a bit of a pariah at times, but I don’t always pander to the public. Soon after I started reading this website the benefit cuts started to be implemented and there was silence because of what I called “internal nuclear warfare” over secret courts. It was off-putting.

    Regards

  • David Howarth 22nd Apr '15 - 1:19am

    @Alex
    There is a much easier way of looking at this ex post. Go to the Treasury Red Books for 2010-15 and collect together all the policy decisions marked as negative – that is to say all the tax cuts and spending increases that have been proposed since the last election. If from those items you can find £3.3bn p.a. (that is a £1.7bn spending increase plus a £1.6bn saving not taken) that you think is less important than reducing tuition fees, then for you the fees policy was affordable. If you can’t, it wasn’t. I’d start with the £6 bn p.a. cut in corporation tax and the £2 bn cut in petrol tax, but perhaps other people think that every penny of those was more important than cutting tuition fees.

  • Eddie Sammon 22nd Apr '15 - 1:27am

    By the way, we should try to keep it civil too. It’s good to be able to have a laugh with people who you disagree with.

    Regards

  • What I seem to be seeing are some people on the far right of the Party who have been very happy about coalition with the Tories based on ideological, not political considerations, suddenly becoming very nervous as they consider the prospect of their reign coming to an abrupt and painful end.

  • Alex Sabine 22nd Apr '15 - 3:05am

    @ David
    Yes that is a fair way to present it. As I say, it is a question of priorities. The coalition has delivered large tax cuts through the increase in the personal allowance (this is the biggest ‘giveaway’ item), lower fuel duty and lower corporation tax; and large tax rises through the hike in VAT (the biggest ‘takeaway’), a watered-down version of Labour’s planned National Insurance increase, pulling more people into the 40p tax bracket and a series of tax rises affecting mainly the wealthy (higher stamp duty rates, higher CGT – although it’s far from clear this has brought in any revenue – extended nominal freeze in the top-rate threshold etc). Overall it has raised a modest amount of net revenue but there has been a large ‘churn’ within this total reflecting the priorities of both coalition partners. It could have foregone £3.3 billion from the tax-cutting side had it deemed scrapping tuition fees a higher priority. Similarly, the decision to ringfence a large proportion of the government budget was another striking statement of priorities.

    As you imply, it was open to the coalition government to make different decisions about priorities. I certainly thinking protecting the schools budget was more important than funding the abolition of university fees, for example. I think the pensions ‘triple lock’ was over-generous in the context of the squeeze on working-age welfare, etc. But you could make trade-offs in other places.

    You highlight the corporation tax and fuel duty reductions. The latter have been pretty important in limiting the squeeze on living standards, especially earlier in the parliament when the oil price and consumer price inflation were higher.

    Corporation tax cuts may mot be particularly crowd-pleasing because – unlike, say, a penny off income tax or a higher personal allowance – the benefits are widely dispersed among workers, consumers and shareholders (the academic literature and empirical evidence on the incidence of corporation tax is pretty clear on this). But by reducing the cost of capital the significant cuts in corporation tax have created a better climate for investment and reduced the bias towards companies using debt rather than their own funds (or new equity issues) to finance that investment, which are beneficial for the economy in the medium term. Moreover, corporation tax is one area of the tax system where lower rates can support overall revenue longer term due to the international mobility of corporate profits (such ‘dynamic’ arguments are less convincing in respect of taxes on less mobile eg VAT or NI) and competition for inward investment.

    In the end it is a judgement call about priorities and in government the Lib Dems decided there were higher priorities for which to go into battle than tuition fees. The fact that it wasn’t one of the four key manifesto commitments strongly suggests to me that those war-gaming the coalition negotiations had already decided they weren’t going to make it a sticking point with either the Tories or Labour. That in turn may have reflected their own views about the policy (I don’t know for sure – you will doubtless have drawn your own conclusions about that based on your inside knowledge of the internal policy debates). Raising fees instead was always going to be painful and damaging for the party given its association with this issue going back to the 2005 election and before. But the damage was massively amplified by the foolish decision to sign the NUS pledge – which, as you say, was not made by activists but by the campaigns people. Presumably they were acting on the authority of the party leadership (?), in which case it is the leadership that should take the blame for the tactical fiasco.

  • Alex Sabine 22nd Apr '15 - 3:07am

    (my comment above is in reply to David Howarth not David-1)

  • David Howarth 22nd Apr '15 - 7:10am

    @Alex
    On corporation tax, what you say might be true in theory but in practice a large amount of the money has simply disappeared into the already bloated cash balances of UK corporations and so has helped no one. (It’s also a bad idea to take part in the race to the bottom on corporate tax rates – it just erodes the global tax base).
    On petrol tax, admittedly opposing the cut would have been divisive within the party. There was always tension within the parliamentary party between the greens and the rurals. with the latter usually being dominant. Here the conference has been different, being more usually more green than rural. But I was a green not a rural and so for me that money would have been better spent on tuition fees.

  • @David-1 get over yourself 😉

    What you’ll find is that people on the right (not *far* right – that’s a very naughty dog whistle) have been committed to making the current situation as successful as possible in as pragmatic a way as possible. We will do the same with the hand we are dealt in the new parliament. And if that means Tim Farron and a Labour coalition do be it. Not our choice, but we rill roll up our sleeves and get on with it. As we did in the pre-Clegg era too.

    The majority opinion on this board has not adopted the same posture during the last five years and we find that irksome.

  • Rabih Makki 22nd Apr '15 - 8:39am

    @ David Howarth it was a vote winner on on a certain section that it was in all honesty aimed towards thinking we would never have to follow through with it….and as it turned out that was the case…just because we all think “hang on that will make us popular” doesn’t mean its a good policy, a good policy isn’t always just a populist one as we know.

    @ Eaddie Salmon, thank you and glad we have agree, for to long a certain part of the party no matter who is leader or what direction the party goes have thought this is “their” party like some little social club and anyone who dared challenge that viewpoint was made to feel a perish or worse as you say.
    As @ David-1 has clearly and eloquently demonstrated with his disturbing, disgraceful and telling post.
    To say we are basically Tories in disguise is again being thrown at us, although 25 years in one party without a wobble seems to not prove that I/we are Liberals to the core. When I or others dare suggest some on here are closer to Labour we are taken to task and told we are wrong….but it seems, yet again, this only works one way….how very convenient for you all.

    When David-1 you say “your reign coming to an abrupt and painful end” it does sound almost like a threat, one that i am guessing you’d not make to my face hiding behind your anonymity as you do.
    First there is no “reign” its not as if Nick had a coronation, he won a leaders election. Second its painful for us ALL whats happening to the party, that you gloat about it, seem happy about it so you can or think you can come in post May 8th and “take over” is not only sad but tragic, you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself as that pretty much the implicit thinking behind your post. What will you do David, will you root us out, will you have a cull, will you make us pay??!!

    Your post sums up what I and others have had to put up with for far to long, this attitude that the party is yours and yours alone and that we “borrowed it” and now when you get it back with a big smirk on your face you’ll do what you want with it and make those who in your eyes bought it to ruin to their knees or force them out.

    I’ll make it simple David united(no matter which way the party decides to go) we stand or dived(as you and others seem to love to perpetuate) we will fall. So drop the anonymity, drop me a personal message and lets talk face to face about what you and others think you will do post May 8th….have the bottle to issue such talk to my face and follow through with it, least then Id respect you even a little. I look forward to our meeting David, truly I do.

  • Rabih Makki 22nd Apr '15 - 8:44am

    @ TCO….you make my pint so much more eloquently! But basically thats exactly it, always has been and will be, shame not everyone can or does act in the best interest of the party but of themselves or their small clique.

  • ….I joined because I thought Paddy was an immense and charismatic character and I put up with the parties left leaning stance because of that, but was/am an economic Liberal at heart. Now the party is more in tune with my thoughts as well as the current leader, so from 25 years I have 7 happy and the rest just getting along….but unlike some not throwing my toys out the pram when I didn’t have the leader or policies I wanted………

    History has been littered with immense and charismatic characters” but I’m sure I wouldn’t be joining anything led by most of them….
    However, unless my maths are drastically mistaken,t 25 years ago the Tory party was led by a certain Margaret Hilda Thatcher, as charismatic as they come, whose politics seem far more in keeping with yours than those of the party you supposedly joined….
    I find it strange that, with all the alternatives, you spent 18 years “just getting along” in a party whose policies you felt at odds with.

  • @expats who are you to tell Rab (or me) what we are or what we believe in? Liberalism is not defined and owned by the left wing of the party like some sort of Trotskyite orthodoxy which can never be deviated from.

  • Rabih Makki 22nd Apr '15 - 9:26am

    & TCO…my reply(as a lot of mine) is being moderated but thank you and i could not agree more….my reply is a little bit more “muscular’ but pretty much you summed it up….this is exactly what we have been saying so thank you Expats for proving our point so neatly.

  • TCO 22nd Apr ’15 – 9:14am….I didn’t tell Rab what to believe in; HE said he didn’t believe in the values of the party he joined….I note, that yet again, you, and those like you, fall back on the “Lefty”,”Trotskyite” generalisations when a nerve is touched…

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 22nd Apr '15 - 9:35am

    This thread is getting out of hand. Do you know what, every day, for the last five years, social liberals and economic liberals have been working side by side without rancour for the party. The way this party has actually stuck together through the most difficult few years that most of us have known has actually been remarkable.

    Most Liberal Democrat members and activists go through their lives showing a great deal more maturity than many of the participants in this thread. Can you just stop your pointless mud-slinging?

    We’re going to have to keep cool heads after the election as we seek to rebuild the party. Even if we win every single key seat, there are vast areas of the country where we have lost a presence. That will take energy and intelligence – and will not be helped by the sort of disgraceful discourse we have seen here. Do you have any idea how off-putting this is to most people reading it?

    My suggestion is that you all start showing a bit of respect and acceptance that this party is quite a broad church – and wherever we stand on the economy, there is a massive amount of common ground on other issues.

  • @expats “….I didn’t tell Rab what to believe in; HE said he didn’t believe in the values of the party he joined….”

    Yes you did, and I quote: “Margaret Hilda Thatcher … whose politics seem far more in keeping with yours than those of the party you supposedly joined.”

    You are directly accusing him of being a Conservative.

    “I note, that yet again, you, and those like you, fall back on the “Lefty”,”Trotskyite” generalisations when a nerve is touched…”

    No, I used the term “Trotskyite” because its commonly accepted short-hand for the defining a narrow set of beliefs that everyone must subscribe to or face expulsion, demonization or purging.

  • Rabih Makki 22nd Apr '15 - 9:50am

    Hi Caroline, I agree and you make some very lucid and good points.
    My issue is that those after a period of a relative love in on this and other forums are challenged within the party and they immediately resort to mud slinging and worse….I would call in bullying but I fear what came out my nose this morning more than any of them. However you do have a point its not very edifying for those reading from the outside, although it does shine a light on the issues we have in the party.

    As TCO points out people telling myself and others what we are or what we believe is not just illiberal but just plain wrong.
    To clarify I said that back in 1990 I did not but in to the entire policy of the party but still joined as they were the most closely correlated to mine then as they are now. As with most people no one agrees 100% with every policy but its the vast majority that leads you to join or vote for them. Expats and others assume unless I and others believe 100% no questions asked we are thus heretics. I never said I didn’t believe, I said I didn’t agree with all, still don’t even though the party has shifted much more to my personal political standpoints.

    So Expats and others believe anyone would join a party and stay a member for 25 years, and many of them standing for local elections and pounding the streets year after year if they didnt believe in that party??! Its a ludicrous and frankly stupid assertion and shows that people would rather attack falsely when challenged then step back and actually try to come up with a cohesive and rational arrangement.

    I accept I can be a little muscular in my arguments, but when many a time is many against the few you do have to be a little bit more verbose in your response.
    Offense was never meant, although i still stick to the fact anyone making accusations about how I feel or what i am and does it from a position of anonymity is no better than a troll or bully.

  • matt (Bristol) 22nd Apr '15 - 9:51am

    What Caron said.

  • Sorry! that should obviously have been Caron, I apologise.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 22nd Apr '15 - 10:05am

    Rabih, just because you use your name doesn’t make your rudeness any more justifiable than people who don’t. There are valid reasons why people might not like to use their full names when commenting on a public forum – professional (and in this day and age, people are coming up against their employers complaining about all sorts of online activity).

    The mudslinging, wherever it comes from, has got to stop.

  • Agree fives me no more right, however people do use it to also hide behind as well as for perfectly valid reasons as you point out. Hence why I have said to those people lets take it offline and chat face to face, then no issues on here and everyone is happy. Evidently though most ignore or refuse because unlike me they are using that anonymity not for the justified reasons you set out but basically to hide behind when the going gets tough.

    I may be a nasty so and so, but least I do it as me, for whatever reason. You’re right about toning it down, though don’t think the mud slinging will ever stop, nature of the beast I fear.

  • Caron Lindsay 22nd Apr ’15 – 10:05am…….The mudslinging, wherever it comes from, has got to stop…..

    Caron, Point taken. Please accept my apologies…….

  • @Caron in the spirit of the détente that is breaking out I’d like to offer the Olive Branch to expats

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/staticarchive/fddcd769c921bcd1c02a2c97c724e6b010736e23.gif

  • Sadly Rabih Makki’s last response to me is again wrong. He clearly has no knowledge of the facts when he says “you think this one thing undermines 30 years of work is not just ludicrous but so outrageous it does make me think that you are either just spouting this to wind people up.” Since Nick became leader we have gone down from 4,400 councillors to less than 2,300. The last time we were at this level was 1983. That’s thirty two years Rabih. Sadly it seems in the last week or so you have become a keyboard warrior for Nick and the “head in the sands brigade.” If you are serious about Liberal Democracy, I suggest you get out and do some canvassing. Sheffield Hallam would be very pleased to get your help!

  • @David Evans governing parties lose councillors between Westminster elections, and gain them in opposition. What’s your point exactly? If we didn’t have cycles of gains and losses we’d have a one party state.

  • AC Trussell 22nd Apr '15 - 1:32pm

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

  • Eddie Sammon 22nd Apr '15 - 2:11pm

    My favourite politicians criticise their own side, but it can go too far and look intolerant, so I kind of agree with Caron about the tone.

    Many of those on the left in politics sacrifice much progression in their own careers for their principles, so respect has to be given. These are often the people with the biggest hearts too.

    Regards

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 22nd Apr '15 - 4:11pm

    Eddie, there is no problem with criticising your own side – I do it all the time, but I try to criticise ideas and actions, not people. I have no doubt that all of our lot in government are decent liberals, even when they have done things that I totally disagree with and am livid about. That lack of tolerance and assumptions about people’s motivations is really disrespectful. Not from you, I hasten to add.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 22nd Apr '15 - 4:12pm

    @david evans: Do not make assumptions about what people may or may not have done for the party. In particular, do not make assumptions that because people don’t agree with you, it means they haven’t been campaigning.

  • @ Eddie Salmond 22nd Apr ’15 – 12:58am
    “was astonished at how out of touch the party was with public opinion … the party needs to move to the right … I think it has got better” (re-ordered).

    I was thinking if we say we had 24% of the vote in 2010 how was this composed? Some were Liberal Democrat through and through say 6%, then maybe 7% were those who might be called soft Labour and 5% who might be called soft Tory and 6% were protest voters who will not vote for a party of government.

    If Eddie was correct we could expect to see our vote increase as we got better at being in touch with public opinion. However this has not happened. Some say because we should remember we are a radical party that traditionally opposes conservatism and if we came over as that party again we would do better. What has happened is that the 7% who are soft Labour mostly vote Labour, the protest voters after being told to vote for other parties now vote for parties such as UKIP and Green and the majority of those who are soft Tory now vote Conservative.

  • Eddie Sammon 22nd Apr '15 - 5:03pm

    Thanks Caron.

    Hi Michael, you are correct that there are problems with my analysis, or perhaps that it is incomplete and that is why I have wanted more research on why people don’t vote Lib Dem.

    I have to cut the debate short there though because I can feel myself getting stressed at things in my private life and I need to focus on that right now.

    Best regards

  • David Evans 22nd Apr '15 - 5:41pm

    Caron – I have made no such assumptions. I suggest you re-read my posts and if you find any where you think you have found such assumptions, let me know the specifics and I will discuss.

  • David Allen 22nd Apr '15 - 6:07pm
  • @AC Trussell
    “And of course hardly any of the media is shouting about the fact that Ed Milliband is giving £10,200 to those on £37,350 and nothing-nada! to those that earn less than £33,500…How can a reasonable truth be told to the people?”

    How indeed! Of course Miliband is not “giving” £10,200 to anybody; he is charging them £10,200 less, which is different. The amount charged will still be huge and it will still be far more than people were charged before 2012.

    As for giving nothing to those earning less – not true, as there will be more help on maintenance grants. Even if you look at the tuition fee cut in isolation, it still benefits the low paid because it gives them the assurance that they can strive to be better paid without having to pay off quite such an enormous debt. For those starting out with nothing, this will be important.

    This “Labour’s policy does nothing for the poor” argument is a bit bizarre when you actually look at things in context. The 2012 reforms already reduced payments for the low-paid. Nobody complained about that particular aspect of it. They were the only people who really benefitted from it. The people who were really battered by the coalition were those on average incomes. When you’re trying to alleviate the effects of a policy that helps a few while clobbering others, you don’t give more help to the few who were already being helped while clobbering the others some more.

  • @Rabih
    “@ Stuart…..what evidence have you got the other way? Yes fees rose but what evidence or otherwise have you got that the party didn’t try to stop this or limit it in negotiations?”

    Are you seriously asking me to prove a negative? The OP made a positive assertion – that it was impossible for the Lib Dems to stop the Tories from forcing them to vote for higher fees – and it should be up to him to prove it. The mechanism by which the Tories achieved this feat has never been explained (was Derren Brown leading the Tory negotiating team??). Nor has anybody to my knowledge, including those involved, ever even claimed that the Lib Dems put up any defence whatsoever. But the OP makes an assertion that the Lib Dems had no choice – it should be up to him to demonstrate why that was so, but of course he hasn’t, because nobody ever has.

    And if nobody knows that the Lib Dems even tried – then those claiming they had no choice are deliberately putting out information they do not know to be true.

  • @ Stuart

    David Laws in his book ‘22 days in May’, seems to write that at no time did the Lib Dems say they wanted to keep their tuition fee pledge. I haven’t heard anyone say David Laws misrepresented what happened on this issue.

  • All, first I want to apologise if I upset or offended anyone, not my intention.
    I called Caron yesterday to chat and have apologised directly to her and do so again here publically for taking up her time and energy when in the middle of a hard fought election.
    She and many others rightly say we have much more important things to do at the moment and she is correct, I have “pledged” to respect that wish to keep things civil and without personal attacks or assumptions.

    I would say David Evans that saying you have made no such assumptions is breath taking…you should be a politician!
    Without getting in to it again calling me a “keyboard warrior” without knowing or having the first clue about what I have and continue to do for the party is an assumption. As is dismissing me and others as “Tories” just because we don’t agree with you and you outlook….again not just an assumption but wrong, rude and untrue.

    I would suggest that post-election some of us on here meet face to face and discuss in a friendly atmosphere be it in London or at conference in Bournemouth, we may never be chums but we are members of the same party so let’s at least understand each other and work for OUR party and not just our self-interest.

    So that’s my public apology which in unconditional and my public olive branch to meet and resolve things if we can.
    Look forward to some positive replies….or at least replied which don’t take about Caron’s or anyone else’s time havimng to moderate us. Thanks.

  • Matthew Huntbach 23rd Apr '15 - 11:24am

    Rabih Makki

    better that then all the back stabbing that goes on sometimes

    And there you go again. Democratic debate when it includes expression of opinions which differ from the faction which have captured the leadership is described by you and others of your mindset in insulting terms such as “throwing toys out of the pram” and “backstabbing”.

    Sorry Rabih, you may believe in the Leninist model of politics where we have to accept without complaint whatever is the party line this week as given to us by The Glorious Leader. But I am a liberal, I am against that sort of thing.

  • Matthew Huntbach

    So far from read my last comment you launch in to your own tirade against me, you may be a liberal but you certainly can’t either let things go or see that your words are to me as insulting, as polarising and as offensive that you think mine are.
    Calling me a “Leninist” and basically accusing me of not being a liberal….now Mathew I ask you what’s the difference between your terminology to put me down to mine which you are so offended about?
    As promised though I will not bite nor engage but to say to take offense but being offensive back is a little odd…although clearly you think you are not being offensive as much as I did.

    So let’s leave it….or pick up face to face as I have said.

  • Matthew Huntbach 23rd Apr '15 - 11:43am

    TCO

    @Matthew I think Rab likened it to a marriage, and you don’t (or shouldnt) walk out if the door at the first disagreement

    I am not “married” to the Liberal Democrats. As a liberal I do not believe in the model of politics where you are supposed to express undying loyalty to a political party. To me, a political party is just a convenience, a voluntary association of people who work together because it helps get things done to work together, but one that can be broken up and new ones assembled if it is no longer helpful.

    I’ve always accepted that membership of a political party has to be a compromise between one’s own beliefs and practicality. Up till now, I’ve found the Liberal Democrats and Liberal Party work satisfactorily in that way for me. What sort of person do you suppose I am if after 35 years of membership of the party this is the first time I’ve been unhappy with what’s coming from the top? Someone without a capacity of independent thought, I think, or someone who follows the sort of top-down form of politics of the Leninists and the parties that governed Italy and Germany i n the 1930s because they like that sort of thing. So, there’s always been plenty of things coming from the top of the party I’m not happy with, and I almost dropped out when the Liberal-SDP merger took place over that. However, I’ve always accepted that on balance I can accept those differences because I am in a party which tolerates differences of opinion and where what I like about it more than balances what I dislike about it.

    However, if the party has moved permanently to the right, as people like Rabih Makki and Alex Sabine seem to be saying, so that in effect it stands for what the Conservative Party of the 1980s stood for, why should I remain a member? If I believed in that sort of thing I would have joined the Conservative Party in the 1980s. One of the reasons I joined the Liberal Party, however, was that I felt it to be the most effective opposition to the Conservative Party. I was quite strongly influenced by the 1973 by election in the constituency where I was growing up, with Des Wilson appealing to people like my family who had felt voiceless and unrepresented in a south that the electoral system made out was “true blue” as a radical Liberal candidate who seemed to know and understand what we cared for and how we the hidden side of the south lived, and would be our voice – and he nearly won it. So why should I want to remain in a party which has become the party that I first joined it to oppose?

  • 16 April 2014
    12:39

    @Matthew….don’t think I ever said this was permanent, please find where I said that before again i am misquoted.
    Also while its one way at the moment for many years it’s been to the left and I and many others stayed in the party, fought hard for it on the ground, and while we questioned as you do some policy decisions I personally never thought of leaving as I still believed overall, left or right, the party best represented my views.
    We all have a choice, we can work within or leave, i hope most would stick and work for OUR party no matter what our instinctive thoughts as much as possible.

    Here is an interesting article, yes its Huff Post but makes some salient points in my mind: http://m.huffpost.com/uk/entry/7087916

  • Matthew Huntbach 23rd Apr '15 - 12:06pm

    Rabih Makki

    So far from read my last comment you launch in to your own tirade against me, you may be a liberal but you certainly can’t either let things go or see that your words are to me as insulting, as polarising and as offensive that you think mine are.

    You were crowing about pushing the party to the right, and I am saying that if you do that, you should not expect me to want to stay a member, and you are no liberal as I believe that word means if you think that members have to put party loyalty before their own convictions.

    I have expressed many times in Liberal Democrat Voice why I dislike the Labour Party, and have no wish to be a member of it. A good part of that, but not all, is that I don’t like its model of political party, which is as I have described it, a weak form of what more strongly is Leninism.

    When you wrote “For me its simple, the love for the left in the party is so strong I just don’t get why many don’t go (back) to Labour or the Greens. The come back, because we are Liberals is almost laughable because thats usually not the case when you drill down most are social democrats or old school Labour at heart” that was SO insulting to me that I could not find the words to argue against it, so I let it go. This idea of yours that anyone who does not endorse the sort of right-wing economic policies that when I joined the party were called “Thatcherism” is a direct attack on ALL OF US who worked so hard at that time to build up the party so that people like you cold take it over and wreck it.

    It is obvious that you lack the liberalism to be able to tolerate a diversity of opinion and to be able to accept that people like me have a different sort of politics which while it may differ from yours is quite distinct from that of the Labour Party. If you wish to convince us that there is space in the broad framework of “liberalism” to include people like you who espouse right wing economics, then it does not help your case that you are so dismissive of long-term members who never interpreted it that way and joined a party which did not interpret it that way that you tell us to “go back” to a Labour Party we were never members of in the first place.

    But, anyway, we will see after this election. I will be leaving the party if it continues down the road people like you are pushing it. You and your type won’t have the hard work I put in when I did so much to build up the party in various places in the past. I wonder what the results will be in Lewisham in 2015 compared to what they were in 2010.

  • @Rab – quote from that article “The real issue I wanted to highlight is that there are more policies at stake than tuition fees, and it worries me that an organisation as large as the NUS thinks it is a good use of their money to try and over simplify politics and make it into a one policy election. In future, I hope that they will be more careful with their campaigns and leave the propaganda for the politicians.”

    Unfortunately its very simple – they are politicians. The NUS is a training ground for Labour Party careerists (much like the Oxford Union is for the Tories). If you don’t believe me look at a list of their past presidents and see how many are Labour Party MPs (or have been). Quite simply this is about maximising the number of Labour Party seats so theyu’ve a good choice of safe seats in about 10 years time.

  • @Rab this is rather telling, concerning the present NUS President (from wiki):

    “During the elections for NUS President (2013, 2014) Toni Pearce stood as a candidate with no official affiliation to a political party. However, Toni has been a member of the Labour Party since 2010, joining after the 2010 General Election”

  • @ Matthew Huntbach…
    Again I ask lets meet face to face and you can put those points to me and let’s see where we go from there.

    @ TCO completely agree, NUS have always had their own agenda and now even some of their own members think they have gone too far with the “Liar Liar” campaign that they would never have done with Labour under the same circumstances or worse. We all know the NUS is a breeding ground for the next Labour generation so why we ever tried to court them so publically is beyond me. You can say they laid a trap for us and we walked right in to it…won’t be doing that again!

  • @ TCO….again no surprise at all, from my uni days and I’m sure many others its always been the way and will continue to be I’m sure. That we signed the pledge so publically with such fanfare when even Labour shied away is very telling, we thought it was a great publicity coup but when the NUS’s natural party of affiliation wouldn’t sign the pledge that should have sent out alarms bells….but we instead took it as a back door way in with students, I suppose hindsight is a wonderful thing.

  • It was telling, I agree. But Labour didn’t sign it because they had no intention of keeping fees at just over £3,000. They knew the universities were squealing and Business Secretary Lord Mandelson had commissioned Lord Browne to review the “balance of contributions” to university finances. It was pretty clear that Browne would recommend a higher graduate contribution. Of course commissioning the review in late 2009 allowed Labour to side-step the thorny issue until the general election was safely out of the way, in the time-honoured fashion.

    All the parties are doing the same at this election with the Howard Davies commission on airport capacity. I doubt the Lib Dems will sign a pledge against expansion of Heathrow or Gatwick, whatever hay their local candidates (and their Tory opponents) may try to make about their personal opposition…

  • A significant number of Labour candidates did sign the pledge the following is an extract from the NUS Website…

    Signatories came from across the political spectrum. Of the 1,477 prospective parliamentary candidates who signed the pledge there were:

    531 Liberal Democrat
    265 Labour
    17 Conservative
    313 Green
    259 UKIP
    50 SNP
    10 Plaid Cymru
    32 Other
    All 57 elected Liberal Democrat MPs signed the pledge.

    They highlight all those who broke the pledge (including a small number of Conservatives) but also the Lib Dems who kept it:

    http://www.nus.org.uk/news/lib-dem-mps-who-voted-against-the-plans-aka-kept-the-pledge/

  • @Steve Way so why is their advertising campaign focusing on one party only?

  • @TCO
    I guess you’d have to ask them for a definitive answer, but I would say that:

    1. Only one Party leader made, then broke the pledge.
    2. Only one Party had a (I assume) 100% sign up to the pledge.
    3. Only one Party ran an entire PBB on the theme of “No more broken promises” then broke one that every candidate personally signed within months of the election.
    4. The apology, when it belatedly came, was for making the pledge, not for breaking it.
    5. They felt misled by only one Party corporately(as you point out above Labour never signed up corporately to it) and it was a whipped vote meaning that if the Party had got it’s way every Lib Dem MP would have broken their pledge.
    6. All the info (including the books!) that has come from those who were at the coalition negotiations show that it was never significantly argued that Lib Dems should be allowed to keep to their pledge.

    As I say you would have to really check with them, but as someone who only ever joined the Students Union as a student to access the facilities and has never been a member of any other Union or the Labour Party, I would say it is fairly obvious why the Lib Dems are the main targets……

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr ’15 – 12:35pm
    “… That we signed the pledge so publically with such fanfare when even Labour shied away is very telling, we thought it was a great publicity coup but when the NUS’s natural party of affiliation wouldn’t sign the pledge that should have sent out alarms bells….”

    Well only if you think politics is some sort of game and all you have to do is outwit the others by publicity coups and slick tactics.

    Some people have core beliefs. One such belief is that education should not be the preserve of thenrich. Most Liberal Democrats held to this view with regard to university education, despite frequent attempts to change the policy of the party over many years by a small but unrepresentative clique.

    You said in an earlier comment– “….I joined because I thought Paddy was an immense and charismatic character and I put up with the parties left leaning stance because of that,
    Now the party is more in tune with my thoughts as well as the current leader…”

    The problem is that your thoughts and the current leader’s views and record in government do not appeal to many voters.
    Any honest observer will tell you that opinion poll support of less than 10% continuing over a number of years is not going to win you many plaudits or prizes. Hopefully the party will improve in support over the next two weeks But there is little sign of that at the moment.
    If we are to rebuild the party we need to take into account the views of the 92% of voters who are turned off by Nick Clegg’s record in government.
    If the voters had wanted a Ken Clarke style Euro-Tory Party offering up the warmed up soup of yesterday’s economics of Thatcherism they would have voted for one long ago. The voters did not do that.

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr '15 - 2:24pm

    @ Steve Way….do we keep missing the point that we are not a majority government, this seems to be brushed off as just an excuse when its actually the reason why this happened. That its so easily ignored is why myself and many others in the party will continue to feel that the NUS campaign is politically motivated.
    If the Lib Dems were the bugger party or majority by all means go to town, but that was not the case, and the NUS seem to have ignored that Labour introduced these fees….didn’t see such a hate campaign from them against the Labour party then….again it does point to a political tactic by a union with very public connections to another party.
    If they’d done this before or attacked the other parties with the same venom then maybe Id belie that this was nothing more than “young Labour” pulling the strings.

  • ………………………But I would like to point out that raising tuition fees was a Conservative policy, one that the Lib Dems could not block!…………………

    Even if that were true, which it’s not, the LibDems could have openly abstained (this was in the coalition agreement) and stated that “With reluctance, junior partners, compromise, etc., etc.”… Instead, as with the NHS reorganisation, the LibDem leadership couldn’t wait to sign up….

    There has been 5 years of public unconditional support for Tory policies by the leadership…The loss of hundreds of hard working councillors, 9/10 MEPs, lost deposits and abysmal polls have done little to deter the same old, “We’re the only ones in step” attitude…

    Thread after thread telling us how well Clegg is doing at schools, on radio, etc. doesn’t hide the fact that the public don’t think so.. and they’re the people who matter.

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr '15 - 2:43pm

    @expats….that’s your opinion not fact in terms of the coalition agreement, to continually say the leadership couldn’t wait to sign up to anything you disagree with is more revelling about your stance than reality.
    Again I would point to people such as Vice & Tim, hardly bastions of the economic liberal wing saying it was better to be in and enacting some policy then on the outside grumbling we could implement none.

    All parties in government get a kicking and our party is realising this for the first time in a generation that in power you are never as popular as in opposition where you can just lob stuff in without much worry.
    I refer to my own local party…led the council for a couple of years and pre coalition had fallen to third place, nothing to do with Nick or the parliamentary party just the fact that after giving them a go people just didn’t want them in.
    To blame everything on Nick and the 57 MPs is easy, its comfy, it feels good(for you an others) but doesn’t mean its the case….people can just turn against a party regardless and then there is the political cycle and so many other reasons….people continually pinning it on one policy, one person is not just lazy its not true.
    If life was a nice straight line be wonderful but we all know that’s not the case. If we can’t see that so much was in play to contribute to our current situation I think many over simplify because of expedience if nothing else..

  • @John Tilley ” One such belief is that education should not be the preserve of the rich. Most Liberal Democrats held to this view with regard to university education, despite frequent attempts to change the policy of the party over many years by a small but unrepresentative clique.”

    John. It may surprise you to know that I too believe that (I presume you mean Higher) education should not be the preserve of the rich. Believing this does not automatically mean you have to subscribe to a policy of zero tuition fees. That is, I believe, a non-sequitur.

    Your logic goes like this:

    “I am a Liberal Democrat. I believe that education should not be the preserve of the rich. I believe that we should not charge graduates for tuition fees.”

    “He believes we should charge graduates for tuition fees therefore he believes that education should not be the preserve of the rich therefore he is not a Liberal Democrat.”

    Now – please explain to me how the current tuition fee regime makes education the exclusive preserve of the rich.

  • @John Tilley “If we are to rebuild the party we need to take into account the views of the 92% of voters who are turned off by Nick Clegg’s record in government.”

    Of course, 78% of voters were turned off by Charles Kennedy’s 2005 manifesto but we’ll let that pass.

    ” If the voters had wanted a Ken Clarke style Euro-Tory Party offering up the warmed up soup of yesterday’s economics of Thatcherism they would have voted for one long ago. The voters did not do that.”

    The voters have never been offered it, so how do we know?

  • David Evans 23rd Apr '15 - 3:24pm

    Rabih, I have never described you as a Tory. Presumably just another on your long list of your terminological inexactitudes when discussing people who you disagree with?

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr '15 - 3:26pm

    @ John Tilley…..you say about publicity coups and slick tactics like its not part of politics, I’m guessing you cant be that naïve to think that this is not at least part of the armoury?!

    Again you say the majority want X over a clique that want Y, we are a democratic party not a dictatorship so if various policies have been adopted why is it ones you agree with got by the exact some clique that ones you didn’t….you cant have it both ways….although that is a rather Lib Dem thing to do.

    Other than that I agree with TCO and his reply and questions…..and to add again please stop thinking the party is YOURS as if its the exclusive play thing for those that only agree with you, its just illiberal its incredibly patronising.

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr '15 - 3:28pm

    @ David Evans you don’t deny about your other accusations though? Nor that while not maybe describing me as a Tory you’ve made a good fist of painting as such….that you are now trying to wiggly out of it says a lot about you David.
    You’ve not answered my meet up question….nervous? or just a keyboard bully??

  • David Evans 23rd Apr '15 - 3:33pm

    Rabih, yet again you are misleading in your choice of words. The coalition agreement states “If the response of the Government to Lord Browne’s report is one that Liberal Democrats cannot accept, then arrangements will be made to enable Liberal Democrat MPs to abstain in any vote.” That shows theakes is right in his comment “the LibDems could have openly abstained (this was in the coalition agreement)” and you are wrong in your counter “that’s your opinion not fact in terms of the coalition agreement.”

    So I repeat my question to you which seems to remain perpetually unanswered “Are you just inventing statements to whip up some sort of hysteria? I think we all should know.”

  • David Allen 23rd Apr '15 - 3:35pm

    “You’ve not answered my meet up question….nervous? or just a keyboard bully??”

    This, frankly, is playing around on the edges of making a physical threat. The poster should be excluded forthwith.

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr '15 - 3:46pm

    @ David Evans so you are saying that they all should had abstained which would have done no good as Labour voted for it anyway. I know your counter would be “but we can then take the moral high ground by doing so” but the fact is at the time other coalition deals where yet to come and the party(wrongly in the end) thought lets keep our end of the deal, play nice with the Tories and they will reciprocate. As it turned out they did no such thing, but the vote was done by then, will we learn for the future no matter who we may side with…obviously.
    As to your question, this from a man that calls me “keyboard warrior” and that I am not a true liberal, I think I have answered you but you refuse to answer me….rather you sit and try to intimidate from, your own keyboard.

    @ David Allan….I think that’s playing on the edges of a libellous comment, accusing me of such when that is not the case. Merely that I would rather as I said in an earlier post meet with my accusers and detractors face to face then just on cyberspace, I always believe if you have a real issue with someone then step up, be an adult and look them in the eye. We all feel comfortable sat at home or work typing away, I am saying lets dispense with this and like true liberals have a discussion over a drink.
    However if someone is comfortable almost bullying but will then not meet the person they are trying to silence or worse then that says a lot more about them then me.

  • David Evans 23rd Apr '15 - 3:50pm

    No Rabih. I’m just point out that you are mistaken, yet again.

  • @Rabih
    The Pledge was written to take into account whether a party was in government or not. It was a personal pledge to do something very specific. Therefore I see no wriggle room for the fact that the Lib Dems were not the “Bugger” party (it made me laugh so I had to repeat it). The argument Clegg always tries to put is that he couldn’t implement the Lib Dem proposals and that, whilst a reasonable argument from the minority partner, does not excuse breaking the pledge. They are two entirely separate things. This was not a promise to be kept if the Party won, but if the candidate won, 57 won, 28 broke their pledge.

    Of course this is political, and of course the NUS are as good as a branch of Labour. Although they don’t have to be as they are democratic and just about every student joins (if only for the cheap beer). The fact it is political does not make the charge less valid.

    There were significant demonstrations at my Uni when fees were first introduced by Labour (I attended as a mature student between 1997 – 2001). And I remember the top up fees issues involved protests from the NUS and just under 100 Labour rebels in Parliament.

    I do not see how this would have been a deal breaker in 2010, and even if it were (and I supported the idea of a Lib Dem / Con coalition) it was an issue of personal integrity. The Lib Dems courted the Student vote more than the other parties and by breaking the pledge are now reaping what they sowed…

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr '15 - 3:55pm

    No David I’m not mistaken I just won’t be told I am by you just because you think I am that its true…..it seems the only way is the David Evans way and if anyone disagrees then god help them.
    All I would say is look again at my post from earlier after my chat with Caron, I least I have shown some contrition and held my hand up, you on the other hand plough on as if you are the centre of rightessness.
    I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry, with you in the party its a little of both.

  • @Rabih
    “you are saying that they all should had abstained which would have done no good as Labour voted for it anyway”

    Labour didn’t vote for the fees in 2010, hypocritical I know but true….
    The Government carried it 323 – 302

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr '15 - 4:04pm

    @Steve Way…Freudian slip that probably sums the situation up nicely I think.
    Bottom line is this, if your last line about parties reaping what the sow is true why then Thatcher and Blair(just taking recent memory) won multiple elections by absolute landslides having don some tritely inexcusable things that make tuition fees pale in to insignificance?

    Again you make it one dimensional, X led to Y directly, that’s it job done.
    It that were true then those two would have been murdered at the polls for so many unpopular(and illegal in some cases) policies or ventures they undertook.
    That they didn’t shows the public can let go some monumental things when they want. You and others are saying that tuition fees was bigger and more catastrophic than anything in the last 30 years almost….or is it that the perception was built up of the party as such that when a single thing went wrong the press, other parties, and those outside & within the party with an axe to grind had a field day?

    That we keep making it all so simplistic that telling a “lie” or braking a policy leads directly to electoral collapse is just fantasy and is not born out by other historical parallels.
    there is so much more at play here, that so many have bought in to the tuition fees its what’s done it is madness and disappointing, especially from those within the party that know better.

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr '15 - 4:11pm

    @ Steve, well hypocritical and down right political after introducing them, and I know some did vote that way, but the damage was done them brining them in….plus my point stands that so early in the coalition we wanted to “play nice” to get things through we desperately wanted….that we were royally [email protected] is another matter…if this vote had come say in 2012 or 13 things probably would have panned out differently, so was some of it political experience to get things we wanted through later in the coalition, yes, was it short-sighted or naïve, in hindsight yes…was it a lie and evil…no.

  • expats 23rd Apr ’15 – 2:27pm
    “………The loss of hundreds of hard working councillors, 9/10 MEPs, lost deposits and abysmal polls have done little to deter the same old, “We’re the only ones in step” attitude…
    Thread after thread telling us how well Clegg is doing at schools, on radio, etc. doesn’t hide the fact that the public don’t think so.. and they’re the people who matter.”

    I share your frustration. It is not even effective as propaganda. 70 years of The Soviet Union telling their people that they were living in paradise did not make it true and did not convince anybody other than the most slavish of disciples.
    You would have thought that people would have learned the lesson by now.

    We saw this last year in the run up to the EP election and the local elections. People within LDV constantly posting comments saying that all was OK and as election day got nearer things would turn out well.
    Accusations were made that all those sounding warning bells or saying that it does not look that in the real world were denounced as traitors or “doom mongers”.
    Such accusations do not inspire enthusiasm or loyalty.
    The game is now almost up for those who insist that everything is OK.
    We really should be concentrating on doing whatever is best to rebuild the party.
    I do hope that nobody is planning recriminations or revenge simply because some members and activists have repeatedly told the truth as they see it.

  • @Rabih
    “You and others are saying that tuition fees was bigger and more catastrophic than anything in the last 30 years almost”

    Sorry but this is a bit of a straw man comment, I’d like you to show me where I’ve said or insinuated this? In my view the overriding difference with other similar issues is that individuals are being held to account for breaking their individual pledge.

    As to why didn’t Thatcher suffer, look at the state of the opposition. Foot then Kinnock never connected with the public and Labour went into complete self destruct for most of the 80’s becoming a joke to most middle of the road voters. Let’s not forget the jingoism after the Falklands War, that alone pretty much sewed up an election. After 1992 Labour under Smith then Blair were a different kettle of fish leading to the landslide of 1997. Thatcher was toppled by her own long before Labour became effective in opposition.

    As for Blair, he is now one of the most reviled politicians of our time. Also after Iraq conflict became widely known and “top up fees” etc his majority went from 167 to just 66. In a similar way to Labour in the 80’s the Tories went through Hague, IDS and Michael Howard and their own trauma’s between 1997 and 2005.

    So I don’t think Party’s haven’t been punished previously when they have mislead the electorate. The saving grace for the Lib Dems is just how ineffective Labour have been…

  • I’ve never called it evil, but it was at best misleading to those who voted as a result of the pledge. My line has always been that if you fail to keep such a prominent promise it is a lack of personal integrity. People’s personal word should mean something, especially if you are asking for something as important as a persons vote.

  • sorry should say “the impact of the Iraq conflict became widely known”

  • Stephen Hesketh 23rd Apr '15 - 5:17pm

    Steve Way 23rd Apr ’15 – 4:35pm
    “My line has always been that if you fail to keep such a prominent promise it is a lack of personal integrity. People’s personal word should mean something, especially if you are asking for something as important as a persons vote.”

    I agree. Particularly such a public pledge – effectively to both students and their families – and when we had made such a point of our party being different to the others. It is a claim we will not be able to make for decades without tuition fees being thrown back in our faces.

    Some claim that making the pledge in the first place was naïve. I don’t believe it was, but even if it were, exactly what was breaking such a popular and very public pledge but not foreseeing the backlash?

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr '15 - 5:30pm

    @ John….not sure what your point is as I never indicated that things were not bad, when have I said in any post things are all good and we will come out of this election well? No rather then being fatalistic I am pragmatic that yes we will get as with the local and Euros a good kicking, is that based on one undelivered policy? No
    What about all the policies we got to deliver for the first time in a generation, actual Lib Dem policy at national level….strange how that is just skimmed over and the negatives are picked up. I know human nature dictates that that may be easier to dislike than to like something, we feel more combative and “up for it” if we are fighting against something, but we seem to have turned the last 5 years in to almost a single issue or a single person. I think we judge ourselves almost harsher than others, maybe we should, but you would think we would reflect, even as we approach a bit of a kicking in 2 weeks some pride in actually what we have achieved while pondering and learning from what we didn’t.
    I hope as you do members don’t seek out who THEY think is responsible for petty revenge and recrimination, if we are one party to do “it was them not me” act would be tat amount to a betrayal much bigger than anything students think has taken place….we must not turn in on ourselves or self obsess no matter what May 8th brings, we must rebuild and reenergise from that point.

    @ Steve my point is the almost overkill on this subject feels to enormous, so overreaching that the other parties must be thinking is that all it takes for that lot to tear each other apart? They don’t need to turn there fire on us as we are doing a good job ourselves. As echoed by your comments re Labour in the 80s and Tories post Major do we really want that fate for ourselves, when compared to what they did to the country we were in a simplistic way a force for good at the heart of a potentially dangerous Tory government.
    If voters think that every word, policy or promise a politician makes is any stronger than there sin every day life when things around us force us to adapt and change position all the time then why are they setting the bar for them higher then themselves. Ive always marinated this perception that politician’s should almost be perfect, Zen like people that make no mistakes, that never let you down or make compromises is madness. Why in the end should they be, from those of us that have help local office to higher office we are as fallible as anyone on the street. I agree standards should be maintained in terms of integrity in office, in terms of legality, but to expect any election official to be almost perfect sets them up to fail…and fail they/we do.
    Its a balancing act between having integrity and honesty(which I agree with obviously) but also knowing that no one in any walk of life is perfect or wont make mistakes, even big ones.
    Nick has apologised, many times, it seems almost petulant that many refuse that apology and throw it back in his face. It shows a lack of good grace when someone sincerely apologises & holds out their hand to continually refuse it and push it away.

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr ’15 – 3:46pm …………. so you are saying that they all should had abstained which would have done no good as Labour voted for it anyway………….

    Do you make up things as you go along? Labour voted against it…..The vote was carried by a mere 21 votes (6 Tories and 21 LibDems rebelled…8 LibDems and 2 Tories abstained)…Had the 36 LibDems abstained the vote would have been lost..

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr '15 - 5:54pm

    @ expats….and do you ignore the fact that if that happened the Tories would have reneged on things, which even though they did down the line we did not know in 2010.
    So yet again you and others tell the part of the story you want, that had the parliamentary party abstained as a whole all would have been lovely….without taking in to account the fall out from that.
    Again this type of straight line politics, where everything is simple and has no conscience on anything else just baffles me.
    Its the old “butterfly” effect, while that policy would not have gone through(not then anyway, sure they would have tried again….and again…) the consequences/fallout are unknown but may have been even worse. You will argue what’s worse, you will argue if that broke the coalition at that point wonderful….but it didn’t and we are where we are. Shall we relive it day after day and week after week or actually try to get on and move on? Seems some enjoy wallowing in this far to much.

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr ’15 – 5:54pm ,,…[email protected] expats….and do you ignore the fact that if that happened the Tories would have reneged on things, which even though they did down the line we did not know in 2010……..

    What has this post to do with your erroneous claim that Labour voted for the Tuition fee increase?….

    You have a habit of making statements which are wrong, ignoring those who question you on them and creating yet another straw man….

  • David Evans 23rd Apr '15 - 6:27pm

    Rabih, I don’t think I have ever stated that you were not a true liberal, but yet again you persist in putting words in others’ mouths, using inverted commas to imply authenticity and then accusing those that point it out of being somehow unreasonable. Did you ever succeed in getting elected to your local Council? I think we can see why you may have struggled.

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr '15 - 6:40pm

    @ expats….well they voted them in and then only voted against purely & simply to curry favour after the deed was done by them already, in my book that’s as bad if not worse than what we might have done they did in while in government and the moment in opposition take a different stacte for political expedience.
    I thing habit is something formed over time, one statement does not make a habit, its like me saying you have a habit of being pretentious and aloof….just saying it doesn’t make it so.

    @ David I really hope Caron and others take note of your posts. While not name calling you are a truly horrid little man. You called me a “keyboard warrior” and implied so many others things David, this is fact.
    Now you question my standing for council and cast aspersions on me…tell you what my friend enough, next comment like that and we will have a serious issue. For me you’ve over stepped the mark with such remarks, I suggest you think very carefully about your next post or this will I promise reach beyond this forum.

  • John Roffey 23rd Apr '15 - 6:50pm

    Rabih Makki 20th Apr ’15 – 5:13pm

    “…and still you go on and on…until Tim comes in, takes us back to 20-23%….and we get no sniff of power and hence back to being a debating group at best.
    I think a few people are adverse to power, its grubby to you, it has to be pure and power in any form, be it as a parent, a boss or politician is never so.
    You are in the wrong game gents if you want to keep your hands clean, might be unpalatable but true.
    Oh and David-1 if people resign every time something they don’t like goes through then we would be a (bigger) laughing stock then we are at times, especially when it comes to our leaders…a ridiculous and rather childish comment.”

    So power for power’s sake is the way forward? Do you have a problem with the Party carefully developing a set of policies that appeal to the majority – that would make the country a better place to live for the vast majority in the longer-term?

    Have you no ambition – or is it just the lust for power? The Tories – because of their short-termism and preparedness to sink to depths with their electioneering – have placed themselves in the vulnerable position of being removed as one of the two main parties in the near future.

    Why not aim for the Party to be the one that replaces them and for the benefit of all?

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr '15 - 7:08pm

    @ John…I will keep it simple as David has rather pushed me in to a rather bad mode, so I will take a deep breath and say….

    No not power for powers sake, interpret as you wish but clearly that’s not what Vie said, always a nice easy one to sling at someone though. But being afraid of power when in the end that is how you implement those very policies seems to be a brain freeze for many.

    Again with the insults….yes I have ambition, trust me if I wanted power I would stay in the commercial world I am in with much more money , power and control then any politician could ever dream of.
    So that particular accusation is again based on your own bias and not reality.
    Lastly why the Tories, why not replace Labour as we once thought we might pre Blair? Is your lust to destroy the Tories such that Labour yet again get a free ride?
    I dislike both parties as much as each, any including you have a quite obvious, lets call it warm feeling toward Labour(or so it seems) but for me supplementing either for the benefit for all is a good thing.

    So I will say again I have zero time for the Tories nor Labour, unlike many in the party, without pointing fingers have never filtered nor been tempted by any other party, so this continual flow of marking me out to be some pale blue is insulting, wrong and just not the case. Do you not think if I was that way inclined Id have jumped ship many years ago? If all I wanted was power, if all I wanted was glory, if that was my “lust” then joining one of the big two parties would have satisfied that a lot easier than being a Lib Dem for 25 years.
    Slightly sick of having to justify myself, but there you go…again.

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr ’15 – 6:40pm ……………[email protected] expats….well they voted them in and then only voted against purely & simply to curry favour after the deed was done by them already, in my book that’s as bad if not worse than what we might have done they did in while in government and the moment in opposition take a different stacte for political expedience………….

    So now you agree that Labour did vote against the tuition fees. However, as Labour are the only party ever to change policies when in opposition we still have a condemnation of them….
    LibDems, on the other hand, merely changed from what they said in opposition to what they did in government…Clearly, a far more moral position….

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr '15 - 7:29pm

    @ excpats….again you seem almost determined to run the party down, are you even a Lib Dem?
    Regardless We made a pledge in opposition that when in government we found could not be delivered because of the finances and being in a coalition,….Labour introduced them, would have hiked them up(as in the manifesto) but voted against having already done the dirty and set the ball rolling…now that pretty despicable.

    What we did was not great nor particularly edifying, but to keep running the party down while defending the very party that originally reneged on the deal, or at least not giving them the kicking they deserve is perplexing.
    You keep going on this point and ignoring all the policies that we did get to introduce, that’s a great things to bang on about 2 weeks pre election, then again that may be your plan.

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr ’15 – 7:29pm ………………@ excpats….again you seem almost determined to run the party down, are you even a Lib Dem?……

    No! I’m not a Lib(Dem)…… However, For 50 years, excepting 1997, I was….I don’t believe I’ve left the party; the party has left me….
    Will I return> Not as long as you, and those like you, are it’s voice…

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr '15 - 8:04pm

    @expats…very poetic, the party left you, dear me.
    Well all the best because me and “those like me” will be around quite some time.

  • John Roffey 23rd Apr '15 - 8:05pm

    Rabih Makki 23rd Apr ’15 – 7:08pm

    “No not power for powers sake, interpret as you wish but clearly that’s not what Vie said, always a nice easy one to sling at someone though. But being afraid of power when in the end that is how you implement those very policies seems to be a brain freeze for many.

    Again with the insults….yes I have ambition, trust me if I wanted power I would stay in the commercial world I am in with much more money , power and control then any politician could ever dream of.
    So that particular accusation is again based on your own bias and not reality.
    Lastly why the Tories, why not replace Labour as we once thought we might pre Blair? Is your lust to destroy the Tories such that Labour yet again get a free ride?
    I dislike both parties as much as each, any including you have a quite obvious, lets call it warm feeling toward Labour(or so it seems) but for me supplementing either for the benefit for all is a good thing.

    So I will say again I have zero time for the Tories nor Labour, unlike many in the party, without pointing fingers have never filtered nor been tempted by any other party, so this continual flow of marking me out to be some pale blue is insulting, wrong and just not the case. Do you not think if I was that way inclined Id have jumped ship many years ago? If all I wanted was power, if all I wanted was glory, if that was my “lust” then joining one of the big two parties would have satisfied that a lot easier than being a Lib Dem for 25 years.
    Slightly sick of having to justify myself, but there you go…again.”

    What insults? I have chosen the Tories because they are the ones that have abandoned all principles to gain power – the unidentified cuts which would have to be increased by every give away announced being the most obvious.

    Why didn’t you stay in business – what specifically do you hope to achieve within politics?

    What policies specifically meet the criteria I defined? [that would make the country a better place to live for the vast majority in the longer-term].

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr '15 - 8:31pm

    @ John, I am still in business but also spread my time between that, family and politics, hardly someone who is in it for anything other than to do something and make a difference to peoples lives, as we have done over the past 5 years, not everything did I agree with but at least we had the chance to implement some policy which is better than none.
    I agree with your laudable ambition to make the country a better place for the majority, always been my long term aim and so it remains. That some may question the means I personally try to achieve it or the way I back the party to fulfil it is up to them, however when some(not yourself John) question my integrity, my commitment or my beliefs because they don’t chime with there’s then that does slight irk!

  • John Roffey 23rd Apr '15 - 8:38pm

    Rabih Makki 23rd Apr ’15 – 8:31pm

    I have asked some specific questions – why do you avoid answering them?

  • Stevan Rose 23rd Apr '15 - 9:04pm

    If I may speak as one who can be right or left of centre depending on the issue but probably more economic liberal, I thought the original pledge was daft. I’d like to see free tuition but only in selected areas of social and national economic benefit such as medicine and engineering whilst charging full or added cost for history of art, law and accountancy. Daft pledge or not, it was never a confidence issue that would have broken the Coalition, so not something that had to be sacrificed. Daft pledge or not , it didn’t stop me voting Lib Dem in 2010.

    Having made a big deal about a pledge, not just a throwaway line in a manifesto, it becomes a red line you do not cross, part of the Coalition deal. Collective responsibility does not exist in a Coalition situation except where explicitly laid out in the Agreement. Lib Dem MPs could and should have followed party policy and their pledges. Doesn’t matter what Labour and Tories did, it wasn’t their pledge. It goes to trust in this party and an apology that uses excuses shot full of holes doesn’t make a party any more trustworthy than it was before. So it is relevant now, and relevant to our polling status. I joined the Liberals as a student 35 years ago but whilst I have rejoined now in middle age if I were a student I am sure I would feel betrayed.

    It remains a live issue until the man responsible for a major strategic blunder, Clegg, leaves his leadership post one way or another. Had he resigned by way of apology that would have meant something and we may well be on 15-20% and stable. Personal ambition over good of the party. Glossing over it won’t solve the trust problem internally or externally.

    I guess what I’m saying is breaking a party policy and pledge to core voters, no matter how silly I think the policy and pledge are, goes to integrity. Integrity is always more important than power.

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr '15 - 9:28pm

    @John….sorry not sure I really am here to do as you demand. I have answered as I want, maybe not as you want my friend but not sure I’m answerable to you.

    @Colin…if you can come up with anything even remotely original to say lets chat.

    @Steven Rose, sorry but what makes you think they were “core” voters? We reached 23% supplemented by all sorts of factors and would have sheered off for a myriad of reasons, you can argue maybe not to this extent but still the 23% was on the back of silly “Clegmania” and we were at the time the only credible protest party, now the landscape is much different regardless of tuition fees.

  • @Stevan Rose 23rd Apr ’15 – 9:04pm

    “It remains a live issue until the man responsible for a major strategic blunder, Clegg, leaves his leadership post one way or another. Had he resigned by way of apology that would have meant something and we may well be on 15-20% and stable. Personal ambition over good of the party. Glossing over it won’t solve the trust problem internally or externally.

    I guess what I’m saying is breaking a party policy and pledge to core voters, no matter how silly I think the policy and pledge are, goes to integrity. Integrity is always more important than power.”

    Brilliantly put. In modern politics generally the sense of honour over integrity issues that led to resignation has desperately eroded over the years. Politicians now no longer feel that it’s an issue. If someone were to ask me why resignation over matters of integrity in politics is still important I would point to Clegg as a perfect example – you cannot escape the consequences of your actions in politics over matters of integrity – it sticks to you and doesn’t go away.

  • @Rabih. Forget “core”. The Lib Dems broke their pledge to voters full stop. Goes to integrity. Doesn’t matter about the current landscape. By now we should be a credible party of Government not of protest but we’re neither. All parties break their manifesto promises but never so spectacularly and accompanied by music and a video. Whilst the architect of the broken pledge, and music video star, remains at the helm the electorate will not forget the party lied, even if they can’t recall the detail of what it lied about. I like Clegg but he made a huge blunder and became toxic so should have fallen on his sword with some honour and dignity, or have been taken out like his two predecessors were.

  • @Rabih
    “You can say they laid a trap for us and we walked right in to it”

    Some trap! All Lib Dem MPs had to do was vote the correct way to avoid falling in to it. Please stop trying to blame the NUS for the actions of Lib Dem MPs.

    “expats….that’s your opinion not fact in terms of the coalition agreement”

    No, expats stated a fact about the coalition agreement. The agreement stated very clearly that Lib Dem MPs could abstain – see page 32 here :-

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/78977/coalition_programme_for_government.pdf

    This would still have amounted to breaking the pledge of course, but would have been much more defensible (on the grounds of being in coalition) than what actually happened.

    There’s a pattern emerging here… all the excuses you and others keep putting up for the pledge breakers are shown time and again to be based on claims that are either demonstrably untrue, or completely unsubstantiated.

    “Again I would point to people such as Vice & Tim, hardly bastions of the economic liberal wing saying it was better to be in and enacting some policy then on the outside grumbling we could implement none.”

    If you’re referring to Tim Farron, here was his take on the pledge breakers :-

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2012/sep/23/libdems-fight-tuition-fees

    Doesn’t sound like he was too impressed with the whole thing.

    (As an aside, it’s quite interesting to read Danny Alexander’s comments in the above article. He doesn’t seem to understand that the NUS pledge was very different to the Lib Dem manifesto policy. I see the odd LDV poster make this mistake, but… Danny Alexander? One of the Lib Dem post-election negotiating team? With such incompetents at the helm of your party, it’s hardly surprising things turned out so bad.)

  • @ Blanco, Steven and Stuart, et al…..you know whatever I say you’ll disagree, I think I have my eyelashes to pluck or something far more interesting than dealing with such a pious bunch. I have my thoughts, my views and that we I accept it was misguided policy/pledge and move on….that you cant after 5 years I feel truly for you, some of us have lives to live and a campaign to fight for our party.
    ….now where did I put those tweezers…

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr ’15 – 9:28pm
    “@John….sorry not sure I really am here to do as you demand. I have answered as I want, maybe not as you want my friend but not sure I’m answerable to you.”

    Perhaps not – but I do think the Party is in a very difficult position, or is very likely to be on 8 May. What Colin posted seems to me to be a pretty accurate assessment of what will be the state of play on the 8th – and the post by Steven Rose gives a good balanced assessment. It is difficult to come to any other conclusion that NC has been prepared to sacrifice the Party’s very survival to further his own personal ambition – if it is to survive it is essential that NC goes as leader – and I think it likely he will leave if he is no longer leader.

    I have previously posted that few Party members appreciate how difficult it is for a small party to advance without the coverage of the MSM – not surprisingly as the Party has been THE 3rd party – that has always been of some interest to TV & the Press – simply because it was just that. It is not surprising that the, almost certain, coming circumstance is not generally appreciated because no member has faced these difficulties [ as a member of the Party]. Having belonged to a few small parties who have faced this difficulty I am aware that it is an almost impossible handicap.

    I pushed you to be specific because it will be that kind of debate that will be required very soon after May 8 – so that a very clear strategy is determined as soon as possible. There will be some interest in what the Party is doing in the early months – but if the usual vague approach is continued with – in 3 to 6 months the MSM will have began to lose all interest – particularly if some kind of agreement is reached between Labour and the SNP as is the most likely outcome . Keep in mind that this will be a dynamic time when the focus will be on these two parties along with the Tory response.

    UKIP & the Greens will retain interest as they represent particular unique points of views that are of significant interest to large chunks of the electorate. Unless the Party does come up with something unique of its own [equidistant does not count] – it will gradually be forgotten.

    For those who have not seen it – I would recommend C4 News’ questioning of Miliband last night to see what the Party will be up against.

  • @ John, agree the debate post May8th will come, of that there is no doubt. However until we see what happens its a little early for that, what number of MPs, how we may or not be involved with government, what the general fallout is, who we lose from those MPs and much more come in to play.
    Very much for discussing post the election when we know where we are, seems a tiny bit premature until then. Things will change I’m sure but lets at least wait to see where we are and how we stand….then lets move from that point, with only 2 weeks to go I think concentrating on the GE first and coming back to the future post that makes sense. Happy to talk and discuss specifics when we know exactly what our new reality is.

  • Stevan Rose 24th Apr '15 - 1:03am

    @ Rabih. You seem to have managed to alienate, insult, and patronise left of centre Social Liberals and right of centre Economic Liberals in the same thread. Misspelling my name didn’t help by the way. And we’re all members or at least sympathetic to the party. Good going, best left / right party unity on this site for a while. Could you please pretend to be Grant Shapps when knocking on doors. Thanks.

  • The pledge was unambiguous. It was in no way dependent upon being in opposition. It had nothing whatsoever to do with the manifesto commitments. It was to vote against a specific proposal. No ifs no buts.

    The pledge was broken. Those who knew they were going to break it lied. It’s that simple.

    Oh, and you all realise that liberalism is different from Liberal don’t you?

  • Colin 23rd Apr ’15 – 8:44pm

    Colin, I hope you do not object, but I have slightly shortened your comment, which I think accurately sums up the last ten years for Liberal Democrats, since a small group started pushing the folly associated with the words ‘Orange Book’.

    It also accurately reflects the views of a generation of students and reflects why 90% of them will not even consider voting Liberal Democrat in this election. Until the members of the party face up to these facts, the decline will continue.

    You’re losing MPs,

    You’re being wiped out in Scotland,

    You’re being supplanted as the third party of politics for the first time in generations,

    ….after May the 8th you’ll compete with the likes of DUP and SDLP for attention.

    …. you’ve set back the cause of liberalism in this country for decades,

    and have allowed much more authoritarian parties to fill the vacuum.

  • Rabih Makki 23rd Apr ’15 – 8:04pm ………@expats…very poetic, the party left you, dear me.
    Well all the best because me and “those like me” will be around quite some time…

    Yet again you manage to ‘misquote what was said…..What I actually said was…”Will I return> Not as long as you, and those like you, are it’s voice”….

    I have no problem with you being around; after all, you say you’ve been around for 25 years…It’s what you’ve done to the party I have a problem with….

    The future holds two choices…
    Colin 23rd Apr ’15 – 8:44pm lays out one choice…. A “Ghost Party” (“Small Gods” by Pratchett refers to what happens when people stop believing).
    The second choice? Well you’re not interested in me and those like me, so I won’t bother…..

  • @Rab “I didn’t leave the party’ the party left me”

    That’s the common refrain of every political defector down the ages 🙂

  • @Colin “And worse, you’ve set back the cause of liberalism in this country for decades, and have allowed much more authoritarian parties to fill the vacuum. ”

    I note from your blog that you’ve taken the opportunity to marry your partner – one that would not have existed had we not had the coalition government – and congratulations to you both.

    I’m not expecting gratitude. But a little more objectivity might not go amiss.

  • @expats. In your view the party has been destroyed by those on the “right” and by the coalition. Leaving aside the thought experiment of what might have happened had the coalition been with Brown, what makes you think that “you and those like you” will make any difference if the Lib Dems are beyond redemption?

  • TCO 24th Apr ’15 – 9:45am……[email protected] In your view the party has been destroyed by those on the “right” and by the coalition……………………

    “Destroyed” your words, or mine?

    I’d prefer, “Sore abused but not yet dead,,…Hanging in there by a thread”

  • It’s a strong field, but TCO at 9.43 just about takes the biscuit for offensive Lib Dem loyalist comment on this thread.

    Henceforth, no gay person is allowed to say a word against the Coalition, because it generously bestowed upon a grateful nation the blessing that is gay marriage. Fifty years ago, the state would lock you up if you were gay. Today, the Cleggites will merely seek to neuter you as a political opponent if you are gay.

  • @expats apologies I was confusing your words with those of Mr Hesketh or Mr Evans or Mr Allen (as in “1 MEP / X,000 councillors gone / soon to be down to 6 MPs if we’re lucky” etc etc).

    Still, the point stands – if the party is forever tarnished by having made a choice, what makes you think you can save it?

  • @David Allen.

    Colin accused us of setting the cause of Liberalism back by decades. I was pointing out to him that the cause of Liberalism has been advanced quite significantly (and to his own benefit) by the coalition government, and that by implication his comment was both inaccurate and hyperbolae.

    However, you see fit to accuse me of offensiveness – playing the man and not the ball again Mr Allen.

  • Paul In Wokingham 24th Apr '15 - 11:12am

    @TCO – I have no desire to interject in this extremely unappetizing thread, but would make a point about equal marriage.

    I have just come back from Dublin where an equal marriage referendum is just a few weeks away. The lampposts are festooned with posters saying “Vote YES” from political parties across the spectrum.

    Similarly in the USA Hillary Clinton has said that her position has “evolved” since the dark days when her husband signed DOMA and she now supports equal marriage too.

    I am delighted that Lynne Featherstone and the Liberal Democrats were in a position to make this happen, but it is the spirit of the age, not the preserve of the coalition.

  • @ Stevan, apologies re the name although I have had that all my life with my name and really you kind of roll with it unless you think people are doing it intentionally, which would be offensive.
    It terms of insulting and alienating everyone left or right, not sure thats the case, your take & opinion but I would say some have backed what I’ve said or at least in part others have not. However since when was holding an opinion, and a personal one at that a popularity contest? If your Blair and want to please everyone and end up pleasing no one go right ahead, Id rather have my views and people take them as they find them….should I change my stance or style to play nice or fit in to the box you want me to….I think not. Rather plough my own road, Im not here to make chums and win a popularity contest(before you say it no I never will) but to express my views and while they may offend or upset to a point do I not have the right to express them….or are we now in the party for only hearing from people we agree with or play nice?

    @JohnTilley…thanks for the summation, not sure its need or helpful, to me that’s just as offensive as anything Ive said and while some is fact some is also conjecture and until May 8th we wont know.

    @excpats…”its what you’ve done to the part I have a problem with” well nice to know you think I have so much sway, if only, however for a person that feels “the party has left me” you seem to hang around said party quite a lot…I would ask why, but frankly I care not, although its rather odd behaviour.

    @ TCO As ive said with be it Nick, myself and many others on here that disagree with certain things playing the man/person seems to be the general attitude.
    While I may be quite unapologetic for my views and attitude others try to take some kind of high ground while still dishing out the insults themselves. That they may be less forthright in how they express it doesn’t make it any less so.
    Least I know and admit I can push peoples buttons, others think they are rising above it while doing the reverse….ho hum, I await the latest round of shock and horror at our posts.

  • @Paul In Wokingham it might be the spirit of the age in 2015, but it wasn’t in 2010 or the preceeding 13 years.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 24th Apr '15 - 11:41am

    I am closing comments on this thread. It’s degenerating into a spiral of unpleasantness that nobody wants to read.

    Anyone new who’s got this far should note that this is not representative of our party. Every day, people with different views campaign happily alongside each other in support of Lib Dem values and Lib Dem candidates.

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