Tuition fees: which way will MPs vote on Thursday?

Today saw a weird piece of media face with an impostor conning several news outlets into reporting that Edinburgh West MP Mike Crockart was going to resign as a PPS and vote against the tuition fees increase. The impostor even got as far as being interviewed by the BBC on the World at One before the hoax was rumbled. His office said that, “Mike is still waiting to see what the final offer will be before he votes and that has always been our line”.

(Ironically just before this took place, I was in Millbank to appear on the BBC’s Daily Politics Show and was joking with the floor manager about how they were double-checking that I was indeed me. As he said, “After the taxi driver incident…” though actually the taxi driver wasn’t a taxi driver.)

Norman Baker has also been in the news today, having publicly confirmed that he has not yet made up his mind which way to vote (and therefore may resign as a minister, if he decides to vote against rather than abstain).

Charles Kennedy and Ming Campbell’s intentions to vote against have also been firmed up in the last couple of days.

Meanwhile, Greg Mulholland, in an interview on the BBC during which his feet appeared to be on fire (smoke kept on bellowing up from the bottom of the screen), called for the vote on Thursday to be delayed prior to a wider review. So far he is a lone voice on this, and other people who earlier in the year were pondering the merit of a wider review first are not supporting his call.

People have also gone off the idea of trying to unite around a mass abstention, which was the focus of speculation last week.

If you spot any other news on how individual MPs will vote, please do pop them up in the comments thread (but please use one of the other active threads on the subject of tuition fees for general discussion of the issue).

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  • Ross Stalker 6th Dec '10 - 6:44pm

    According to the Twitter feeds sabbatical officers at Edinburgh University Students Association, Mike Crockart has personally told them he will vote against (but he isn’t pre-emptively resigning).

  • richard morris 6th Dec '10 - 6:48pm

    I think it’s clear that Tim Farron and Julian Huppert are definitely voting against. Or at least as clear as these things ever get…

    What’s the received wisdom on the numbers that will result in the bill being defeated – including Tories abstaining or even voting against (David Davis for example).

  • Personally I would respect anyone who votes against (either because they think it’s a bad proposal, or because they feel bound by the infamous ‘election pledge’) and anyone who votes for (who believes the proposals are an improvement on the current set-up and the only practical way to move forward).

    But I would find it very hard to respect an abstention ……..

  • Stephen Williams ruled out voting FOR on R4.

  • gary glover 6th Dec '10 - 7:03pm

    Simon Hughes wants to vote against if he does, word has it that he will sacked, so we could be looking for a new deputy leader, if he is forced out for voting with his conscience, I know many Bermondsey members will resign on block from the party.

  • Mulholland doesn’t seem to be alone: John Leech (LD) and Caroline Lucas (Green) are standing alongside.

  • umm… a 4 way ‘split’?! More positively, perhaps now’s a good time to explain how we work as a party?

  • Crewegwyn – It is perhaps difficult to see how an abstention is much of a strong option in this case, although it could be argued (just about!) that it accords with the Coalition agreement, and does not give support to a proposal which would break the signed pledge. However, I am getting very fed up with people on here sounding off about how “we don’t vote for people to have them abstain in Parliament”. Abstention is often a strong option – it says “I have promised not to vote against my party unless under the greatest of moral pressure, but this is a measure I can’t support for (usually) constituency reasons. This is normally written into standing orders for our groupsat Council level.

  • Not sure Simon Hughes is sackable as deputy leader, it isn’t a ministerial post – it is a post decided by a ballot of MPs and I would think it would have to be a vote of no confidence that would be needed to remove him rather than a decision by Nick Clegg, in my opinion.

  • Smallcasserole – another well worn comment “should be no whipping” in the Lib Dems(!) I would say strong discipline is required!! (Many a true word in jest!)

  • Anthony Aloysius St 6th Dec '10 - 7:38pm

    The Independent says:
    Government whips say approval of the package is “not certain” because of the chaos in Liberal Democrat ranks. “It’s not in the bag yet,” said one source. Whips believe the vote is so tight that a handful of Tory MPs could scupper the fees increase by opposing it.

    But Mr Clegg is not even sure yet that all five Liberal Democrat Cabinet ministers will support the package, as he wishes. Danny Alexander, the Chief Treasury Secretary, and Michael Moore, the Scotland Secretary, will follow his lead. But Chris Huhne, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary and the man Mr Clegg beat for the Liberal Democrat leadership in 2007, is keeping his cards close to his chest. He is due to return from the climate change talks in Cancun, Mexico, for Thursday’s vote but one Liberal Democrat source admitted: “He is maintaining radio silence.”

    But earlier the BBC seemed less confident that Moore would vote “Yes.”

  • I am sure Lloyd is right on this.

  • I think I heard that Chris Huhne will be ‘away on business’ for the vote – so you could say that was a passive abstention.

  • John Roffey 6th Dec '10 - 7:47pm

    @ john

    I still find it difficult to understand why those LDs who do not have government jobs need to vote for the measure unless they believe it is an improvement on the pledge – and they are prepared to break that pledge. Those with government jobs have to support the measure – or do what ministers have always done – resign and vote against.

    Cameron does not want a GE since the polls do not show the Tories with any advantage, so if the measure is defeated it will give the Party extra negotiating strength from then onwards.

    I also don’t understand why non government MPs can be expected to support measures of the Coalition – these are not policies they stood for at the GE so they have no obligation to support them.

    If NC cannot wear the two hats required of him 1] leader of the Party looking after the interests of the Party and 2] Deputy PM trying to steer difficult Coalition legislation through the Commons, a temporary leader needs to be appointed who can do [1].

  • Anthony Aloysius St 6th Dec '10 - 7:53pm

    “Those with government jobs have to support the measure – or do what ministers have always done – resign and vote against.”

    Given the coalition agreement, they are clearly allowed to abstain even if they have government jobs.

  • Voting against is like bolting the stable door after the horse has fled. The Lib Dems promised to ‘oppose’ student tuition fee increases. There has been quite clearly a complete lack of opposition from the Lib Dems on this. Voting against or abstaining could make the politician look even worse.

  • @SmallCasserole
    “The idea I would fall out with another LibDem over this is ridiculous – if I wanted fratricidal infighting I’d join the Labour party.”

    Conversly, if I wanted to vote for a candidate who broke their promises once elected I could have voted Labour or Conservative….

  • Liberal Neil 6th Dec '10 - 8:15pm

    I can’t see how Hughes could be ‘sacked’.

    His position as Deputy Leader of the Parliamentary Party is an elected post, not an appointment by the Leader.

  • I think the final nail in the LibDem Parly coffin would be if some MPs and Ministers voted for or abstained but some Tories voted against and helped defeat the policy. I suppose anything’s possible the way things are going.

    Was watching Aaron Porter again on the news – he gets stronger, more polished and more confident everytime I see him. He said he was meeting with Willett this afternoon and couldn’t get any details out of him.

  • Cheltenham Robin 6th Dec '10 - 8:17pm

    Martin Horwood is also in Cacun saving the planet.

  • This is starting to become a farce.

  • Here’s a link to a site purporting to show a list with references to MP’s statements on the subject.

    Those, who may be upset by what the parties enemies (and indeed former friends) are saying, with in some case accuracy and in others without any reference to accuracny whatsoever, are better advised not to follow the link.

  • John Roffey 6th Dec '10 - 8:40pm

    @ AAS

    ‘Given the coalition agreement, they are clearly allowed to abstain even if they have government jobs.’

    Perhaps most LDs with government jobs realise their political career is in great danger of ending if they abstain rather than vote against.

  • One thing that I haven’t seen mentioned before is LibDem MPs in Scotland or Wales who abstain or vote for the increased tuition fees for English students while students in their own constituencies aren’t affected.

    Perhaps they think the will escape student ire or general electoral backlash against LibDems but I have a feeling that they won’t.

  • @ Cheltenham Robin

    Well if you’re going to save the planet there’s no better to be than Cancun 🙂

  • Anthony Aloysius St 6th Dec '10 - 8:51pm
  • Ruth Bright 6th Dec '10 - 8:57pm

    Gary – if what you say comes to pass I suggest we meet on College Green for a ceremonial burning of membership cards.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 6th Dec '10 - 9:21pm

    According to the FT, “Lynne Featherstone, equalities minister, is said to be wavering.”

  • Andrew Suffield 6th Dec '10 - 10:00pm

    I think I heard that Chris Huhne will be ‘away on business’ for the vote – so you could say that was a passive abstention.

    Pairing arrangements allow MPs to effectively vote without being present.

  • Liberal Democrat MPs should be ashamed supporting this policy. I hope that Scottish and Welsh MPs dont think they can hide behind abstention while not imposing fees on their own constituients.

  • On the pairing issue the LP might pull the plug and cite the National Interest as the reason – they’ve nothing to lose and it would go down well with the electorate.

  • Charles and Menzies were crystal clear they would vote against back when the Browne review came out so I don’t see how they could ‘firm it up’ any more than already having said they would vote against the fees.

    I look forward to seeing Nick arrive for the vote in a clown car wearing an amusing wig and red nose as this farce lurches into a complete shambles. Charles and Menzies had best get used to the idea sooner rather than later of being caretakers for the Party when Nick goes and Simon is voted Leader.

    Herte is an informative list of Liberal Democrat MPs and all their current stated positions whether voting for, against, abstaining, wavering or whatever other possible positions some of the more creative MPs may now be adopting.

  • I’m really tired of people telling us how difficult it is for Lib Dem MPs. It isn’t difficult at all. All they have to do is go to the “No” lobby and walk through it.

  • @Andrew Suffield
    Re Pairing

    That only works when pairing with an opposition member, to pair against the vote they would have to pair with a Tory and they are all whipped…

  • Tele news just saying Huhne will come back if necessary to vote for tuition fee rise

  • Those in marginal or student heavy seats will vote against. Backbenchers in less vulnerable seats will abstain, and ministers will vote for. Because that is the best way to maintain both votes and seats around the cabinet table, and that’s what this is about for the parliamentary party and we all know it.

    The idea that the Lib Dem MPs actually believe in a policy they’ve argued in favour of for the last decade – that education should be paid for by progressive taxation – has been utterly shattered over the last few weeks. This is all about maximising votes and staying in cabinet.

    None of the lib dem MPs will fall out about this, because they all are making the same cynical vote-chasing calculations, and will respect that each MP had to vote in a different way. It’s just a really visible example of the whole ‘tell some voters one thing, tell other voters the opposite’ that lib dems are famous for.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 6th Dec '10 - 11:32pm

    “Tele news just saying Huhne will come back if necessary to vote for tuition fee rise”

    Well, at least that makes me feel a bit better about abstaining in the leadership election because I thought they were each as bad as the other …

  • Anthony Aloysius St 6th Dec '10 - 11:52pm

    If you read only one article today about the university fees fiasco, make it this one:

  • Mike80
    It’s just a really visible example of the whole ‘tell some voters one thing, tell other voters the opposite’ that lib dems are famous for.

    And I suppose other parties’ MPs have never embarked on this course?! The only reason they are “famous for” it, is because Mike 80 and others like him go on interminably about individual examples no worse or different from reps of other parties. Mud can stick, of course. One or two of our politicians have, of course, used the excuse “we were campaigning then – we did not know we would be in Govt – now we have to be realistic”. People making that excuse should be taken out and shot – metaphorically, of course! That is the most disgracefully cynical thing for any politician to do, or even think. That represents all that is worst about the “old politics”. It is not “grown up”, it is just dishonest, and confirms tabloid and popular prejudice about our profession.

    For me, the difficult thing is that we have for many years stood for a “new politics”, a cleaner more open politics. Now you could say that in the case of fees the Lib Dems are indeed being more open, and actually airing some of the differences in public, and we may actually see a few ministers resign over this. But, we still seem to be heading in the same direction as Tories and NuLab – by abandoning public commitments and paying obeisance to the private sector. Many of us have meant the end of that, and the commitment to green action as a “new politics”. I am very dubious as to whether we are heading in that direction. And that is irrespective of breaking specific pledges, as by voting yes in the coming fees vote.

  • Now that collective abstention is off the table lets not be too applauding at the MP’s who will vote no… they do so knowing full well that the vote is going to go through – although of course there is the glorious prospect of them all thinking that and the whole thing backfiring…well stranger things have happened over the last few days….

  • roy's claret army 7th Dec '10 - 12:32pm

    Jo Swinson is persuing her foolish vote for the tuition fees rise, whilst opposing the same policy in Scotland. It really is shameful.

    She might not have university in her constituency, but there are thousands of students there who stay with their parents and commute to the 3 Glasgow Unis and UWS as is norm in the West of Scotland (students tend to leave home after graduation here).

    She will not be forgiven.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 7th Dec '10 - 1:14pm

    But a survey of Lib Dem MPs by the BBC suggests wide divisions on the issue.
    All 57 were contacted on Monday to gauge how they planned to vote on Thursday, with 13 saying they would vote with Labour against the fees proposal.
    Thirteen said they were undecided, while two said they would back the government. Sixteen refused to say how they would vote. One will not be voting as they are abroad, while 12 did not respond.

    There seems to be a near-universal expectation that this will pass, but obviously it depends what those 41 end up doing.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 7th Dec '10 - 1:50pm

    “Do you think the Liberal Democrats are right or wrong to go back on their pledge to oppose tuition fees
    26% Right
    63% Wrong
    12% Don’t know”

    Actually I thought the most interesting thing about that was the following:
    Among the public as a whole, 26% think the party is right, whole 63% think they are wrong. Today’s Lib Dem voters divide evenly 44% say right, 44% say wrong. But among those who voted Lib Dem in May, as many as 68% say the party is wrong to abandon its election pledge; just 21% think the party is right.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 7th Dec '10 - 2:43pm

    That appears to imply that something like 95% of those whose support the party has lost since May think that it would be wrong to break the pledge.

  • Lee Scott (tory) says he will abstain:

  • Anthony Aloysius St 7th Dec '10 - 5:01pm

    “Mr Percy, newly-elected [Tory MP] for Brigg and Google [sic], confirmed that he would not support the fees hike, but had yet to decide whether to abstain or vote against it. ”

  • Anthony Aloysius St 7th Dec '10 - 5:04pm

    The same article says that David Willetts is to offer new concessions in a “frantic attempt” to convince waverers. The fact that this is still going on only two days before the vote suggests to me that despite assumptions the result isn’t really a foregone conclusion.

  • The first question is how many Lib Dem MPs will actually vote against the raise in tuition fees and break the coalition? The second question is if by voting against tuition fees MPs break the coalition and there is a general elction how many Liberal Democrat MPs would be prepared to sign such a pledge again? Hopefully, as well as all all of those voting against the government, those abstaining and voting for the raise in tuition fees would sign such a pledge again. In which case, those MPs who feel that in all conscience they must vote against the government should do so. The coalition will not approve of them but the public will.

  • One further thought. David Davies is showing more principle over this issue than many members of your party. Now, surely, that says everything.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 7th Dec '10 - 5:23pm

    Curiously enough James Forsyth in the Spectator makes the same point:
    “Those Lib Dems who do vote for tuition fees can now expect to be mocked as being to the right of David Davis.”

  • richard morris 7th Dec '10 - 5:59pm

    three Tories have now come out and said they’ll be voting against. The numbers are tightening up…

  • richard morris 7th Dec '10 - 6:10pm

    assuming we do split three ways equally, Sinn Fein stay at home, 3 Tories vote no and everyone else votes as you’d expect, I think it goes 322:303. In other words, the 19 abstentions mean the policy will pass. How will the abstainers feel then?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 7th Dec '10 - 6:45pm

    “Mr Clegg also set out the mechanism for dealing with MPs and Government members who decided they could not support the fees measures – but aides refused to reveal those details.”

    No doubt they shall be the terrors of the earth …

  • There never ever was any doubt which way Clegg would vote – he’s gone too far down the road and his fate is totally locked-in with the Tories – if that’s a quad-lock it obviously trumps a triple-lock 🙂

    I have little doubt that the vote will be carried mainly because of the payroll vote – not just existing ministers etc but for aspirant ones.

    However, I am equally convinced that the party will now rupture which may suit my personal political position but does little to help all the young people who are going to be hit by this.

    I was listening today to the lack of black entrants taken in by Oxbridge and when only 40 FSM kids got in last year then who’s kidding who about all the Russell Group unis taking in poor students and giving them a free year.

    It’s a very sad time for democracy, social justice, principles and morality. In fact every LibDem who abstains should have their P45 stamped ‘LMF’. Younger readers might not understand what LMF means – well it was stamped on your service discharge book when you got a dishonourable discharge for ‘Lack of Moral Fibre’.

    As to those who vote for the increase well I won’t say that I respect their right to do so unless they didn’t sign the pledge – both they and the abstainers will be dealt with in due course by the electorate who will eventually find out the sad story of Clegg’s tawdry deceit in full when the UK press eventually wake-up and spot the porkies that they have been fed and wolfed down because they are lazy journalists.

  • As matt says, all Lib Dem Ministers will be whipped to vote against party policy and to break the personal pledges that each and every one of the signed before the election in favour of trebling the cap on tuition fees:

  • David Allen 7th Dec '10 - 9:16pm

    Dear Mr Voice,

    As the author of “one of the other active threads on the subject of tuition fees”, I might be expected to support your call. After all, my post has attracted 87 comments to date, six fewer than the Nick Clegg thread my post is in competition with, and just 13 short of the magic century. Personal vanity demands – One more heave!

    But… Actually, I suspect that readers have now said all they want to say in direct response to my post. They would prefer a new thread, one which isn’t buried on the second page of LDV by now, and, one which recognises the most recent developments. That’s why they are using this thread.

    If you don’t like that, have a look at the way “Political Betting” deals with things. When Mr Smithson has accrued 500 (mostly silly!) comments on his latest post, and he doesn’t have a new one ready, he usually puts up something simple like a photo, and calls it “CONTINUATION THREAD”. This is his way to encourage people to go on posting without getting lost in a jungle of earlier posts. Perhaps you should do likewise?

  • @The Voice

    “One of the most frequenct complaints from readers”

    I’m a reader and I’m complaining that you have removed the short comment I made above. I’m also complaining that several relevant and interesting comments by other people have been removed. There are no other ‘active’ threads on tuition fees at the moment.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 7th Dec '10 - 10:18pm

    “A Lib Dem whip told friends yesterday that the Government’s majority could be in ‘single figures’.
    Another senior Lib Dem told the Mail the vote would be ‘bloody close’, and expressed frustration that Tory whips had failed to flush out their own rebels soon enough to win them over.”

  • David Allen 7th Dec '10 - 11:23pm

    “Walk through the fire”.

    Nice piece of Newspeak, Nick. Breaking a pledge means you are brave. Keeping a pledge means you are a wimp. OK then, bring on the wimps.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 7th Dec '10 - 11:50pm

    “Walk through the fire”.
    Nice piece of Newspeak, Nick. Breaking a pledge means you are brave.

    I thought it meant he was a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Either that or nostalgia about setting fire to those cactuses in Bavaria …

  • All Lib Dem MPs who vote for the government on the raising of tuition fees in direct betrayal of their pledge should be deselected by their constituency parties.

  • “Walk through fire.”

    No. It’s jumping off Beachey Head that Clegg and his fellow collaborators are proposing to do tomorrow.

  • I guess the only way we can stop this going through is if we get Nick and his ministers to sign a pledge that they are voting for it !

    (The term PLEDGE has been copyrighted by Clegg & Co. Proper use of this word is strictly prohibited. Use of this word does not have any binding contractual obligation. Any damage caused to your reputation by the use of this word is not the responsibility of Clegg & Co. This does effect your statutory rights.)

  • ‘walk through the fire’ really is a nice soundbite but firewalkers actually get to the other side safely with nothing more than the odd blister but a real sense of achievement.

    Politicians who ignore their party policy as well as breaking personal pledges and take on a highly-mobilised, motivated, articulate and an increasingly more politically-savvy section of the electorate are likely to be destroyed in the conflagration and even if they survive they will never be able to escape the spectre of an inevitable eventual defeat.

  • David Lawson 9th Dec '10 - 1:38pm

    How will they vote?

    I hope they factor in David Milliband’s defeat for the Labour leadership. There may be little point in being next Lib Dem leader but I don’t think it will be someone who votes yes for this proposal if there is any other viable candidate.

    Sort of about how people will vote and therefore sort of on topic.

    If they sack Simon Hughes? Can “they”? I think he would get the post a second time around somehow. I wonder how many others that applies to.

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