Vince Cable’s statement on tuition fees

The party has just issued the text of Vince Cable’s statement to the House of Commons, responding to the publication today of The Browne Report on higher education and student funding in England.

“With permission Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on the future funding of higher education and student finance, in the light of the report published today of Lord Browne’s independent inquiry.

Lord Browne was asked to undertake his review in November last year. The review was set up by Labour on a cross-party basis, and that is how we want to proceed.

I and my colleague the Rt Hon member for Havant want to thank Lord Browne and his Review Panel. The Government endorses the main thrust of the report. But we are open to suggestions from inside and outside the House over the next few weeks before making specific recommendations to Parliament, with a view to implementing the changes for students entering higher education in Autumn 2012. More detail will be contained in next week’s Spending Review on the funding implications. But as a strategic direction the Government believes the report is on the right lines.

Browne acknowledges that “the current funding and finance systems for higher education are unsustainable and need urgent reform”. The issue is how. And that question has to be framed in terms of how the higher education sector contributes to the deficit reduction programme.

There is also, I think, consensus around the idea that there should be no upfront tuition fees for students. That would seriously deter students from low and middle income families. This Government is strongly opposed to upfront tuition fees. Indeed it shares Lord Browne’s conclusion that we should extend exemption from upfront tuition fees to part-time students, currently 40% of the student population, who have been unfairly discriminated against hitherto.

The question, then, is how much the graduate contributions for tuition should be.

We are considering a level of £7,000. Many universities and colleges may well decide to charge less than that, since there is clearly scope for greater efficiency and innovation in the way universities operate. Two year ordinary degrees are one approach. Exceptionally, Lord Browne suggests there should be circumstances under which universities can price their courses above this point. But, he suggests, this would be conditional on demonstrating that funds would be invested in securing a good social mix with fair access for students with less privileged backgrounds, and in raising the quality of teaching and learning. We will consider this carefully.

We believe it is essential that if the graduate contribution is to rise it should be linked to graduates’ ability to pay. On average, graduates earn comfortably more than £100,000 over their lifetimes compared with non graduates. But not all graduates benefit in this way. Some choose socially useful but modestly paid or unpaid work which may include time spent bringing up a family. At present the graduate contribution acts like a poll tax, and is not fair .

Lord Browne has come up with persuasive proposals to deal with this issue. He suggests a £21,000 graduate income threshold before any payment is made, as against £15,000 at present, and to be linked to average earnings. And he suggests that a real rate of interest should be paid but only over that threshold. The effect is striking: 20% of graduates could pay less than they do now. The top third of graduate earners would pay more than twice as much as the lowest third. That is fair and progressive: the Government broadly endorses this approach and will examine the details of implementation. The principle of needs blind admission to universities must remain central.

The cost of university education to individuals and the state reflects living costs as well as tuition costs. The Browne Report makes some constructive suggestions, . We shall come forward with detailed proposals which will make it attractive for students from families of modest means to go to university and will be fair and affordable including exempting the poorest students from graduate contributions for some (or all) of their studies.

Lord Browne considered alternatives, including a graduate tax – as I believed new leader of the Labour Party favours. There are some key features in the current proposal for progressive graduate contributions which incorporate the best features of a graduate tax. It would be collected through the pay packet at a rate of 9p in the pound above the £21,000 threshold; combined with a real interest rate as Browne recommends, it would be progressive and related to ability to pay.

But Browne identifies serious problems with a ‘pure’ graduate tax. The proposal is unworkable; does not produce sufficient revenue to finance higher education until 30 years from now; weakens university independence; and is unfair to British graduates as opposed to graduates living overseas.

If there are any lingering doubts on opposition benches I would strongly commend a letter from the new shadow Chancellor to the new Labour leader 3 weeks ago, which reads thus: ‘Oh, and for goodness’ sake, don’t pursue a graduate tax. We should be proud of our brave and correct decision to introduce tuition fees. Students don’t pay them, graduates do, when they’re earning [more than £15,000 a year], at very low rates, stopped from their pay just like a graduate tax, but with the money going where it belongs: to universities rather than the Treasury.’

I do believe, moreover, that we need to look beyond the graduate population. 55% of young people do not go to University. We must not perpetuate the idea encouraged by the pursuit of a misguided 50% participation target, that the only valued option for an 18 year old is a three year academic course at a University. An Apprenticeship can be just as valuable as a degree, if not more.

Finally, there is a challenge to all of us to promote a long term sustainable future for higher education. This has been a difficult issue for all parties in the House. Those opposite have ranged between being early advocates of a graduate contribution such as the member for Sheffield Brightside and the new shadow Chancellor, through to those implacably opposed to change – to the current labour leadership who remarkably have now embraced a graduate tax! The Conservatives initially campaigned against graduate contributions but reversed its position. The Liberal Democrats consistently opposed graduate contributions.

But in this current economic climate that policy is simply no longer feasible. That is why I intend on behalf of the coalition to put specific proposals to the House to implement radical and progressive reforms to HE based on the Browne report.”

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  • TheContinentalOp 12th Oct '10 - 3:56pm

    Cable is a disgrace. States they can’t “keep the pledge” made pre-election in the current financial climate

    Your leadership are liars, cowards and power crazed opportunists

    Go back to your constituancey’s and prepare for oblivion.

  • So in other words, ‘we the LibDems were wrong to make a pledge that we knew had no guarantees. In fact it should not have been a pledge more an aspiration. But hey, it fooled many into believing the words we said.’

  • P.S ‘I might just have managed to get the LibDems to ditch the policy that I was always opposed to.’

  • Sorry Vince, on this one you’re just wrong on so many levels. Will this be the tipping point for many Lib Dems?

  • I’m a journalist with a BA and an MA, making £19,000, so neither rich nor “socially useful” – quite the opposite, some might say! I hang my head in shame.

    Anyway, I think we’re screwed by association now, anyway. Considering something along these lines is going to come in whatever happens, can we really escape the opprobrium of the masses by screwing the Coalition Agreement over it?

  • “Lord Browne has come up with persuasive proposals to deal with this issue”

    And there we have it, the sentence that has just about lost the Lib Dem leadership any creditability still remaining after the last few months, and voters for that matter.

  • Vince Cable: But not all graduates benefit in this way. Some choose socially useful but modestly paid or unpaid work which may include time spent bringing up a family. At present the graduate contribution acts like a poll tax, and is not fair .

    My sentiments exactly!

  • Richard Hill 12th Oct '10 - 4:30pm

    I like it. Taking everything into account this seems like the best way forward for now. Once we get the economy sorted we can revisit the issue.

  • At least Vince had the honesty at the despatch box to own up to going back on the pledge. However, this issue has some considerable totemic value for the Lib Dems, as well as the pledges made, so it does still leave the parliamentary party with a dilemma.

    I must say I’m surprised that Browne recommended no cap on fees.

  • The problem with the existing system, inherited from Labour, is that it was devised on the premise that those who undertake a degree do so on the basis that they will earn more money as a consequence. I always considered that profoundly wrong.

    The principle of what is being proposed sounds a vast improvement.

  • Roy's Claret Army 12th Oct '10 - 4:36pm


    Your comments are so sweet and loyal. At least he has the honesty to admit he lied in order to get votes! How gallant.

    I look forward to you using that on the doorstep.

  • Cable:20% of graduates could pay less than they do now.

    That means 80% could pay more than they do now!

  • Roy's Claret Army 12th Oct '10 - 4:44pm

    Well, it was only a pledge. He didn’t actually mean to say abolish, he meant to say double. They mean quite similar things when you think about it.

    Abolish: Multiply by 0
    Double: Multiply by 2

    Not a big difference, really.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 12th Oct '10 - 4:45pm

    “At least Vince had the honesty at the despatch box to own up to going back on the pledge.”

    The trouble is that he didn’t, really, did he?

    We had the usual pretence that the economic climate has somehow changed so much – in the last 6 months! – that it’s justifiable to renegue on a written pledge to vote against increasing university fees, and instead to vote for not having any limit on fees at all, with the expectation that the norm will be for them to more than double.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 12th Oct '10 - 4:47pm

    “Cable: “20% of graduates could pay less than they do now.”
    That means 80% could pay more than they do now!”

    Give that man a degree!

    Sorry – what am I thinking of? – sell that man a degree!

  • Cognitive dissonance at its finest, but even politicians are limited to how much of this they can get away with.

  • LD Conf Rep 12th Oct '10 - 4:50pm

    I cannot begin to express the depth of my anger about this. Browne’s report should be chucked in the bin.

    How come Labour chose this multimillionaire to decide the future of our kids education, anyway? Its not as if he has any kids of his own. And he is a self-confessed perjurer to boot.

    I’ll tell you. Money – that’s why. And the Lib Dems – or at least the current crop of Ministerial lackeys – are no better in abandoning the pledge they gave so readily just a few months ago.

    I could weep.

  • What a fiasco.  The least bad way out is for the Lib Dems to renegotiate with Cameron in order for them to maintain their pre-election pledge.  I imagine his price will be the dropping of the AV referendum, but that will allow them to keep their word and must be a sacrifice worth making.

  • I am sure that there is a very good reason why high-earning graduates shouldn’t pay more than they do now – it’s just not obvious to me.

    A major disincentive under the present system to recruiting students from poorer backgrounds is that they are required to make high levels of repayment even at quite modest income levels, eg below average earnings.

    The Browne/Vince proposals do a lot to redress that.

  • John Richardson 12th Oct '10 - 4:59pm

    Solution: get Labour to vote for it; it is their report after all. Lib Dem MPs can then all vote against it.

  • By the time the 5 year term is ended, the list of lies told by this mob is going to be great deal longer than the list of meaningful, effective compromises they have managed to wring from their ‘partners’. In some prisons, inmates who are vulnerable are kept in a separate wing and wear yellow jerseys. The metaphor is apt.

  • I’ve just been over too the NUS website and there’s a link that I suggest every Lib Dem watch

    I watched it and I’m shamed, well and truly bloody ashamed.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 12th Oct '10 - 5:20pm

    “Vince corrected himself on this just now – it is 30 % that will pay less.”

    That’s odd. The report says 20%.

  • Hugely disappointing, I have always believed that a University education should be free as it was when Dr Cable went to University. Education should be paid for out of General taxation but of course we all realise raising taxation is anathema to this Tory Government. The Libdem’s manifesto suggested ways it could be paid for out of taxation why does Dr Cable feel it is inappropriate now. I am sorry he is no longer St Vince more like ConVince.

  • Grammar Police 12th Oct '10 - 5:25pm

    @ Roy’s Claret Army – Labour is re-elected with a manifesto pledge stating that it “will not introduce top-up fees and has legislated against them” in 2001

    What happened in 2004?

    I trust you were equally as scathing? And a majority Government then; as opposed to a Coalition now, with Tories hugely in favour.

    I am no fan of the Browne report, but some of you Labour lot sicken me.

  • How much did the pointless cut in corporation tax lose the government in income?

    Could that money not have been better used in closing the university funding gap or the cuts in scientific research grants.

    And as for cutting taxes leading to higher tax receipts, don’t make me laff(er)

  • Roy's Claret Army 12th Oct '10 - 5:32pm

    Grammar Police

    Yes I was scathing. At least they had the decency to put the proposal to the electorate in the 2005 General Election. Where lots of Lib Dem MPs claimed they would oppose it (although they probably meant double it). And a very successful strategy it was for Lib Dem MPs in Cambridge and Manchester. The same MPs who will undoubtedly be allowed to ‘rebel’ in order to cling onto their seats.

    The Lib Dem policy was right. The fact that your party lied to the electorate over five years is the real issue.

  • I would urge everyone with a Liberal Democrat MP to find what their MP said in their election pledges and post them all on here for us all to see. And let them see that we intend on holding them to their word.

    This is what my Mp said. Simon Wright Mp for Norwich South. on March 2nd 2010

    “Simon Wright, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Norwich South, has signed a pledge to voters ahead of the forthcoming general election that he will vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament. In addition, Mr Wright said that as an MP he will oppose all tuition fees for students.

    Mr Wright said: “There’s no doubt that bright young people in Norwich are wary of the thought of five-figure debts if they choose to go to university. Everyone deserves the chance to gain the knowledge and skills that will give them the best opportunity to achieve their ambitions in life, and it shouldn’t be based on ability to pay.

    “I’m absolutely committed to doing all that I can if I’m elected as a member of parliament for Norwich to stop the government raising tuition fees and actively campaign for them to be abolished altogether.”

    sourced from

    Simon I am looking to see how you vote on this!

  • Why is everyone surprise. Most of us might not have lived through the 80’s as adults but talk to your parents and they will tell you what the NASTY TORIES did to the working class ad the middle. My parents lost their family home and all their investments. My mother has begged all their children NEVER to vote for the TORIES. Nearly all my family voted for Dem-Libs, convinced by the RIGHT WING media to abandon Labour. They feel so betrayed.

    The Con-dems keeps telling us you only pay when you are earning 21k. 21K is not a lot of money. Are these people living in the real world? Can Cameron and Clegg live on 21K, pay their rents, utilities, food, travel and a 30K student debt? credits. Its the accumulative effect of the actions of the CON-DEMS.

    What about matured students who use higher education to better their lives or to re-train. 21K will not pay a mortgage, look after children (with the shortfalls of the child benefit and child tax credits) This is what happens when millionnaires are in charge. They have no clue what clue the poor, the workig class and the ‘squeezed middle’ are suffering.

  • What a mug Vince is ,he must know he is going to suffer for this,what,s next , the public and media will not forget him

  • This is about much more than just raising the cap on fees and saddling students with even greater debt.

    This amounts to the effective privatisation of higher education.

    Those degrees which are both seen as difficult and not considered to be pathways to high-paying careers (Philosophy, Theology, Classical Studies) won’t attract enough students to make them viable. The humanities will be dumbed-down to make them more attractive – I love how certain people think this will kill “mickey mouse” degrees like Media Studies, when those will actually become the undergraduate equivalent of Tescos, the bargain-basement degrees for those who can’t afford more prestigious subjects.

  • Lib Dem policy on this, voted for at conference, reinforced by regional conferences, supported by parliamentary candidates, campaigned on by the activists, is right: Vince and Clegg are wrong, and so are any of our MPs who vote in favour of this.

  • Ivor Cornish 12th Oct '10 - 6:07pm

    I have just heard Cable on Radio 4. Where he mentioned how lucky he was to have a free university education, he then stated that we can no longer afford this. Now I do think that there are many fairly useless courses, and many people who would be better served with vocational training, however in the days when Cable received his education taxes for the rich were much higher. The fact that they are low now and, that according to him, we can no longer afford free university education poses the question that perhaps we should be taxing the rich more.
    At present the ConDem policies are squeezing the poor, in order to keep the rich in the life style to which they have grown accustomed.

  • Colin Green 12th Oct '10 - 6:21pm

    I like what Vince has said all except for one thing. MPs made a promise and they should stick to it. The time for deciding was when they signed. To be seen as a person of your word, you have to choose your words carefully and stand by them.

  • One implication that’s not being focused upon a great deal arises frm the recommendation to start charging commercial level interest on student loans. The suggestion is for 2% above the rate of inflation (so 5.1% at today’s rates). This is compound interest, just like that payed on mortgages. Consequently a £30K debt, paid-off over 30 years, would end up costing more that double the amount initially borrowed. The real cost of a degree under the proposals…

  • I lifted this from The Guardian’s Website

    Gordon Birtwistle, the Liberal Democrat MP for Burnley, who is a parliamentary private secretary in the Treasury, said: “At the moment, the Browne report as it is, is unpalatable, and we need to see what changes we can make. I was against an increase in tuition fees, but the financial situation makes it inevitable that it will happen. The country is basically bankrupt.”

    The MPS will cave. The mythology of the defict will win out and I as a liberal will be sold out again. Currently the total deficit is approx 65% of GDP. In 1945 it was over 150% of GDP yet the forces of social progress managed to get us the NHS.

    Still were all in this together

    It makes me sick

  • Emsworthian 12th Oct '10 - 6:31pm

    Machievelli would have approved of the whole exercise. Pledges are made to be broken
    and there’s always the others guys to blame for everything. The trouble is that nowadays
    a degree is an entry level qualification for most better paid jobs’ So it’s now a £30k loan
    or subsisting on minimum wages. What a choice.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 12th Oct '10 - 6:32pm

    “The MPS will cave.”

    The one thing you can bet your life on is that the Lib Dem MPs won’t do anything to precipitate a general election, because that would put their own jobs at (very severe) risk.

  • Can someone, anyone, please explain why this method of raising money is suddenly preferable to a graduate tax?

  • terence kelley 12th Oct '10 - 6:53pm

    Well that’s your credibility well and truly shot Vince. Question is: will you take your party with you?

    How nice that you were the first person in your family to go to uni. I’ve worked pretty hard to make sure my daughter was the first person in mine. Apparently that wasn’t enough – to make sure she doesn’t leave with an eye-watering debt I will have to pay again.

    Fine. I’m up for it Vince. I will sacrifice comfort when I retire. Its what parents do. But I will never forget this. Nor I suspect will all those kids hitting university age and voting age over the next few years.

    I’m no tribalist, I support policies and (Hah) pledges not parties.

    But a word to waverers, those who overuse the term ‘compromise’ an abstention is a vote in favour. Nothing more nor less.

    Sad thing is, you lot – not the leaders or Mps but party activists, members had a real opportunity to make a difference. You’ve been let down and I feel genuinely sorry for you.

  • @Ian Here here

    I think people also seem to forget that when labour came to power they inherited a Budget deficit of 41.92 % of GDP from the conservatives.

    labour brought down that deficit year on year till 2002 to 29.3 % of GDP. admittedly after that there where small rises year on year which reached 35% of GDP in 2007, But look at the improvements labour made to public services like the NHS and Schools etc.

    (people should remember the shocking state of the NHS the Tories left us with and the long waiting lists)

    Even after 2007 (2008) when the property bubble started to crash and the banking crisis loomed our Budget deficit was 36.25% of GDP thats still 5.67% less than what we inherited from the Tories

    And we had better public services to show for it.

    Ok Now our Budget Deficit has sored, but that was to do with the banking crisis, not the Labour Government.

    The figures are there in black and white for people to see and no matter how the Tories try to spin it, nothing can change the facts.

    it’s hide time that people woke up and the media reported the FACTS.

    People also forget the ACTUAL COST to the uk tax payer for the bank bail out is £850 billion

    And worse still it is being reported that in 2011 banks may need another bailout from the tax payer.

    “Taxpayers should be braced for another multi-billion bail-out of Britain’s banks, a left-leaning think tank claims today.

    Financial institutions face a funding shortfall next year as existing borrowing ends, forcing them to look for another £13 billion a month, or £156bn a year, the New Economics Foundation (Nef) warned in a report into the banking crisis”

    The sooner the UK wakes up to the condem Tory Trash the better!

  • Sorry to repost from, an earlier blog but it is still relevant.

    I voted Lib Dem, because like many others I was attracted to this idea of new politics.
    I voted for a sensible pace for spending cuts, what did I get ?
    I voted to avoid a rise in indirect taxation (VAT), what did I get ?
    I voted for my children to have the same education opportunities that I had, what did I get ?

    Before you dismiss my post, look at the videos on you tube. there is no grey area, voters have been lied to.

    I voted for the new politics, never again. I longed for a hung parliament so that there could be real influence for my vote. I am not alone, so many of my friends also deserted New Labour as we felt let down and lied to, only to be let down and lied to by the Lid Dems. It’s not members and the core vote that make parties succesful, it’s the floating voters such as me. Carry on treating us like this and you stand to pay dearly at the polls, starting with the AV vote, people want honesty and integrity in their politicians AV will only give the Lib dems more chance to break pledges. For years you’ve told us what you would achieve with real power.

    You’ve got the cars and red boxes, what did I get?

  • There are two distinct issues here: first is the question of university funding where higher tuition fees may well be the least bad option; second is the question of the integrity of the Liberal Democrats which has been shot to bits.

    I’ve been a member for 27 years and have knocked on more doors, delivered more focus leaflets and got lost in more constituencies with by-elections than I care to think about, but I wasn’t doing this so that Chris Huhne could sit behind a desk in Whitehall writing blank cheques to the nuclear lobby or so that Vince Cable could blather on about some abstract concept of fairness while doing a staggering U-turn on a long-held party policy.

    It’s quite amusing that the report is by Lord Browne of Madingley, who amongst other things is a former member of the board at Goldman Sachs International. That’s right, young people are being told that our parlous finances mean they’ve got to be in debt for 30 years if they want an education, and this message is coming from a man who one can only assume spent years nodding approvingly at the sort of “casino banking” activities that led to the financial crisis and the current deficit.

  • Grammar Police 12th Oct '10 - 7:22pm

    @ Steve Way. AV does not give more seats to the Lib Dems, but it means that each MP has to have the vote of over half the electorate in the constituency.

  • Grammar Police 12th Oct '10 - 7:25pm

    @ Lady J – which party introduced fees, top up fees, and instituted the Browne Review?

  • vince thurnell 12th Oct '10 - 7:27pm

    So far then the Lib Dems have admitted they were wrong on making cuts too early , they were wrong on part privatising Royal Mail and have now moved to a total sell off , wrong about Trident and now wrong about Tuition fees. Could someone enlighten me as to why i should ever again vote for a party that has admitted it was wrong on nearly all of the major issues during the general election ?. You cant even call it compromise when your leaders admit so much of their manifesto was actually wrong. Mind you , you’ve still got your main goal which is PR , oh no sorry thats now changed to AV, I take it that was another one your party was wrong about during the election.

  • @Grammer Police
    Sorry to disagree, but every study I have seen of the effects of AV believe it gives more seats to the Lib Dems. At this point why would I, or anyone else who feels lied to feel inclined to do that ? I used to want full PR as I believed multi party politics would bring more integrity, this was the Lib Dems chance to prove or disprove that belief…

  • My young grandaughter was going to work in a shop until I persuaded her that she could be a vet and go to university. I now have to tell her we cannot afford it as my state pension has been cut and vat has gone up and the fees for university are too vast – cant tell stork from butter these days watching parliament make announcements. Shame on you lib dems

  • Tony Greaves 12th Oct '10 - 7:47pm

    Hopefully a huge number of Liberal Democrat MPs and Peers will vote against the removal of the (current) cap on Fees and defeat Vince and the Government on this.

    It’s all about money so I don’t think the House of Lords will be required to vote on it?

    Tony Greaves

  • Stuart Mitchell 12th Oct '10 - 7:50pm

    Hope to God you guys say enough is enough and put a stop to this madness.

  • Stuart Mitchell 12th Oct '10 - 7:56pm

    Grammar Police: “[AV] means that each MP has to have the vote of over half the electorate in the constituency.”

    How on earth do you work that out? For that to be true you would have to make voting compulsory, AND make it compulsory for voters to rank every single candidate on the ballot paper, neither of which is a goer.

    I know Nick Clegg keeps making the “over half” claim, but then I’ve also just seen a photograph of him holding a piece of paper on which is written: “I pledge to vote against any increase in tuition fees.”

  • Richard Dawson 12th Oct '10 - 7:56pm

    Well its certainly an unpleasant decision but Government is tough and Opposition easy .

    In the furore over the pledge on fees we are overlooking some strong progressive measures re variable rates of interest and raising the threshold from £15 to £21 k.The IFS say this will make the bottom 20% of Graduate Earners better off than currently..

    Lets not forget it was Labour who brought fees in and who would have increased them as well to plug the deficit.

  • I agree Labour was wrong to bring in fees. Why? Well not least because it gave the Tories a foot in the door to do just this – price the economically disadvantged out of HE. But for all those here trying to provide desperate cover to V Cable’s shameful U-turn, by reminding us of Labour’s role, it simply does not wash. Just because Labour did something some years ago does not mean it was right.

    You should have slammed the door shut on this type of move. Shamefully, you have just slammed the door shut on many students aspirations to higher education. The LibDem electoral integrity is in tatters. So what? It the future for many students that has been destroyed that concerns me. Can you go any lower? As for AV – not a cat in hell’s chance of that getting through. Who would trust the LibDems again?

  • vince thurnell 12th Oct '10 - 8:09pm

    Richard Dawson, you can only go on blaming other parties for so long , at the end of the day it doesnt matter who brought the fees in , it was the Lib Dems that stated they would oppose any increase. They didnt along with that promise say they would change their stance if the threshold rose. Dress it up any way you want , what was promised to electorate was a blatant lie.

  • Betrayed Liberal 12th Oct '10 - 8:10pm

    As a young person who has voted twice for the Lib Dems under the mistaken, deluded belief that they were a liberal, centre-left, ‘progressive’ alternative to the neoliberal regressive policies of the Tories and New Labour I am completely devastated.

    The Liberal Democrats are clearly a party bereft of any integrity, progressive policies and are morally bankrupt. There are no longer and values, principles or ideals in politics just lies, spin, pandering to populism and opportunism. (The hidden ideological agenda of course is to privatise everything, transfer wealth from the poor to the rich and to roll back most of the progress of the 20th century – free education, welfare state, NHS and passing anti-democratic laws/resisting reform)

    I really do despair at the state of mainstream politics in the UK. We are sliding into the abyss which the USA has dug for us. No-one cares and people are cheering it on in blissful ignorance.

    Will not vote for New Labour/Cons/Lib Dems ever agin. Off to the Greens for me

  • George W. Potter 12th Oct '10 - 8:14pm

    As a party activist I pledge that any MP who breaks their pledge and votes for an increase in tuition fees will never get the slightest bit of help or support from me in the future.

  • BetrayedMiddle 12th Oct '10 - 8:29pm

    As a regular LibDem voter I feel betrayed. I have two daughters wanting to go to Uni in 2013 and have saved all of their lives to get them there debt-free. My wife and I have only borrowed to buy a house, otherwise we believe in saving hard and paying cash. Our combined income puts us a bit above average. We were just about ready to invest everything we have in our daughters’ education and leave them with some money of their own to pay for a car, rent a place to live etc. If today’s announcement becomes policy then we will need to find something like another £24,000 – an impossible task in 2 years. So now they will have to hock their future for the next 30 years to pay for it. Thank you very much. No more voting LibDem for me.

  • cable cuts a sorry figure. a pathetic shambles of a formerly popular and respected man . the way he sneered , jeered and used every tired trick in the book to make a u turn – no let’s call a lie a lie- to make a lie appear to be truth.

    clegg looked like he was about to vomit. cameron had carefully put on his “concerned furrowed brow”. when it was over cable sat down trembling -overcome with emotion and anger.

    Then i got it , the moment cameron said to him and patted his arm in as faux a reassuring way as cameron is capable of , “Good try, Vince” . then i saw it : the tories have well and truly stitched up the libdems. Trussed and hung up like dead game.

    the public, the betrayed voters, are baying for blood, the tories are totting up the libdem empty seats. the tories whose noses were put out of joint by recent libdem appointees to the front bench are already measuring the curtains.

    fell for it . or did he? vince, vince , i actually feel sorry for you. you couldn’t turn back . with the words “your country needs you! ” ringing in your ears, you went over the top. it was in a way kind of heroic.

    he should leave it like that, go out with a bang-not a whimper.

  • @ gamma police which party introduced fees, top up fees, and instituted the Browne Review?

    So are you saying that because it was Labour who introduced a policy in 1997, it gives you the choice to do a U-Turn on your Liberal Democrat Policy/Pledge to abolish tuition fee’s?

    Lets be truthful about Tuition Fee’s and the stance that the different parties had on them.

    May 1996 Conservative prime minister John Major commissions the Dearing inquiry to make recommendation on HE funding.

    May 1997 Labour is elected with a manifesto committed to leaving the door open for tuition fees.

    July 1997 The Dearing report is published. It recommends that students should pay approximately 25% of the cost of tuition

    July 1997
    Following the report, education secretary David Blunkett announces the introduction of means-tested tuition fees.

    May 2001 The Liberal Democrat leader, Charles Kennedy, reaffirms his party’s commitment to abolishing tuition fees, calling their introduction “one of the most pernicious political acts that has taken place”.

    May 2003 Conservative party leader, Iain Duncan Smith, pledges that all university tuition fees would be abolished under a future Conservative government, condemning tuition fees as “a tax on learning”.

    This has been the stance of both the Conservative and Liberal Democrats to abolish tuition Fee’s in their Election Manifesto’s.

    No-one has shouted louder on this though as the Liberal Democrats. It is fair to say that it has been the core of their parties policies at least since Labour was elected in 1997.

    So It is ridiculous to now say when in Government, that things have changed due too the state labour left things in or to blame Labour for introducing them in the first place.

    Liberal democrats where well aware of the state of the Economy at the start of their election campaign, they where also well aware that there was a good chance there would be a hung parliament and that they might have made up part of a coalition Government.

    Armed with this information, Liberal Democrats shouted from the roof tops that they would apose any rises to tuition fee’s and even signed declarations to this effect.

    If Liberals are really going to back track on something that has been at the heart of their party politics for the last 13 years, and say they where wrong in their manifesto’s for all those years, then I am afraid the question has to be asked, Are they fit to be in Government?

  • I’m normally a staunch supporter of our decision to go into coalition (not because I like the Tories but because it was the only sensible thing to do). But breaking a pledge of this nature is not on. 

    To be honest, I’m actually ambivalent about the issue of tuition fees, but  since we came out so strongly against an increase during the election, we really can’t go back on it now. The time to decide was before signing the pledge. I know we weren’t expecting to be in government, and it’s certainly a lesson in choosing our words more carefully, but we are where we are. We signed the pledge, we have to do everything in our power to stick to it. 

    Our MPs should rebel on this. I have enormous respect for both Nick and Vince, but this could be a train wreck if we’re not careful and they need to find a way to avert it. 

  • TheContinentalOp 12th Oct '10 - 8:51pm

    As an outsider it seems to me the utterly odious Clegg – perhaps the least impressive party leader I can ever remember – has, along with Cable et al, used the cloak of Government to reposition and realign the principles and priorities of your party.

    At the same time Milliband is attempting to reshape Labour by adopting many old Lib Dem positions. If he does this succesfully then you face extinction.

    Ironic then that for all Clegg’s talk of an end to the two-party system he could well play a significant part in ensuring it’s survival for many years to come.

  • Removing the cap on tuition fees will make Oxbridge and the top-tier redbricks available only to the sons and daughters of the wealthy, which is how it used to be, a few generations back, and is how the Tories want it.

    I guess the payroll will walk lamely through the lobbies, pleading deficit reduction like some kind of mantra, while an unknown number of our backbenchers will pluck up the courage to vote against or abstain (I do live in hope).

    Nick Clegg has a rich Daddy, so he would have got into Oxbridge whatever the fees were (and they were paid by Buckinghamshire County Council in his case). Not so Vince. He would never have got near a university if he had been required to pay the tuition fees and get into long-term debt.

    We have seen nothing yet. Wait for the Autumn Spending Review, and the Revenue Support Grant Settlement. Clegg and his Orange Book cronies will doubtless roll over and over and over again.

    Clegg isn’t just a disappointment, he is a disgrace.

  • Poppie's mum 12th Oct '10 - 9:19pm

    Any shred of credibility Cable may have had left was lost when David Cameron patted him on the arm after he spoke in the House today.

    If the electorate had only had the benefit of a crystal ball on May 5th, if the vision of Cable standing in front of Cameron and Osborne as he reneged on yet another policy had been available….the election result would have been so different.

  • @Simon Shaw

    “At present the graduate contribution acts like a poll tax, and is not fair”

    Wrong. A poll tax does not allow for exemptions. Under Labour, no graduate had to repay their loans unless their salaries went over £15,000 a year.

    @Simon Shaw

    “I am sure that there is a very good reason why high-earning graduates shouldn’t pay more than they do now – it’s just not obvious to me.”

    Because it falls into the domain of “treating equals unequally.” High earners are all equal and should be taxed on their high earnings, not how they legally acquired those earnings. They should all be taxed more. But that of course raises the question of who should be classified as a high earner.

    Another solution to this mess is a graduate tax not on graduates but on those entrepreneurs who employ them and obtain benefit and profit from Britain’s magnificent education system for nothing.

    This afternoon I heard “Two Brains” Willets on Radio Four suggest that universities would benefit when their students became “customers” in a competing market for university places. How does it feel finding yourselves in bed with such philistines?

    I watched Vince Cable delivering his statement at the despatch box today. He appears to be a man with a very thin skin who is most uncomfortable with the paradoxes of power. He should give it all up and go back to academe. But then, if he did, the 80% withdrawal of the Teaching Grant proposed by Browne would mean that there wouldn’t be a job for him!

  • Poppie's mum 12th Oct '10 - 9:30pm

    alex At least Vince had the honesty at the despatch box to own up to going back on the pledge.

    Shame he and Clegg weren’t as honest with us before the election about what their cuts policy really was.

  • Can one of the apologists for this betrayal please explain to me why the coalition, having abandoned the RPI in favour of the CPI for benefits, public sector pensions etc. has decided that the interest on these doubled student loans should be calculated at 2% above the RPI?

  • Cable is now saying that all pre-election pledges are null and void due to the financial situation. that surely cannot be right. The financial crisis was happening, it hadn’t just started during the election. The only thing he can mean is that the Lib Dems were woefully wrong in virtually all their ideas for dealing with the crisis. And why should anyone have confidence in them if that’s true?

    Sorry day for our party.

  • The party needs to face the facts now.

    Rebel, and yes the Lib Dems will suffer at a general election, which might be called early, the lib dem vote might be reduced to as low as 10%. But hopefully if they rebel old lib dem voters will still come back to support the party after it finally made a principled stand.

    Allow this to go ahead, through voting or abstention and not only would the Lib Dems be seen to be completely unethical, but they will be destroyed at the next election (or the party will rip itself to shreds) and everyone will vote against AV to spite them.

    This coalition was a mistake purely because Liberalism and Conservatism are two fundamentally unreconcilable ideologies, there can be no ‘compromise’ on discrete diametrically opposed positions. Not that the Labour party would ahve been better. The Lib Dems should have abstained, the loss in votes they would have suffered is nothing to the defeat they will suffer at the next election.

    Thinking that backing the Tories on this one will help the interests of the partty is wrong, backing them will mean a surer defeat than supporting them.

  • from reading the comments here and many more elsewhere tonight , it looks like lds are watching dying embers of power.
    it could have been so different, but bad karma is bad karma, man.

  • mpg,

    “Cable is now saying that all pre-election pledges are null and void due to the financial situation.”

    Yes, that does tend to be the line he takes. I think it would be better if he told the unalloyed truth. As a junior partner in a coalition dominated by a right-wing Conservative Party, there are few specific pledges that the Liberal Democrats are going to be able to honour.

    Which begs the following question. At what point do the compromises (and humiliations) become so great that the party cannot remain part of the coalition and retain its distinctive identity?

    Sooner or later even Clegg is into realise that the coalition cannot continue. The Tories are going to have to be forced to govern as a minority, or call an election, which they will be reluctant to do in the middle of an austerity programme.

    The coalition has to end. Don’t let this monster live beyond Christmas.

  • @Grammar Police wrote: “which party introduced fees, top up fees, and instituted the Browne Review?”

    That is a text book example of a Tu Quo Que fallacy.

  • sorry to disagree , Rob,. But voting against at this stage would look even more unprincipled than “sticking with it ” (to loosely quote your leader).

    You made your bed, you bloody well lie in it, old chum.

  • Scum. We need to get this government out before Christmas. And I urge every single Lib Dem member to do the honourable thing and quit this disgraceful party immediately.

  • Mr Cable’s speech was a requiem for the Liberal Democrat Party. RIP

  • The proposal which is presently on offer from Vince Cable is tougher on the lower /middle income group and better for the poorest of the poor than the present system. It is like water off a duck’s back for the very wealthy.

    If the intention is that those who get a good education but do not choose to use that to pursue high income should not be penalised, then the sensible way (and also most cost-efficient) is simply to pay for Higher Education through general taxation. The nation gets paid back by ALL high earners (including those who choose not to go to university) in a progressive manner according to people’s incomes. The big issue outstanding remains the considerable number of academically-questionable courses where the taxpayer currently subsidises young people on a three year growing up session without much value academically to either the individuals or to the nation’s economy. Will the coalition replace Labour’s growing army of unemployed graduates with an army of unemployed non-graduates while Poles and Latvians do all the dirty jobs which our children feel are beneath them?

    The Executive Committee of Southport Liberal Democrats tonight unanimously backed their MP John Pugh’s stance in opposing tuition fees. Hardly surprising, given the importance with which the members of the Party have campaigned on this issue over the past decade and more – not because of any electoral advantage but because of the passionate belief in the need to have Higher Education’s benefits open to people from all backgrounds and family income-ranges.

  • When I lent my vote to the Lib Dems at the GE I did so in part as a protest against Labour introducing Tuition Fees. I have never tribally voted for any party and vote according to policies.

    I am now in my mid forties and have 3 kids with the eldest one (13) already wondering what direction he should take career wise. I have told him to learn Mandarin Chinese and how to make a good burger as a back up. Failing that join the armed forces! Vietnam, sorry I mean Afghanistan, should still be soaking up money and blood when he leaves school and I have told him to go into the RAMC, he should be pretty safe there and can get a job in the NHS (whatever will be left of it) when he promotes himself to “Mr”.

    University is well and truly off the agenda. Both my wife and I are without our parents (myself from the age of 23) and therefore there are no “Grandparents” to help with the costs. My son would like to go into Architecture but to train as an Architect is probably as distant for him as becoming an Astronaut. Engineering ? We don’t make anything anymore except defence here in the North West (defence cuts will kill that off).

    I accept that the Con Lib coalition was not going to stop tuition fees but neither did I think that they would increase those fees whatever the economic circumstances. This should be about investing in the young and not p***ing on their bonfires. This policy of the Con Libs is shortsighted and a slap in the face for less well off families (not benefit scroungers but bloody hardworking families).

    Shame on your leadership. I feel very sorry for true Lib Dems who are being led by donkeys (add names as you wish)…

    One comment above says support for the Lib Dems is up in Scotland. People on the Clyde are waiting for the defence review with growing alarm as they are here in the NW of England.

    Looks like we’ll all be flipping burgers this time next year. At least I can look foreward to working with my eldest son and practice our chinese.

    Clegg, Cable, Cobblers…

  • @Mark Pack
    Those one or two Lib Dems malcontents at the Coalition Policies certainly do seem to be making a lot of noise . Do you still think its just one or two Mark. Such complacency from people will put the whole future or yours and(at least for now) my party at risk ?

    I’m still wondering where your ‘red line’ comes Mark ? As I am for the others that were so enthusiastic for this ill thought out coalition with possibly the most right wing mainstream political parties in Western Europe.

  • I think this is an issue where we should show that being in coalition means we can *and will* force a change in policy where fundamental issues are at stake.

    Otherwise we prove the opposite.

  • The council elections are next may.I hope Lib Dem councillors and candidates know they are facing electoral meltdown.Lib Dem members must assert themselves or the party is going back to the state it was in the 1950s.

  • @John Fraser

    It is definitely more than one or two now. I think even Mark Pack will agree with you there.

  • going with the tories: better than just tory
    AV instead of PR: at least its a start
    VAT rise:not good at all
    Uncapping student fees: TOO FAR

    I’ve just ripped up my membership card in disgust and seriously want my ballot paper back.

  • Night of The Long Knives anyone?

  • “I pledge to vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative”.

    What we do says who we are, well are the Lib Dem MPs men and women of principle or are the unpricipled imposters?

  • @ mpg#

    It is definitely more than one or two now. I think even Mark Pack will agree with you there.

    I’m sure he does …we’ve been arguing this point on and off for weeks …and I just want to hear him admit it in the face of opverwhelming evidence. Too many otherwise very sound liberals (which Mark very much is) have been suffering from ‘An Emperors New Clothes’ syndrome regarding the coalition. One of the reasons why it is becoming more likely that my 25 year affiliation with the party may shortly end. The policies are horrendous but it is perhaps the redicoulous spin that makes it even more difficult to bare.

  • The Liberal Democrat Party are the WORST of all three main political parties. As a student, this policy is an utter disgrace. The course I’m currently studying, at the uni I am studying will most likely be charged well in excess of £10,000 a year if there was no cap on tuition fees.

    Whilst the Lib Dems abandoned so many policies, this is one which I thought they’d never abandon whatever the circumstances. I could understand their change from “abolishing fees altogther” to “opposing any further rises”, but this just takes the cake and so far not a single Lib Dem MP has signalled their outrage at what the coalition are planning on doing. The hard work of building up the Liberal Party from near extinction in the 1950s/1960s to about a quarter of the vote in 2010 just thrown away for a little 5 year period in power. Mr Cameron will drop Mr Clegg the moment the Tories win an overall majority – his party would make sure of that – but Mr Clegg is happy to do whatever Mr Cameron wants. What Mr Clegg doesn’t realise, is that in 5 years time he will be campaigning again for people’s vote and however good the economy becomes, and the deficit reduction works, people will always ask “Well, Mr Clegg you promised x, y and z before the election and then ended up giving us the opposite. How can we beleive you won’t do the same again?” Mr Clegg and the rest of the Lib Dems don’t seem to realise this!

    At this moment in time I would rather have had five more years of Brown then Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg running things the way they are!

    Mr Clegg will go down in history in the same manner as Lloyd George – the person who destroyed the Liberals. And if this sorts of policies are what the Liberal Democrats support in government – then all I can say is “Goodbye”

  • Mark Pack wrote –
    “on the issue of tuition fees it’s certainly a lot more than it has been on other issues (and including myself), though – given you raise the wider issues – if you look at what a lot of people have been saying their unhappiness over the proposals does not, so far, generally translate into changing their minds overall about coalition or other issues”


  • @Mark Pack
    if you look at what a lot of people have been saying their unhappiness over the proposals does not, so far, generally translate into changing their minds overall about coalition or other issues.

    That was a quick response.

    Every time a coalition policy was put to Lib dem conference e.g. Trident, Free Schools, even Child Benefit (which I am persuadable on) its been massacred Mark.

    The arguments in favour of the coalition are now along the lines of ‘well theres no way we can pull out now whatever we think’ ….. and short of no confidencing our leader they may have a point. But if that is the way support for the coalition is now measured Mark it hardly a basis for running and inspiring a party.

  • “Just out of interest, are there any Lib Dem policy u-turns that you wouldn’t seek to try and justify ? I’d be interested to know just so that I can keep an eye out for them when they inevitably get ditched in due course.”

    Well, the defence review is coming up. Perhaps we can look forward to our ConDem chums halving the surface fleet, decimating the JSF order and ordering four shiny new ballistic missile submarines instead?

    Absolutely disgusted. Living in the South West I’ve voted Liberal and then LibDem all my life to keep the bloody Tories out. Now not only are they keeping them in, they seem prepared to discard every possible principle to maintain the appearance of ‘being in power’. as Cameron plays Clegg, Cable and Alexander like puppets on a string. Never again. Labour next time, whatever their chances.

  • Terry Daniels 12th Oct '10 - 11:53pm

    This is a consequence of the Lib-Dems believing before the election that they would, as usual, not win the election, so they could say anything they liked to win votes, knowing they would not have to carry out their policies.

  • Yes, it’s a betrayal of our promises. However, a lot of snooty people from other parties are saying we just need to grow up, learn to act like normal politicians, and get used to telling lies as a standard approach to dealing with the mugs who form the electorate. They suggest that a fees hike is inevitable, and we should just roll over and accept it.

    Well, the answer should of course be a loud raspberry, together with some arguments which might give our snooty opponents pause for thought.

    First of all, this perpetual hysteria about the deficit – which as Ian Butler pointed out isn’t even especially high at present – is being used to warp minds and force choices which people would not make if they didn’t believe in a phoney crisis. Those who want high fees and financial competition do need to make a case for what they are proposing – it is NOT inevitable.

    Secondly, it’s a mess. To give Cable a tiny bit of credit, he tried to get a graduate tax and then settled for something which looked a bit like one. But the weird mixture of variable interest rates and a 30-years limit on payment will mean huge variations in liabilities: low for the very poor, lowish for the very rich, very high for those on middle incomes. It won’t last. It won’t be perceived as fair. If it is adopted now, it will need to be changed later. It’s a compromise that doesn’t work in anybody’s terms. It needs to go onto the back burner until something more coherent has been sorted out.

    Finally – The fashion today seems to be to slag off student slackers, dismiss degrees from anywhere below Manchester in the pecking order as worthless, and call for the free market to create mass unemployment amongst “useless” academics. Ten years ago by contrast, Mr Tony argued that education was vital to Britain, that we would only be able to live by our wits when competing with cheaper global producers, and that we desperately needed to spend money on a larger and better educated workforce. Well, he wasn’t entirely right, but he also wasn’t entirely wrong. Before we wreck the system, how about a bit of rational competitor analysis and manpower planning – alongside a recognition that what we most need is not just training, but people who have learned how to think?

  • Philip Rolle 13th Oct '10 - 12:09am

    I’m not a Lib Dem any more, but my advice to the party would be to be true to its own principles and vote against Coalition policies where necessary – even if that is contrary to the Coalition agreement.

    After all, are the Tories actually going to take their ball home? No way. They need a four or five year term every bit as much as you do.

    But keep U-turning like this and you will destroy your party.

  • @ Terry Daniels, I disagree, the polls pointed to a coalition and any coalition was likely to involve the Lib Dems, whereas they knew they wouldn’t get their way on everything, this is a big big issue for them.

    The problems for the Lib Dems are multiplying, whereas the deficit is a huge problem, as others point out, it is being overblown and used an excuse for getting policies implemented when there are other choices and directions available. The Lib Dems, rightly or wrongly, are taking most of the flak.

    The Tories haven’t quite played a blinder yet, as an early election is unlikely to give them the majority they crave, but they are pushing the Lib Dems deeper and deeper into a corner from which they will find it harder to fight their way out of.

    The coalition is about compromise, it has to be, the problem the Lib Dems face is that their compromises look far more like complete caving than Tory compromises and they are on bigger ticket items, the tuition fees is a massive can of worms for the party and when you see quotes from supposed senior Lib Dems about “Growing up”, it certainly isn’t encouraging for the future of this coalition in terms of the Lib Dems being able to temper some of The Tories more extreme aims.

  • Just so it’s clear for the floating voter such as myself. What do the Lib Dems actually stand for now?

  • I was the first of my family to go to university, to study physics. Even twenty years ago, with a full grant (but loans by the end), it was a struggle. With my background – aspirational working class, lower middle class, whatever label fits – I would have found the student debts now proposed pretty terrifying. Despite the repayment threshold, etc, I fear that the sheer numbers involved will lead many debt-adverse folk from similar backgrounds to conclude that uni is ‘not for people like me’. A tragedy.

    I’ve voted Lib Dem for the last two decades, but never again.

  • allentaylorhoad 13th Oct '10 - 12:41am

    It would cost about £4 billion a year to pay for every student’s degree. Raising Corporation Tax to the European average would bring in an extra £8 billion a year. So what is this lousy government doing? Cutting Corporation Tax and drastically increasing student tuition fees!

  • Betrayed Liberal 13th Oct '10 - 12:43am

    The salient point is that Clegg/Cable don’t care if they wreck the party. There is a nice revolving door between politicians and corporations/banks/hedge funds. When they leave office they will be rewarded with: either lucrative multimillion pound seats on the boards of the banks that they bailed out, paying themselves bonuses with taxpayer’s money or ‘speaking’ tours for business (just look at Tony Blair now).

    Thatcher, Blair, Cameron, Clegg, Cable, Milliband are all corporate careerists who only serve the interests of capital.

    By all the main parties being essentially extensions of the multinational banks/corporations, it honestly does not matter one at all which you vote for. In fact, given how narrow the political debate has become in this country – no longer about policy/values/ideology rather ‘pragmatism’ or ‘what works.’ It is taken for granted that politics is the same as running a business. We are treating the country, people’s lives as numbers on a profit and loss account. The obvious problem of this position is capitalism is inherently exploitative. The corporations/capitalist politicians are seeking to raise unemployment, drive down the costs of the oppressed: their education, their wages, NHS, the welfare state, thereby increasing their profits.

    The banks know this and are gloating about how they are exploiting and oppressing poor in the West. They gloat that we are ‘plutonomies’ – societies designed from top to bottom for the hyper-rich.

    The only reasons I see that these criminals stay in power is testament to: the power of propaganda, a corrupt, supine media (governed by barons such as Murdoch) human gulliblity/stupidity/ignorance allied with the massive expansion of the police state to crush any would be resistance in its naissance.

    The questions that matter: Are we a democracy of the people or or the corporations? Do we care about people’s lives, livelihoods or giving the bankers/corporate career politicians whatever they desire?

  • An American style privatised education system introduced with the help of ministers who’s word will be luckt to ever be trusted by the electorate again. Any, pledge promise or guarantee they make in future elections will have their lie on Fees used trotted out and used against them.

    Sooner or later some of these Liberal Democrat ministers will realise that they and the Party are being systematically eviscerated and destroyed by the Conservatives who are, be in no doubt, laughing long and hard behind their coalition partners backs at all this.

    Nick will always cave in to Cameron. It’s who he is.
    He is a liability and truly believes that hanging on to the Conservatives coat-tails and hoping for the best is all that matters and everything wil turn out fine if we just wish hard enough. All this while he enjoys the agreeable perks thatbeing Deputy Prime Minster brings. What matters it to Nick that the Party is in meltdown if he gets to speak at the U.N. and can swan about the Cabinet office and Downing Street making flatpack furniture with his best friend David ?

    And for those still deluded enough to believe that this farcical submission to the Conservatives won’t be the kiss of death, it was Liberal Democrat MPs who were talking about being betrayed tonight on the News. NOT Labour supporters.

    If Nick’s right wing clique at the top of the Party will happily turn themselves into blatant liars to please Cameron, then what fresh horrors await us in the cuts announcement ?

    Which is also why all the Labout supporters getting excited about an early election are also living in a dreamworld. Becuse although our polling is dire and likely to get worse, after next week the Conservatives polling will also begin to drop like a stone. So there’s no way Cameron will risk an election before 2015 now. His window of opportunity for a snap election has gone. The difference is Cameron has Nick to use as a human shield so he won’t lose his base or his grassroot support even if his polling does drop sharply.

  • to be fair, the Brown report does put forward a fairly progressive method for students and universities to address the issues they have at the moment, while coming into line with the inevitable cuts package.The main problem from my perspective is that of tuition fees rising. i mean it doesn’t matter how you wrap it up, those fees are going up, and that is what LD MPs pledged on mass not to support.

    As junior coalition members, we cant expect to get everything our own way, but i simply do not see how any LD’s can get behind this. Take all the suggestions from the brown report except the removal of the cap (maybe except an increase in real terms), that’s actually pretty good; but with every1 else, business and individuals together, having to do more for less, why aren’t the uni’s expected to? If some uni spots need to be reduced, then that is an unfortunate reality of the financial situation. I assume that 2 year HND courses or other diploma courses would not cause such student debts to incur, as the fee would be less, and the course is only 2 years; not to mention the fact that vocational study is better suited to many people.

    In all truth there isnt much Lib Dem MP’s can do, but stand by their principles on this 1, and that cannot mean voting yes, or abstaining, to a bill that removes the cap, or increases the value of that cap. If they fail to do that, they really are failing the people that voted them in there.

    I hope this bill is fleshed out in a way that allows LD MP’S to be able to support it, as both students and uni’s seem to need something done here. but as it stands now, I can see a large rebellion going on…

  • Afterthought 13th Oct '10 - 4:21am

    It seems like people are not prepared for the dark times ahead; these “cuts” will seem like the zenith of the Golden Age at that time.

  • We signed a pledge. We made a promise to the electorate. If that means nothing then we mean nothing. I don’t know about the rest of you but I’m not about to see our party destroyed at the next election simply so the MP’s who have been given goverment jobs can have nice CV’s to take with them into the business world and nice salarys till then, it’s the party that matters. I didn’t campaign for this.

    I’d hope my MP will keep his promise, if he votes for this or abstains then he will no longer have my trust and I will be voting against his reselection and trying to persuade my friends to do the same . I had been wavering about resigning from the party, I’m really not well enough for this fight, but Claire Raynor defending the NHS on her deathbed made me think again, some things are worth fighting for, and a party that’s supposed to care about people is worth fighting for, I’ll stay in and fight to change it back.

  • Having now watched the statement and following debate on democracy live i understand.

    Lib Dems promises only apply to the ideal world. So I wasn’t lied to…….


  • Anthony Aloysius St 13th Oct '10 - 8:47am

    “It would cost about £4 billion a year to pay for every student’s degree.”

    Actually, if I’ve understood the report, these proposals are projected to save the taxpayer about £1.8bn a year, while leaving total university funding roughly the same.

    Is there a sense in which the party is going to sustain political damage out of all proportion to the saving in expenditure?

  • Chris Gilbert 13th Oct '10 - 8:56am

    This is disgraceful. The whole party made it clear to the government that this was one of the most important promises, and Vince has just walked all over the party roots. This isn’t going to go well.

    Why is it wrong to raise money the fairest way, by progressive taxation? They come up with ridiculous schemes that involve people paying more for goods, student tuition, micro payments everywhere, instead of just taxing more. Just tax more! They do it in Sweden, and they have a good state system there. They do it in Denmark too. It works, it’s fair. So long as taxation is progressive, it is always the fairest system of paying for public services.

    Businesses are getting away with exploiting the state and society to pay for investments they should themselves be contributing to. Again, the rich are in charge of the government. It doesn’t matter what party is in charge, the rich are the ones running the show.

  • Good good nice to see some of you waking up to the reality of your plight. Now any chance of a thread about the VAST MAJORITY of school leavers not goung to uni and their chances of gainful employment with civilised terms and conditions.Perhaps the mighty Lib Dem arm of government could do something to reassure worried parents of teenagers who dont want to be journalists they will keep the Torys in check.
    After all you wouldnt want ordinary people to feel you regard them as unimportant until election time would you.

  • What this latest volte-face on an absolute policy commitment reveals is that the Liberal Democrats have no influence over the Tories at all. The only way that Liberal Democrat MPs can emerge from this squalid episode with any integrity or honour is to cross the commons and join the opposition. That’s the only way to rein in Tory extremism. If the Tories were in a minority government they would be less ideologically ambitious.

  • And how likely is that – remember Vince is leaving skidmarks as he grabs control

  • I find it revealing that this is the issue that has got the blood of so many Lib Dems boiling.
    Not the ending of the universal principle in child benefit. Not the social engineering of the cap on housing benefit or total benefits a household can recieve. Not the abolition of the NHS and its privatisation. Not the prioritisation of private over publicly funded patients in the private hospitals the NHS is to be broken into. Not increasing VAT when everyone agrees that a national insurance rise would be more progressive. Not the idea of kicking little old ladies out of their council homes. Not the Free Schools of segregation and the promotion of markets and unequal parental power into the outcomes for children in education. Not the abandonment of school building programmes. Or sure start. Or child trust funds.
    No, it is this one issue that gets the rebel roused.
    As the issues listed above are far more relevent in acheiving equality of capability and therefore genuine liberal equality of opportunity than university education, can it be assumed that it is the attack on middle and upper middle class incomes that is invigorating so much outrage amongst you all? After all the programmes listed above are all aimed either directly at the poor or include the poor on an equal basis as all others. They do however have in common the fact that the middle to upper classes all intrinsically feel that they could get by without them without a direct impact on their quality of life.
    Would I be correct in assuming then, that rather than being a party committed to liberalism and all that it entails, the Lib Dems, on this evidence, are a party of mid to upper middle class sectional interests?

  • Although a slightly different tack, one of the underlying problems within the, much vaunted, global free market is that the better British universities are global brands and the managers of these recognise there is a global demand from the overseas rich for their children to attend these seats of learning. They also recognise that great wealth can be acquired if these brands maximise their potential.

    The government recognise that selling British education is essentially an export which brings in foreign currency and helps our ailing balance of trade. So not only is the government content with this boost in trade and the savings achieved by reducing subsidies, but also the better universities because of the envisaged increased profits and of course the wealthiest Brits can easily afford the higher fees.

    A global free market introduces quite a different set of values – values which do not include patriotism or concern for the well-being of the indigenous people – beyond what is required to get elected.

  • vince thurnell 13th Oct '10 - 11:06am

    Jrc, Never a truer word said. Add to that list the thousands of people about to be put on the scrapheap later today when the doddering fool Cable announces the full privatisation of Royal Mail and you can see what really drives the Lib Dems. Despite what they claim , they are not the party of the poor and working class. They are the party of the middle classes and thats why the only thing that really bothers them is things that affect their lives in some way ie tuition fees.

  • Until Clegg goes nothing will change – Clegg must go and go now, if there is to be any hope .

  • Betrayed Liberal,

    “Thatcher, Blair, Cameron, Clegg, Cable, Milliband are all corporate careerists who only serve the interests of capital. ”

    Vince Cable took a substantial pay cut when he gave up his job as Chief Economist at Shell to become an MP. Vince still deserves respect, despite being Cameron’s prisoner. He may surprise us yet and stick the knife into Clegg. Give him some space to do that.

  • Roy's Claret Army 13th Oct '10 - 11:58am

    I am no friend of your party. But if you brought down the government on a point of principle and saved many young people from a humungous debt your vote could easily go up and be restored.

    At the moment you are selling your good name and won’t get it back.

  • Plenty of Liberals have been protesting at those policies but this is a big issue for the same reason it was a big issue for Labour when Blair shoved through tuition fees.
    Because Blair had said before the election Labour wouldn’t introduce tution fees, then he did, and Nick said he would vote against tuition fees and now it looks like he won’t.
    It’s true Nick isn’t thought of by the British public as massive and barefaced a Liar as Blair is, but that still doesn’t mean Liberal Democrats aren’t furious with Nick.
    Of course Nick hasn’t sent the country to War on a Lie yet, and to give him some credit I doubt he’s quite that far gone , but again, though Labour put up with that sort of deception for an incredible number of years, I doubt Liberal Democrats would have been so sanguine in their place.

    And I also remember all those Thatcherite Blair policies that went through with barely a peep like hammering single mothers, all those PFI and PPP privatisation by the back door schemes, all those right wing health and education ‘reforms’ Blair and then Brown introduced. All that disasterous sucking up to big business Blair and Brown engaged in, all the Orwellian Big Brother Laws and crack downs and of course all that complicity with torture and a Neoconservative madman.

    Some of us might think Nick is now a liability but Ed Miliband is Brownite Labour Leader with a shadow cabinet still containing more than a few staunch Blairites. So when the callow young Labour lad manages to stop dithering and think up a policy of his own for Labour on HE, you will let us know won’t you ?

  • vince thurnell 13th Oct '10 - 12:33pm

    LDV Bob, you can have whatever policy you want if you don’t stick to it ie tuition fees, part privatisation of Royal Mail, making cuts too early. Its no good deflecting your problems onto the Labour party claiming they have no policies because it has become abundantley clear neither do the Lib Dems (or at least policies they plan on sticking to). As the Lib Dems are now sharing government i think its a bit more important we know what their policies are rather than the policies of the Labour party with a leader that has only been in place a few weeks.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 13th Oct '10 - 12:37pm

    “Would I be correct in assuming then, that rather than being a party committed to liberalism and all that it entails, the Lib Dems, on this evidence, are a party of mid to upper middle class sectional interests?”

    Sadly, there’s a lot of truth in that.

    One of the main reasons we’re in such a mess is that self-serving politicians have been telling us for years that we can have good public services and a humane society without ordinary people having to pay the cost in taxes. The Lib Dems under Clegg have been among the worst offenders, with their talk of “big permanent tax cuts” for those on lower and middle incomes. Of course they were playing to their target audience – middle-class, traditionally Tory voters in Lib Dem marginals. And of course the sums couldn’t really be made to add up, so it was all just a big bluff, which has finally been called now that the Lib Dems are in government.

    And the reaction that we’re seeing is a reflection of the lies that people have been told for years. Those middle and upper middle classes don’t like it at all when their benefits are taken away, or when they’re asked to pay more towards the cost of higher education. But somebody has to pay.

  • If I was deflecting I wouldn’t be calling Nick a liability.
    The difference is some us aren’t afraid to call a spade a spade.
    Labour were cowed and shamed by a right wing Leader for a decade but I suspect the Liberal Democrats won’t put up with Nick for anywhere near that amount of time if he keeps this up.

  • “One of the main reasons we’re in such a mess is that self-serving politicians have been telling us for years that we can have good public services and a humane society without ordinary people having to pay the cost in taxes.”

    True. But we should add that self-serving ordinary people have been telling politicians for years that they must have good public services and a humane society without having to pay the cost in taxes.

    Thirty years ago we had a Labour party who believed that high taxes could be popular, especially when voted upon by the poor who would not have to pay them. Ten years ago, the Lib Dems had the courage with “penny in the pound” to tell people that good things have to be paid for. Nowadays we have three conservative parties, we have no party prepared to challenge self-serving ordinary people who want goodies for nothing, and we have policy based on lies and self-delusion.

  • vince thurnell 13th Oct '10 - 1:02pm

    LDV, As already pointed out, whats worrying about the Lib Dems (a party i voted for at the last election) is your party seems quite happy to put up with policy changes on not cutting too early , the part privatisation of Royal Mail , benefit cuts ect but when it comes to tuition fees your party are up in arms. That says to me that far from being for the poorer/working class your party truly is a party of the middle class.
    Yes Labour did lose its way but i think its just a little too early to judge Ed Millaband and demand to know what his polices are considering hes only been in the post a few weeks. As for the Lib Dems not putting up with Clegg, well up to the tuition fee issue your party weren’t just putting up with it , many of them were taking on the poicy changes with relish.

  • It is getting ridiculous that the Liberal Democrats are constantly blaming the previous labour government for their policies for getting us into this mess, Then arguing that Labour does not have an alternative to the coalitions policies to get us out of this mess.

    It is fair to say that Labour lost the election as many of the electorate didn’t have enough confidence in their policies.

    However it is also fair to say that Liberal Democrats WHERE ELECTED into coalition government on the basis of their policies that they put forward at the election campaign.

    Liberal Democrats where well aware of Labours policies at the start of the election. in fact the Liberal Democrat Manifesto was written in a way that they could fight the Tories as well as Labour’s policies.

    The fact that you are now in Government in a coalition with the Conservatives should not give LD the excuse to abandon their Manifesto.

    And it certainly doesn’t wash with the Public to keep taking the same line “Libdems are having to change there policies because of Labour’s mess”

    At the end of the Day Its the Tories and the Lib Dems that are in Government and it’s their Policies that the public need to know.

    Labour are now in opposition and it is right that they get to question the Coalition on it’s policies.

    If at any point the coalition falls apart and we end up going to the polls again, Thats is when it is for Labour to tell the electorate what their policies will be and then the public will be allowed to vote accordingly.

    I dare say that if there was to be another election in the next 12 months, the outcome would be very different to the one we got.
    The only question will be.
    Will the Tories have done enough to destroy Liberal Democrats credibility and shatter their support, to be able to command a majority Government? Or would we end up with a Labour Government? Maybe even possibly a Lab/Lib coalition.

    In my opinion Liberal Democrats need to act sooner rather later on this to insure their parties own political survival and relevance, and deep down all Libdems know it. They just dare not admit it

  • And what issue did Ed choose to lead on in his first PMQ’s ?
    The plight of the poor and vulnerable on benefits ? No. He agreed with Cameron on that.
    It was the voiceless and dispossessed huddled working classes who earn over £44,000 a year.
    Brave young lad is Ed.
    Which I could take if I thought he was doing it because of principle of universal benefits.
    But the truth is it’s Blairite triangulation and he’s doing it to try and rid himself of the ‘Red Ed’ tag, suck up to the middle classes and get some of the right wing press on his side in the process.

    So you’re going to be swallowing a good few right wing policies of your own before long my friend, as I recognise that Blairite twinkle in young Ed’s eye.

  • vince thurnell 13th Oct '10 - 1:27pm

    LDV, er why will i be swallowing right wing policies, ive already stated i voted Lib Dem at the last election and as for the next election , i will decide nearer the time who to vote for.
    Don’t jump to conclusions my friend as to who people will vote for , i will vote for the least right wing party which at the moment does rule out the Tories and the Lib Dems but certainly doesnt mean i will vote Labour.

  • I don’t really want to get into a defence of the New Labour government but LDVBob, your memory owes more to folklore than truth. For example here is the commitment on higher education in the Labour manifesto 1997:

    ‘The improvement and expansion needed cannot be funded out of general taxation. Our proposals for funding have been made to the Dearing Committee, in line with successful policies abroad.

    The costs of student maintenance should be repaid by graduates on an income-related basis, from the career success to which higher education has contributed. The current system is badly administered and payback periods are too short. We will provide efficient administration, with fairness ensured by longer payback periods where required.’

    No lie and no broken promise there then.

    The fervour of Lib Dem antipathy to the leaderships welcome of Browne proposals obviously has something to do with a feeling of betrayal but the measures against universality, the health service and for social engineering along socially conservative grounds inherent in the benefit proposals are equally a betrayal of liberal principles. Why is it that this one is the straw that might break the camels back?

  • Apologies then. I did indeed mistake what I perceived to be defence of Labour as support.
    Labour just had one of the longest and most protracted elections of a Leader in many a long year.
    I wouldn’t expect Ed Miliband to have the detail of every policy ironed out yet, but he did campaign to be Leader for months on a platform slightly more substantial than “I’m not my brother.” So he gets some leeway, but not that much. Politics doesn’t stand still because Ed is the new kid in town.
    The public might not accept the coalition blaming everything on Labour for the next five years, but they also won’t accept “it’s not our problem just now so we don’t need to have any policies on it” as an excuse from Labour either.

  • You sadly omitted this from your defence of Blair when he was asked before the 97 election,

    “Will Labour introduce tuition fees for higher education?”
    Mr Blair’s answer was: “Labour has no plans to introduce tuition fees for higher education.”

    Sounds like a broken promise to me.
    Though I do remember Blair doing semantic somersaults at the time trying to pretend it wasn’t.

    And in 2001 we had more of the same from Blair.
    The manifesto in 2001 was far more specific about top-up fees than it had been in 1997 about the original introduction of fees. On page 20 it said: “We will not introduce top-up fees and have legislated to prevent them.”
    They were then introduced.

  • vince thurnell 13th Oct '10 - 2:00pm

    LDV, that may well be the case but the question on most voters lips at the moment is not ‘what are Labours policies’ , it is ‘ how many more election promises are the Lib dems going to break’. Before the Lib Dems ask Labour what their policies are , they need to work out what their own because at this moment in time it seems your leadership has totally different views to what your party stands for than the membership do.

    Personally i have seen what your party stands for as ive seen your membership not just put up with but in some cases relish the cuts in welfare and the privatisation of Royal Mail but go completely bonkers over the issue of tuition fees. That says to me that many of your party members that claim to be left of centre and believe in helping the poor and working class (not all of you i might add) really are nothing more than soft Tories.

  • James from Durham 13th Oct '10 - 2:05pm

    I went to Uni in the 80s – we had tuition paid for and even grants. If I’d wanted to (and been clever enough!) I could have aimed for Oxbridge, without fear.

    Most people hope their kids lives will be better and have more opportunities than they had.

    Now I have two daughters. They’re cleverer than me! If they go to uni, they will emerge wiith what level of debt around their shoulders? 3 years at £7000 for fees and the they have to live. What £40,000 of debt? I don’t care what the terms are, it’s a hell of a lot of money.

    When I bought my flat when I was 25, it cost less than that. OK, money fallacy there, but even so.

    When they reach what our leaders think is a sibstantial wage for plebs, their marginal tax rate, if we see this debt repayment as being like a tax, will be huge.

    “Dude, where’s my country?” Where’s my party?

    I have voted LD and Alliance since 1983. I detest the Tories. I’m not a warmonger, thatcher-worshipper or racist so I won’t fit with Labour. And I don’t believe in Homeopathy! Will I bother voting at all?

  • @LDV Bob

    “The public might not accept the coalition blaming everything on Labour for the next five years, but they also won’t accept “it’s not our problem just now so we don’t need to have any policies on it” as an excuse from Labour either”

    What the public doesn’t accept is Liberal Democrats abandoning their Policies and Election Pledges and blaming Labour for their Policies or lack of them as being an excuse.

    As I said before. The public where well aware of Labours Policies before the Election and as a result they lost the election.

    Your Party where voted into coalition on the basis of your policies and election promises (which you should stick too)

    if we where to go to the Electorate again I am sure all 3 parties would fight a new election with a NEW and IMPROVED manifesto.

    I dare say that these Manifesto’s are being written up by all 3 major parties as we speak ( Considering the current climate and circumstances it would be irresponsible for them not to)

    But I repeat again it really isn’t acceptable for a party that is in coalition government to keep side stepping questions on their own polices and instead attacking the oppositions. (We want clear decisive responses from you) Not this constant Dribble we keep getting.

  • And the Labour Party still has it’s fair share of Blairites who are little more than soft Tories too.
    The point about Labours lack of policies isn’t really the publics reaction to them just now. More that if it turns out Ed agrees with the coalition on many of their policies then it might just be that he is also a bit of a soft Tory at heart.

  • vince thurnell 13th Oct '10 - 2:20pm

    LDV Bob, but this isnt about the Labour party , its about the Lib Dems hence why im posting on a Lib Dem website.

  • isnt it also a bit ridiculous considering what Vince cable announced yesterday.
    On the Liberal Democrat website.

    It still say’s

    “Liberal Democrats are the only party which believes university education should be free and everyone who has the ability should be able to go to university and not be put off by the cost. ”

    Considering what has happened over the last 48 hours. How can the Liberal Party still being clear, decisive and honest with the public?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 13th Oct '10 - 2:36pm


    Oddly, that is still officially party policy. What Vince Cable is about to concoct is coalition policy, which is something different.

    But this is a perfect illustration of how this coalition makes it virtually impossible for the Lib Dems to maintain a separate identity and policies, let alone project them to the electorate.

  • vince thurnell 13th Oct '10 - 3:28pm

    Alex M, that is most sensible reply i have seen to question as to why this is the policy u turn that has caused such uproar. The only problem i have with it though , (and believe me this isnt aimed at you) , but many of your fellow lib dems didnt seem to just accept the other u turns they seemed to revel in them . You even had a piece written for Lib Dem voice boasting that the privatisation of Royal Mail was another part of Lib Dem policy implemented when it clearly wasn’t as there is a big difference between part privatisation and wholesale sell off. Many of your colleagues have really shown their true colours since the election and that includes some of the article writers themselves and the truth is that far from being Liberal democrats they are as right wing as the party you are in bed with at the moment.

  • @LDV BOB: You sadly omitted this from your defence of Blair when he was asked before the 97 election,

    “Will Labour introduce tuition fees for higher education?”
    Mr Blair’s answer was: “Labour has no plans to introduce tuition fees for higher education.”

    Sounds like a broken promise to me.
    Though I do remember Blair doing semantic somersaults at the time trying to pretend it wasn’t.

    And in 2001 we had more of the same from Blair.
    The manifesto in 2001 was far more specific about top-up fees than it had been in 1997 about the original introduction of fees. On page 20 it said: “We will not introduce top-up fees and have legislated to prevent them.”
    They were then introduced.

    Oh that was political spin at its finest, technically Blair was right as the legislation wasn’t introduced until the next parliament, but there was criticism of using the next parliament excuse when they’d made such a commitment.,

    There was criticism, there was a backbench revolt and the legislation only just sneaked through, I suspect the same could happen here with Lib Dems voting against.

    The problems the Lib Dems face are unfortunately significantly different from that of a single party with a majority, people are looking to the Lib Dems to temper the worse excesses of the Tory party and when they see such a u-turn people are going to be angry, they are also in the unenviable position of being criticised by Labour, their own supporters and Tories, this is the price of being the junior coalition party, even Tory supporters, who support the report, are pouring scorn on the Lib Dems over this u-turn.

    You’re certainly correct about “Red Ed” having more than a tint of blue, left wing politics in this country hasn’t recovered from the loss of John Smith, there’s certainly a vacancy there.

  • @james from Durham”
    I have voted LD and Alliance since 1983. I detest the Tories. I’m not a warmonger, thatcher-worshipper or racist so I won’t fit with Labour. And I don’t believe in Homeopathy! Will I bother voting at all?”

    Quite so! There will be a large number of the electorate so disallusioned we will not vote, who can we trust as we have been lied to? Lib Dem lies, New Labour blatantly Tory, Tories being Tory. All attacking the poor. Sorry can’t help quoting from ‘Animal Farm’

    The creatures looked from pig to man and from man to pig, and from pig to man again: but already it was impossible to tell which was which”

    I can’t.

  • There have been rumblings (not on this scale admittedly) within the party on Universality, free schools, benefit cuts, VAT, but that’s all they were, rumblings, and then followed a whole series of self justification exercises, all ending in shouts of it’s ‘labours fault’,. then everyone rolls over to have their belly tickled by the Tories, but when I read some of the posts here yesterday I thought ‘great the lib Dems have finally found a backbone’
    Unfortunately, reading through ‘some’ of the posts here today, I’m seeing signs of the whole process starting over.
    I despair, I truly do.

  • @JRC
    “the lds are a party of …middle class sectional interests…”

    got it in one , JRC.

    The lds mess with the articulate and sharp elbowed middle classes (can’t deny i am one myself)- at their peril.

  • David Allen 13th Oct '10 - 6:10pm


    “I find it revealing that this is the issue that has got the blood of so many Lib Dems boiling.
    Not the ending of the universal principle in child benefit. Not the social engineering of the cap on housing benefit or total benefits a household can recieve. Not the abolition of the NHS and its privatisation. …. can it be assumed that it is the attack on middle and upper middle class incomes that is invigorating so much outrage amongst you all?”

    Well, I speak as a Lib Dem who has posted here to oppose most of these Tory / coalition policies over the past five months. I think there is some truth in your accusation, but it isn’t the whole story.

    First, LDV takes a lot of postings from loyalist Lib Dem staffers whose job is to make black look white and find arguments in favour of the coalition line, come what may. Ironically, they have done the party harm rather than good by giving it a reputation for mindless cant. If you read the comments to the postings, you’ll see some opposition from ordinary party members. Not enough opposition, but it’s growing.

    Second, far too many members were intoxicated by our new-found power and too willing to give up principles for power’s sake. Again, I think a lot of people are coming to recognise, if not before time, that this won’t do.

    Thirdly, tuition fees are special to Lib Dems, not mainly because they are a middle-class issue, but because we have made promises. Now, people can complain, if they like, that those promises are crucially important and we must not break them. Or, people can complain, if they like, that those promises don’t really matter much because there are more important issues around and so we should quietly ignore them. However, people can’t make both those complaints at once!

    Fourthly I’ll repeat Alex M’s “last straw” argument, which makes a lot of sense. This issue has finally tipped the balance between power and principles in many people’s minds. If this coalition survives, it will never be the same again. We must stand and fight our corner, we must act to curb Tory excesses, and we must be prepared to walk away if we don’t succeed in that aim.

    Sense at last. That membership card of mine, I’ve held the scissors against it many a time, but maybe I can let it stay in one piece now!

  • Betrayed Liberal 13th Oct '10 - 8:09pm

    @james from Durham”
    I have voted LD and Alliance since 1983. I detest the Tories. I’m not a warmonger, thatcher-worshipper or racist so I won’t fit with Labour. And I don’t believe in Homeopathy! Will I bother voting at all?”

    Quite so! There will be a large number of the electorate so disallusioned we will not vote, who can we trust as we have been lied to? Lib Dem lies, New Labour blatantly Tory, Tories being Tory. All attacking the poor. Sorry can’t help quoting from ‘Animal Farm’

    I would suggest voting for the Green party:

    They are the ONLY centre-left ‘progressive’ mainstream UK party on offer at the moment

    Also mass campaigning, marching, striking on a single issue basis for PR, anti cuts etc with groups such as and

    In short, you will be sacrificing the next 5-10 years of any chance of power but building the framework for a new, genuinely progressive centre-left voice that can try and minimise climate change, have socially just policies, fairness and equality at its core. It is just such a shame that New Labour/Conservatives/Lib Dems are all right-wing pro-business/capitalist parties that are slowly wrecking the country and the environment whilst a disillusioned, cynical, apathetic public just lets it happen.

    Let’s reclaim democracy, fairness, social justice, employment, fairness, free healthcare and education for all. These things are being lost and we are being dragged back to the Victorian era.

  • Simon Hughes squirming on Newsnight Wednesday and looking distinctly uncomfortable when asked how he could explain 18 Lib Dems in government voting one way and the rest of the Lib Dem MPS’s another, with Vince about to vote against Lib Dem party policy. It didn’t help (naughty BBC) when Paxman made him turn round to be confronted by yet another tuition fees pledge photo of ….himself. But better get used to it as this is what you are going to get in spades on the doorstep come May.

    The biggest irony is that I think parts of the Browne report are fine (but removing the cap is completely wrong) and it looks like the Lib Dems have simply been badly led on this one, they either didn’t do their sums (which blows their economic credibility to bits) or just lied to the electorate.

  • I cannot accept the Libdem argument that because things are worse economically than they thought they were, when they signed the electioneering fees pledge, then the pledge now means nothing.

    I think back to the Nazi tanks rolling into Poland and the decision we took to stand by our treaty commitments to come to the aid of Poland when it would have been so easy to continue the appeasement line and say well we might as well rip-up our treaty because there’s nothing we can do to prevent the Nazis occupying the country.

    Thank God we had politicians who stood by their principles and honoured their commitment in spite of the cost. What some LibDems just don’t seem to understand is that the Tories wouldn’t have split the coalition if Clegg had held his nerve and honour. And the reason they wouldn’t is that the Tories haven’t yet sucked the LibDems dry.

    The latest problem for LibDems is the whole issue of Royal Mail and, in particular, the mutualisation of the Post Office. I don’t think Vince Cable has a clue what he’s getting into on this one and neither do LibDems. How do you think the public will take the sale of Royal Mail to a foreign company? How can you mutualise a Post Office network that is 80 per cent owned by self-employed postmasters and postmistresses and multiple retail organisations. How do you pay for the immense back-up required to run what is essentially a bankrupt network in terms of centralised services, staff training, customer complaints and dozens of other things that were provided as a hidden subsidy by Royal Mail.

    Does anyone believe the new owner of Royal Mail Letters will provide a subsidy – they will actually start charging for services that previously were provided free. I have some expertise in the area and I can see nothing but disaster ahead. My concern is for the organisation, its people and the customers who are all going to be let down and I take little consolation as a LP supporter that that LibDems will carry the can –

    Talking about Vince – he really is getting way past it and I actually felt sorry for his performance as he tried to defend the uni fees increases – he rambled, was confused and a lot didn’t make sense especially when he was attacking the debt-laden society left by Labour – he just didn’t seem to get it that he was going to force future graduates into carrying enormouse debt burdens if they went to university – so if this was bad under Labour how can it be good now?

    However, the real bombshell will be the actual cuts to be announced for universities next week.

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