Thursday, 9 December 2010

Students fees - the LibDems jumped into bed with the Tories and were smothered

Whatever your position on university tuition fees, it is difficult to see why you would ever vote for a political party prepared to renege on a central plank of its election manifesto – a pledge to resist higher charges.
Even though it is more than four years away, the decision by the majority of LibDem MPs to back the Tories in pushing the increases through the Commons today will be a millstone around the party’s neck for the rest of this parliament. The LibDems got into bed with the Tories seduced by the prospect of ministerial office – and have been smothered.
The Coalition has failed to ‘sell’ its plan to raise the tuition charges ceiling to £9,000 a year. But I can’t see any great advantage coming to the Labour Party.
Voters are not going to forget that it was Tony ‘Education, education, education’ Blair who introduced fees and his government that set up the Lord Browne review into university funding upon which the Coalition has based its plans.
Having set the admirable target of encouraging half of our young people to go on to further education, Labour shirked addressing how the ever-increasing bill might be met. But Blair and later Gordon Brown failed to an even greater, unforgivable degree in the area.
The OECD international comparison published earlier this week establishes just what a hash Labour made of education in its 13 years in office. The money was spent but in such a way that shackled teachers – the good ones that is – with innumerable initiatives, tests, tables, and curriculum changes. The bad ones were protected by the quick sands of bureaucracy into which head teachers preferred not wander. As a consequence, already poor attainment levels have stagnated.
Labour leader Ed Miliband was quick to condemn the Government tonight but he admitted to being clueless about how universities in England might be funded. A graduate tax looks a non-start
Finally, on a parallel note, anger, however justified, is no excuse for the violence of some protestors on the streets of London tonight. Whether they are genuine students caught up in the passion of events or else anarchist infiltrators, they must suffer the full consequence of their illegal actions.
Students damage their cause if they tolerate a repetition of the mayhem.


  1. Yes GC. The only role left to the LibDems is to try and keep the gov stable in turbulent times.

  2. The LibDem's role is to try and survive as a political party. GC


What do you think? GC