Browse > Home / Liberal Democrats, UK Politics / The ‘no fees’ grieving process

| Subcribe via RSS

The ‘no fees’ grieving process

November 9th, 2010 Posted in Liberal Democrats, UK Politics by

At the moment parts of the Liberal Democrat party are in various early stages of the grieving process over the likely decision by most MPs to vote through some version of a policy that will see student tuition fees in England rise.

Some are in denial. A world recession, government spending vastly exceeding revenues, and most other targets for restraint being more deserving than helping the children of the well avoid affordable debt, has not convinced this group that tuition fees cannot be scrapped. It is the world that must change, not the Liberal Democrat party.

Some are angry. The MPs made a pledge dammit. Regardless of whether or not it will bankrupt the university sector given cuts to the teaching grant, and no other plausible consensus being on the table, we should vote down any compromise agreement to keep our promise.

The MPs in the main are bargaining. We’ll back this if there is a cap… if more concessions are made on grants and access support… if the debt is written off after 30 years… if it looks a little bit like a graduate tax… and so on… the results of these deliberations does look as though it will secure sufficient votes to see the eventual bill pass. The compromise is a dogs dinner, but well beyond what most would have expected.

Some are in depression. 9% in the polls, we are doomed… doomed I say…

Eventually will come acceptance. Explicitly changing the policy in this parliament is unlikely, there is too much anger and denial going on to risk a confrontation at conference. This is not, or at least not yet a clause IV moment for Liberal Democracy. But it is equally unlikely that the party will go into the next election signing NUS pledges or actively promoting a policy to scrap fees. It would invite ridicule and charges of hypocrisy. Some who vote against the government will do so locally, but it will be a mistake.

At some point then in the next Parliament someone, probably Centre Forum, will point out, student numbers will have continued to rise, including amongst economically disadvantaged groups, competition in the sector has encouraged quality and choice, the funding crisis has gone, and there are still no case studies of anyone being impoverished by the fair repayment mechanism. The UK universities sector will be in good shape and the NUS will be spending more time acting as a consumer champion for good value, rather than campaigning for a better yesterday.

At that point the Leader of the party will lead a difficult debate. It is the no fees policy rather than tuition fees that will eventually be scrapped.

4 Responses to “The ‘no fees’ grieving process”

  1. RichieP Says:

    ‘It is the no fees policy rather than tuition fees that will eventually be scrapped. ‘

    As equally, at the next election, will be the Liberal Democrats.

  2. Ecojon Says:

    On 9 October Andy Mayer stated when attacking the ‘Milliband tax’: “Foreign students could end up paying less than some UK graduates, because taxes cannot be collected from people living in other countries. This is not fair either.”

    Thought it worth mentioning Cameron’s comments when speaking to Chinese students on his trip that because of the increase in UK tuition fees that it would be cheaper for foreign students to study at UK universities and be subsidised by higher fees from UK students. Many foreign students also come from privileged backgrounds in their home country.

    Well I don’t think that’s fair either but then I suppose Cameron calls the shots.

    I wonder how many of those signing the NUS pledge knew that Alexander’s secret coalition committee set up by Clegg had already decided in March that in a coalition situation post-election, the tuition fees policy/manifesto commitment would be scrapped.

    So it really was just a cynical voting ploy and I feel sorry for all the well-meaning pledgers who were duped by Clegg and his coalition cabal and didn’t realise that the plotters had secretly junked a high-profile policy.

    I also know that students will never forgive the manipulation they were subjected to and I think the more that is uncovered about this affair the more damaging it will be for the LibDems.

    I have to be honest and say that as a Labour supporter that suits me but as a strong supporter of democracy I am saddened at the way voters have been treated by a party which promised a new and better way of conducting politics.

  3. Andy Mayer Says:

    As a Labour supporter Jon, you back a party that promised not to introduce tuition fees, then did so, I think lectures on consistency from that quarter, quite hollow.

    I also do not share your desire to protect a system that charge foreigners more for a service than it costs us. Protectionism neither helps Britain nor those who wish to come here.

    Painting that as “foreign students (being)… subsidised by higher fees from UK students” is both inaccurate and has an unpleasant undertone that may remind some of Labour’s recent record in Oldham.

  4. Adolfo Trembath Says:

    Simply curious will need you knew one thing else about the big blogengine update that’s coming up quickly? I’m attempting to achieve out to over site owners to look for out what they know given that Google hasn’t indexed whatever new on it for awhile.