Is tuition fees a matter for LD members or NUS?


This week we saw the NUS protest against tuition fees, which was portrayed as a farce on the media, not because of the message they were trying to send, but because of the mindless few that tainted the march.

I do not question any-ones right to protest, obviously that is a right that should exist. I do however question the validity of the reasons for the march.

As I understand it the students were marching to protest against tuition fees, all the reports stating it was because the Lib Dems signed a pledge before the General Election.

This doesn’t add up and yet again Liberal Democrats are being used as an Aunt Sally to all and sundry. I disagree for the following reasons:

  • It is impossible for all the students on the march and everyone commenting to have voted Lib Dem, if they had we probably would have been in Government. Surely the argument about the pledge is then a Lib Dem problem?
  • Tuition rises is a Coalition policy, so why should Nick Clegg be hounded out?
  • Tuition fees were introduced by Labour (as I understand it, even though they promised NO tuition fees) did NUS react the same then?
  • Browne report was commissioned by Labour (and before I get comments on it, I know that they didn’t have to implement its findings)
  • The pledge was signed and policies were Lib Dem policy, yes and if we were in sole Government would have been adopted. We are not, we are part of a Coalition Government and are a junior partner at that.
  • An intelligent guess, may I suggest that without LD influence there may have not been a cap put in place, as I was told yesterday though, I can’t prove it.
  • The majority of the students on that march will not be affected by the tuition fees rise as they will have left before they are brought in. A noble gesture or a chance for NUS to ‘have a go’?

I don’t deny Liberal Democrat members the right to challenge the leadership, on any issue, that is healthy, but calling for resignations etc. is a bit strong in my opinion.

As I eluded on Twitter yesterday, what are we supposed to do?

Sack Nick Clegg, quit the Coalition and rot in Opposition just so that we can moan and whinge about what the Govt is doing to the Country, rising tuition fees, housing benefit changes… ? What good would that achieve?

or, do we want to roll our sleeves up and make sure our Tory partners implement ‘some’ of our manifesto within the Coalition Agreement?

How the Liberal Democrat MP’s vote on tuition fees is a matter for their conscience.

In my view something is still better than nothing!!!

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9 thoughts on “Is tuition fees a matter for LD members or NUS?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Is tuition fees a matter for LD members or NUS? | Rob's View (from the sidelines) -- Topsy.com

  2. David Ward gave a very brave speech yesterday at regional conference about the meaning of coalitions, pledges, and how he hopes that the possibility of coalitions will make ALL parties think about what policies they TRULY value. He also does not recollect signing that pledge, and quite movingly had the guts to say SORRY. Very impressive 🙂

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  3. I think the LibDems are being pilloried because they signed pledges – personally – before the elections promising “to vote against any increase in fees.” No ambiguity, no “unless we’re in coalition”. I think people have a right to be upset about their collective volte-face. I voted LibDem, and I agree that a coalition is better than pure Tory government – but I feel badly let down on this issue.

    As for your final point, I fear you may have missed it. People don’t necessarily march for their own, narrow self-interest, but sometimes because they think something is wrong. I had no expectation of being personally affected by the Iraq war, but I marched against it.

    I’m not calling for anyone’s head, but I find it hard to imagine I’ll be able to trust and LibDem pledges in the run-up to the next election.

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    1. Thanks for the comment.
      Some lessons are hard learned, especially when you have been in opposition for so long, I guess.
      As I have eluded to in the blog, had Lib Dem’s been elected as the sole Govt, I would agree with and share your disappointment. I would have expected them to honour the pledge. However unfortunately they lost the election, effectively and some policies had to fall by the way.
      We could probably argue all night whether they should have held out for zero tuition fees to be part of the Coalition Agreement, but obviously wasn’t possible.
      This being the case the Ministers within the Coalition are bound to go with the Coalition Agreement. It is therefore not the Party Leadership that have let the pledge down , but the electorate for not returning a LD Govt. (I know this probably over simplifies, but I guess you understand the point). Hence I say that it up to backbench Lib Dem MP’s to vote with their conscience.

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      1. I hear what you’re saying, Rob, and thanks for your reply. I understand the MPs are between a rock and a hard place – but it is a rod they’ve made for their own backs.

        My argument would be that if I don’t know that I can keep a promise, I shouldn’t make it. And if I make a pledge and don’t keep it, I should expect some flak, and for people not to trust me.

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    2. However, the second part of that NUS pledge – to campaign for something better than the current system – seems to be ignored by those shouting the loudest.

      Could it be because Lib Dems in government are actually achieving it?

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