I have had many ‘discussions’ in the last few weeks about Nick Clegg’s and the future of Liberal Democrat Party.
I have, as those who have listened will tell you, been saying that time will tell and that Lib Dem’s should hold their nerve against criticism going around at the moment. That the Coalition is the best place to be, for the good of Lib Dem’s and the Country.
As if to echo this Nick Clegg has spoken to The Independent on Sunday today:
As usual I urge you to read the article in its entirety. I quote:
There must surely be times, though, when he has had second thoughts, regrets. “No. None at all. I’m absolutely convinced that almost any other course of action would have been a disaster for the country.”…
…In the coming weeks, months and years he will need to “grit my teeth, display a bit of resilience, and explain calmly and logically over and over again why we are doing what we are doing”…
“If there’s one thing I’m not going to apologise for as the leader of the Liberal Democrats in government after 60 or 70 years of being out of government, it’s that you just cannot avoid but deal with the world the way it is.”…
He then comments on tuition fees:
He is anxious to point out that both Labour and Conservatives were “wedded” to a tuition fees rise before the election and students would have faced an increase whoever won.
…the “passion, the hurt feelings, the demos and the slogans and the vitriol”, risk deterring those from poorer backgrounds from going to university. “It’s immensely frustrating to me to see a policy which lowers barriers of entry to university being portrayed as putting up barriers.”
The National Union of Students, and its president Aaron Porter, stand accused of “not being straight” with the protesters who seem to think they are calling for free tuition when in fact they back a graduate tax – the policy also favoured by Ed Miliband. Mr Clegg asked officials to draw up plans for a graduate tax, but no version was “more workable or fairer” than the coalition’s plan.
So Mr Clegg launches into a detailed explanation of what is planned to make university funding fairer. Upfront fees for the 40 per cent of students who are part-time have been scrapped and the repayment threshold raised. “If you were a care worker starting on £21,000 you pay about £7 a month. Under the current scheme you pay £81 a month and under the 2 per cent graduate tax proposed by Ed Miliband it’s about £36.”
His poll ratings may have nose-dived since the giddy heights of Cleggmania, though he argues: “Actually by some estimates we lost more in terms of the opinion poll vote share after the 2005 general election than we did after this one.” He is adamant that in the long run the gamble of coalition will lead to an increase in vote share – and with it a long-term presence in government.
“I predict that with a bit of luck, with a bit of steel, with a bit of resilience, with a kind of discipline, we won’t just recover but we will, I hope, reap the credit.”
This is also reported on BBC website:
So, as I have been saying, let’s judge where we are in four years time and Lib Dem’s should hold your nerve!!!