Nick Clegg does deep damage to Lib Dems as he pushes through his savage cuts and trebles tuition fee limit

Posted: December 10, 2010 in #Demo2010, Coalition, Demo 2010, Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, Student protests, Tuition fees, Uncategorized, Vince Cable
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In ‘the thick of it’ in Parliament Square

I was in London yesterday and was shocked by events inside and outside Parliament! I saw for myself what happened in the heart of Parliament Square and I heard eloquent and intelligent young people rage against the madness of the Coalition’s tuition fees policy.

The Tory/Lib Dem Coalition government voted to massively increase tuition fees for students. There was heated debate in the House of Commons but Nick Clegg was unapologetic and eager to push the policy through. This was despite huge opposition from young people who protested on the streets of London outside Parliament yesterday.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg appeared arrogant and out of touch in his media interviews. This went down very badly with young people!

Students on Westminster Bridge at around 1pm on 9th December 2010

I saw the protests from both sides of the police lines and saw many injured young people and one injured policeman. There were some upsetting scenes which I chose not to photograph. This included one young man with blood pouring from his head onto the road. There was a whole group of injured young people sat on the pavement. Police at times did seem very heavy handed with the crowds and there was huge anger amongst protesters. See video footage of police horses charging the crowd – unlikely to be shown on Sky!

Students reason with the law

The impact of the Lib Dem leadership voting for the policy was very evident outside as young people challenged police control lines and chanted “Shame on you for turning blue” whenever Clegg’s name was mentioned. He was, of course, called a lot worse.

Sense of Betrayal is Felt by Young People

There was a deep-rooted sense of betrayal amongst young people and probably the majority of the anger was directed at Clegg and his supporters (a reducing number of people as time goes on).

For my part I believe that it’s crucial to be a man or woman of your word. If there is an explicit promise made in writing and on film (and it’s a promise that has no conditions attached ) … well you can’t renege on it – at least not without undermining your credibility with the electorate and feeding the cynical attitude that ‘you’re all as bad as each other’.

Broken Promises Undermine Coalition Politics

The Observer said this on Sunday, “the (tuition fees) furore risks cementing coalition in peoples minds as licence to break promises”. When the referendum on changing the voting system comes there’s a real danger that people will say, ‘well if that’s the result of the kind of coalition that would come from electoral reform, I don’t want to vote for it’.

In any case Clegg did not hold the Party together. His attempt to appear tough with his own MPs backfired badly as more Lib Dem MPs voted against or abstained than voted for the policy put forward by the Lib Dem leadership. Clegg is weakened by this – as is our Party. So a pretty comprehensive disaster Nick! You have managed to deeply damage public trust in our party, particularly amongst young people and you have caused major division in the Lib Dems at the same time.

That is the kind of leadership we can do without.

28 Lib Dem MPs voted in favour of trebling tuition fees proposals, 21 voted against, 8 abstained.

Here are the names of the 21 Lib Dem MPs who voted against the trebling of tuition fees

Mass protest in Parliament Square

  1. Paul Perrin says:

    Under AV *you* can run against a pledge reneging Lib Dem MP – as an independent Lib Dem.

    Under AV there will be no risk of ‘splitting the vote’ so it won’t damaging the party, just the untrustworthy MP.

    Moving from wooly unenforcible manifestos to personal pledges and AV could be the dawn of a new and unique democratic system for the UK.

  2. Craig says:

    I think the passing of this legislation is political suicide for the Libdems and destroyed their claim to being a “cleaner”alternative to the traditional two party political system. Seems more like they’ve signed a Faustian pact with Tories and got nothing in return.

  3. Gordon says:

    It is extremely unfair to raise the fees to such a level. We are not being given figures on those who are worst off who will be likely to be able to get financial grants instead of loans (but no doubt it is a minority number) as most from poorer families are less likely to have an inclination to go to university.

    Additionally, like all of us who are older and had our fees paid for us, we have paid back the cost of our degrees many times over in paying higher rate of tax, so the latest generations are being given a double tax Pay for your degree and pay higher rate tax too. The squeeze is huge on the middle classes of this country.

    I voted Lib dem because of their stance on tuition fees and their approach to helping the economy. I like many have been betrayed. I will never vote lib dem again, even should they radically change for the better. the trust cannot be regained.

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