Flip flop flip flop- Lib Dems on Tuition fees

12 10 2010

The abysmal and waffling performance of Bristol West’s Lib Dem MP Stephen Williams on Radio 4 and constant flip flops proves why Nick Clegg must be rubbing his hands over the Browne Review

Lets be clear. Nick Clegg and other Orange Book Lib Dems aren’t being overpowered by the Tories or economic circumstances on tuition fees. It’s something Williams and Clegg wanted since 2008 in order to win the votes and donations of wealthier voters and big business by cutting their taxes. The coalition allows them an escape from their internal party decisions.

So here is a very brief history

In 2005 Williams  promised to “axe all tuition fees by introducing a 50% rate of tax on income over £100,000.”

In 2008 Clegg & Laws decided to drop the 50% tax rate to make his party more appealing to the upper middle classes and big business. For that policy to be affordable the pledge to axe tuition fees had to go. The Times Higher Education supplement stated unequivocally

“Mr Williams said that Nick Clegg, the leader of the party, had come to this conclusion (to ditch the fees policy) after “long internal discussions” and stated

“We will not be going into a general election suggesting any overall rise in taxation”

Williams having promised to oppose all tuition fees was put in charge of the Lib Dem reversal of its policy.  He willingly jumped at the opportunity and surprisingly asserted “we did NOT promise free tuition for ALL students at the last election

It became more and more apparent that the March 2009 Lib Dem conference was going to defeat the Orange Bookers over tuition fees and so they decided to flip flop on their flip flop on opposing tuition fees …

Williams then said

“Bright young people are potentially being put off going to university by the thought of being saddled with £10k in tuition fee debt.”

“The Liberal Democrats believe that everyone deserves the chance to develop the skills and knowledge that will give them the best opportunities in life.”

So internal party democracy triumphs! The Federal Executive and Conference succeed! The party leadership that wanted to be the party of high earners and big business remains as the party of students… ish

The triumph of Lib Dem party democracy and the student lobby seemed to be confirmed when Williams went into the 2010 election pledging to actively oppose all increases in tuition fees.

Shortly after the Coalition agreement was signed the line toutedLib Dems would abstain on any increases to tuition fees. As early as May 2010 it was clear the Tories were not going to lift a finger to try and ensure that by the next election there can be a move to abolish tuition fees as the Lib Dems promised.  Quite the opposite.

A promise from Williams and the Lib Dems is worth very little.

Tuition fees now look like they will double. On the 11th October 2010 Williams was asked to clarify his position on tuition fees and whether he would vote against an increase.

His waffled answer “we’ll have to wait and see.” He’d also like a “progressive system.”

In my opinion Stephen is a triumph of careerism over honesty. A fairly embarrassing example of the new ruling elite in the Lib Dems. Promise what you can to get elected but really court the votes of the wealthy minority. When it comes to delivering on their promises all they can do is blame the Tories or economic crisis and acquiesce to their “Coalition” superiors.

Have no doubt. Williams and Clegg are delighted with the Coalition and the “out” the Browne review gives them from their own party’s internal democracy.

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2 responses

12 10 2010
Patrick Andrews

Agree with all you say here – a truly useless MP.

29 11 2010
mervyn hyde

A pledge is a pledge, it clearly states he will vote against any increase in fees,thats a promise which he would break if he supports the coalition. Nothing new for liberals.

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