Danny Alexander squirms when pressed on tuition fees vote

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander became the latest senior Liberal Democrat cabinet minister to fail to declare his hand on Question Time last night - repeatedly refusing to say whether he would vote for or against the trebling of tuition fees his government is proposing and which he is in favour of.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander became the latest senior Liberal Democrat cabinet minister to fail to declare his hand on Question Time last night – repeatedly refusing to say whether he would vote for or against the trebling of tuition fees his government is proposing and which he is in favour of.

Watch it:

Mr Alexander follows the lead (or lack thereof) of business secretary Vince Cable, architect of the Bill, and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, who at Deputy Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday refused five times to say how he would vote, leading deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman to say:

“If you vote against, that’s the only principled position; if you abstain, it’s a cop out, if you vote for it’s a sell out. Which is it?”

Last Friday, Left Foot Forward pointed out the sheer futility of abstaining:

“Given that there are five Sinn Fein MPs who do not sit in Parliament, a majority of 323 is required to pass legislation if every MP votes. With 307 MPs, the Tories fall short and require the support of at least 16 Lib Dem MPs. But if every one of the 57 Lib Dem abstains, the required majority falls to 294 and the Conservatives can pass the legislation on their own.”

Tomorrow, protesters will descend on the Liberal Democrats’ London conference, at Haverstock School by Chalk Farm tube, from 12-3. Protest organisers the Free Education Campaign say:

“Before the General Election all Lib Dem MPs promised to vote against any attempt to increase tuition fees. They now plan to break their promise and back the Tory proposal of £9,000 fees. There is still time to make them keep their promise.

“We are calling this peaceful protest outside the Lib Dem London Conference to demand that all London Lib Dem MPs vote against higher fees. Their London MPs include Vince Cable who is heading the coalition’s proposals to increase tuition fees to £9000 per year, as well as Sarah Teather, Simon Hughes, Lynne Featherstone, Paul Burstow, Ed Davey and Tom Brake.

“This is one of the last opportunities to put the Lib Dems under pressure ahead of the vote. Bring your friends, chants and banners…”

For more details join the Facebook group and for a map see here.

Update 11:30

It now transpires that the Liberal Democrat London conference at Haverstock has been cancelled – by the school.

58 Responses to “Danny Alexander squirms when pressed on tuition fees vote”

  1. Fiona E

    Investment in education is the answer – it stimulates the economy. We need a highly skilled workforce to be competitive in the global economy.

    //freeeducationcampaign.blogspot.com/2010/10/dont-turn-your-back-on-universities.html

  2. Mr. Sensible

    Fermly put in his place by John Sargent…

  3. janie_s

    ‘firmly’, bird-brain

  4. Richard Joy

    RT @leftfootfwd: Danny Alexander squirms when pressed on tuition fees vote //bit.ly/ek0WDL

  5. Gladys Hobson

    We cannot just focus on one seeming injustice without looking at the whole predicament of lack of funds and a huge debt that has to be paid or the country collapses. Cuts are being made to many services and involving people with no clout. Charges are going up, grants coming down. I sympathise with Danny and Vince. It is easy to make statements but once in power and realisation dawns as to the reality of the country’s finances, you can no longer bury your head in the sand.
    Urgent need to settle the student fees issue. Justice must be done.
    I have given serious consideration to the matter regarding University fees as applied to English students.
    I can see a certain logic in students paying back the costs of their university education but I believe it to be deeply flawed.
    Like many of the older generation, we were brought up never to be in debt. We saved for all our needs. A mortgage was a necessity after three years of living in a bed-sit. After the war, all housing was in short supply.
    It is somewhat ironic that we, along with others who know the value of thrift, are having to pay for debts not of our own making, and for excesses in handouts that have made it cruel for many who work to be worse off than many who don’t.
    With this in mind, I believe it to be totally unjust that today’s young people will have to pay back University fees for their own education, while paying taxes to help subsidise the final-pay pensions of the many fortunate, plus taxes to support the ever-increasing elderly at home or in care, credits for this, that, and the other, not to mention the escalating sums for the NHS as expensive drugs to prolong life and new procedures to make life more bearable become available, plus caring for those who have misused their vital organs and the growing number of mental health casualties. And, quite likely, helping to pay the rest of the debt that the country is likely to be in for some time. PLUS put aside a large chunk of their salary for their own future pension. What a burden!
    Youngsters seem to have little say about their education. When I taught it was child-centred learning. Now they are pushed into exams as though passing them is all that education is about. Money would be better spent getting youngsters into apprenticeships and continue, where appropriate, studies through Evening classes and a day release. A University education was once held in high esteem, that honour seems to have diminished. Surely with realistic opportunities for those who are not University inclined the way could be paved for a better future.
    Education is lifelong and enters every aspect of life. But, at least, each citizen should have the opportunity, at some time in their lives, for three years of free higher education, and where appropriate, at University level. We need well motivated, educated and, or, trained personnel for the country’s future. The future could indeed be bright if we pull together.
    (I speak as someone who had to give up a college design course at the age of sixteen so as to earn my own living, my father having become seriously incapacitated — benefits in 1949 were almost non-existent. I was fortunate enough to realise my ambition through sheer hard work and luck. Later I trained to be a teacher. I gained all my qualifications, then and later, as a mature student. I know of others who gained all of their qualifications through evening classes and rose to high levels of management or engineering.)

    Perhaps it would be appropriate to raise part of the shortfall by putting a tax on top of VAT for those luxury goods that only the truly well off can afford?

    Urgent need to settle the student fees issue. Justice must be done.

    I have given serious consideration to the matter regarding University fees as applied to English students.

    I can see a certain logic in students paying back the costs of their university education but I believe it to be deeply flawed. Also the rise in fees is adding the whip to an already bleeding back.

    Like many of the older generation, we were brought up never to be in debt. We saved for all our needs. A mortgage was a necessity, but in those days, only one person’s salary would be considered. It is somewhat ironic that we, along with others who know the value of thrift, are having to pay for debts not of our own making. And for excesses in handouts that have made it cruel for many who work to be worse off than many who don’t.

    With this in mind, I believe it to be totally unjust that today’s young people will have to pay back University fees for their own education, while paying taxes to subsidise the final-pay pensions of the fortunate government employees, plus taxes to support the ever-increasing elderly at home or in care, credits for this, that, and the other, not to mention the escalating sums for the NHS, et al. And, quite likely, the rest of the debt that the country is likely to be in for some time. PLUS put aside a large chunk of their salary for their own future pension. What a burden!

    Youngsters seem to have little say about their education. When I taught it was child-centred learning. Now they are pushed into exams as though passing them is all that education is about. Money would be better spent getting youngsters into apprenticeships and continue, where appropriate, studies through Evening classes and a day release. A University education was once held in high esteem, that honour seems to have diminished. Surely with realistic opportunities for those who are not University inclined the way could be paved for a better future.

    Education is lifelong and enters every aspect of life. But, at least, each citizen should have the right, at some time in their lives, for three years of free higher education, if appropriate, at University level.

    (I speak as someone who had to give up a college design course at the age of sixteen so as to earn my own living, my father having become seriously incapacitated — benefits in 1949 were almost non-existent. I was fortunate enough to realise my ambition through sheer hard work and luck. Later I trained to be a teacher. I gained all my qualifications, then and later, as a mature student. I know of others who gained all of their qualifications through evening classes and rose to high levels of management or engineering.)

    Perhaps it would be appropriate to raise the shortfall by putting a tax on top of VAT for those luxury goods that only the truly well off can afford?

    Urgent need to settle the student fees issue. Justice must be done.

    I have given serious consideration to the matter regarding University fees as applied to English students.

    I can see a certain logic in students paying back the costs of their university education but I believe it to be deeply flawed. Also the rise in fees is adding the whip to an already bleeding back.

    Like many of the older generation, we were brought up never to be in debt. We saved for all our needs. A mortgage was a necessity, but in those days, only one person’s salary would be considered. It is somewhat ironic that we, along with others who know the value of thrift, are having to pay for debts not of our own making. And for excesses in handouts that have made it cruel for many who work to be worse off than many who don’t.

    With this in mind, I believe it to be totally unjust that today’s young people will have to pay back University fees for their own education, while paying taxes to subsidise the final-pay pensions of the fortunate government employees, plus taxes to support the ever-increasing elderly at home or in care, credits for this, that, and the other, not to mention the escalating sums for the NHS, et al. And, quite likely, the rest of the debt that the country is likely to be in for some time. PLUS put aside a large chunk of their salary for their own future pension. What a burden!

    Youngsters seem to have little say about their education. When I taught it was child-centred learning. Now they are pushed into exams as though passing them is all that education is about. Money would be better spent getting youngsters into apprenticeships and continue, where appropriate, studies through Evening classes and a day release. A University education was once held in high esteem, that honour seems to have diminished. Surely with realistic opportunities for those who are not University inclined the way could be paved for a better future.

    Education is lifelong and enters every aspect of life. But, at least, each citizen should have the right, at some time in their lives, for three years of free higher education, if appropriate, at University level.

    (I speak as someone who had to give up a college design course at the age of sixteen so as to earn my own living, my father having become seriously incapacitated — benefits in 1949 were almost non-existent. I was fortunate enough to realise my ambition through sheer hard work and luck. Later I trained to be a teacher. I gained all my qualifications, then and later, as a mature student. I know of others who gained all of their qualifications through evening classes and rose to high levels of management or engineering.)

    Perhaps it would be appropriate to raise the shortfall by putting a tax on top of VAT for those luxury goods that only the truly well off can afford?

  6. Derek Wall

    //tinyurl.com/32xubfm is an account of a Lib Dem who opposes the ‘student reactionaries’.

  7. Tyler Elliott

    @ItsEvolkYo Quick analysis findings:Tuition stuff //bit.ly/hK04sK, //bit.ly/eKbxUz. Also note: Fat cat, Pinocchio, other puppets.

  8. Leo Boe

    Tipsily, Thatcherite Dad shoves my cringeworthy appearance on Question Time to family .. again #facpalm //bit.ly/ek0WDL

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