Senior Liberal Democrats are facing significant resistance from their political opponents over the less than graceful U-turn over student tuition fees.
Senior Liberal Democrats are facing significant resistance from their political opponents and no doubt their own activists, over the less than graceful U-turn over student tuition fees.
It is expected that Lord Browne will recommend a dramatic increase in student tuition fees, raising the cap to as much as £7,000 or scrapping it all together, in addition to raising the interest on student loan repayments – despite the Lib Dems pledging at the general election to remove fees altogether.
Some embarrassing photographs of Lib Dem cabinet members (never mind every single Lib Dem MP and 500 PPCs) signing the NUS pledge opposing tuition fees are likely to make appearances in the press over the coming days. The Lib Dem MPs pledged:
“…to vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative.”
Among those MPs is Bristol West Lib Dem Stephen Williams; upon signing the NUS pledge as shadow minister for universities and skills, he said that the Lib Dem parliamentary party would vote against any increase in tuition fees and “fight any attempt to raise the cap”.
During May’s election campaign, Lib PPCs pledged that the party would abolish tuition completely. They even boasted that their manifesto policy had been fully costed, and that Lib Dems would start scrapping fees immediately, starting with final-year fees, working down until “all university education is free”.
The same election leaflets goaded Labour’s unpopularity over top-up fees and the Conservative’s plans to “double tuition fees”.
If it was fully costed then, why merely months later is it completely unaffordable? After losing the conference vote on free schools, and with some backbenchers already promising to abstain from the vote on the issue – what will the grass-roots of the party think of this latest betrayal?Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.