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