Mark's campaign notepad and other stuff

Notes from the writer/LibDem parliamentary candidate for Somerton & Frome

What’s Philip Green got to do with Tuition Fees?

with 3 comments

The obvious answer is that there are two lots of protesters out on our streets, the UK Uncut bunch who are protesting over tax avoidance and the students with regard to tuition fee increases. But it goes beyond that; both are totemic of higher than ever levels of discontent with our political machine, and we are in part responsible for that because, having promised the electorate and especially young people that we were the “new politics”, we have broken our pledges and promises and shown that actually there is little to distinguish us from our predecessors.

I was proud to stand as a Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate in May and among the many commitments I gave as PPC was a promise to the NUS that I would support their funding pledge. I felt secure in doing so; I’m a so-called “social Liberal” anyway and was brought up on Beveridge and Keynes, but more importantly in this instance I’d received a personalised message from Nick Clegg telling me that we’d developed a plan to phase out tuition fees over the next six years, which would ensure this vital policy would be affordable even in this time of recession. Additionally I received an email from party HQ saying that the pledge was consistent with party policy and I was free to sign it. So I did, along with about 500 others.

I appreciate we’re in a Coalition and compromises have to be made. And I appreciate that tuition fees have to be funded somehow. But that’s not the point. The point is what we said to get elected. On the basis of the pledge and our policy, I replied to emails from students telling them I backed the pledge, and some of our election literature made reference to our support of it. I’ve finally got round to putting all my old cuttings away, and a headline in Liberal Democrat News caught my eye. “The Fight to End ‘Old Politics'”, all about our radical plans and our difference to the two main parties. And that’s where Philip Green comes into it – one of the first actions the Coalition took was to appoint an alleged tax avoider to advise us on potential civil service savings – a poor decision which sent out all the wrong signals and which we should never have allowed to take place. Tax evasion, broken promises, bankers off the hook – it’s too much the “same as it ever was”, no wonder people are disappointed and angry. Meanwhile, just how many students could have been funded by the unpaid tax on the £1.2 billion Arcadia 2005 dividend?

Nick Clegg tells us that it’s time to grow up and take on the responsibilities that go with belonging to the party in power. But the irony is that the million extra votes which put us in that position were given because of the pledges and promises we made to the electorate, and in particular young people. Our MPs need to remember that tomorrow.


Written by markblackburn

December 8, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. You’re actually wrong – it was precisely because the students and young people didn’t turn out that we didn’t gain seats.

    The real issue are the people who won’t can’t or weren’t given the opportunity to go to uni. They were the ones that swung the election and a lot of them voted Lib Dem (and tory).


    December 8, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    • If I’m wrong with regard to the proven composition of our voters then I stand corrected, but empirical experience tells me I’m right – we had a massive number of new members, supporters and voters back in May from exactly this demographic. Symbollically, at our AGM last week, we had a good turnout, but not one of the people who attended was under 30 (apart from the Cities PPC!)


      December 8, 2010 at 4:58 pm

  2. […] here to see the original: What's Philip Green got to do with Tuition Fees? « Mark's campaign … This entry was posted in Green Politics and tagged actions-the-coalition, coalition, […]

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