Daily Archives: December 6, 2010

The Liberal Democrat position on student fees has been bungled in countless ways. But there must be one error of judgement that is more important than the rest — call it the original sin. Here are my top three contenders:

1. Nick Clegg ducking the chance to reform the policy in 2009

Most senior Lib Dems knew they had a policy to scrap tuition fees that was unrealistic and unaffordable. Secret work was done to come up with an alternative that maintained a critical stance but cost a lot less. The result was a more progressive form of tuition fees — something like the proposals today. When this was put to the Lib Dem MPs and the federal policy group, it went down terribly. Some MPs thought it was futile to attempt to scrap a vote-winning policy when any change would be blocked by the Lib Dem conference. Apparently one of the most persuasive arguments  was that the Lib Dems were not going to win the election, so why do the responsible thing?  Clegg eventually ducked the confrontation with his party at the 2009 annual conference. How he must be regretting it now. Read more