90 Views

The Lib Dems have sold out? It's a myth

Nick Clegg

Photo: Ross Stalker

Reading last week’s issue of The Badger it would have seemed to any fair minded person, that Nick Clegg was about to turn up at your door with a cheeky grin, and give you a nice £45,000 fine for being intelligent. Lord Browne would be somewhere behind, chuckling and wearing blue, and the not-so-saintly Vince Cable would be carrying out a long list of things that he never had any intention or will to do.

It would seem fair to me to argue that the opinion sections last week were born of the Daily Mail school of hysteria. It is absolutely understandable that we would be worried about the recent changes in policy regarding student finance. The most worrying thing for me, is the perception that this actually is a change in policy for the Liberal Democrats. Overnight we’ve gone from being nice people in sandals who want peace to being the same Tory-types who steal money from poor people.

I think what is needed here, is a good dose of reality, and then we can assess whether Nick is blue through and through, or whether actually he’s just been a rather naughty boy.

The first thing to point out in this debate is that none of this is set in stone. As Vince said last week, the coalition agrees with the ‘main thrust’ of the Brown Review. What we have seen since really has brought this into question. At least fifty percent of Liberal Democrat MPs intend to rebel on this vote, suggesting that all is not quite well. Similarly, if Red Ed is to be believed, Labour won’t be supporting the bill either.

One can only surely argue in this sense that any bill hoping to change the nature of student finance to this degree will not glide through the house with as much ease as might be hoped. Of course we can all help that argument along, by marching in various ways. I personally will be marching with the Liberal Youth movement, who oppose this too.

The next point to make is that a Graduate Tax is a wonderful idea. Even I don’t dispute this. However, in the real world, at this point in time – it isn’t going to happen. The very nature of a Graduate Tax would mean that the government, and thus the taxpayer, would have to spend a huge amount in the first instance.

The fees and maintenance of at least three waves of students would have to be found from the public purse before any money from repayment started to trickle back in. With the economy in the state that it’s in, this doesn’t seem like the wisest solution. The wisest solution would have been for the Labour Party, that great progressive force, to have introduced such an idea in 1997, when the sun was shining and the holes in the roof hadn’t started letting in water. What they did instead was to introduce the current system of landing Joe Student with a whacking debt at the end of his degree. I support a Grad Tax.

As a Liberal, I support a University education free at the point of use – but the sad truth is that now is not the time. Next, we need to clarify where this whole mess comes from. The Browne Review was commissioned by the Labour Party while they were still in power, and has taken until now to be published. The bottom line, that needs to be stated, is that every policy that comes forth from the Coalition Government is not a Liberal Democrat policy. The Liberal Democrats campaigned on nuclear disarmament, and it fell by the wayside.

The Liberal Democrats campaigned against a cap on immigration from outside the EU, but our policy didn’t make it through. The Liberal Democrats are not the coalition. Just as the Conservatives are not the scrapping of ID Cards, or the cutting of tax completely for people earning less than 10K. I wish almost more than anyone, that everyone had woken up on May 5th, and thought ‘Yes! I’ve got it! Those yellow guys! They’re the answer.’ But it didn’t happen. Our party holds fifty-seven seats in a House that has six hundred and thirty-one. Thus far in Coalition Government, we have punched a fair way above our weight, forcing through policies of tolerance, of fairness and of equality, but we cannot expect to win every fight. I don’t support the findings of this review.

I believe that Lord Browne was asking the correct questions – HE Funding needs to be looked at, we’re starving some of our finest institutions of funding they desperately need – and coming up with the wrong answers. Vince may support it, but the clear fact is that Liberal Democrat MPs and Liberal Democrat members do not. In a recent poll, 59% of members polled disagreed with this u-turn, 29% understood why MPs felt the need to reassess the situation, and only 11% supported what Vince calls the ‘main thrust’ of the review.

Finally, the idea that the Liberal Democrats and Nick Clegg have ‘sold out’ needs debunking. Nick Clegg said repeatedly during a month-long election campaign that if no party was returned with an overall majority, he would seek to form a coalition with the party who gained most popular support. You may wish that the coalition was Yellow and Red, even I do, but sadly the country did not agree. People went to the polls in the very clear knowledge that a vote for the Liberal Democrats was likely to be a vote for coalition. The sad truth is that nobody likes to compromise, but this is the situation we’re in.

Shoot at Nick if you want to but I see in him a man doing the best with an unenviable situation. Nick doesn’t believe in suffocating students in debt, but he does believe that a solution to the national deficit needs to be found. I don’t agree with his support of Lord Browne, neither do you I’d imagine but what is clear is that these are the actions of a man doing the best he can.

The findings of the Sam Phripp Review? This is not Liberal Democrat Policy. This has never been Liberal Democrat Policy. This will never be Liberal Democrat Policy. Hells, the Liberal Democrats as a whole don’t even support it. If it was policy, you’d see the tatters of my membership card scattered around Falmer House. Now is a particularly troubling time to be one of us, even I am having to hold my breath, and see how this plays out. Ed will, of course, have all of the solutions. Of course he will – because he has none of the problems. The Liberal Democrats are currently a party in flux, but nonetheless a party whose ideology is based in equality, tolerance and fairness for all – student or otherwise. In that sense, yours was not a wasted vote, your support was not an empty gesture, and your opposition to this policy should not go unheard. Now, if anyone sees Nick, tell him I want a word.

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
529 views1
Campus News
529 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series
Arts
71 views
Arts
71 views

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - June 17, 2018

Pictured: Zac Black At Proud Cabaret audiences were spellbound as if at night at the circus, yet this was not like Angela Carter’s magical realist novel; Verve…

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review
Arts
104 views
Arts
104 views

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review

Florence Dutton - June 11, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Last Monday at 8pm at Brighton’s The Old Market, I sat myself down in my theatre seat eagerly awaiting…

Fleabag preview
Arts
102 views
Arts
102 views

Fleabag preview

Florence Dutton - June 2, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Following the mass success of the Bafta award-winning BBC Series, DryWrite and Soho Theatre are about to hit the…

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome
Arts
130 views
Arts
130 views

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome

Georgia Grace - June 1, 2018

Having completed my final semester of university with modules on punk history and queer arts, it was fitting that I rounded off my end-of-assessment celebrations by attending…

Arts
145 views

The Tempest review

Georgia Grace - May 30, 2018

As the sun begins to set over Hove Green, tinnies of Red Stripe are cracked open, tartan blankets are strewn, and families tuck into their picnic hampers.…

A Glass Half Empty review
Arts
157 views
Arts
157 views

A Glass Half Empty review

Georgia Grace - May 27, 2018

For those of us coming to the end of another year of university study, the prospect of careers, marriages and babies may seem a long way off.…

DollyWould at The Old Market review
Arts
149 views
Arts
149 views

DollyWould at The Old Market review

Alex Hutson - May 27, 2018

Sh!t Theatre’s DollyWould is a hilarious, thoughtful and experimental performance piece. The award winning show has the Sh!t Theatre duo integrating comedy, storytelling, personal experience and music.…

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex
Campus News
240 views
Campus News
240 views

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex

Billie-Jean Johnson - May 26, 2018

The Sussex branch of the University and College Union (UCU) has launched a petition calling for Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell to end the 'hostile environment' at Sussex. The…

Arts
114 views

Shakespeare in the sun – The Tempest preview

Georgia Grace - May 24, 2018

In a world of dystopian King Lears and female Hamlets, Shakespeare’s classics are constantly being reimagined for the modern day. There’s something oddly refreshing then about the…

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
227 views
Arts
227 views

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 23, 2018

What a phenomenal contrast these two films present when watched side-by-side. In essence, together they are capable of tracing inner and outer metamorphoses of their subjects. The…

Dollywould at The Old Market preview
Arts
148 views
Arts
148 views

Dollywould at The Old Market preview

Alex Hutson - May 22, 2018

From the 22nd May - 25th May 2018 DollyWould will be showing at The Old Market. An exciting new show, presented by Sh!t Theatre, who won the…

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu
Artist Focus
218 views
Artist Focus
218 views

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - May 16, 2018

Last week artist Fedilou made her debut exhibition in the downstairs space of Morelli Zorelli, a quaint vegan Italian restaurant in Hove, featuring a collection of intimate…

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley
Interview
155 views
Interview
155 views

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley

Nikolaos Manesis - May 15, 2018

Ron Chrisley is a Reader in Philosophy, on the faculty of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, and is the director of COGS (Centre for Cognitive Science).…

Adam review
Arts
221 views
Arts
221 views

Adam review

Ketan Jha - May 13, 2018

If you have been a stranger to the stage this spring and decide to see one contemporary show, let it be Adam. This reviewer went in entirely…

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
246 views
Arts
246 views

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 13, 2018

In celebration of iconic Brighton local, legendary alt-rock musician (and episodic actor) Nick Cave, TOM’s Film Club are hosting a double-bill screening of his films at The…

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review
Arts
285 views
Arts
285 views

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review

Georgia Grace - May 11, 2018

Meta-theatricality and interactivity are becoming all the more vogue in contemporary theatre, and in a world where the arts are becoming increasingly open and democratised, I find…

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks
Artist Focus
197 views
Artist Focus
197 views

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks

Alex Leissle - May 9, 2018

  [gallery type="slideshow" ids="35385,35386,35387,35388,35389,35390,35391,35392,35393,35394,35395,35396,35397,35398,35399,35400,35401,35402,35403,35404,35405,35406,35407,35408,35409,35410,35411"]

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival
Books
211 views
Books
211 views

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival

William Singh - May 9, 2018

Afua Hirsch’s 2018 book - part memoir, part polemic - provokes mixed feelings. So too did her discussion of the topic at this year’s Brighton Festival. Don’t…

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality
Science
265 views
Science
265 views

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality

Luke Richards - May 8, 2018

Bioweapons exist, while ethnic-bioweapons are whispered conspiracies. Pandemics can fairly hazardous to human life, the 1918 Flu Pandemic killed 20-50 million people. A man made pandemic could…

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced
News
272 views
News
272 views

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced

Jessica Hubbard - May 4, 2018

Students have voted to support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, reject Prevent and adopt new Gender Equality policies. Results for the Students' Union referenda were…