Thursday, 21 November 2019

I disagree with Nick

That hardy annual, the tuition fees slur, has raised its head again. An outfit named Novara Media, which describes itself as independent, but one of whose prime movers has published a book entitled "“Fully Automated Luxury Communism”", has restated the belief that "George Osborne even told Nick Clegg to not vote for the tripling of tuition fees in 2010. The Lib Dem leader did so, however, saying it was the best policy."

To go from that to "The claim that the Liberal Democrats moderated the worst excesses of the Tories in government simply isn't true." misrepresents the history. Clegg was always in favour of the student loans system and resented having to include the pledge to abolish it in the 2010 manifesto as a result of a conference decision. So it was not surprising that he should take the opportunity not only to give up on the manifesto policy in the face of opposition from both Conservatives and Labour (ten to one against us and the nationalists, who also wanted to abolish the fees) but also to fall in line with Conservative ministers' decision to raise the cap to £9,000. It should be noted that this did not go as far as the Browne Review recommendation that the cap be removed altogether, which Labour would clearly have applied if they had been returned to office.

But Clegg and the payroll vote should not be regarded as synonymous with the Liberal Democrat party. The parliamentary party recommended abstention, and in the event a substantial number of MPs, including all four Welsh Lib Dems, even voted against raising the fee level.

While I am swatting fake news, it’s misleading at best and an outright lie at worst to say that Jo took a donation from a fracking company. The truth is that a Lib Dem member who is the director of a company which has 80% renewable energy generation and has a legacy fracking licence gave her and the party personal donations. Said company has never extracted any fracked gas.

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