This is a post about tuition fees. I've had a week to think about it and I've changed my mind.
I've blogged before that I believe that the answer to the hole we are in over tuition fees is less to do with getting people to understand the facts and more to do with behavioural economics - people react more to the 'fact' that we broke our promise on fees than whether the new deal is a better one for students.
Then I got asked the other day how I would have done things differently. And I did have an answer to this. We should have said we hate fees, if we had won a majority we would have abolished them. But we didn't win a majority, so we adopted Plan B. We did all we could to dilute the Browne proposals and then we should have abided by the coalition agreement and abstained in the vote. This would have been an honourable course of action and I'd rather suffer a few days of brickbats from the opposition of 'not brave enough to take hard decisions' - a charge we would have quickly disproved thanks to the fiscal policies we are pursuing - than what actually happened. We'd be better off now if we had done this.
But now I've changed my mind. Or rather, I've got a better answer.
Someone asked my in the comments why didn't we just call the new system a graduate tax and be done with it.
And of course, they are right.
The charges are only paid by the student. They are paid after graduation. They are linked to earnings. They are not a 'debt' in the sense that they are not linked to your credit rating - so for example it doesn't affect your chances of getting a mortgage.
It is therefore, effectively, a graduate tax.
So, for the life of me, I can't understand why we didn't - and don't - call it that. I see that Martin Lewis thinks it should be thought of like that (thanks to Mark Thompson for the link, it's point 18 in the article).
It may be all packaging. But we wouldn't have broken a pledge, and it would have saved an awful lot of grief.
Although, if I'm honest, it's still not what I'd prefer - paying for education from direct taxation. Call me old fashioned...