'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Tuition Fees: What are we doing? No, really?

Last Saturday I asked the question 'the tuition fee system - should we really be trying to own it?' and it not only generated a fair bit of traffic - but quite a lot of debate.

There now seems universal agreement that the whole process was a mistake, although there is much disagreement about what that mistake actually was. Some will argue that it was wrong in principle, the Tim Farron position, and indeed this remains the party's policy today. Others argue that it was only a mistake of presentation or positioning (as Richard Reeves suggested in the Independent this week). I rather think it was both - I argued strongly against tuition fees as a matter of principle but cannot understand why it wasn't called a graduate tax anyway, as I've written in the past. (it's always nice when the DPM's Director of Strategy confirms you were right).

Regardless of this, we are where we are - and we don't seem to have a clear idea what to do about it.

Are we now going to argue the case - which objectively is very supportable - that this is a fairer system than the tuition fees introduced under Labour? In which case people who contacted me had some excellent suggestions for what we should be doing about this:

Or are we going to stick to our guns, argue that we made the best of a bad job but that ultimately fees per se are wrong and need to go. That like the NHS, higher education should be free at the point of delivery?

We seem to all agree we have a problem. But we don't want to talk about what we're going to do about it?

Or am I being unfair? If there's a plan - I'd love to hear it...

1 comment:

  1. Richard Reeves is right. Lib Dems need to rethink the positioning and presentation on this issue because it is crucial in terms of reconnecting with the Party's base and tackling a broader challenge of voter perception. There's a better and true story to be told. A midterm gamechanger is needed now.