'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

Friday 21 September 2012

Sorry David. Not all Lib Dems need to say sorry....

David Laws said yesterday that '

"All Lib Dems have 'collective responsibility' "

for breaking the tuition fee promise.

I'm sorry David, but I don't agree. Especially as Nick has been very clear that the apology was for signing the pledge, not for the policy itself.

Let's remind ourselves what the pledge said first:

“I pledge to vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative."

And the following list of Lib Dem MPs did just that, voting against the rise in fees and putting huge pressure on the government to do something else. They kept their word - and have nothing to apologise for.

  • Annette Brooke
  • Sir Menzies Campbell
  • Michael Crockart
  • Tim Farron
  • Andrew George
  • Mike Hancock
  • Julian Huppert
  • Charles Kennedy
  • John Leech
  • Stephen Lloyd
  • Greg Mulholland
  • John Pugh
  • Alan Reid
  • Dan Rogerson
  • Bob Russell
  • Adrian Sanders
  • Ian Swales
  • Mark Williams
  • Roger Williams
  • Jenny Willott
  • Simon Wright

I do not think it is terribly helpful now for David Laws to try and get a lot of colleagues who kept their word to apologise for something they didn't do...


  1. Well, the apology was for signing the pledge and then breaking it.

    I don't think it helps to open up these wounds and talk about who needs to apologise and who doesn't.

    I could see the second I read the Coalition Agreement where this was going to go and if I could, the wiser heads in the Parliamentary Party must have too. And they all agreed with it at the start. They could have said then that they wouldn't be able to merely abstain, only voting against would honour the pledge and we'd have had to go back to the negotiating table.

    The whole area around tuition fees was a monumental muck up - and it was a collective one for which we all have to take some responsibility.

  2. David Laws is a Thief21 September 2012 at 09:16

    It's hilarious. All you fuckwits who now say it was a bad idea after Clegg apologises. You fucking brainless chimps.

  3. The second part of that pledge meant all the signing MPs were jiggered though - “I pledge to vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative."

    Voting for the new system and abstaining both breached the first part. What we now have is fairer than what there was before though, so voting against was also going against the second, less-reported clause in the pledge.

    Damned if you do, damned if you don't. And damned if you sit on the fence.

  4. Caron - quite agree it doesn't help to open these divisions, which is why I am surprised David has come out and said these things - tbh I think his whole Today interview was very ill judged.

    And of course I agree that we all take responsibility overall for the massive collective failure tuition fees represents. But it would be very unfair to tell backbench MPs who put their careers back by voting against the government, that they now have to say sorry for something they didn't do.

  5. Anonymous: I do see where you are coming from - but I don't really agree. The second half of the pledge doesn't commit to voting for anything that is better than the status quo, just to fight for a better alternative. I think all the Lib Dems who voted no on that would argue they did their fair share of fighting...

  6. Caron,

    I'm sorry, that's not right at all. The emergency conference which approved the coalition agreement did so with precisely one exception - they voted overwhelmingly against the section on tuition fees and insisted we had to keep our pledge not to vote for an increase in tuition fees.

  7. What would be a truly fair system is to back track on all those loaded pensioners splashing the cash, those who got free university education, cheap housing and some more extra houses to spare for the future, those pensioners spending money just to "get rid of it" TAX the wealthy pensioner. It grieves me big-style knowing my kids are in for the full belt of these greedy self centered people who are much ruder than youngsters of today and are setting a bad example. If you received free university education in the UK and are now a UK taxpayer or a non taxpaying pensioner - step up the plate now and offer to increase your contribution to the education system - back dated to the day you left university (inflation proofed of course). A much fairer system i think than what we have now. Make it free for all and the brain drain from UK will slow down at best.