Friday, December 10, 2010

The Tuition Fees Debate.

Yesterday was a very significant day in British politics. A 'peacetime' coalition came through a giant wave that threatened to engulf it. I reckon this coalition is going 'on and on'. In the end (and its what happened in the end that matters) both partners, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats voted in favour of a new regime for tuition fees. These changes were based largely on the proposals of Lord Browne, who had been asked by the previous Labour Government to suggest a fair way forward. A minority of MPs from both parties felt that they should oppose the proposals presented by Vince Cable. However the majority in favour was more than Labour achieved for the introduction of Tuition fees - and was more than most commentators had expected. I voted with the Government. Like many, I had my reservations, but in the end, felt entirely comfortable voting Yes. In the end, it amounted to both parties in a Coalition Government voting for a Government proposal, and the opposition parties voting against it - just as you might expect.

The huge hoohah about how the Lib Dems would vote reminds me of the recovered 'compulsive gambler' who discovered that his hotel was attached to a casino, and that he had been given two free roulette tokens on arrival. He reassured his wife that he would not spend anything but the £2 value of the tokens. Within an hour, and after an amazing streak of good fortune, he was £500,000 up. He decided on 'one more bet', put the lot on, and lost half a million. When he returned to his room his wife asked how things had gone. He replied casually "Lost £2". Vince Cable may well have told his wife "They supported my proposals".


Mark said...

a 'peacetime coalition' ?

Have you forgot that we are at war in both Iraq and Afghanistan? Shocking.

Anonymous said...

What I don't get is... if you only pay the fees back once you are earning £21k, why should coming from a poor background exempt you? Whether you come from a council estate or have more successful parents, it is YOU the GRADUATE who pays back only once YOU are earning £21k. I feel this is very unfair upon the children of moderately earning families - the squeezed middle to mis-quote Red Milliband.

PS: I am pleased the vote went as it did, if for no other reason than to annoy those mindless thugs in Parliament Square. Shame we didn't have some tanks on hand to sort them out.

Anonymous said...

And how did you vote ?

Glyn Davies said...

Mark - Perhaps I should have made explicit that I meant "a peacetime coalition which had not been formed because of war"

Roman - I just do not see why this should affect any particular sector - except that you must be anticipating that parents will pay. Which brings us to an aspect of this change that has not attracted much attention. No student will be allowed to pay off all or part of the debt early - without a financial penalty. This is the aspect I'm most unhappy with.

Anon - I voted with the Governmnet. If I'd done otherwise you would have heard about it because I'd have had to resign as a PPS.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the measure, although I think there are public spending areas that could have been cut first instead. My gripe is that I don't see how the family wealth should be a consideration on who does or does not pay the fees, as no one will pay it until they are earning 21k. It is the graduates who pay it back, not their parents (in theory). I also agree with you Glyn that it is bad form that they can't repay early.