This is one of those political subjects that truly gets my goat as there has been so much hypocrisy and so many lies told about tuition fees.
When the Labour government introduced them the opposition rightly, in my view, labelled it a tax on learning and they pledged to scrap them. And that was the Tories too, not just Nick Clegg’s Party. See the recent revelations concerning George Osborne’s views on scrapping tuition fees when he was in opposition via the link below:-
Now it looks like they are likely to increase year on year so another row is breaking out with Labour saying there should not be any increase. You can bet that Corbyn is treading carefully as he won’t want students and their families reminded that tuition fees were originally Labour’s idea to tax learning. And let’s be honest if Labour had not invented this tax it would surely now be pressing for its abolition.
And here’s an odd thing. If you ask folks who was responsible for tuition fees they will probably respond by saying Nick Clegg or the Lib Dems. This is because that infamous and utterly disastrous (for the Lib Dems) retreat from saying they would scrap them is what sticks in the public’s mind. So the Lib Dems are seen by many as being responsible for the fees as well as for breaking their pledge to scrap them when they were actually only responsible for the second sin.
But the reason this troubling subject sticks in my mind is because it illustrates the dishonesty that is at the heart of our party political system and which fuels voters distrust of politics and political parties. Or look at it another way what pledges are being made now which will be reneged on further down the track.
You would have thought that with the advent of 24 hour news and social media that the chances of pledges being forgotten about when the political wind changes would be slim but I bet despite that dodgy pledges are still being made especially by those in opposition.
It is probably fair to say that we don’t really expect our politicians to be honest although in public we usually say we want them to be. And we are pretty good at looking shocked and horrified when an MP does something wrong over his/her expenses claims even though most of us will soon forget about it.
And there’s the rub ‘we will soon forget about it’, because that is what those making dodging pledges are relying on together with the media being too lazy to remind folks of course.
Readers will recall that in closing down the innovative and unique Youth Coffee Bar in Maghull Town Hall Maghull Labour said it was to change the offer to local youth and that they were introducing tennis coaching as an alternative.
Maghull TH Youth Coffee Bar before Labour shut it
Well hard on the heels of that momentous (some would say ridiculous) decision neighbouring Lydiate Labour (who run Lydiate Parish Council) are trumpeting that they have refurbished the tennis courts (rebuilt the fencing) at Sandy Lane Park, a project that the Lib Dem opposition on Lydiate Parish Council supported I might add.
So Labour in Maghull & Lydiate are keen on tennis, that seems very clear. So keen in fact that they were willing to shut down an all year round youth facility in Maghull seemingly so that tennis coaching can be offered as an alternative by Labour-run Maghull Town Council. Maghull Council does not have any non-Labour members by the way.
Looks like Labour thinks they may have the tennis vote all sown up in Lydiate and Maghull. Trouble is they have successfully alienated many local young people in the process and may have made themselves about as unpopular with the younger generation (all except tennis players of course) as Nick Clegg did when he U turned on Tuition Fees! What’s more the surface of the Lydiate tennis courts leaves much to be desired but more on that in a further posting.
The left of British politics has always been factionalised with numerous socialist parties coming and going, the Labour Party often engaged in vicious internal warfare (as they are at present) and the Lib Dems, in recent years, having been pulled towards economic rather than social liberalism. Of course looking back a while the SDP also failed to ‘break the mould’ as it became split by the ‘Owen’ factor amongst other things.
The lack of unity on the left has always been a problem and our warped first past the post electoral system has also helped to put many Tory Governments in power who have nothing like majority popular support; just like the present one.
What beggars belief therefore is why when Labour have grabbed power for the odd short period they have not pursued electoral reform and a fair voting system. I suppose the last Labour government was too arrogant and thought their ‘New Labour’ guise would last and be popular for generations. Well it wasn’t so Labour went further to the right in opposition, even openly bashing the poor along the way. But as they became labeled Red Tories the electorate said stuff that we may as well have proper Tories.
The Lib Dems also discredited themselves by lying about Tuition Fees in 2010. Nick Clegg thought the electorate would forgive him. They didn’t. Indeed, because many of those who voted Lib Dem in 2010 thought he was a straight forward chap whom they could trust his backing out of a clear promise caused them to drop him and his party like a stone. They expected other parties to tell porkies but having been persuaded the Lib Dems were trustworthy they turned against them big time. Rebuilding that lack of trust in the Lib Dems is probably Tim Farron’s biggest challenge.
The Greens tried lurching to left after 2010 and were the most socialist of the mainstream parties at the last general election but of course this move set their traditional environmentalist sect against an upstart socialist sect. Socialism and environmentalism have never sat comfortably together in my experience. Socialists on Merseyside that I have come across have always seemed to be very much disinterested in environmental issues.
But within the left there is at the heart of so many of its difficulties one major factor that causes the disunity which the Tories always benefit from. Many left wing sects think they are absolutely right and all other left wing sects are utterly wrong. Such tribalism then sets these sects against each other and the Tories win again whilst the left debates, often viciously, who is right and who is wrong. In differing ways I think that the emergence of the SDP and the rise of Tony Blair were reactions to the self destructive nature of the left.
The SDP failed and despite huge initial success Blair’s New Labour failed because he wandered to far right, got involved in the appalling Iraq war and probably laid the foundations for Labour to be cat called ‘Red Tories’.
The real danger that the left faces now is that we could have a seriously right wing Tory Party in power for a generation with UKIP effectively pulling their levers. Is this not enough of a nightmare to sober up the left of British politics?
A touchy subject this, which certainly tripped up the Lib Dems, but now a firm Labour supporter adds his concerns to those of an independent stance in slamming Ed Miliband’s ill-thought out policy that will suit richer students but at the expense of poorer ones. The link above to the New Statesman’s blog refers.
Campaigners claim that public debt is rising by almost £4,000 a second, while £120bn of taxpayers’ money is being wasted every year. Launching its War on Waste roadshow, the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) said “every tick of the clock” was equivalent to putting £3,965 on the nation’s credit card. From tomorrow until Sunday, July 13, the TPA’s staff will join local activists to call on public sector officials to strip out waste from pay, pensions and inefficient spending as they tour across England and Wales. The TPA will claim that local authorities have wasted money by imposing high council tax and diverting resources away from frontline services through pet projects. Among the stops on the roadshow will be the constituency offices of leaders of the three main parties, and the Grey’s Monument in Newcastle, Exchange Square in Manchester and Birmingham Town Hall. During the tour the campaigners will highlight examples of waste, such as the £4,450 spent by Nottingham City Council on an office Christmas tree, or an art gallery in West Bromwich that cost £72m but had to be closed because of a lack of visitors.
The Times yesterday, Page: 23
I have picked up on this not necessarily for the detail of the Times article but because of the headline. I am one of those politicians who is convinced that if public spending is not brought under tighter control it will be the ruin of the lot of us. Whilst at face value there is now a broad consensus to restrain what Government and other public bodies spend, as we get nearer to the General election I am sure the political parties will start to trumpet areas where they want to spend more in an attempt to garner votes. This could be the start of the road to ruin (again) except of course if it is more money for the likes of the NHS and social care which I think we all want to see.
Elections can be dangerous for the economy because of politicians trying to outbid each other. Even the Scottish Independence vote later this year is ramping up spending pledges from the SNP in particular but with others tagging along too. Of course, some parties make spending pledges and then decide having made them they can’t afford to be implemented. The economy may well then be saved from further spending but the pledge that folks voted on is seen to have been misleading. Tuition fees comes to mind as probably the the most obvious one of recent times and it hangs around poor old Nick Clegg’s neck like a millstone.
In my book if you make a pledge you carry it out. Yes, other things may have to go as a consequence but a pledge is a pledge. I do hope the political classes have learned from this as there will be other examples.
But the bottom line (an apt phrase in this context) is the issue here. Economies have to balance their books; we can’t go back to the New Labour days of spending money like water whilst not raising enough in taxes to balance those books. It did ruin us and it will ruin us again if we don’t wake up and smell the coffee. In politics lessons are often not always learned and mistakes often repeat themselves!
With thanks to the LGiU for the lead to this story.