miss_s_b: (Default)
miss_s_b ([personal profile] miss_s_b) wrote2011-05-10 23:47

The Lib Dem Leadership Don't Get It - But I Do (a post that has been brewing a long time)

So the Lib Dems took a battering last week. A lot of postmorteming is going on, and the consensus seems to be that what happened with tuition fees is the issue, and that we cocked up. Well, when I say "we", I mean those of us who had votes in parliament and toed the government line.

I still think that the leadership don't get what the problem is. People know that we are the junior partner in the coalition. They know that we couldn't be expected to enact Lib Dem policy on tuition fees because the Tories would never have let us abolish them. Bleating on about those facts is only making things worse. To an extent, it's not even what happened with tuition fees that's the problem in itself. The problem is that all our MPs signed a personal pledge to vote against any rise in tuition fees, and then most of them voted for it. If all of our MPs had signed a pledge to vote against naming the colour of the sky blue, and then had voted for it, our leadership would now be debating the blue sky problem and wondering how to win back the trust of people who like looking up in the daytime.

Let me spell this out in very small words: the problem is, as I said before it even happened, that, with twenty-one honourable exceptions*, our MPs broke their word. We ran our whole damn general election campaign on no more broken promises, we're not like all the others, vote for us and things will change because we're honest... And then we broke our word.

It doesn't matter if most of our MPs breaking their word made things better than they would have been if they'd kept it. People really, genuinely believed that we were different, and in that one simple act of word-breaking, our MPs undid decades of hard work by thousands of Lib Dem councillors, activists, and those MPs who kept the pledge. They cost the jobs of hundreds of Lib Dem councillors, and they cost lots of areas of the country a good working council. They cost us the AV referendum. They cost us our USP: what made us different in the eyes of the electorate is gone, and the voters think we did it for vainglorious reasons, and no amount of saying but we didn't! It's not fair! is going to change that.

Now, I know that Labour and Tory politicians break their word all the time and they don't get this level of punishment. That's because people expect it from them. They didn't expect it from us, and now they do. Can you blame them for reflexively thinking Oh well, better the devil you know? The electorate now think that we are exactly the same as all the others. It's not just the trust of students we need to win back, it's the trust of everybody, because everybody saw us do it.

It's going to be incredibly difficult. It may take decades (again). And I don't know what all the steps involved will be. I do know what the first step is, though. The first step is for the Lib Dem leadership, and Nick Clegg in particular, to actually acknowledge what the problem is: people are upset that you broke your word, that they are right to be angered by it. The second step is to apologise. Apologise unreservedly and without qualification. Any, and I mean any attempt to qualify an apology, to dress it up in fancy words, to say that what we pledged to do would have made things worse, and that we did the best we could, and anyway look at all these OTHER promises we've kept, you can't be cross about just ONE... That's just going to make people angrier because it will make them think you still don't get why they are angry. And that's going to make things so much worse for us mere footsoldiers. We've all been tarred with your brush, and until you acknowledge what the problem is, it's going to keep happening.

It's a very simple sentence you need to say, oh Glorious Leader: I'm sorry I broke my word. And you need to say that sentence over and over again until people believe you, and even then it probably won't be enough because they'll think you're only sorry because it's cost you votes, not because you realise it was wrong.

Only when people believe that we all know breaking promises is bad and wrong and hurts people can we start to rebuild trust with the electorate, and no amount of trying before that has happened is going to butter any parsnips.

Sorry.

* Step forward Annette Brooke, 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, and Simon Wright. I'm sorry that you are suffering, along with the rest of us, the fallout from this.
ext_51145: (Default)

[identity profile] andrewhickey.info 2011-05-11 00:02 (UTC)(link)
Agree with every word - except that 'most' didn't vote for the rise in fees. 21 voted against, 8 abstained, and 28 voted for. Still far too many of course...
ext_51145: (Default)

[identity profile] andrewhickey.info 2011-05-11 00:10 (UTC)(link)
To be fair, you could say that you're using the definition of 'most' that fits with the AV campaign's definition of 50% - 57% of our MPs that expressed a preference preferred to break the pledge :-/
purplecthulhu: (Default)

[personal profile] purplecthulhu 2011-05-11 06:58 (UTC)(link)
While this might account for the severity of the kicking in the council elections - there would have been a kicking anyway because the LDs are in government - I don't think this accounts for the loss of the AV referendum. I think there were some quite deep problems with how that campaign was run - the absence of Milliband (was that his fault, as I originally thought, or of the campaign as now seems to be the case http://www.liberal-vision.org/2011/05/08/the-humiliation-of-the-yes-campaign/), the failure to build a wide coalition even if it might include people the core didn't like, like Farage and UKIP - all of that and more. I should've got hints of this from the number of annoying phone calls I kept getting from them. It felt like a 'go for the core' campaign not, as was needed, one that sought to bring people in.
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)

[personal profile] nineveh_uk 2011-05-11 15:51 (UTC)(link)
There seem to be some really good "How the campaign was lost" articles out there. Would they been read by the campaigners in advance (speaking as someone whose Yes vote was entirely despite the Yes campaign, which nearly swung me to No).
ginasketch: (Default)

[personal profile] ginasketch 2011-05-11 07:07 (UTC)(link)
This is an awesome post.

I was getting rather tired of people trying to shove the tuition fees issue under the carpet. Of COURSE that's why this happened!

(Anonymous) 2011-05-11 07:19 (UTC)(link)
You have summed it up very very well. Thanks for writing this.

Chris Black

(Anonymous) 2011-05-11 07:44 (UTC)(link)
Spot on, Jennie. Especially the bit about blue sky. This is not, fundamentally, about tuition fees, it's about trust. We broke our 'no-more-broken-promises' word and in that moment destroyed the trust built up over decades.
The leadership have tried to ride this out and it's not working. Like you, I don't know how we can recover, but it starts with unqualified apology - not just for breaking faith but then for trying to brazen it out.
PhilW
mcgillianaire: (Default)

[personal profile] mcgillianaire 2011-05-11 07:44 (UTC)(link)
Couldn't agree more. It's the elephant in the Lib Dem side of the cabinet room and the Tories are loving it because they now know it's a two-horse race at the next election, whenever that may be.

If I might add, while the tuition fees pledge makes up most of the hurt there was also Clegg's U-turn on the economy and the Tory VAT bombshell ad which left a sour taste in many a Lib Dem/protest voter (or now ex-voter). At least the right noises are now being made, post-election over the NHS reforms.

Unfortunately I don't think any amount of grovelling on Clegg's part is going to make a huge difference before the next election. The tuition fee issue, along with the AV referendum disaster might've put the Lib Dems out of office for at least a decade or two. And that is unfortunate because in spite of all that's happened, we're still in government and enacting our policies for the first time since the War! Make the most of it while we can, I suppose...
ext_390810: (Default)

[identity profile] http://www.nickbarlow.com/blog/ 2011-05-11 07:58 (UTC)(link)
One thing that's interesting to note is that some of our best (or least worst) results from Thursday come from areas represented by those 21 MPs. On a quick look through:

Farron: gained three on Eden, only lost one on South Lakes
Hancock: Lost one on Portsmouth
Russell: Held all our seats in Colchester
Swales: Held all our seats on Redcar and Cleveland

And even though we lost seats, we held control of Cambridge (Huppert) and Eastbourne (Lloyd). OK, the MPs who voted yes have Eastleigh, but as Chris Huhne has been the most prominent in-cabinet rebel (and Tory hate figure) on many issues, it's not so much of a blip.
pseudomonas: "Cambridge" in London Underground roundel (cam)

[personal profile] pseudomonas 2011-05-11 10:55 (UTC)(link)
Cambridge was pretty bad, we lost half the seats up for re-election. I think we'd have held control even if we'd lost all of them, starting from a high point.

[personal profile] bagpuss 2011-05-11 19:03 (UTC)(link)
We lost our local lib dem councillor mike Pitt

It was a shame as he actually campaigned on local issues unlike the labour guy who got in

It will be interesting to see if Huppert survives the next election due to the tuition fee thing I am grateful he voted against but I am not sure that will save him

(Anonymous) 2011-05-11 08:12 (UTC)(link)
You are spot on: with policies, circumstances alter cases; with personal promises, they don't. I don't think there is any form of words that Nick can use that is going to mitigate the damage, but he still needs to do it: "My biggest regret about the past year? That I got carried away with looking at the detail of the policy for tuition fees and allowed this to obscure the most important point which was that I gave a personal pledge to oppose a rise in tuition fees. I'm truly sorry that I did this, and if I had the last year over again it would not have happened." Something like that would be a start. It won't happen though, and ultimately that is why he will have to go.

Tony Hill
drplokta: (Default)

[personal profile] drplokta 2011-05-11 08:25 (UTC)(link)
This is true, but it's also worth pointing out that signing the pledge in the first place demonstrated a remarkable degree of political naivety. If your game-plan is to be a junior partner in a coalition government, which has always been the Lib Dem's goal, then it's extremely foolish to sign away any of your bargaining chips.

[identity profile] niklassmith.wordpress.com 2011-05-11 15:12 (UTC)(link)
Exactly! We would still have had problems explaining voting for the new fees regime even without the pledge, but most people do understand that manifestos are negotiating documents. A personal pledge by parliamentary candidates is an entirely different kettle of fish. As Jonathan Calder commented at the time, this whole tuition fees disaster just shows that candidates should not sign pledges, full stop.

[identity profile] sideshow-meg.livejournal.com 2011-05-11 08:31 (UTC)(link)
THIS. SO MUCH.

From my perspective, as a student, the tuition fees issue is so massive. It isn't even going to affect me but I believe in free education so I was out there, marching and lobbying MPs in Portcullis House against the rise. The NUS pledge and 'Vote for Students' campaign got students voting for Lib Dems who had pledged to oppose tuition fees and in a lot of places that was what won seats. Simon Wright, the MP for Norwich South where UEA is based, only won by a margin of 300 votes, so when it emerged that he was considering voting for rising fees, my student union hammered him on it. We sent him 1000s of letters and postcards reminding him of our pledge and invited him to a fees debate, although by this point he'd decided to vote against the rise. What you've said is completely right, the Lib Dems need to get their trust back and I can't see how they're going to do it with students, especially those who voted Lib Dem based on the fee pledge. I think that's what the Lib Dem leadership doesn't get.
purplecthulhu: (Default)

[personal profile] purplecthulhu 2011-05-11 21:03 (UTC)(link)
Problem is, no matter which main party got in there was going to be an increase in fees. As notes above, signing the pledge as written was immensely naive in these circumstances.

Labour commissioned the Browne report and, as with Dearing before it, they were going to enact much of what was in it. The whole point of Browne was to kick the issue into the grass until after the election so that it became a non-issue. Tactical credit where it's due, I guess the LibDems made it an issue with the pledge and earned themselves some votes, but that was based on the assumption that they'd never get into government, so strategically it was naive.

To be honest I think the LibDems have probably helped stop some of the more damaging parts of Browne coming into effect - such as the removal of fee capping and raising the earnings threshold for repayment. Not exactly living up to the pledge, but doing the best they can with a rigged deck.

Simon Wright

(Anonymous) 2011-05-15 20:53 (UTC)(link)
Simon was always going to vote against, but was been pressurised by the Party to vote for it. It was totally wrong for a new MP with a 310 vote majority to be pressurised by the party centrally.

(Anonymous) 2011-05-11 08:40 (UTC)(link)
Proud Lib Dem? If you feel so betrayed by the lib dems, why do you support them? Slight contradiction, don't you think?
pseudomonas: Dragon from BL manuscript of C14 French Ḥumash (Default)

[personal profile] pseudomonas 2011-05-11 10:48 (UTC)(link)
This is possibly feeding the troll (if not, forgive me, it's hard to tell from the comment above), and obviously I don't speak for [personal profile] miss_s_b, but I'll speak for myself.

I support the Lib Dems primarily because of the principles that the party stands for, because I'm a liberal by conviction and the Liberal Democrats are still the best (not perfect, but the best around at the moment) party to champion civil liberties and the rights of the individual, a pro-European outlook, and a commitment to balance support for the vulnerable with a wariness of overreaching state (or corporate!) power.

I also support them because it's a party that is ultimately defined by the membership, not the leadership, where it's coherent to say that I support the party even if (as per this entire post) Nick Clegg has lost the plot on some matters and even if the members of the party in cabinet have been naïve and allowed themselves to be manipulated by the Conservatives.

I'd add that my (Lib Dem) MP is a good campaigner on the issues I see as important and a person of integrity (who voted against the changes to the tuition fee regime, incidentally). What would be gained by my campaigning against him and in favour of a less liberal party?
strangecharm: (hat)

[personal profile] strangecharm 2011-05-11 11:23 (UTC)(link)
Hear hear!

(Except, since moving away from Manchester Withington, I no longer have an MP I feel is good on issues I see as important, sob.)

(Anonymous) 2011-05-11 08:49 (UTC)(link)
Spot on, Jennie.

Who's going to vote for someone who isn't true to their word? Especially their party leader spent an entire advert saying "No more promises" was what set them apart from the other two...

-Tribalist

(Anonymous) 2011-05-11 09:37 (UTC)(link)
Everything you say is correct but it is about more than just tuition fees.
The key issue of the last election was the economy. Before the election we said cut slower and later. The Tories said cut faster and sooner. People understand that coalitions involve compromise but did we compromise? Did we negotiate and achieve an outcome of neither fast cuts nor slow cuts but something in between? No! We capitulated on the most important issue facing the country and signed up to full flavour savage tory cuts. Not only that but gave the appearance of doing so and destroying people's jobs and people's services with unmitigated glee. This is also why people feel we let them down and are not worthy of their trust.
Have just heard Clegg on the radio. He still doesn't get it...

22+1

(Anonymous) 2011-05-11 10:01 (UTC)(link)
Splendid post, which sums up my feelings. Very good observation from Nick Barlow, too. 'The 22' rightly get the credit in the party (and I hope beyond) for sticking with the pledge, but it should be 'the 23' really, as Martin Horwood would have voted against, but was at the Cancun climate conference. Chris Huhne (who would have voted the other way) was also at Cancun, so they cancelled each other out. I don't know Martin personally at all, but as a Lib Dem activist my general impression is that he is a Good Thing, so shouldn't like him to be counted with the pledge-breakers.
He explained his position here:
http://cheltlibdems.org.uk/en/article/2010/068565/tuition-fees-open-letter-from-martin-horwood-mp-to-jessica-earp

Re: 22+1

(Anonymous) 2011-05-11 10:06 (UTC)(link)
Maths all wrong, sorry. 21+Martin Horwood = 22. I blame the government.
pmoodie: (Default)

[personal profile] pmoodie 2011-05-11 10:16 (UTC)(link)
You're absolutely right. I voted for the Lib Dems at the general election because I believed they were committed to honesty in politics, and that they would give me a reason to stop being cynical about the process. Then they betrayed my trust.

This is part of the reason why I voted for the SNP in the recent Scottish Parliamentary election. They now seem to be the only party in this country who actually back up their promises.

(Anonymous) 2011-05-22 22:25 (UTC)(link)
Loser! SNP will break so many promises over the next five years!
sir_guinglain: (UKPolitics)

[personal profile] sir_guinglain 2011-05-11 10:54 (UTC)(link)
Agreed. A friend from a country where coalitions are normal, has argued that people are getting too annoyed over the tuition fees issue, as pledges are always taken as provisional where she comes from. However, here they are not, at least, not when they come from the Liberal Democrats. Nick Clegg's antennae do not seem very sensitive when it comes to his own party and supporters.
gominokouhai: (Default)

[personal profile] gominokouhai 2011-05-11 11:21 (UTC)(link)
Yes yes yes. Exactly right again.

I don't think it's going to happen, though. Clegg's just been on the radio talking about the Party, with no acknowledgement that the Party still contains people like you.

(Anonymous) 2011-05-11 12:00 (UTC)(link)
Damn, you are so very very right about this.

This is exactly why I'll never vote again. This is why my father has such contempt for the Liberal party. This is what my friends have been saying.

We all thought the LIB-DEMs were the decent party, the ones who hadn't been corrupted, the ones who wouldn't lie.

(Saw the link to your post posted on a friends journal.)
sir_guinglain: (Default)

[personal profile] sir_guinglain 2011-05-11 13:51 (UTC)(link)
Furthermore (and I write as an armchair LibDem who finds it difficult to use 'we' of the party) I've since received Nick's e-mail to members, which confirms an impression which I had during the general election campaign that he doesn't really know the party which he leads. All this neither left nor right business is straight out of the old Paddy Ashdown sketches on Spitting Image, and panders too much to conventional narratives.
nineveh_uk: Illustration that looks like Harriet Vane (Harriet)

[personal profile] nineveh_uk 2011-05-11 16:01 (UTC)(link)
The problem is that all our MPs signed a personal pledge to vote against any rise in tuition fees, and then most of them voted for it.
This really is it. Especially where the student vote is concerned the Lib Dems are perceived as having fought a single issue campaign, and then done a volte face on the single issue.

This applies even outside the student vote, given the selling point of new politics/personal trust/etc. (I don't think the Laws expenses case coming so soon helped either - the supposed compassionate reasons didn't fly, because the public knows that said reasons don't count when someone is on benefits, so it came across as the same old "one rule for us".

(Anonymous) 2011-05-11 16:32 (UTC)(link)
Word.

(Anonymous) 2011-05-11 17:09 (UTC)(link)
It's really hard to disagree with any of this. Hope everyone reads it...

Richard Morris
cheekbones3: (Yaffle)

[personal profile] cheekbones3 2011-05-11 17:19 (UTC)(link)
No forgiveness for being poor inexperienced little squits of MPs daunted by the power of the big scary Tories, and scared to actually stand up for themselves? I'm tempted to forgive them for that. Possibly not a lot more though.

Sorry isn't enough!

(Anonymous) 2011-05-11 19:32 (UTC)(link)
We can't just say sorry! What about intergeneration fairness? We need to say 'sorry' and how we are going to (given the very first opportunity to do so), change "our" government policy to be more akin to our party policy - and (vitally in todays world) how we will pay for it.

I think that will also nicely put the Tories and Labour on the spot, and gain a degree of forgiveness, that just saying sorry can't.
rmc28: Photo of me shortly before starting my first half-marathon (Default)

[personal profile] rmc28 2011-05-11 19:57 (UTC)(link)
I agree - if you break a promise, you have to start by apologising, not excusing. It's my biggest issue with the party.

Trust IS the issue

(Anonymous) 2011-05-11 20:32 (UTC)(link)
You are absolutely right and I am staying a member of the party for the same reasons as pseudomonas.

Trevor
trialia: River Song (Alex Kingston) drinking a cup of coffee. (Default)

[personal profile] trialia 2011-05-11 20:53 (UTC)(link)
Well said.

I, though I am a subscribing LD party member, did not vote LD in this local election. I feel too betrayed by the leadership of a party to which I still feel, ideologically, the closest of any of this country's political parties.

That said, the student fees are the secondary issue for me and why I'm upset - the primary is what the Lib Dems in government are allowing the Tories to do to the welfare state. It is incredibly difficult to handle the DLA system already - take it from this disabled person who feels suicidal every time she so much as contemplates having to go through the reassessment process - and the fraud rate is even lower than departmental error.

I cannot work. I have tried. Yet because I look healthy and, on my good days (with a fluctuating condition), am reasonably articulate, I get pilloried and treated like I'm worse than dirt. And the Lib Dems in government have not, as far as I can tell, said anything against the idea of perceiving disabled people all as shirkers and malingerers unless we can't walk or talk. No matter that some of us are on the kind of opiate dosage they give to palliative cancer patients, or that plenty of the rarer conditions are degenerative, incurable and only going to get worse despite the looks of us. They don't appear to care that they're pretty much throwing us to the wolves. That's the worst part.
ext_120532: (Default)

[identity profile] ggreig.livejournal.com 2011-05-12 08:15 (UTC)(link)
Spot on. There's another aspect to be borne in mind too, which is that there's a balance to be struck between getting things done and representing the opinions of the electorate. There is no definitive, easy dividing line on this, but (quite naturally) politicians may favour getting things done more than the electorate who want their opinions expressed even if it's futile in terms of voting numbers.

This is frequently dismissed as the "protest vote", but if the principle is important enough, voters will want the protest to be heard even if it doesn't achieve change.

Voters aren't just annoyed at a promise broken, important though that is; they're annoyed at a heartfelt protest "unheard", in the sense that the people they elected to vote against certain things... didn't.

It's clear there's a deep disconnect between those who were elected and those who elected them, on tuition fees and the economy. I don't think what's required is just an apology for breaking a promise, though that is every bit as important as you say; there should be an apology for doing a bad job of representing the opinions they were elected to represent (on these issues). That is an incredibly hard apology to make, because it's admitting a real failure rather than saying, oh, we had to make a pragmatic choice. No, we (MPs) misunderstood what you asked us to do when you gave us your vote.

In the meantime, pmoodie's right. Despite the obvious hyperbole, I put more stock in Alex Salmond's "rocks will melt with the sun" pledge (http://news.stv.tv/scotland/234728-alex-salmond-the-rocks-will-melt-with-the-sun-before-we-allow-tuition-fees/) than anything the Lib Dems might say. By and large the SNP have done what they said they would in government, even in minority; and when they haven't, it's generally because they've been voted down rather than anything else.

(Anonymous) 2011-05-12 09:05 (UTC)(link)
I agree with your anaysis entirely.

I started out my political life as a school boy Labour activist. Over the years I drifted out of the Labour Party and towards the Liberal Democrats. I became a Lib Dem activist to the point where I contributed to Lib Dem policy on my specialst area of energy.

As a relative new comer to the Liberal Democrats one of the main attractions was that I preceived the Liberal Democrats to be trustworthy. There appeared to be an aspiration to do politics differently, to do politics in a principled and democratic way. I think the tuition fees pledges were an important part of this. They said that, for individual Liberal Democrats, here is a line that *I* will not cross even during a coalition negotiation *or you can call me Liar*

Once someone has demonstrated that they will break their solemn word on one matter they have no credibility in any matter. This would be survivable if the attraction of the Liberal Democrats was about a raft of policies and the underlying political philosophy. However, when a large part of the attraction of the party is that the Liberal Democrats are the only party you can trust, a loss of credibility is fatal.

A good reputation takes a life time to build and can be destroyed, for ever, in an instant.

My name is on Liberal Democrat documents. I feel that my good name has been tarnished by my association with the Liberal Democrats.

(Anonymous) 2011-05-12 09:07 (UTC)(link)
I think tuition fees cost us the AV referendum. It’s not the only reason we lost and we could have won despite it but tuition fees made the whole thing very difficult right from the start. So hard that an amateur campaign had no reply to the more cynical campaign against Reform.

It gutted the Lib Dem activist core. It made certain that Liberal Democrat elected officials and activists would be fighting for their own survival. It associated Reform with the deeply tarnished brand of the Liberal Democrats. It showed up coalition politics in a bad light and it made it impossible for Nick Clegg to campaign for a Yes vote.

How could we campaign on a platform of making politician behave better when the whole idea was seen as a reward for a man who had broken the biggest political promise since Munich.

I had people say to me, you only want this so you can get into coalition and break more promises.

(Anonymous) 2011-05-13 03:09 (UTC)(link)
if only I had openID... I'm undeadbydawn on LiveJournal, followed this link from Andy Ducker.

I disagree on one core point. Apologies are 100% completely useless. I do not want to hear a single politician apologise for anything, ever. Or that they've 'learned lessons' - which has to be the most irritating phrase in political history

I want them to say 'We completely fucked it and we will never, ever do that again, no matter the circumstances. On pain of instant resignation'. And I would hold them to that for the rest of their career.

saying 'sorry' will just make me expect it to happen next time, and the time after that.
pseudomonas: Dragon from BL manuscript of C14 French Ḥumash (Default)

[personal profile] pseudomonas 2011-05-13 19:00 (UTC)(link)
I think apologies are better than nothing, and an utterly necessary first step. Beyond that, all they can do is to develop a good track record - you can't make a promise not to break promises and get taken seriously :(

(Most LJs have openID - the username will be undeadbydawn.livejournal.com, unless it's a recycled username)

[personal profile] frankie_ecap 2011-05-13 10:42 (UTC)(link)
I think this is an utterly utterly brilliant post. Thank you.

(Sorry for delay. I linked to it but should not have assumed you would see link.)

(Anonymous) 2011-05-13 20:50 (UTC)(link)
Everyone seems to forget the second half of the pledge.

The pledge said:
“I pledge to vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative”

There is an argument that the new scheme is fairer than the current scheme (as a number of graduates will pay less back the new scheme) and therefore that the two halves of the pledge were in conflict with each other.

In practice people heard that the lib dems would vote against increasing tuition fees and then they voted to triple them - that will take a long time to be forgotten.

Moral of the story for next time - don't sign pledges, just stick to the manifesto

Suffering

(Anonymous) 2011-05-26 10:53 (UTC)(link)
Speaking from Portsmouth's point of view, Mike Hancock and the team down here we aren't suffering.

Mike, of course, was vigorous in his campaign against the fees policy and worked closely with the local student union.

The result? We won 9 out of 14 seats on May 5th, and came close in a tenth. In terms of seats it was our best ever result.