December 14, 2010
None of the political parties won enough seats to rule in a majority government, the options were ConDem coalition or rainbow government. The latter was implausible, therefore those power are essentially there by default because the only realistic option for future governance of the UK was the former.
The problem that faces the Coalition politicians and their constituents is that no-one voted for a Coalition, they voted for the party they agreed with. Thus when certain policies and promises and not delivered, people get very upset.
However as no-one won, it seems self-evident that neither the Tories nor the Lib Dems would be able to implement all of their policies they swore too before the election, compromise must be reached otherwise there can be no progress.
The student protests and demonstrations last week are an example of an inability to understand this. Yes it was wrong and irresponsible for Clegg and his colleagues to sign a pledge to the NUS, knowing the chances of a Lib Dem victory on Election Day were dismal. In this sense, they could promise and pledge whatever they liked … it was meaningless! I think the Lib Dems were more surprised than anyone else at their result!
Being a student from a working-class background in the north east, I completely empathise with the outrage and dismay felt by protesters and students of all ilk, however we have to face the fact that the Coalition have to pick up the pieces of a broken economy and get us back on the road to recovery. In doing so, they will be forced to make a lot of difficult and agonising decisions, but cuts have to be made! The national debt of the UK is expected to soar to £1.1 trillion by April 2011 and the budget deficit must be addressed promptly and efficiently.
In reality, when you study the new system of university funding, arguments that it inhibits social mobility are unfounded and false. There is a significant increase in scholarship funding and the amount of grants under privileged students will receive. They also plan to introduce positive discrimination at Oxbridge and other red bricks to ensure diversity and more opportunities for working-class background students.
Perhaps cutting so much government subsidisation to the point where fees treble was not the best option, the shock factor was probably the catalyst for public outcry … still this does not justify violence, vandalism and dishonouring WWII monuments to the millions that died so we could be free citizens. When you think about those brave men and women, it puts the student mob to shame and belittles everything the peaceful protestors are fighting for.
Let’s not forget cuts are being made left, right and centre, not because Clegg & Cameron get some kind of kick out of it, they are doing so because that’s what has to be done if we want to carry on being a major player on the world stage. I find a lot of people do not seem to realize the dire situation Britain, and the world is actually in.
The Coalition seems to be under fire from all sides, losing support rapidly, even from their own MPs such as Colin Firth, who announced today that he no longer supports the Lib Dems because of the issue of tuition fees.
The double-edged sword is taking its toll and in the midst of all this anger, controversy and economic hurting, perhaps Cameron can be heavily criticised for spending taxpayer money on finding out how happy we are.
November 28, 2010
The nationwide protests and demonstrations against the cuts to university funding speak for themselves. The vast majority of students feel used, played and betrayed by the promises of the pre-election pledge that Mr Clegg and his party swore adherence. Although were students at blame too?
Of course we could rant on all day about this topic, perhaps rightly so, although we (the student voters) should have made a more informed and realistic decision at booths early this year.
Despite being the flagship of policy of the Lib Dems, we should have anticipated that the practicalities of scrapping fees were simply implausible. Mr Clegg’s party has not been in power since 1945 and were somewhat desperate to enter the political limelight again (which is the objective of all parties). The Lib Dems coaxed the conception that they were the student-friendly party, the party for change and for the future, echoing the ‘Yes We Can’ attitude of their counter-parts across the Atlantic.
Nick Clegg seemed to have a way of convincing us that the ideal could be a reality (if you put a cross next to their name on the big day). However in hindsight, in the middle of a global recession, could scrapping the fees have been applicable?
Perhaps if the Lib Dems secured a majority in the ballots, yes they could have implemented their pledge and abolished student tuition fees. However in an era where neon 50% of post-16 year olds are entering higher education, the ramifications of free university education would mean a significant increase in entry requirements, thus countering the number of young people in HE. In this respect, perhaps it was a good thing that Mr Clegg is only the deputy.
Political parties have a long history of promising the Earth and delivering Earthworms, perhaps sceptical analysis should have been exercised more rigorously on a personal and communal level when contemplating ‘which party is in my best interests’. Without critiquing UK politics too much, our democracy ensures he who shouts the loudest is heard, not he who has the best ideas for the future of the nation. Although none of the candidates seemed to have a coherent and feasible idea for the latter, only time will prove me wrong.
The fact of the matter is, as Douglas Murray, Director of the Centre for Social Cohesion pointed out on ‘Young Voters’ Question Time’ on BBC1 Wednesday 24th that funding for university education has to come from somewhere! When HE education was free for students it was funded completely by the taxpayer, a system which seems absurd nowadays as 50%, not 4% of the population now attend university. The Lib Dems were frankly capitalising on populist hope rather than acknowledging the realities of current affairs.
Yes, it was wrong of the Lib Dems to abandon their flagship policy, even if it was impractical; it was still the policy that clinched many of their votes. Nick Clegg now admits ‘I should have been more careful’ before the election about signing the NUS pledge … although this will serve as little comfort to the students who voted for him. It is somewhat baffling that Clegg has shot himself in the foot by essentially betraying his primary voter-base, nonetheless I would bet my tuition fee that Clegg will not be re-elected at the next General Election! In fact we may well see a new leader of Lib Dems before then.