Monday news review

Count down to fees vote

Nick Clegg is facing the strongest challenge to his authority as Liberal Democrat leader since the formation of the coalition after he failed to broker an agreement on tuition fees with the party’s president in advance of a Commons vote on Thursday. As rebel Lib Dem backbenchers intensify their demands for the vote to be abandoned in favour of a wider review of university funding, the deputy prime minister was tonight bracing himself for a “train wreck” which could see his MPs splitting four ways. Amid fears in Downing Street that Clegg is suffering a disproportionate amount of damage, David Cameron sanctioned a “rescue Nick” operation over the weekend to shore up his deputy’s position, scheduling two announcements that would appeal to Lib Dem members. – The Guardian

Just four days to go before the big commons vote on fees and what could potentially be a career-ending decision for each of the 57 MPs who were elected for the Lib Dems last May. What would you do in their position – there are just three options: You vote for the tripling of the maximum fee and risk being accused of breaking your promises and alienating a significant part of your electorate who might take it out on you at the general election. You vote against the increase in fees and risk party unity as well as in four years time being unable to associate yourself as much with the success of the coalition’s policies, assuming that they are perceived to have worked. You abstain which also breaks the fees pledge that you signed, means you cannot share as much credit for the recovery if that indeed is what happens and you look like a wuss. To my mind abstention is the worst of all worlds with none of the pluses and all of the minuses. – Politicalbetting

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “These proposals, if they go through, will change the entire landscape of education in this country and we must continue to oppose them. We need to expose the damage they will do to our universities, colleges and communities. MPs must be left in no doubt of the strength of opposition to these plans and the consequences of voting for them. We have been overwhelmed by support from people across the country against these plans and we hope they will all join us in making their voice heard this week.” NUS President Aaron Porter said: “The joint NUS and UCU march that brought together 50,0000 people on 10 November has provided the spur to a new wave of activism and lobbying, placing the Government’s policy on fees and student support policy under huge pressure. This week we must keep that pressure up as the vote approaches. MPs can be left in no doubt as to the widespread public opposition to these plans or of the consequences of steamrollering them through Parliament.” – Press Association

Osborne’s “anti-women” cuts

The government failed to consider the impact of its spending cuts on women before pushing ahead with them, the High Court will hear today. The Fawcett Society, which campaigns for equality between the sexes, will launch an attempt to seek a judicial review of the emergency Budget presented by the Chancellor George Osborne in June. It is the first time a Budget has faced such a legal challenge. Some ministers are privately nervous about the case, fearing that it could harm the image of the Coalition Government among women. There are already signs that women’s fears about the cuts are hurting the Conservative Party. Last week’s ComRes survey for The Independent showed that the Tories enjoy the support of 40 per of men but only 31 per cent of women, while Labour has the backing of 36 per cent of men and 44 per cent of women. –The Independent

Ann waltzes off

Despite coming bottom of the judges’ scores seven weeks in a row it’s taken until now and a performance described as similar to “Dalek in drag” for Ann Widdecombe has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing. Up until now she’s defied the judges to win over the public but her Hello Dolly routine failed to impress. Ms Widdecombe says she is looking forward to “having her life back” but will she, in Brucie’s words, “keeeeeeep dancing”. – Politics Home

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