Posts Tagged ‘Browne report’

Students are paying the price of this arranged marriage

08/12/2010, 02:30:37 PM

by Andy Dodd

With tomorrow’s vote on university tuition fees seen as the first major test of the Tory-Lib Dem government’s arranged marriage, it is timely to consider exactly what the vote could, or should, mean for Labour.

To begin with, it is a perfect opportunity to expose the increasingly bizarre contortions of the Lib Dems, who cannot seem to make up their mind whether they are the government or the opposition. Many did not expect the coalition to run smoothly, but they did not anticipate that it would wobble so soon and so dramatically. Increasingly, the notion that Nick Clegg’s party could apply its manifesto as part of an alliance seems fanciful. Nobody cares about the soft touches round the edges when the grand design of the Conservative majority is so brutal.

As Lord Paddy Ashdown pointed out yesterday (BBC Radio 5 Live Drive, 6 December), Lib Dem MPs should be duty bound to vote for raising tuition fees. The policy was included in the coalition agreement which was unanimously agreed by all members of the Lib Dem parliamentary party. In agreeing to form the government, each knew very well that they would have to compromise on election manifesto pledges. And yet they made that deal.

So, please spare me the hand wringing of the Lib Dem minions who are learning the hard way that you cannot run the country by cherry picking. Spare us, too, the convoluted logic of a secretary of state who develops a policy that triggers mass demonstrations across the land and then admits that he may not even vote for it. This is a travesty of government. (more…)

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Sadly, it’s a graduate tax that is stupid, not Vince Cable

10/11/2010, 03:00:01 PM

by Nick Keehan

With a student demonstration marching on Westminster today, it will be tempting for Labour to throw in its lot with the protesters and embark on wholesale opposition to tuition fees. Before we do, however, we should ask ourselves a question: how stupid do we think Nick Clegg and Vince Cable are?

Really stupid, that is. Not wrong. Not dishonest or unprincipled. Not sanctimonious, smug or irritating. Not ignorant or ill-informed, but stupid. Totally useless and incompetent. So inept and ineffectual that stuck on a sinking ship they would burn the lifeboats.

Whatever else they may be, Nick Clegg and Vince Cable are not that stupid. When it comes to tuition fees, however, this is what we are expected to believe. (more…)

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Conrad Landin blames Labour for the Browne report

18/10/2010, 11:30:20 AM

Reaction to the Browne report on higher education has focused on the broken promises of Liberal Democrats who pledged to vote against rises in tuition fees. For any opposition party, it is easy to fall into the trap of concentrating exclusively on the Lib Dems’ betrayal of their election pledges. Yes, this betrayal is the one, among many, that I still can’t get over – even more than their U-turn on the fundamental issue of the economy immediately after the election.

But the photos of Nick Clegg holding up his card pledging to vote against fee rises speak for themselves. While the media has devoted so much space to the betrayal that the morality of the rise in fees itself is put to one side. Which is exactly what David Cameron wants. (more…)

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The week Uncut

17/10/2010, 04:04:00 PM

George and Liam have been fighting again. And it looks like the defence secretary is claiming victory on this one. Other departments are likely to be less lucky as the Chancellor sharpens his knife ready for the spending review on Wednesday.

But this week was all about Ed. He entered the chamber as the young pretender. The media waited for the slick PR machine that is the PM to swat him aside. Ed stood up, a little shaky at first, and then, very slowly but surely he started hitting him. And he didn’t stop.

Yes it was only his first PMQs, and there are plenty of rounds to go, but he did something very important. He gave the Labour benches something to really cheer – for the first time in a long time.  Cameron now knows what he is going to face week in week out. The game has changed – the new boy knows the rules, and can play rough too.

In case you missed them, here are Uncut’s best read pieces of the last seven days:

Dan Hodges interviews Ed Miliband’s consigliere, Peter Hain

Tom Watson promises the new boss that he’ll stop behaving like a child

Siôn Simon gives his verdict on Ed’s first PMQs

Jessica Asato makes the case for the Oxbridge wonks

Pat McFadden offers a sensible review of the Browne report

Anthony Painter kicks off a debate on the role of the state

James Watkins says Labour mustn’t leave the countryside to the Tories

Uncut looks at the new generation front bench

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Pat McFadden on the Browne report

14/10/2010, 04:05:16 PM

Student finance always combines policy with highly combustible politics. And so it is with the parties treading round the Browne Review as if it was an unexploded land mine, accompanied by headlines about degree costs running into tens of thousands which alarm students and their parents alike.

But first, step back. Many similar headlines were around in 2004 when legislation increased fees to £3,000. Since then participation has continued to rise, including from low income groups, confounding predictions that fear of debt would put off prospective students. Upfront fees were abolished, making higher education free at the point of use for students. Graduates paid but only when they were earning. And safeguards were built in to write off debt if graduates took time out of the labour market to have children or had low lifetime earnings.

There were also less welcome consequences of the 2004 changes. Charging no real rate of interest on loans had the unintended side effect of limiting student numbers because it costs the state more to borrow the money for the loans than it gets back in repayments. So although participation has gone up, universities are still held back from taking on as many students as they would wish because it is too expensive for the government. (more…)

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