Wednesday News Review

Tory MPs join Lib Dem rebels

Nick Clegg tonight resigned himself to a Liberal Democrat split in the vote on planned increases in tuition fees, as he told his MPs he and other wavering ministers in his party would vote in favour of the plans but accepted many of them would not “walk through the fire” with him. After a parliamentary party meeting in Westminster, Clegg appeared to have partially ameliorated the split by persuading ministers who had once indicated they could not vote in favour of the planned increase. Aides to the deputy PM said there would be at least 24 of the party’s 57 MPs voting in favour. But abstentions and votes against the measures leave Clegg facing a three-way threat in his party. The new line will test the ministerial code of conduct. Today the party high command agreed parliamentary private secretaries – ministers’ aides – could abstain on the plan. But the new code, drawn up by David Cameron in May decrees that a PPS must toe the government line or face resignation. – The Guardian

It emerged that half a dozen Conservative MPs may refuse to support the hike in fees. David Davis, the former shadow Home Secretary, will oppose the move, as will the former frontbencher Julian Lewis. Others who may abstain or vote against include Lee Scott, a parliamentary private secretary, Bob Blackman and Andrew Percy. Despite the unexpected Tory rebellion, the betting at Westminster is that the Government will win the crunch vote. Mr Clegg’s MPs are still likely to split three ways – some supporting the Government, some voting against and others abstaining. Several backbenchers with doubts rallied behind him last night. And unless any ministers change their mind, Mr Clegg will avoid any resignations over the issue. Allies of Mr Clegg said he had laid down the law, and called it a sign of the party’s maturity that its ministers would support the proposals. The Deputy Prime Minister said after last night’s meeting: “I’ve listened to the debate, I’ve listened to the protesters, I’ve listened to my party and, having done that, I can announce that all Liberal Democrat ministers – every single one – will vote for this measure when it comes to the vote on Thursday.” – The Independent

“Because, in these difficult circumstances where the country doesn’t have very much money, this is the best and fairest possible way to ensure we have world-class universities for generations to come and that youngsters for generations to come cannot only dream of going to university but can go to university irrespective of the circumstances of their birth.” Mr Clegg confirmed that ministerial aides would not be disciplined if they chose to abstain. He added that, given the economic circumstance, the Coalition felt it was more important to devote funds to early-years education. However, a number of Tories have announced that they will vote against the plans. Lee Scott, a rising Tory star, and backbenchers Andrew Percy, the MP for Brigg and Goole, Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, and Julian Lewis, representing the New Forest, have disclosed that they will rebel. They will join David Davis, the former Tory leadership contender, Charles Kennedy and Sir Menzies Campbell, the former Lib Dem leaders. – The Telegraph

Labour Yes campaign

Next year we have the opportunity to vote for a fairer voting system – one in which everyone’s vote counts and every MP is required to get the backing of a majority of voters. It means that every Labour party member and supporter, in every seat in the country, can cast their vote for Labour and then mark any other preferences, knowing their vote won’t be wasted. First past the post isn’t working. When just a few thousand people determine every election result in a few swing seats, the interests of the Labour party and the people we represent go unheard. The alternative vote means the majority get their voices heard; it will shut the door on extremist parties like the BNP. When people switch off from politics it damages Labour, not the Tories. That’s why the Tories don’t want fairer votes. They don’t want change; they say no! Labour is the party of fairness and change. Labour says yes. It’s time for change. – Letters, The Guardian

“Never worked” rapidly increasing

Official statistics show people aged 16 to 64 who have never worked is now at its highest for at least two years. They showed that in the three months to the end of June, 1.4million adults aged 16 to 64 had never worked. This rose to 1.6million in the three months to the end of September. In contrast 29.19million people were reported to be in work at the end of September. The number is now the highest since at least the fourth quarter in 2008, when the department started to collect the figures. A breakdown of the figures, released by the Department for Work and Pensions last night, shows that at least half of the increase came from former students who could not get a job once their course finished, highlighting the difficulty of entering the jobs market following the recession. The number of people aged between 16 and 24 who had never a full time job increase from 600,000 to 700,000 over the past six months. – The Telegraph

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