Archive for ‘Tuition Fees’

January 29, 2011

Hard left chase NUS President Aaron Porter from fees protest

NUS President Aaron Poter has been hounded out of his own protest in Manchester after being threatened by hard left activists. The temper-tantruming Trots criticise Porter for his policy of engaging with MPs and ministers, and for his only cautious support for more radical student action like occupations. It is even be reported, by a photographer being quoted in the Daily Mail, that some shouted ‘Tory Jew scum’ at the NUS President before he was led to safety by the police.
VN doesn’t have much love for the NUS, and has criticised some of Porter’s approach to campaigning against a rise in fees, however this bullying behaviour from hard left elements within the youth and student movement simply discredits the movement as a whole. Bullying is not free speech, it is instead an attempt to shout the loudest in order to drown out other opinions, and an abuse of democracy.
Thus far, Aaron Porter is still running for a second term, despite increasing calls for him to stand down.
December 10, 2010

>Dr. Evan Harris interviews Nick Clegg on Higher Education funding

>Former MP Evan Harris is now Vice – Chair of the Liberal Democrats Federal Policy Committee. He lost his university seat in Oxford, despite the Liberal Democrats manifesto policy to abolish fees, and is generally considered to be in left, social – liberal wing of the party.

Here he interviews Deputy PM and Party Leader Nick Clegg on Higher Education funding. It is clear that the party were desperately trying to make a graduate tax work, and perhaps the fact they couldn’t says a lot. There is also an interesting discussion about how to deal with such explicit pledges in the future, with Clegg expressing regret the furore over this has cast a huge cloud of the delivery of the four key pledges on the front of the manifesto.

VN doesn’t expect that this interview will change anybodies mind either way, but it is good that this final explanation has come out. Hopefully now the party can start to move on, and the system can be developed so the burden of debt does not weight too heavily on students.

You can read the transcript of the videos here.

December 10, 2010

>"A difficult decision made for all the right reasons" – inside Westminster on Tuition Fees day

>Yesterday was certainly a landmark day in British politics. Not particularly because of what got passed, the way universities are funded will doubtless change many more times, but because of what it signified.

VN Editor Charlotte Henry was in the Westminster cauldron as it all reached boiling point.

Yesterday was utterly surreal. Central Lobby was swarming with jean and hoody clad students, all seeking one last chance to make their MP vote ‘no’ in the impending vote on raising the cap on tuition fees. Democracy in action.

I had the pleasure of meeting Annette Brooke (no), Lorely Burt (abstain), Stephen Gilbert (yes), Jeremy Browne (yes), Simon Hughes (abstain),  and Jo Swinson (yes). All had sincere and genuine reasons for voting whichever way they did. Lovely Lorely also wins an extra prize for providing myself and VN contributor Thomas Hemsley with one of the best cups of tea ever, in Parliament’s ‘Pugin Room’!

Seeing MPs engaging with their constituents was fantastic, and as it should be. The Lib Dems MPs I met rightly pointed out what vast improvements have been made due to their engagement in the process. I don’t like that the government is asking young people to start their working life having to pay off £40,000 worth of debt, but this pay back system should not put people of going to university, and is far better than anything Labour or the Conservatives would have brought in on their own.

The most surreal part of the day came when I was going to comment on the BBC on behalf of Liberal Youth. I was outside Saint Stevens Entrance, so was going to be interview via an ear piece. In the ear piece is a live feed of what is going out live. Moments before I was about to go on air violence erupted in Parliament Square, (I had had to move out the way of the line of police horses who were going towards Parliament Square on my way to the interview.) I stood waiting to go on air for about 40 minutes, listening as police officers were thrown from their horse, protestors were stretchered out, and smoke rose from firecrackers. Hope you understand now if I looked a bit distracted by the time the finally got to my brief cameo!

As the division bell rang I was sitting in Central Lobby. The vote passed and, despite some saddening resignations, the coalition still stands. Don’t believe the hype, no Lib Dem did this with glee. They did it to make the overall package for funding universities work both for the institutions and those that attend them. In typical Lib Dem fashion, many agonised about it almost until the moment they walked through a lobby.

Hopefully the Christmas break will clear the air, and Clegg and company can go on with the good work they are doing in government. Yesterday though will live long in my memory as a day the Lib Dems stood up and made a difficult, unpalatable decision, but did it for the all the right reasons.

December 8, 2010

>Tuition fee myth busting goes into overdrive before vote

>Nick Clegg, David Cameron and the coalition have gone into overdrive today to try and bust the myths surrounding the proposed changes to HE funding.

This morning Deputy PM Clegg was dispatched onto the Victoria Derbyshire show on 5Live and, agree or disagree with the policy, did a pretty sterling job of  busting the myths perpetuated by the NUS, and laying out why this is an improvement on the Labour mess.

Latter Cameron went on the offensive in PMQs, attacking Ed Miliband and Labour backbenchers for their hypocrisy over years on the issue.  He has also delivered a speech on the future of universities at the CentrForum think tank.

If that wasn’t enough, they have taken to the interweb too, launching http://www.factsonfees.com

Now, VN certainly doesn’t think Clegg, Cable or any other Lib Dem are the devil incarnate for backing these proposals, they are better for their presence in government, but raising the cap will put a lot of young people in an even greater amount of personal debt.

However, given the vote on raising the cap is tomorrow, today’s actions do seem somewhat too little too late.

December 8, 2010

>Ed Mili is red, brown, but not green

>It has emerged that the Labour leader is refusing to pair Energy & Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne for tomorrow’s vote on tuition fees, forcing him to return from the key climate change summit in Cancun. Pairing is the process whereby the absence of an MP who is whipped one way but can’t attend a vote is negated by an opposing MP not voting too, and is agreed by the partys’ teams of whips.

By refusing to pair Huhne, Ed Miliband is acting cheap and playing politics. He knows that Huhne must now come home and vote yes or resign. He is  therefore forcing him to return from an important climate change summit, showing that petty politicking is more important to Ed Mili and his ‘new generation’ Labour Party than progress on the environment.

Oh yeah, what was Ed’s job before being Labour Leader…Energy and Climate Change Secretary.

November 30, 2010

>Clegg vs Porter…coming to a town hall near you

>The tuition fees debate just got a bit surreal today. Deputy PM, and Lib Dem Leader, Nick Clegg wrote an open to letter NUS President Aaron Porter politely outlining the absurdity of the NUS’ ‘Right to Recall’ campaign, and explaining why in many ways the coalitions proposals are much better than those of Porter’s beloved New Labour government, and indeed the NUS. In his essay of a response Porter challenges Clegg to a debate on the proposals in a public town hall meeting. Cue the ‘Rocky’ soundtrack.

VN suspects the DPM’s Office laughed with glee at this suggestion. Has Amateur Aaron forgotten the pasting Clegg gave both the then PM and Leader of the Opposition in at least two of the three leaders debates? The fee rise is an indefensible policy, but much of the remainder of the H.E. policy advocated by the coalition is not. That goes without mentioning what the proposals would look like had Clegg not been involved! Clegg would wipe the floor with Amateur Aaron, and perhaps go someway to putting this issue to bed.

The Labour front-NUS must no longer be allowed to dictate the countries political agenda. Clegg should, for once, rise to Amateur Aaron’s bait, and lance this particularly irritating red boil.

November 16, 2010

>’How to lose friends and alienate people’ – starring Aaron Porter and the NUS

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The NUS now have a stated strategy to ‘decapitate’ any Liberal Democrat MP who breaks their pre-election pledge to vote against a rise in tuition fees in the next election. 

The political savvy of the NUS leadership is really shining through. They are now brazenly attacking the only major party who’s policy it is to ultimately remove tuition fees, and the party that have continually made the NUS’ case in Parliament. The NUS’ partisan allegiance to the Labour party has shown through once again, and they are alienating their political allies, left, right, and centre.
November 12, 2010

>Stripping the Week 7-12 November 2010

>This week London turned into Paris. Led by Comrade Porter, 50,000 students and lecturers descended onto Westminster to show their opposition to proposed rises in tuition fees, and cuts to education. While it would be deeply unfair to not point out that most of the march passed peacefully, what will remain in everyones memory are the scenes of violence at Millbank Tower, where Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) is housed. There were also smaller scenes of disruption outside Liberal Democrat HQ in Cowley Street, and no severe damage reported. VN fears that the legitimate case surrounding higher fears just got tossed away, like the fire extinguisher off the top of Millbank.

Picture via Guido Fawkes

Dramatic domestic events rather overshadowed the Prime Minister’s trip to China. He led his delegation on a business mission, and a controversially defiant decision to wear poppies. This stoked memories of the opium wars for the Chinese, but should be praised by the British as working with, not bowing down to Beijing’s every whim. 

This week has also brought the new that three former Labour MPs will face court over their expenses. At the same time Phil Woolas continues in vain to get a judicial review into the decision to void his election.

Hero of the week: Whoever swung it so there was no Lib Dem on Question Time this week!
Villain of the week: The idiots on the top of Millbank Tower

Listening to this week: Florence and the Machine – Lungs
Reading this week:  DJ Mag top 100 issue
Watching this week: An awfully dull Manchester derby





November 11, 2010

>An open letter to the ‘protestors’…from a proud Lib Dem

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Dear pretentious student,


A rant aimed at majority of those protesting yesterday. To those of you that have been campaigning genuinely, apologies and ignore the following – but you are in the minority.


One. Dont tell me that because I wasn’t there I don’t care about the future of higher education funding. I’ve been fighting for it long before you have,, as have most Liberal Democrats, and I’m damn sure I’ll be fighting a lot longer for it. One over-energetic march that was probably more fun than anything else does not give you the right to take a higher ground.


Two. The occupation and vandalism was completely and utterly unhelpful to the cause, whatever way you want to spin it. Don’t moan that the media are spinning it. It was criminal damage. It was an illegal occupation, forcing regular people out of their workplaces. It was wrong. If you really believe that “direct” action like that gets you anywhere in politics then you’re even more naive than I thought.


That leads me onto my third point. How dare you compare the “demolition” march of yesterday with great political movements like the suffragettes or gay rights movements. It’s insulting, self-righteous and damn right delusional. The action they took was for a much greater cause, and the sustained suffering and campaigning they had to endure means protests like yesterday are but a footnote in history. You did not make history yesterday.


Finally, about the actual march and higher education funding. I bet the vast majority of the people there could not even tell me what the government policy on HE funding is. If I’d asked I’d get the blunt and insufficient reply that they’re raising fees. It’s more complicated than that. I stand by my belief that education should be free, and oppose in principle any rise in fees, but I’m also constructive enough to recognise that the poorer will be BETTER off under these proposals than the current policy. If I was an MP I would abstain, but I can recognise why Clegg and Cable are willing to compromise, even if I don’t agree with it.


If you want the Liberal Democrats to stick 100% to their policies then I’m afraid you need to help them get elected into government alone. Right now we are 1/5 of government so our say is limited.


Yours,


Proud Lib Dem


by Bobby Dean

November 10, 2010

>Tuition fees protest demolishes its own argument

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Today students took to the streets of Westminster to protest against cuts in education and a rise in tuition fees. Unfortunately some took the name of the protest, ‘Demolition’, a bit too literally, and chose to kick in windows at CCHQ. Well…what do you expect from Trots….



All these so called protestors have done is damage the cause of those who try to raise this issue in legitimate political forums, of which peaceful protest is one. The NUS deserves criticism for making the campaign so partisan, and personal against Nick Clegg. They also deserve criticism for pathetically calling it ‘Demolition, further stoking up all sorts of emotions. However, they are not directly responsible for the actions of a minority of people who came to their protest.



The protestors have done what those who support higher fees wanted, delegitimise their argument, and provide a reasonable excuse to ignore them.  The windows in CCHQ will be fixed by tomorrow, the legitimacy of the anti-fees movement will take a lot longer to restore. All the rioters have demolished is their own argument.
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