Wednesday, 11 May 2011

No more broken promises (2)...

I have just read Nick Clegg's speech today regarding the one year anniversary of the Coalition.  There is a lot in there I like, I like a lot of the things he emphasises and in places he really captures where I am on the political spectrum.  I also think he is still a great public speaker.  However I'm not left feeling particularly enthusiastic, mainly for one section:

"Let me be clear. It will not be possible to deliver the entire Liberal Democrat manifesto in this Government. This is because we didn’t win the election. So we have had to compromise. We could not, for example, deliver our policy on tuition fees. Nor, it is important to remember, would we have been able to in coalition with Labour.

Labour was the party that introduced tuition fees, and then commissioned the Browne review which recommended no cap at all. On this issue, the other two parties agreed with each other, not with us. So we were isolated."

This to me illustrates that the leadership doesn't understand the problem.  This is something we can't blame Labour for - it wont help us on the doorstep.  The reason the public have been so angry about us regarding tuition fees is not the policy itself per say, but the fact that it is the complete opposite of personal pledges made by our MPs.  

The public know that we only have 57 MPs so we can't enact what everything we desire, they also in the main (at least the ones I've spoken to) understand that a coalition with Labour was not feasible.  However what they didn't expect from us was 36 of our MPs to break the personal pledges that they made.  Trying to pin this on Labour doesn't wash - they expect the old politics to break promises the moment the public's back is turned, one of our major advantages was that we were offering New Politics - honest and trustworthy.  As such by introducing the bill in the first place and then 36 MPs not voting against it we have lost the faith of many of our floating voters.

The policy may have been designed with the best intentions, it may also be progressive (as it effectively means tests each student every year after they graduate for 30 years or until they pay it off to see their ability to pay - I may write a long post in future if I can ever obtain the figures I want), this though is irrelevant.  In the eyes of the electorate it is a broken promise and we are lumped together in the "they are all the same" bracket.  What is needed to start this long road of rebuilding trust is for the leadership to acknowledge what a big deal this is and how it is a failure on our part - not to blame other people, to basically say SORRY, then maybe one day we may regain their trust.


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