What is the point in becoming credible if you lose your credibility by breaking promises ?

Those who support the coalition argue that perhaps the greatest thing about it from a Lib Dem point of view it makes the party relevant, shows that we can be a party of government, and that voting Lib Dem puts Lib Dem policies on the statute book.

These points are all well and good if you then use your power responsibly. However, there is a real danger that by voting and supporting tuition fee increases, the party may destroy this credibility in one fell swoop.

The party cannot argue "A vote for us is a vote for our policies" , when in truth, when we get in to government we actually legislate to introduce policies we pledged to oppose.

If I lived in a Lib Dem held seat, I'd find it very difficult to vote for any Lib Dem, even if they were my MP, if they voted to break a pledge made before the election. Many Lib Dems will not forgive the party for the line it is taking, the voters too will rightly question what out party stands for. The only people that can save the party from the abyss is the 30 or so back bench Lib Dems who can keep their promise and vote against Vince Cable's suicidal plan.

We can all argue that "the country is in a financial mess left by Labour", and this is the excuse constantly given by Lib Dems in the government. But when it comes to student fees, we knew the score, and an assumption must have been made back before May this year that this policy was a line in the sand, an issue the party would defend at all costs.

Quite how the party got to the position that a large number of our MPs are supporting raised tuition fees is ridiculous. But what is absolutely incredible is that those negotiating with the Tories allowed a Lib Dem, in the person of Vince Cable, to be the minister introducing this policy.

Only a bunch of fools could possibly have arranged for the Lib Dems to get a cabinet position we wanted to abolish (Scottish Secretary), the Minister for Nuclear Power (Chris Huhne), Ministry for Cuts (Chief Secretary) and Minister for Tuition Fees (Vince).

All hail our negotiating team. Next election, if we have any MPs left, we'll get the Teletubbies to negotiate on the party's behalf !


Alan said...

Nich - I completely agree. The coalition, whilst good for the country (in my view) and good for the Tories, is going to be very bad for the LDs. They may well split into economic liberals (led by Clegg) and tax-n-spenders (led by Hughes).

Any coalition involves hasty and shady negotiations and not governing to a manifesto tested by an election campaign. Hence the broken promises. That is why I do not like PR. Manifestos tend to be internally consistent - and the country chooses one lock stock and barrel. Fudges are not internally consistent. And nobody voted for them.

In addition, much of the LD manifesto was unimplementable in the real world. OK for a party never dreaming of power, but not for one actually in government.

At the time of the election, I noticed how unprepared the LDs looked. I suspect that very little scenario planning had been done for the actual outcome (in spite of every poll predicting it for about 5 months).

Such poor planning deserves to be punished, and it will be.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, as I have just posted on another thread, Mr Wright appears to be displaying one of the behaviours that people are thoroughly fed up with in that he is clearly waiting to see what the best thing for Simon Wright is. Not us, not the country, not students. But Simon Wright.

Norfolk Blogger said...

You have a lot to say about Simon Wright without ever telling us your own name. The bravery of the anonymous poster ??

You are obviously coming with your own political baggage to this debate, so why not tell us what your colours are ?

Michael Kilpatrick said...

The most stupid thing of all is that so many Lib Dems thought it a good idea to sign any sort of pledge in the first place! It's ridiculous.

It is entirely arbitrary that it was a student lobby group who got so many MPs to sign a pledge on a particular policy. It could have been an anti-nuclear group pressing for a pledge to vote against Trident. Or any other issue that was in the Lib Dem manifesto. It's entirely arbitrary.

So, basically, everyone who signed that pledge then became a single-issue candidate, for that "word of honour" appears to carry more weight than any other policy which might or might not be in the Party Manifesto.

But only a fool would have failed to imagine that if the Lib Dems got into power as the *junior* partner in a Coalition, the one issue on which they had all (arbitrarily) signed personal pledges on would be the one issue that they failed to (or were unable to) negotiate on to include in the Agreement. D'oh!!

It's obvious that as a junior partner, the Lib Dems would only have a minority of their manifesto commitments in the Coalition Agreement. It's obvious that the party had to decide *after* the election which and how many policies they would be in a position to hold on to based on the support they received.

As a Lib Dem I am both furious with MPs for signing a personal pledge on a single arbitrary policy, and with the negotiating team for failing to realise that the Lib Dems were obviously setting themselves up for a fall if that particular issue wasn't one of the non-negotiable parts of the Agreement.

It's just the bleedin' obvious!

However, let's be clear about one more thing: contrary to what Vince Cable says it is not "infeasible in the current fiscal situation to maintain the Lib Dem policy on fees".

There is no absolute "infeasibility" here, because the inability to afford that policy is actually down to the government policy of protecting the NHS budget in real terms at much greater consequent cost to other departments.

Had that conscious decision to treat the NHS as a sacred cow not been made, then perhaps the money would be available.

Lib Dems try to be party of education, but allowed a stupid, gimmicky Tory policy (which was just to pander to waivering Labour voters to convince them the NHS was safe with Tories) to get into the Coalition Agreement.

This is one wholesome mess and Lib Dems should reflect on their lack of foresight and their readiness to make themselves into fringe single-issue candidates.

Michael (South Cambs Lib Dems exec member)

Anonymous said...

I am an old labour voter Nich

currently a non-voter but spare me the lecture please!

back to Mr Wright and his weaselling around the subject...?

Anonymous said...

See that those opposed to Suffolk Tories madness in outsourcing 27,000 jobs are holding a rally on 27th Novemember

Anonymous said...

Those Tory Mps cheering the lose of a million jobs was so nice to see

sure all one million will get jobs tomorrow

They say the cuts are not ideological ??

Then why not sy they will put back the money when the economy improves

Because these cuts are right wing and ideological

I work in the NHS and we have redundancies and we are "ring fenced"

Same old nasty tories (and Lib Dem Ministers)