How have the party let this happen to Simon ?

Neil Woollcott gives a very accurate summary of a letter he received from Simon Wright MP this week in his blog, but I really want to know how the party has come to put Simon Wright in this position.

I should declare that I consider Simon a friend. I went to his wedding, he came to mine. I've know him for 9 years and whilst I disagree with the coalition, I have always felt in the past that Simon shows good judgement. I feel though that at the moment, he is losing public sympathy over the student fees issue.

The policy on tuition fees has not changed or been overhauled in the last week, so the fact that Simon is yet to make a decision has allowed the opposition (and Labour in Norwich are already doing door to door campaigning it and using) to paint Simon as a ditherer. People like politicians who can pick up issues and make decisions. We don't want politicians to rush in to wrong decisions, but with this policy being clear to read and subject to virtually no amendment, students might be forgiven for feeling that lobbying hard to make Simon stick to his pledge is actually a worthwhile activity.

The quandary for Simon now is, if he sticks to his pledge, he looks like he has caved in to the student campaigns. but if he votes with Nick Clegg he looks like he has caved in to party pressure and can almost certainly kiss goodbye to any chances of holding his seat in 2015.

For me, the question is how party managers, both whips and those in Cowley Street have allowed this to happen. With 10,000 students in Norwich South, this issue will be a defining issue in Norwich South at the next election. The party and senior MPs should have found a way very early on to allow Simon to stick to his pledge. It is shocking mess that the party has become some under the thumb of the Conservative Party that they have failed to recognise the problems Simon faces.

Simon was my ward colleague in Fakenham North in 2003 to 2007. He is honest, decent and thoroughly like able. He will always try to do the right thing, and the fact that the party in the run up to the general election allowed, indeed encouraged people like Simon to sign a pledge that Nick Clegg himself says was unrealistic, is, I believe why Simon is still undecided. Does he stick to a pledge that was, in hindsight silly, or support a policy that is better than the previous Labour policy, but still a real slap in the fact for students.

If I were Simon, I'd say stick to your pledge. In the meantime, whilst he decides, his reputation amongst voters will sadly suffer, in my view unfairly. How has it comes to this ?


Braveheart said...

"The quandary for Simon now is, if he sticks to his pledge, he looks like he has caved in to the student campaigns. but if he votes with Nick Clegg he looks like he has caved in to party pressure and can almost certainly kiss goodbye to any chances of holding his seat in 2015."

You seem inordinately worried about "how Tit looks": what about how it actually is?

I.e. the problem is the Lib Dem leadership lied to students and the chickens are coming home to roost..

Braveheart said...

"how it looks" obviously...

Anonymous said...

He shares a staff with Norman Lamb; he shares an office with Norman Lamb.

Look no further.

Alan said...

Perhaps he should have engaged brain before signing a pledge that even Nich now agrees was "silly".

Is failing to think meant to be an desirable attribute in an MP?

Norfolk Blogger said...

He does not share staff with Norman Lamb, so your facts are not up to scratch.

I should add, further to an email I received, I have not spoken to Simon about this for about 5 weeks, so I am not speaking with inside knowledge.

Neil said...

Totally agree with your post. We have always known that the leadership was against this policy, but with the membership voting over whelmingly to keep the policy, it should have been central to the coalition talks.

Anonymous said...

Simon Wright is a decent man and, as a UEA student who voted for him, I have total faith he will oppose this move. I have even told my Union that too.

Anonymous said...

He's doing the best thing for Simon Wright and he won't oppose anything he's told not too.

People like him just destroy all hope you ever have that someone, somewhere in mainstream modern politics might just not be a venal, mendacious careerist. To see him squirm when asked about this issue is truly pitiful and pathetic.

Wright and Lamb's actions subsequent to the election have been the final nail in the coffin for me.

Oliver said...

To be honest it is one of leadership and if it is taking him this long to make a decision I really do worry.

If I was MP for Norwich South and made a pledge during the general election to vote against any fee increases I feel I should uphold the pledge, regardless of what the party or government says.

This really does show that the Lib Dems through their opportunism have ditched one of their main policies.
Why should anybody believe what a Lib Dem says? No wonder people are cynical in politics.

Regardless of whether Simon Wright MP is a nice man or not, is not the issue. I couldn't care less, what I do care about is whether he can make the big decisions. In this case - he has shown nothing but indecision.

Anonymous said...

If he were a 'nice' man, he would do what's right. Plenty have in the past and often when the stakes were much much higher.

Anonymous said...

"For me, the question is how party managers, both whips and those in Cowley Street have allowed this to happen."

Sorry, but neither the Whips or Cowley Street allowed this to happen, the Libdem membership got them into this mess. Your leadership were certainly ahead of the party in realising that there was a good chance of a Hung Parliament at the last GE, they wanted to ditch this pledge because they saw the difficulty in actually honouring it within a coalition in the current economic and fiscal constraints. It was quite simple an undeliverable promise.

Back in the late 90's in Scotland, it wasn't when the Libdems went into coalition with Labour. It simple caused their coalition partners a wee bit of hassle with the party down in Westminster. But it was neither a deal breaker or a financially untenable short term policy. Now look at the state of further education up here in Scotland. And we haven't even dared initiate a Brown style report before our elections.

Why on earth are you now criticising your party's leadership for having the brains forward planning to see that this pledge was simple unaffordable and a possible deal breaker for the party in a coalition talks on the back of a Hung Parliament? Do you honestly believe that any party wants to implement a policy that could harm aspiration? But if we want more children to got University to fulfill that aspiration, something has to give. And where did that pledge get the Libdems in that GE? You lost seats. Either its tuition fees or cuts to places at University, you cannot afford to do both.

And I think that Clegg&Co have opted for the former as the lesser of the two evils. You have made the system better and protected more University places, get out there and sell that instead of looking around for a scapegoat for what was effectively a poor call from the party not the leadership.

Johnny Norfolk said...

I think we now see the Lib/Dems for what they are. Wet & weak. They made an agreement to form a coalition and now they are not prepared to face up to the difficult bits. Very dissapointing but not suprised. They are not and have never been fit to govern.

Anonymous said...

So says the supporter of a party that was the biggest standard bearer for the illegal war in Iraq.

Alan said...

@Anon @ 16:20

Exactly which law did the "illegal" war break then? Under which jurisdiction?

You may, like me, think it was a foolish thing to do, but please do not claim it was illegal unless you can substantiate that.

Words are easy; facts somewhat harder.

Anonymous said...

Alan, that does depend on how you interpret the UN resolutions, you could easily argue either way, depending on your point of view.