How do you sell something you wouldn't buy yourself ?

Whenever I have been canvassing, I have always seen signs on doors saying "We do not buy or sell at this door", or "No canvassers". These people require special thought and some local knowledge before I decide whether to knock or not. If I do, I stress that "I'm not selling", which is a statement of fact whilst also being a little bit untrue, as I am in fact trying to sell the idea of voting for me, or a colleague. The main thing is that I believe in the thing I am selling. I think that is key to any good sales job, that you have to believe in the product you are selling.

So how on earth does Simon Hughes sell a policy to students that he himself did not support ?

Simon is in real danger of making himself look like a fool by choosing to take on the job of promoting a policy which the government have singularly failed to sell to the electorate and to students in particular. It may well be the case that what was passed is better for students than what went before, but this should have been explained and made clear by government. By palming off this job to Simon Hughes, they make the task of Simon holding on to his seat at the next election extremely difficult indeed.

The big issue for me, if I were a student, is how on earth could I be convinced by a policy when the person selling the policy to me didn't support it himself ?

Again, our party is made to look like a bunch of hypocrites. We had half our party break a pledge on student funding a month ago, and now those pledge breakers seek to drag down someone who did keep to his pledge.

Is it any wonder we sit at 8% in the opinion polls ?

I could certainly go canvassing for support for myself in 2010 as I believe in what I am selling. However, I couldn't bring myself to canvass for "the party" in 2010, after all, how can you sell a product you wouldn't buy yourself ?


Julian said...

As I understand it, Simon Hughes has been asked to explain the policy, not to sell it as such. In other words, his job is to explain to poorer students in particular that they will not pay anything before they go to Uni. Also, that they will only really start to pay back their loans when they are earning a good salary. Either they will imagine themselves earning these salaries and being able to afford the repayments, or they will imagine they will never earn so much, and therefore never repay.

There is also the situation with grants and bursaries which will ensure that students from poorer backgrounds will not have to repay as much as other students, even if they go on to earn huge salaries.

I don't like this situation but realise that the Browne Review, the Labour Party and the Conservative Party all supported the principle. Labour have since come out in favour of a graduate tax but this is explicitly rejected by the Browne Review, which Labour set up to look into the matter. This is just politics and Labour know they won't be held to account by the time the next election comes.

As for the Lib Dems, it's all very well to say there will be no rise in tuition fees but, so far as I'm aware, there has never been a public party position on the financial consequences of this. i.e. Tax rises. Also, the inequities of the current system were identified and addressed by the Browne Review, but I didn't see plans from the Lib Dems to address those in other ways.

Simon Hughes can easily say he doesn't like the system while explaining that it isn't as bad as it looks. He can put to rest the scare stories about it. The fact that this will neutralise these arguments at the next election will a bonus for the Tories, of course.

English Pensioner said...

I support the idea of a democracy, as I assume most reasonable people do in this country. However, I totally disagree with quite a few things that this democracy has done for this country, but nevertheless, this doesn't mean that I'm going to start campaigning for some other system and would still speak in its favour if asked to do so.
We have a coalition government, something that could be permanent if we have PR, and everyone is going to have to get used to the concept of not getting their own way the whole time. This means, if you are in a government post, you will need to support the government, even if you would have preferred a different approach.

Anonymous said...

Agree totally. Except Hughes did not keep his pledge, he abstained.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Julian. you are wrong about coalitions being permanent under AV. AV would have delivered bigger majorities for governments in previous elections. The fact is we have a coalition this time because the result was so close.

Also, don't get hooked on the idea of AV being a form of PR. It gives a less proportional result than FPTP.

English pensioner - You are udner the misapprehension that Simon Hughes is a member of the government and bound by a ministerial code. He is not and hold no government office.

Liberal Neil said...

Nich - Surely Simon's job is to sell Higher Education to young people from diverse backgrounds, rather than sell any particular policy. I am sure Simon believes passionately in seeing a wider range of young people get to University and that he will fulfil this role with his usual enthusiasm, whatever his view of the policy itself.

Julian - the funding for the Lib Dem policy of abolishing tuition fees was set out in their costed manifesto. They costed doing so over a six year period.

Andrew Allison said...

Very good post, Nich. I can't disagree with anything you have said.

It is also worth reiterating that AV throws up a less proportional result than FPTP. Those who say AV = fairer votes are either misguided or are deliberately misleading the public.

It doesn't add up... said...

I agree entirely with your post. I do get bored with apologists for the policy such as Julian (nothing personal). It is of course perfectly possible to fund tuition fees from taxation if they meet the standards of a good investment in students: that means fewer students, because we now have the situation where the majority of students are never expected to pay off their contribution to the cost of their degree.

Where I feel that Hughes and others have failed particularly is not to point out the perverse incentives that the new policy encourages. Our most able graduates are encouraged to emigrate, while there is no disincentive to taking an unproductive course, because the student will never pay for it anyway. You are encouraged to be poor, or live in Scotland or perhaps Wales. Meanwhile the Student Loan Company will have to be bailed out as unreclaimable debt (including from ex-students from elsewhere in the EU) mounts. Offering those from a poor background a cheap degree because they are poor really is a sop to the failure to give them a decent school education in the first place. The policy rewards failure, not success. So that is what we will get in spades.

Norfolk Blogger said...

You are right to highlight the inequities of the new policy on tuition fees, which whilst being generous the very poorest, is now a disincentive to any potential student whose parents have always worked and are not designated as the "very poorest".

Helena (Finland) said...

Always ask yourself this: Would Gandhi have given up his belief in peaceful protest for a seat at the table?

Some things are far more important than a salary.

For a coalition to work, it does not require people to destroy their own beliefs or to ignore them. What it means is agreement can be reached only where everyone agrees. If you can't get agreement, you can't have your policy implemented.

It's nonsense to say once you are at the table you have to go along with it whatever is on the table. Would people agree to an unjust war because they have agreed to be good people and go along with government?

Secondly, on the issues of fees. I will not advise my UK-based nieces and nephews about whether they should go up to university themselves. I refuse to tell them that the debt is worthwhile. It is not.

It is the theft of their freedom, by the financially rich and by the intellectually poor who act to drag everyone down to their own miserable level rather than asking why can't they have what their grandparents had and why can't they live good lives. It is the theft of human development from those so unenlightened they can not see the corporate theft before their very eyes.

But I can not advise them not to develop their minds either.

The values of the Enlightenment are so far lost I'd be surprised if I met a twenty year old in this country who could tell me what the Enlightenment was and why it matters to all humantiy. I'd be surprised if I met many in their thirties or older who gave a damn about the Enlightenment.

Britain has lost it's way. A long time ago, Britain lost it's way. It has become a mini-US, a US client State in everything but name, a charade that appreciates nothing of value, only trash, unreason and more trash. It's gone so far, the Brits don't even grasp how deeply ashamed they should be of themselves.

Britain is now a country where the poor are punished for the acts of the wealthy, the greedy and the moronic.

In five years time I expect to see slums like those of Nairobi surrounding the cities full of victims of the rich, despised for daring to exist, to remind the greedy of the consequences of their immorality and inappropriateness of their bibles as they kneel to their holy, prayers of unreason.

None of the above, especially not the LDs said...

urrgh, what a tosspot.

I cannot believe someone could be as slimy as Hughes. He didn't support it yet didn't have the balls to vote no, and now he's got a job of explaining it to people apparently too thick to 'get it'. Perhaps he should "have a word with himelf" first, then?

It shows why politicians (and Lib Dems in particular at the current time) are held in such low regard. There is no spin that can be put on it - people can see it for what it is.

Ryan said...

Simon Hughes has already shown his complete lack of integrity on numerous occassions, why change? He was prepared to lie about his sexuality, why not just fob the students off too? He doesn't really have anything to lose now does he? Clegg and Cable have already put your party back 20 years, just a shame that I can't take my vote back now isn't it? Not to mention my dozens of hours of canvassing for the Lib Dems (as a labour defector) in the run up to the election. I was sold a lie by Nick Clegg like so many others, the liklihood is that I will not vote for the Lib Dems again until Clegg, Cable and the other two severe all ties with the party (defect to the Tories if they have to).