Haven’t the LDs only themselves to blame for the fees mess?

Haven’t the LDs only themselves to blame for the fees mess?

Was it always likely that the pledge would have to be broken?

So we are here – Lib Dem betrayal time and an embarrassment for the coalition.

But why on earth did Clegg’s party agree to it in the first place because there was always a pretty good chance that it was a promise that couldn’t be kept?

Consider two facts. The inquiry into university funding by ex-BP boss John Browne was set up by the last Labour government with the implicit agreement of the Tories because of the need to resolve the university funding issue. So both the reds or the blues were going to have to deal with it whoever came out top in the election.

Secondly it was increasingly obvious from bulk of polling in the six months leading up to May 6th that a hung parliament was a likely outcome.

In that situation the yellows were likely to play a pivotal role whether in a formal coalition or some looser arrangement.

Given that both Labour and the Tories would probably have to do something about fees didn’t somebody in the Lib Dems think about the consequences of their candidates up and down the country signing the NUS pledge in such a public manner?

And what of the candidates themselves, particularly those in university seats? Surely they must have been up to speed on the fees issue for the election campaign and surely they must have had some sense of the way the polls were going?

The alarm bells should have rung somewhere? What did they think was going to happen post-election?

So they’ve got a bit of embarrassment now – well tough shit. They should have asked questions before making such public commitments.

Mike Smithson

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