Speaking to BBC political editor earlier this week, Nick Clegg said that “at least half” of his MPs would be voting in favour of raising tuition fees. Perhaps this was expectation management, but in the end Clegg couldn’t manage half, with just 28 out of 57 Lib Dem MPs voting in favour (or just 49% of the parliamentary party).
By contrast, 100% of Labour MPs voted with Ed Miliband against the plans in a show of unity against plans to burden students with fees of up to £9,000 per year. Credit must go to new Chief Whip Rosie Winterton, who managed to hold the support of the entire PLP in her first major test in the role.
But if Clegg could not even take half of his parliamentary party with him, he could be in trouble in the coming months with more tough votes to come – and a difficult AV referendum that he is by no means certain of winning.
Update: Ladbrokes have slashed the odds on Clegg NOT being Lib Dem leader at the next general election to 6/4 from 2/1 this evening. The odds on the next general election being in 2011 have also narrowed.