Nick Clegg’s Tuition Fees Weasel Words

18th April, 2012 2:01 pm

What Nick Clegg said on “Today” this morning after being challenged about Tuition Fees vote:

“If you want the Liberal Democrat manifesto in full, vote for Liberal Democrats in larger numbers. It didn’t happen.”

What the pledge signed by Nick Clegg on Tuition Fees actually said:

“I pledge to vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative.”

It was a personal pledge. Nick Clegg broke that pledge on both counts. No amount of after the event weasel words will change that.

(h/t: George Eaton)

  • Kulgan of Crydee

    Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone. EU Referendum ring any bells. 

    Saying that, the Clegg pledge was clear that under next parliament (unqualified), he would vote against any rise in tuition fees. 

    • Winston_from_the_Ministry

      If only pledges were legally binding, didn’t somebody set a precedant on that?

      • Peter Barnard

        @ Winston,

        Not really (“didn’t someone set a precedent …?).

        A Court of Law (not “someone”) decided that an election manifesto could not be regarded as a “contract in law.”

        In our constitution (unwritten as it may be), Parliament is supreme – not pledges in election manifestos. In all honesty, whatever the party making a “pledge,” I would not hold them accountable in law for that pledge. The legal and constitutional consequences are enormous.

        • Winston_from_the_Ministry

          Why not? Might make them think a bit more carefully before using them to bribe voters.

          • Peter Barnard


            As Lord Stockton remarked, “Events, dear boy, events.”

  • Tracy Connell

    Er, he did introduce a fairer alternative. Not having to pay until you earn £21,000 is better than £15,000. Plus on a salary of £22,000 you’d pay only £7.50 per week, whereas under Labour you’d pay £52.50 per month!

    And Nick is correct. If you want the Lib Dem Manifesto in full then vote for a Lib Dem Government. I can’t bear those that say they were betrayed by the Lib Dems when they didn’t even vote for them in the first place. If all those pleading betrayal had voted Lib Dem then we would have a Lib Dem Government!

    • Kulgan of Crydee

      Clegg could have avoided this by qualifying his pledge with something like ‘during the next Lib Dem government’ .  I agree the new way of funding is essentially a graduate tax that does not stop anyone going to university. My daughter is going and our household income is less than national average.

      • Alexwilliamz

        Its only a graduate tax for those in the middle (the big majority middle int his case) for the rich and the poor it is not. For the rich it is turning into an interest free loan and for the poor there is no fee.

        • Kulgan of Crydee

          As I said, it is not stopping my daughter going & our household income is less than national average, well actually, it is less than £20k PA.

      • Slakah

        A graduate tax would have been a much better with implementing the reforms David Willetts wanted. As Alexwiliamz has said this change is shifting the burden to those of whom benefit from University quite a bit, but not those who are able to pay off their loans quickly.

        • Tim Peters

           The reason they won’t do a graduate tax (which I agree would be fairer and would also have been at a much lower level since ALL grads could be caught in the net, even the cabinet who all got their degrees when they didn’t have to pay a penny) – is that a tax is only payable against income. Anyone who leaves the country could avoid paying anything. That would fuel the brain drain. At least making it a loan means they can collect it from you wherever you end up

          • GuyM

            A graduate tax on all graguates would immeadiately be subject to legal challenges.

            When I decided to do my degree I was not accepting additional specific taxation for life, so to apply that to me retrospectively would lead me to join any legal action.

            You are correct in saying it would lead more people to work abroad. If both my wife and I were hit with increases in our personal levels of taxation that could be avoided working abroad then it becomes ever more attractive to move

          • Slakah

            Current Student Loans are paid through the PAYE system so earnings over £15K (2012)  are charged 9%. If you move abroad you are required to tell the SLC and they’ll organise it to allow you to repay your loan directly. They still take into account income etc. but it’s just done directly rather than through PAYE.

            A similar system could be applied to those moving abroad under the graduate tax. The graduate tax as proposed would only last 20 years after graduation. It most definitely would not, and probably could not be applied retrospectively. The main advantage of the tax would be those in the upper end of the graduate job market would pay a similar amount for their degrees, instead of being allowed to have richer parents reduce the burden for their own child, while pushing up the interest rates for everyone else.

            Anyway I doubt we’ll see another look at student fees for at least another 8 years.

      • Tim Peters

         With your household income, she’ll get full grant (roughly £3K/Yr) + additional help in the form of bursaries etc from the university. This could be up to £9K in year 1 and £3K each year for the rest of her course (depends where she goes).  That’s roughly £24K of funding which she won’t have to pay back (plus her loans which she will).

        “Better off” parents won’t get that level of support and their children on the same course as your daughter will leave with much higher debts to repay

    • L Pendrey

       Of course that’s the same as voting against them, and paying less a month is not a help. You start with a bigger debt, pay it off at a lower amount, which means you pay even more in the long run [it’s not interest free]. It doesn’t matter how you try to paint it, a pledge is a pledge and Nick Clegg broke his.

  • Slakah

    I’m sorry but there is one reason and one reason alone for the changes to Student Loans, and that is to move some of the burden from the treasury to students. Yes the Loan is repayed at a rate of 9% of earnings over £15K for those pre 2012, 21K for those post 2012. Now what you neglect to mention is how long those people are going to be paying off their loans for. Pre 2012 loans get theirs wiped after 25 years, now it’s 30 years. Also the interest rates on those loans have also drastically increased pre 2012 it was (Bank of England Base Rate) + 1% or at inflation depending on which is less, post 2012 it’s RPI + 3%. Under the old regime and the current base rate we have the loan is shrinking without repayment by 2% per year, while those with a 2012 loan would be increasing by 3% per year (In real terms). The £21k thing is the tidbit that the LibDems get so they can maintain the tribal vote.
    As for your rhetoric about “powerless libdems”, if they really felt strongly enough about the tuition fees, they would have held their ground. There was very little chance of David Cameron wanting to form a minority government. Let’s be honest the LibDems were merely chasing the the student vote with their pledges. Lieing to the young in such a blatant way is why disaffection among the young is so low. 

    • Alexwilliamz

      False as the rest of your post hints the treasury will not move burden from itself to students. It is in fact moving a huge chunk of the costs to ourselves in about 30 years time. Because the way it has been structured including interest, with no min payment, the majority of the loans will need to be written off at the end of the graduate payment. What this is then is more like an interest only mortgage, with the graduates paying the interest bit and the country still lumbered with paying off most of the capital.

      • Slakah

        I’m not certain of how the treasury modelled the repayments among graduates, but I do recall hearing (possibly David Willetts) on the radio suggesting the written off loans will be subsidised by the increased interest payments from those graduates with higher paying jobs. Again I’m slightly sceptical of this view and I do feel as though the government will probably end up subsidising the Student Loans Company in 30 years time. Basically it’s a bit of a hatchet job and if they really wanted to move the burden from the state in a progressive way, a graduate tax would have been a far better vehicle for implementing what they wanted.

        • Alexwilliamz

          Since the higher paid graduates will be paying their own loan off plus interest, it all depends who is receiving the interest one presumes. If it is the gvt it does seem a bit perverse to charge higher interest on a loan you yourself are underwriting, but as you say it is a hatchet job. My own belief is that the interest rate is there as a carrot which may see the loans being fully privitised, with some cod argument about this leading to more effective collection etc.

  • Tim Peters

    The LibDems are done – even dumping Nick won’t help them. A man without integrity is worthless.  The LibDems should have voted against it as they pledged, then if it had still got through it wouldn’t be there fault as they would have done everything in their power.

    That “contract” he is holding is very clear and he breached it – he has no mandate from the electorate. If he wanted to vote increased tuition fees through he should have resigned, forced a byelection and see if he was re-elected!

    Not that he’d do that because he’s having too much fun being Dave’s fag

  • Kulgan of Crydee

    Interesting to see my previous comment was flagged for review. Perhaps because I mentioned something against Labour.  If left or right are not able to communicate how do you think the message gets across.  I regularly debate & disagree with my local(ish) Labour MP @JonAshworth on twitter (as he will attest).  I don’t agree with him on alot of things, but some I do.  He is a great example of the Left engaging & debating.  If you just delete posts that disagree with you or criticise you then discussion doesn’t happen & you cannot get your message across which is what you want to do surely.  What was in my flagged comment was factually accurate, not lies, smears or offensive. 

    • John Ruddy

      I doubt it was because you said something against Labour – you just need to look at half the comments on here.

  • Oli

    fact x importance = news.  This is old news

    • Tim Peters

       I agree it is certainly old, but that fact that “old nick” as he will forever be known is STILL having to defend his position shows that it hasn’t gone away like the LibDems thought it would

  • Carolekins

    Clegg – dead meat or toast.  Take your pick.  Tim Peters is right: a man without integrity is worthless.

  • Stoprisk

    Nick Clegg is such a weasel, I wonder how much he is getting paid in the back
    pocket for supporting the ConDem regime which is undemocratic as nobody
    voted for these policies. Cameron recently said F1 in Bahrain was OK and
    indeed he exports deadly weapons to this and the Al Qaeda supporting
    Saudis. These regimes kill peaceful protesters and now we have riot
    Police, watercannons, tasers, batton charges in the UK. Is it just me
    or do others here fear that the ConDems are in sinister league with
    Salafist dictators and Al Qaeda Wahabbist BinLadenists. We are
    at very Great risk, I would say: STOP RISK. ConDems OUT !

    • Bill Lockhart

       It’s just you.


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