Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Lib Dem Policy: TUF Claims From Horses Mouth

Lib Demmer Stephen Williams has gone on record on the Lib Dem's actual position on Top Up Fees in 2005:

Stephen Tall (LDV) intro: A recent Lib Dem Voice article which attracted a great deal of comment from LDV readers posed the question, Lib Dems to drop Tuition Fees pledge? Stephen Williams, Lib Dem MP for Bristol West, and the party’s shadow secretary of state for Innovation, Universities and Skills, has just posted this comment to the thread, setting out his views:

Let’s get some facts on the record. In the 2001 and 2005 elections in Bristol West I stated quite clearly that I opposed students paying fees. I stand by those comments completely and emphatically.

The policy review I am leading is to get a policy that is relevant for the 2010 general election, not a rehash of what we have said at previous ones. In April 2010 graduates will start paying a 9% flat rate tax on their earnings which will recover maintenance loans and a contribution to tuition. There are now (in 2008) very few undergraduates (just 4th years in fact) still paying up front fees. By this time next year there will be none.

I am all in favour of simple to understand policy messages, but they must be rooted in the reality of contemporary circumstances, not those of 5 years previously.

Finally, we did NOT promise free tuition for ALL students at the last election. Our promise was limited (and costed as such) to the full time undergraduates who paid up front fees. The message was clearly relevant and popular with them but meant NOTHING to full time students from poorer backgrounds who were exempt from fees (about a quarter of the total), or to part time undergraduates (about a fifth) or to the many adult learners following a non degree route.

My objective is to get a policy in place that is socially just, matches real people’s needs and also keeps the Liberal Democrats as the party with the widest appeal to students and graduates.

Cue some forensic examination of Lib Dem literature in University towns and of the subsequent press statements of any MPs who won on the back of this non-promise.

The South Manchester Reporter appear to have colluded with John Leech MP in withdrawing his comments about Top Up Fees made immediately after the Labour Party Conference. Five things he's stuck to he says combatatively. We weren't that impressed when we relayed them to be honest. Now there is a list of just four utterly empty assertions of his uselessness.

The lost chord? That dominant fifth. His blether about Top Up Fees. Very sadly they cannot conspire to recall and pulp the entire run of the print edition. What the hell does a serious newspaper - owned by Guardian Media Group - think they're doing doctoring a news story like this?

EMBARRASSING CLIMBDOWN 15:41: It is there in fact. Sharing the fourth para with Metrolink in which Leech says: "I have continued to campaign against tuition fees and top-up fees". Which according to Stephen Williams MP was not in fact a Lib Dem policy or promise. Apologies to Leech and SMR for suggesting their deep and meaningful relationship ran to a re-write of this twaddle.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Stephen Williams seems to have a poor memory, luckily we have his leaflets. They state:

"The lib dems will axe all tuition fees"

nothing about full time only

We have a facebook group where you can find a copy of his election address from 2005