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Who will rebel on tuition fees tomorrow?

Michael Crick | 12:39 UK time, Wednesday, 8 December 2010

First an apology. It seems I got it wrong about Lee Scott. I seem to have misunderstood or misheard what a Newsnight colleague told me, and he may indeed rebel on tuition fees tomorrow.

If so, it will be quite a move as he is PPS to Philip Hammond. Four other known Tory rebels are David Davis, Philip Davies, Julian Lewis and Andrew Percy.

And it's still unclear how Bob Blackman, who, like Scott, also signed the NUS pledge, will vote.

So we could see as many as six Tory rebels, may be more, though still not enough to worry the whips.

What's most interesting is the politics of these rebels. David Davis, Philip Davies and Julian Lewis are all distinctly on the Right, though in different ways.

Whereas among the Lib Dems it's mainly the more left-wing MPs who are unhappy. Which rather suggests the discontent reflects wider factors too.


  • Comment number 1.

    Lee Scot has confirmed to me by e mail this morning that he will abstain but not vote against.

  • Comment number 2.

    As you rightly say, Michael, there is always something in a story that the politicans would prefer us not to know, or certainly prefer to keep out of focus. So is the case with university funding. This is not just about 'fees' as the media and politicians would want us to believe - this is about the privatization of our university system. Something that has remained curiously hidden in the debate.

    Given that the coalition are clearly in a pickle over this, I wonder if now it is time to bring Michael Gove's and the public's attention to the fact that student fees are only one small part of the wider picture? The proposal to remove all funding from arts, humanities and social sciences could have the catastrophic effect of removing the opportunity to study these courses from future generations, for all but the most financially privileged. Even the richest may not be able to study them if the universities have stopped being able to offer them.

    School children are told history, geography, English and other European languages are a vital part of their education. The BBC produces series after series of excellent programmes on our cultural, social and geographical histories, to large appreciative audiences. And yet, if a student decides they want to study these subjects at university, they get the message from government that they are unimportant to the future of the nation.

    These are the subjects that David Cameron himself, and many other MPs, chose to study at university. Are we to assume therefore that their degrees are worthless to the future prosperity and welfare of the nation? (I will leave that one open to interpretation!)

    Crucially important as fees are, please let's not allow this single issue to overshadow the fact that what we are currently facing is a privatisation of the university system.

  • Comment number 3.

    For those of you that are interested the following Westminster MP's have just confirmed that they are voting against the Government tomorrow evening in the Tuition Fees vote:

    DUP (9); SDLP (3); SNP (6); Alliance (1); Plaid Cymru (3); Lady Herman (1). The Green Party (1), have already stated their opposition.


  • Comment number 4.

    This means that the SNP & Plaid at least are breaking their 'not voting on England only matters' pledge.

  • Comment number 5.

    DUP: 8

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    Unfortunately, NUS's original mistake was to unequivocally support the 50% participation target for Higher Education without giving any thought as to who would be asked to pay for this one day. Had they, ten years ago, challenged the notion that all alternatives to university eduction are automatically inferior and encouraged to diversify post-16 training through traditional degrees, vocational courses and apprenticeships, we might never have got into this situation where HE became such an easy target for spending cuts.

    (It also didn't help that successive NUS Presidents seemed more interested in making excuses for the Labour Party than campaigning against the fee rises of 1998 and 2004.)

    And this is a pity, because the NUS of today, who have put up one hell of a fight, are paying for the mistakes of their predecessors. And the biggest tragedy of all is that the students who will pay for this are the people who had absolutely no say in any of the events that led to this.

  • Comment number 8.

    'I seem to have misunderstood or misheard what a Newsnight colleague told me'

    Happens alllllll the time; don't worry.

    Maybe it was a spoonerism, or a Freudian slip... or...

    Anyway, it becomes news.

    Albeit not the kind one might hope for.

  • Comment number 9.

    Instead of asking Tories or Lib/Dems about how they are going to vote, you be asking the nationalist parties whether they are going to take part. If they do go home as normal on Thursdays then there is no way the vote will be lost. As its an English only problem and the coalition have 340 English seats the question should be asked why nationalist MPs vote on English issues.


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