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Tuition fees: It's worse than they thought

Nick Robinson | 09:43 UK time, Thursday, 14 October 2010

Simon Hughes continued to insist yesterday that the increase in tuition fees was not what his party wanted to do. There's one problem with this. It isn't true.

University graduates

 

Don't misunderstand me. I am not accusing the Lib Dems deputy leader of lying. He and many in his party really did want to cut tuition fees and believed that it was possible.

However, the powerful troika at the top of the party did not. Before the election Nick Clegg, Vince Cable and Danny Alexander tried to persuade their colleagues to drop their opposition to fees.

They even drew up proposals which were, I'm told, remarkably similar to those drawn up by Lord Browne - higher fees combined with more generous maintenance for the poorest and a hike in the salary level at which repayment begins.

The troika's regret is not that they are now putting fees up but that, back then, they ever promised not to do so.

Their attitude to raising fees is, in truth, like Tony Blair's to the Iraq War. He used to infuriate opponents of the war by telling them: "It's worse than you think. I really believe it." I suspect that Messrs Clegg, Cable and Alexander will not be so undiplomatic.

In return for taking the political hit for eating his words, Clegg is to be given the chance to unveil plans later this week for the other thing he really believes in - the pupil premium.

Talking of which, Alan Milburn - the social mobility tsar (if that is not a contradiction in terms) - makes an interesting speech today in which he argues that the coalition should go even further in encouraging a schools market to improve failing schools.

He proposes introducing an Education Credit - worth 150% of the cost of a child's education - to allow kids to escape the worst performing schools. Here's an extract of what he will propose:

"I believe that individual parents with children in schools where performance is officially assessed as consistently poor - often in the poorest parts of the country - should be given a new right to choose an alternative state school. Those parents would be given an Education Credit weighted to be worth perhaps 150% of the cost of educating the child in their current school. They could then use the Credit to persuade the better performing school to admit their child. The admitting school would have a positive financial incentive to do so. Indeed, for children holding an Education Credit the alternative school would be free to go above its planned admission numbers - although of course it could decide to cap its expansion at what it considered an appropriate level."

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    It is gratifying to see able Labour politicians such such Milburn, Hutton and Field working in the coalition.

    I wonder how long it will be before David Millband is offered a role?

  • Comment number 2.

    Clegg seems a complete fraud. He signed the pledge despite apparently thinking something different. He had also "changed his mind" about cutting harder and faster than he told us during his election campaign. What else did he not tell us - or worse tell us one thing whilst intending to do something else.

    Were I to go to a job interview and tell loads of lies then once found out I would be sacked. Yet politicians seem immune to such accountability.

    Before the election all parties were keen to restore public confidence in MPs. Now they are elected they seem to not care less as their lack of morals, lack of accountability, etc. all emerge (yet again). Our political system is failing us because those who put themselves forward are totally unsuited to the role as they appear to despise the electorate as irrelevant - they regard the system as a 5 year dictatorship whilst we expect them to be acting on our behave and in our interest. We are the naive ones.

  • Comment number 3.

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

  • Comment number 4.

    The tuition fees issue is a typical example of the mess Labour got us into. Unsustainable promises which they've left the Coalition to sort out.

    At least the coalition are acting sensibly on this and on pensions too. Their plan for a reduction in the cap of annual tax deductible contributions is easy to understand and fairer than Brown's Byzantine idiocy of reducing tax-relief on a sliding scale.

  • Comment number 5.

    Its not just tuition fees Nick, its everything that is worse than they thought.

    Opposition parties are not able to get a clear picture of the actual position that government is in financially till after the election. They get a lot of input, but not the details for various reasons, mostly because being politicians they'd exploit it in some way.

    So its only now that the true picture is available, and it is as truly bad as we were predicting.

    We have to change everything, there is no alternative. some hard decisions have to be made, but fairness will be the main requirement here.

    I will return to this topic later, but right now I have to work.

  • Comment number 6.

    Andy seriously, these things were sustainable until the banks required £65billion in bailouts. Then yes, it became an issue, rather understandably.

    All of this on tuition is a huge mess for the Libs and also the Tories - one minute it's "grab from the students for tuition" the next it's "oh actually you won't pay it back until you're earning £21k". By the time they've finished the give-and-take, will-they-accept-it, won't-they-accept-it carrots and sticks, I doubt they'll actually be bringing in anywhere near what they suggest.

  • Comment number 7.

    2 - "Our political system is failing us because those who put themselves forward are totally unsuited to the role as they appear to despise the electorate as irrelevant - they regard the system as a 5 year dictatorship"

    That seems to have been the case with the last Dictator (sorry, PM). Wasn't he overheard describing one of his fellow citizens as a 'bigot' just because she dared voice disagreement with his policies?

  • Comment number 8.

    Nick, I know you never read your comments. But your opening is factually incorrect. Raising tuition fees is not what the *party* wants to do. It is, as you say, what Clegg and co want to do. But that is not the same thing.

    This actually is more than hair splitting. Unlike Labour and the Conservatives, in the Lib Dems the leader is not guaranteed to get their way. See http://bit.ly/cjJch9

  • Comment number 9.

    "1. At 10:16am on 14 Oct 2010, JohnConstable wrote:
    It is gratifying to see able Labour politicians such such Milburn, Hutton and Field working in the coalition.

    I wonder how long it will be before David Millband is offered a role?"

    Perhaps he could wash up the cups after meetings? I'm sure he'd be fairly good at it.

  • Comment number 10.

    This article confirms what I have increasingly suspected in recent weeks: Nick Clegg, Vince Cable and Danny Alexander are essentially Tories. All three seem to actually enjoy announcing and implementing David Cameron's Conservative policies, from the university tuition fee hike to slashing funding for scientific research, from privatising the Post Office to pointlessly slaughtering badgers - they love it all.

    At the last election I voted Liberal Democrat in a marginal West Country constituency (which Lib Dems won with a small majority); what a waste of time that was! I was conned big time by the Lib Dems. Vince Cable in particular has plummeted in my estimation - before the election he could do no wrong, yet since the election everything he has done has been wrong. I will get my revenge at the next election!

  • Comment number 11.

    Alan Milburn.. sensible bloke as I remember. In the days, long ago and now passed, when the labour party had people with sensible policies for spreading the cheer rather than endless tax increases to subsidise pet projects.

    Seems like a lifetime ago.

    it's a great time to be a tory...

  • Comment number 12.

    Unbelievable but obviously Milburn has been possessed by the voucher clutching ghost of Mrs Thatcher. So in his world we will see 'good' schools awash with portacabins and a hitherto concealed small army of good teachers conjured up a short notice. Away from the parliamentary whip we see what these so called Labour politicians really think. Constituency selection meetings really need to be far more diligent.
    Poor schools could become good schools with better funding, expert support, and paying their teachers more but reducing their paperwork. For a real choice in education schools would need to have in built spare capacity and ready access to additional resources including teachers. Poor parents would also need guiding advice so that they could obtain the quality of education they need for their children.

  • Comment number 13.

    Ah the cold breeze of reality strikes. Too bad these characters lack the guts to force the ending of the Tuition fees subsidy in Scotland paid for by English Taxpayers on the basis of fairness. Once that is done we can then get back to a United Kingdom wide system of student support.

    For University Students the future is clear:

    + Work and save as best you can while at 6th Form and University
    + Ensure that your parents keep paying into the Child Trust Fund
    + Dont ignore overseas Universities - many leading EU Universities teaching courses in English.
    + Dont take mediocrity Students are consumers too - drive value.

    Finally, never ever trust any Government or politician. Remember the adage - You show me a politician and I will show you a liar!

  • Comment number 14.

    How very convenient for messrs Clegg, Cable, & Alexander to make promises they had no intention of keeping to gain political adavantage, and then say how misunderstood they are when they renege on them. Not good enough, in fact I award grade "A*" for imagination, but "F" for content.

    With respect to Mr Milburn's treatise - may be more effort should have been spent, whilst in office, on bringing existing schools up to scratch instead of this makeweight piece of flim flammery. This smacks of a self-serving piece of nonesense to make up for past failures.

    As for Mr Milburn himself, he is a failed Blair aparatchik, and follows Messrs Field & Hutton into the enemies camp in a bid to maintain his monstrous, yet flagging, ego as a consequence of a modest dose of self-serving flattery by DC - I hope Milburn et al enjoy their swansong as they peddle what remains of their influence on the political stage before disappearing into irrelevance.

    This is little more than chutzpah from a bunch of 3rd rate politicians in need of a bit of public validation to shore up their sense of self-importance - a plague on all their houses.

  • Comment number 15.

    5. At 10:28am on 14 Oct 2010, toryandproud wrote:
    =========================================================================
    I totally agree, with one addition. There should be transparency in our goverment. There should not be any skeletons hidden in the cupboard, we should not be kept in the dark about anything other those relating to national security and even then this should be shared between all parties in Parliament. Why should we the public not know how good or bad things are especially before a general election. However I feel that the detail is always kept from the general public, perhaps it is we are not clever enough to understand as was intermated by a minister in the last goverment. Whats more I feel that if any politician or civil servant is found to have kept things from us they should face a stiff punishment unlike our thieving politicans who it appears at worst so far have had to give some of their loot back.

  • Comment number 16.

    Milburn - Education Credit
    Seems a bit daft to be directing funds, indirectly or directly, to a better performing school rather than trying to use that money to improve a 'failing' one. I can sympathise with the children and parents and if funding wasn't a problem, fine. But this proposal surely avoids the root cause of the problem.

    Not sure if Blair's response to critics of the Iraq invasion and Clegg & co's attitude towards raising tuition fees should be in any way compared or used analogically.

  • Comment number 17.

    "6. At 10:33am on 14 Oct 2010, Martin Greenaway wrote:
    Andy seriously, these things were sustainable until the banks required £65billion in bailouts. Then yes, it became an issue, rather understandably."

    No, the Labour Government borrowed to fund things even in the good times. They borrowed an averagae of £40bn a YEAR from 2000 onwards. £65 billion in bailouts? They got £60bn a YEAR in taxes from the financial sector. The Left always bang on about the 'oil boom' money that the Tories got but that was only around £80 billion over the lifetime of the Tory Government*. 17 years. Brown was raking in £60bn a year from the financial sector and still overspending. The 'Golden Rule' on borrowing? Abandoned in 2004. the 'Golden Rule' on the level of national debt? Broken in 2008. This was BEFORE the banking crisis.

    Brown's policies were always unsustainable because they relied on an always expanding economy. Recessions happen, slowdowns happen. Whether they are caused by a Banking crisis or some other event. This has ALWAYS happened. To spend on the basis that there would never be a recession ever again was fiscal lunancy. Brown's vainglorious boast of ending boom and bust should be remembered as his legacy.

    * As a comparison, you might be intersted in the amount of oil tax revenue the Labour Government got over its lifetime. £77.7 billion. On average MORE than the Tories each year.

  • Comment number 18.

    Whilst watching BBC Live Parliament I observed David Willetts sitting with his feet on the Dispatch Box Desk. What an example of disrespectful behaviour - glad I could see it for myself to be able to come to my own conclusions about his values. What if one of my class had sat like this? Is he in charge of Higher Education including teacher training?

  • Comment number 19.

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

  • Comment number 20.

    Well Clegg and co. turned out to be complete liers. This wouldn't be much of an issue as they are politicians. But think back to the time of the debate Cleggmania when many were taken in by Clegg's classic line 'things can be different this time'.

    A significant number of people voted for the lib dems, expecting them to stand up for the policies that they campaigned for. Now they are spitting in the faces of those voters who gave them the few seats they have.

    I would love to see the result if there was another general election today!

  • Comment number 21.

    What we should be lamenting is the end of the gravy train for the QUANGOs. There are a lot of Nu Old Labour supporters or Net Operating Loss supporters as I affectionately call them who will be counting their pennies after being shown the door.

    Just some that are on the way out who add sooooo much value;

    Advisory Committee on Historic Wreck Sites
    Advisory Committee on National Historic Ships
    Advisory Committee on the Government Art Collection
    Agricultural Dwelling House Committees (16 bodies) Duplication?
    Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales
    Agricultural Wages Committees (15 bodies) Duplication?
    Appointments Commission
    Audit Commission - What does the NAO do then?
    British Educational Communications and Technology Agency
    Capacity Builders
    Caribbean Board
    Churches Conservation Trust
    Commission for Rural Communities
    Commissioner for the Compact
    Committee on Agricultural Valuation
    Commons Commissioners
    Consular Stakeholder Panel
    Courts Boards (19 bodies)
    Crown Court Rule Committee
    Cycling England
    Darwin Advisory Committee
    Food from Britain
    Foreign Compensation Commission
    General Social Care Council
    Genetics and Insurance Committee
    Government Hospitality Advisory Committee on the Purchase of Wines
    Herbal Medicines Advisory Committee
    HM Inspectorate of Court Administration
    Independent Advisory Group on Teenage Pregnancy
    Independent Living Fund
    Independent Review Panel for the Classification of Borderline Products
    Independent Review Panel on the Advertising of Medicines
    Infrastructure Planning Commission
    Inland Waterways Advisory Council
    Insolvency Practitioners Tribunal
    Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisations
    Legal Deposit Advisory Panel
    Legal Services Commission
    Legal Services Ombudsman
    London Thames Gateway Development Corporation*
    Main Honours Advisory Committee
    Maqistrates' Court Rule Committee
    Museums, Libraries and Archives Council
    National Housing and Planning Advice Unit
    National Information Governance Board
    National Joint Registry Steering Committee
    National Policing Improvement Agency
    National Standing Committee for Farm Animal Genetic Resources
    National Tenant Voice
    National Endowment for Science, Technology and Arts
    Office for the Civil Society Advisory Bodies
    Olympic Park Legacy Company*
    Pesticides Residues Committee
    Public Guardian Board
    Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency
    Railway Heritage Committee
    Regional Development Agencies (8 bodies)
    Renewables Advisory Board
    Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution
    School Food Trust
    School Support Staff Negotiating Body
    Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition
    Security Commission
    Security Industry Authority
    SITPRO
    Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee
    Standards Board for England
    Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property
    Sustainable Development Commission
    Teachers TV Board
    The Theatres Trust
    Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation*
    UK Chemical Weapons Convention National Authority Advisory Committee
    UK Film Council
    Union Modernisation Advisory Fund
    Veterinary Residues Committee
    Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Advisory Board
    West Northamptonshire Development Corporation*
    Women's National Commission
    Zoos Forum

    Well worth the £65 billion I would say!!!!!!

  • Comment number 22.

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

  • Comment number 23.

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

  • Comment number 24.

    Chris @ 124 (previous thread) wrote:
    I have had the fortunate privilege of working alongside a number of Labour activists, who I have in the past quoted.


    >>

    And if they don't slag off their own party, you can always do it for them by making it up. Glory be!

  • Comment number 25.

    During the previous election campaign in the UK, the slogan "I agree with Nick" became a popularized. This slogan referred to Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, who was invited to debate with the leaders of the Conservative and Labour parties. These debates helped raise the profile of his party and their positions. These positions included opposition to renewing Trident, introducing swift and deep cuts to address the national deficit, and any rise in student fees. Many Liberal Democrats asked voters to vote for them to help ensure that the Conservative Party did not take power. Those who said "I agree with Nick" were favourable to these policies and strategy.

    After the election, there were many changes. First, the Liberal Democrats agreed to join in a coalition with the Conservatives. This ensured that the Conservatives would, in fact, take power. Secondly, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition has agreed to move forward with swift and deep cuts in public expenditure to address the national debt. Thirdly, the Prime Minister David Cameron (Con) recently promised to support the renewal of Trident at his party conference. Finally, the coalition has appeared to embrace recent recommendations to not only raise student fees, but to actually remove any cap on fees.

    We may wonder about the powerful "I agree with Nick" group of voters both new and old who helped support the Liberal Democrats in the spring elections. Now that Nick and his party have abandoned many of the most popular pledges they promised during their campaign (with the slogan of "No More Broken Promises"), should we expect to see "I do not agree with Nick" t-shirts soon? I suspect this will catch on soon.


    For more, please see The Brooks Blog:

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 26.

    "Andy seriously, these things were sustainable until the banks required £65billion in bailouts."

    This surely goes down as the most absurd statement I have read on a blog for a long time. Well done; you made me laught this morning

  • Comment number 27.

    21#

    Spotted the Union Modernisation Fund one in there Chris. Big relief that the recycling of public money via the unions into Labour's coffers can now be stopped.

    Shame on the fourth estate for not publicising this abuse as well!

  • Comment number 28.

    #16
    I can sympathise with the thought that spending money on "failing" schools might be better than spending on successful schools. But would this mean reducing the amount of money available to the successful schools (given the budget constraints)? Would this effectively lead to bringing all schools to the same level? Would this not "punish" successful schools? What I do fear is that the "failing" schools will get worse as those pupils (or parents) with ambition will gravitate towards the better schools and leave the others (who do not choose to exercise their opportunity to go to a better school) with even less chance for their future.
    I doubt that there is an easy answer, but we should expect government to try to improve education standards within the budgetary constraints.

  • Comment number 29.

    Is this a HYS discussion board or an advertising ground for peoples' personal blogs?

    Just curious.

  • Comment number 30.

    The problem I have with the present government and all its profferings, of which there are many, is I don't believe they mean what they say, let alone expect anyone else. Daily recitals from the pulpit, preaching - do the right thing, behave in the right way, do it all for nothing (Big Society). We'll take your jobs away, your security away, your kids' future away, and give you a great big 'nothing' in return.
    We're rich so it won't make any difference to us and our ultimate goal anyway is for us to pay even less in inheritance and other taxes that our accountants haven't aready fiddled. We'll try and deceive you into thinking we're doing it for your (working and middle income families, other who aren't rich like us) good. We'll try and entice you with a few tricks (you can go to a school like ours ha ha), and we'll devide the nation into scroungers (unemployed, sick, disabled, vulnerable), working class (ready for the dole folks), high tax threshold (broader shoulders), and the rich (bankers, hedgefund, stockbrokers, company bosses who are mostly Tory, the heritary rich, members of the Tory cabinet, Nick Clegg, and so on) who will mostly be the beneficiaries of the Tory/Lib Dem charter. So as for more tosh, even when it sounds reasonable, I don't believe a word of it, I've heard it all before from the previous Tory government. All I have to say, is shame on you Liberal Democrates, or should I say, mini-me Tory party.

  • Comment number 31.

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

  • Comment number 32.

    30#

    So..... you're familiar with the politics system in the UK then Diane?

    Er.... sadly...... No.

    I thought not.

  • Comment number 33.

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

  • Comment number 34.

    Lib Dem candidates made the pledge as individuals. What you claim makes their duplicity even worse.

    Party members either have to ignore this blatant disregard for the rules of their party or mobilise and call a conference to remind him of his duties as leader.

    If the former they will suffer for it at the polls. You cannot set yourself up as the new "honest" politics and buy votes with lies. If the latter we will either see them gain more influence with a humbled Clegg (or more likely Simon Hughes replacing him) at the heart of Government or a new election.

    I suspect they will look at their shoes and allow their good name to continue to be dragged through the mud.

  • Comment number 35.

    22 - Thom

    If you are going to put figures on your blog, shouldn't you make sure they are correct? You have misunderstood how Browne's proposed levy would work. You have calculated the tiered rate of Levy as applying to the whole of the amount received whereas it only applies to each slice. Fees of £7,000 would suffer a 40% levy on the £1,000 above the £6,000. Fees of £8,000 would have a levy of 40% on £1,000 and 45% on £1,000 NOT as you have calculated 45% on £2,000.

    It would be illogical to have a system where fees received by the University actually DECREASED at levels above £10,000.

    The actual amount received by a university charging £12,000 under Browne's proposals would be £8,760 and not as you have stated £7,500.

  • Comment number 36.

    " We'll take your jobs away, your security away, your kids' future away, and give you a great big 'nothing' in return. "

    Is it not about time you faced up to YOUR responsibilities? Govt is not there to provide you with a comfortably life nor your kids. Your complaints seem to show a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of Governemnt I think.

  • Comment number 37.

    24. At 11:42am on 14 Oct 2010, pdavies65 wrote:
    And if they don't slag off their own party, you can always do it for them by making it up. Glory be!
    =========================================================================
    And god forbid anyone in the Labour party should have a different view from yourself. You will need to send the thought police around next Wednesday when we are meeting for Lunch. Perhaps they are just making things up, I will ask them how dare they have a differing view to that of your own?

  • Comment number 38.

  • Comment number 39.

    Blimey, McShane kicked out of the PLP....

  • Comment number 40.

    27. At 11:45am on 14 Oct 2010, Fubar_Saunders wrote:
    =========================================================================
    What about this one, its a corker...... sorry couldn't resist.

    Government Hospitality Advisory Committee on the Purchase of Wines

  • Comment number 41.

    What about this one it surly must have just evolved....

    Darwin Advisory Committee

  • Comment number 42.

    This whole sorry saga of debt and the ability to repay it needs to be regurgitated one more time.

    There is no doubt that the problem is global. We know what has happened and is still in the Eurozone. We know what has happened to the US and to us.

    Now it is reported that there are financial problems in China, on whom we are now dependant for economic growth. They created lots of new money last year, following the discredited policies of Gordonomics, and now it seems that Chinese Local Authorities, who borrowed most of the money, are in danger of defaulting on 26 % of their debt. Whilst this will initilaly hurt Chinese banks, you can bet Japanese banks will also suffer, and eventually so will we, because you can bet (if you've got any actual money) that western banks have lect to eastern banks, and if they haven't, the government has in one form or another.

    The bottom line is we have increasingly committed vast amounts of current and future revenue to state spending, which has spiralled out of control. This must now be addressed, since we cannot rely on future economic growth to alleviate the problem, because the likely growth areas are also suffering.

    So simple arithmetic has to be applied. It doesn't require complicated mathematical formulae, just common sense and a stiff upper lip.

    We cannot spend more than we take in, and we need to include in our spending the repayment of what we have already borrowed. This is the normal guidance that consumer debt counselling follows. Same principle, just bigger amounts.

    We have to reduce what we spend on public services, because that's where we spend public money. We have to stop handing out money for everything that is deemed to be for the general good, and target the recipients better. If that takes means testing, then sobeit. It will at least smoke out the socialist tendency in the population.

    If you provide universal benefits, in the interest of fairness, you craete anomalies. Correction of the anomalies, however well meaning, creates further problems.

    So, keeping our people well is a good thing and should be provided universally. However, this should relate to need, and be clearly funded. The current blueprint for the NHS needs to be revisited. NI contributions need to be ring-fenced for the NHS, giving a clear budget for what is possible. Keeping people well is a priority, but some clear financial choices may have to made (as discussed tangentially yesterday in reference to Logans Run). Cosmetic surgery is right out.

    Drug companies will need to be dealt with more harshly. The charges they make for prescription drugs need to be capped more aggressively and sensibly than they are today.

    Welfare benefits need to be cut, and this is being addressed. The child benefit row of last week is a case in point. The anomaly of the £44k annual salary is an anomaly, and nothing more. It affects a few people but they can, in all honesty, afford it.

    Pensions in payment must be continued, in the overall interests of fairness. Future pensions need to be delayed, because of the well argued case about increased age, and this is being phased in over time, fairly.

    That ought to serve as a good starting point for a lively discussion.

  • Comment number 43.

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

  • Comment number 44.

    37#

    "You will need to send the thought police around next Wednesday when we are meeting for Lunch."

    Makes a change from the real police who appear to be all over the Labour party's honourable members like a rash at the moment. Just leaves the BBC & The Grauniad as the media wing of the corpse of New Labour then, now the police appear to have relinquished their role of enforcers...

  • Comment number 45.

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

  • Comment number 46.

    "43. At 12:32pm on 14 Oct 2010, jrperry wrote:
    Andy 35

    Very wise to put your comments on "Thom"'s article here. My experience is, he consistently deletes adverse comment from his much-spammed personal blog."

    The worrying thing is someone who doesn't understand the figures yet is commenting on them.

  • Comment number 47.

    N032 Fubar,
    Somebody once said 'the first duty of a State is to see that every child born,therein shall be well housed, clothed, fed and educated'.
    Do you agree with those aims?
    If so,have you any ideas on why after 200 years of industrial and post- industrial capitalism, such simple aims have not been achieved?
    The recovery is going well, thank you.

  • Comment number 48.

    Tory @ 5 wrote:
    So its only now that the true picture is available, and it is as truly bad as we were predicting.


    >>

    If you were predicting it would be this bad, there's no excuse for reneging on pre-election promises, is there?

  • Comment number 49.

    "Now it is reported that there are financial problems in China, on whom we are now dependant for economic growth"

    You clearly have little or no understanding of economics. Economic growth in the UK does not come from China, it comes from the efforts of people in the UK through their innovative capabilities and through improvements in their productivity.

    "Drug companies will need to be dealt with more harshly. The charges they make for prescription drugs need to be capped more aggressively and sensibly than they are today"

    And as one clearly concerned about his longevity I can think of no better way to kill innovation and development in the drags indistry that to invoke such a move.

  • Comment number 50.

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

  • Comment number 51.

    "Somebody once said 'the first duty of a State is to see that every child born,therein shall be well housed, clothed, fed and educated'"

    And please tell me who said that that "somebody" was right!

  • Comment number 52.

    4. AndyC555

    At least the coalition are acting sensibly on this and on pensions too. Their plan for a reduction in the cap of annual tax deductible contributions is easy to understand and fairer than Brown's Byzantine idiocy of reducing tax-relief on a sliding scale.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    I am waiting for Ed Miliband to start complaining about the heartless Tories squeezing all those middle income earners who are currently putting more than £50,000 p.a. into a pension!

  • Comment number 53.

    "Cosmetic surgery is right out."

    Certainly elective, rather than for surgical reasons, absolutely.

  • Comment number 54.

    SignMyExpenseClaim @ 45

    You say that the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments are undemocratic.

    That is completely wrong.

    In fact, the reverse is more true, in that the current Westminster setup is undemocratic in that the vast majority of the people being 'represented' there are live in England, yet the English have no formal representation their own right i.e. their own Parliament.

    Furthermore, the HoL as currently constituted, is a disgrace to democracy.

    My fellow English only have themselves to blame for their lack of interest in politics, which has lead to this situation.

  • Comment number 55.

    Chris @ 37

    You're welcome to quote unnamed Labour sources, Chris, and see if anyone buys it. All I'm saying is, your quotes would be a lot more credible if you didn't spend the rest of your time cutting and pasting Tory propaganda. Many of your posts are borderline spam. You might disagree with what I write, but at least I write it.

  • Comment number 56.

    As has already been pointed your first sentence is factually incorrect.
    Lib Dem party policy is that it is against a rise in tuition fees and wants to do away with them completely over time.
    The policy of the party has not changed - it is just that Cable and Clegg etc have gone their own way and are bulldozering the others to follow suit.
    This I think is what Hughes was explaining on Newsnight yesterday.
    Could you please correct the inaccuracy or justify it?

    Also why are you not asking more questions about the issue.
    If Clegg etc were always against the Lib Dem policy why did they sign the pledge before the election? Surely they were being dishonest in doing so especially when they knew the state of the finances before the election? Can we therefore trust any of their pledges?
    Clegg made a bifg deal in the election of it being a time for new politics and for being straight with people - how is that shown by his actions?


  • Comment number 57.

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

  • Comment number 58.


    A comment on the related subject of schools and choice. Most parents don't want a choice of education for their children - they want the best education for their children. Only if they are not getting it do they need and want "choice".

    It's not a true choice however (because even then its a no brainer) merely a desire for a better alternative.

    For there to be choice (and an internal market in education) there would have to be a price mechanism in play such that parents could decide to pay for a better education or choose not to - and even then it would never be a "choice" merely determined by ability to pay.

    The issue is not about choice - it is about standards and the stat education system should be about providing the best standard of education for all.

  • Comment number 59.

    Nick - can you explain why the BBC is reporting Denis Macshane being investigated by the Police but NOT that the complaint was made by those paragons of virtue the BNP? And would you agree that this is pretty shoddy reporting?

  • Comment number 60.

    This sounds like piffle to me.

    Long and short of it ....

    Clegg is on photograph with his signature on a statement he would not increase fees. Clegg is on video - a video he made and posted - saying in words of one sylable that he would not increase fees.

    Now Clegg is in government - a government he alone inflicted upon the country - and he is increasing fees.

    Where I come from, that is called a lie.

  • Comment number 61.

    47#

    Ah, Mr John Ruskin. He also said "Nearly all the powerful people of this age are unbelievers, the best of them in doubt and misery, the most in plodding hesitation, doing as well as they can, what practical work lies at hand." and one that I really like "Tell me what you like and I'll tell you what you are."

    Do I agree with the first quote? In most respects yes. I personally think that the first duty of the state is to protect the populace and ensure their security. But, that notwithstanding, I dont have a problem with Ruskin's quote.

    Hasnt it been achieved in the last 200 years? You will never completely eradicate poverty, you will never be rid of the poor in total, but you can certainly deliver the means by which the core of Ruskin's quote could be honoured. Certainly in terms of opportunity - think about it:

    Housed
    Clothed
    Fed
    Educated.

    The state can and in most cases does in lines 1 and 4. 2 and 3, the money can be given to the parents, and has been over the years, to do just that - wasnt that also part of Beveridges aim of the welfare state? "Government should find ways of fighting the five 'Giant Evils' of Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness."? Do you not believe that aim has been if not met completely, then at least has been honourably attempted?

    I was about to say something about leading horses to water... it isnt possible to drink for them as well though. Well, I guess it is possible, but not very beneficial to the horse in question.

    I think we've had a damn good crack at it to be honest Sout. Genuinely I do. Granted its not perfect and there will always be those that fall between the cracks. But I think that says more of the means of delivery than the stated intention.

    Have you ever read "Systems Thinking For The Public Sector"? Worth a look. Suggests re-design of the way that public services are delivered, focusing more on what the demand is and how it can be delivered against by the system compared to "this is what we do and offer, either take it or leave it". The latter has been subject to a lot of political interference and has certainly been affected by the target culture, so that the meeting the target and ticking the boxes has proved to be the objective rather than delivering the service in the most efficient way and reducing failure demand.

    Well worth a look, I assure you. Glad to hear you're feeling better.

  • Comment number 62.

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

  • Comment number 63.

    pdavies 48

    'If you were predicting it would be this bad, there's no excuse for reneging on pre-election promises, is there?'

    There wouldn't be if they had a working majority. Both sides are having to renege on pre-election promises. How else could a coaltion work ?

  • Comment number 64.

    "Somebody once said 'the first duty of a State is to see that every child born,therein shall be well housed, clothed, fed and educated'"

    I do not think they meant that it should continue through into adulthood. ^^

  • Comment number 65.

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

  • Comment number 66.

    Quangos:

    Thank god they kept the..... 'Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission'

    How would we have managed without that?


    It's a great time to laugh at the tories

  • Comment number 67.

    Re the Scottish Lib Dems who might rebel, like Menzies Campbell.

    What's it to do with them anyway??? This is an English only matter!!!

    Wider question - how can Scottish MPs vote on English only matters?????

  • Comment number 68.

    @54

    West Lothian question!!!!! = undemocratic

    We are, however, on the same page (and in the same country) - it is all or nothing now for devolution....

    To do it right, devolved assemblies should have true federal powers, and the Lords should become the English ellected parliament (so solving that thorny issue)

    Commons would then be the national assembly, with control over foreign policy etc.

    We should take the best from the Bundesrat / Bundestag and Congress / House of Rep systems.

    The elephant in the room would then be the non-elected executive (no offence intended Liz).

    Personally I would prefer to go back to a true UK parliament, and reform the HofL , but pandoras box is nownopen.

  • Comment number 69.

    No51 Falling,
    If you would like to have a go at answering the questions posed to Fubar perhaps we could start a dialogue.

  • Comment number 70.

    #49 fallingTP

    I'll take no economics lessons from you, thank you very much.

    Firstly, we are in direct competition with developing economies in the manufacturing sector, and can't beat them on price. We do, as far as my personal shopping investigations show, import a lot of items that have been manufactured in China, and elsewhere, at lower cost than we obviously have, which means we have an immediate economic benefit, in spending less.

    Now, what we can make and sell is high end products, for which we need the developing economie to buy from us, which will allow us to expand our production and improve our wealth, something we will not be able to do if they suffer an economice downturn. Doh.

  • Comment number 71.

    Other than celebrating its demise, has anybody considered how sinister the Darwin Advisory Commitee seems, especially if it is to be replaced by a team of experts? Are we likely to see Torquemada, or one of his descendants, as its head?

  • Comment number 72.

    Further to the quango list, I noted that the Gangmasters Licensing Authority was being retained, on grounds of impartiality. You can't make these things up.

  • Comment number 73.

    No61 Fubar.
    Excellent - I will certainly be acting on your recommendations.

  • Comment number 74.

    This school idea reminds me of the concept of 'relative poverty'.

    Relative poverty measure poverty levels against an average... menaing that no matter how much richer society gets there will always be relative poverty, representing the poorest part of society. I remember old Gordon Brown once saying it was his goal to eradicate relative poverty... presumably by moving to a communist regime.

    In this case there will always be 'poorly performing' schools as they are measured against each other. So there will always be parents entitled to the 150%, effectively creating a vicious cycle which will perpetuate itself and in the end will cost everybody more money as there will always be schools at the bottom of the pile.



  • Comment number 75.

    "Somebody once said 'the first duty of a State is to see that every child born,therein shall be well housed, clothed, fed and educated'"

    Yes, and that 'someone' died 110 years ago and was writing in a very different time.

    I agree with the sentiment. In the UK, we do a very good job of providing all that and have added access to healthcare to the list. There are, of course, bad parents but putting those to one side can you provide any evidence that the UK is not providing those things?

    If he was around today, do you think Ruskin would have added "and pay enough benefits to enable those who do not work to live comparable lifestyles to those who work hard".

  • Comment number 76.

    No worries Sout, glad to help.

  • Comment number 77.

    Now, what we can make and sell is high end products, for which we need the developing economie to buy from us, which will allow us to expand our production and improve our wealth, something we will not be able to do if they suffer an economice downturn. Doh"

    Sure you don't want economic lesson? I really think you should.

    That aside what I think is happening with the current adminsitration (I hope) is an attempt to improve economic efficiency by reducing govt spending (crowding out), cutting benefits, creating markets in education; followed hopefully by labour market and regulatory reform. It is rebuilding after years of waste and stiffling bureaucracy. Oh and as for your point on importing disinflation from China it can only last for so long particularly when ones currency becomes a bit of a basket case.

  • Comment number 78.

    jon112dk 66

    "Thank god they kept the..... 'Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission' How would we have managed without that? It's a great time to laugh at the tories"

    Check your facts before you make such ill-founded comments in future.

    From http://foi.fco.gov.uk/en/access-information/Ndpbs/macc

    "Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission (MACC)
    This MACC administers the British Marshall Scholarships on behalf of the FCO. The scholarships are funded by the FCO and are an expression of gratitude for the assistance provided by the US under the Marshall Plan. The Commission places the Scholars at UK universities and supervises their welfare."

    See also

    http://www.marshallscholarship.org/

    Surely a useful and honourable function?

  • Comment number 79.

    #77 fallingTP

    I'm staying in my own little world, thank you. You frighten me, and the worry is that there might be people like you making decisions on my behalf.

    Fortunately, for me at least, I've been able to insulate myself against most bad things, but your responses are truly scary.

    Please tell me you don't work in the financial services field.

  • Comment number 80.

    SignMyExpenseClaim @ 68

    I thought you'd listen to my reason {for English democracy}, but now I see you don't hear a thing.

    Got to make you see how it's got to be, yes, if it's all right -
    all or nothing.

    But it's gonna take money, a whole lotta spending {taxpayers} money.

    Its gonna take plenty of money to do it right.

    Its gonna take time, a whole lot of precious time.

    Its gonna take patience and time, to do it right.

    {For an English Parliament.}

    PS. We stand on the shoulders of giants (in this case, Englishmen Marriott and Harrison).

  • Comment number 81.

    Alexander...Cable...Clegg are only the latest in a quite short line of major politicians who sign pledges on worthless pieces of paper.

  • Comment number 82.

    #78 mr perry

    This is getting very surreal.

    The Marshall plan was an economic activity that took place after the conclusion of WW2, and was designed to help us restart the UK economy.

    It was a loan, and we repaid it over a long time, with the final instalment only taking place within the past 10 years.

    They didn't give us the money, it was a loan. It was right to say thank you and it was right to pay it back.

    Just how many students do we pay for each year, and for how many years is it envisaged that we do this?

    And just how many people are we employing to do all this on our behalf?

    I think we've paid, and if anybody wants a lasting memorial stick up a statue to Marshall, or to Truman or Eisenhower, whoever it was that authorised the plan in the first place. In fact we could stick it on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, and shoot a lot of pigeons in one go, to mix up a few metaphors.

  • Comment number 83.

    #78. At 2:37pm on 14 Oct 2010, jrperry

    Your tory friends tell us the situation is so bad that they have to make cuts, which an independent group (PWC) estimate will cause one million people to lose their jobs.

    You apparently believe the nonsense you describe is crucial and needs to be kept.

    It's a great time to laugh at the tories (and comment #78)

  • Comment number 84.

    Can we have a few more vouchers - for a start, to see a GP, to have an operation or for admission to an elderly care home?

  • Comment number 85.

    No75 Andy,
    I am fairly confident that Ruskin would have been too astute to express the view contained in your final paragraph.He would probably have pointed out that Capitalism is incapable of ensuring that gainful employment could be guaranteed for all its citizens that would like the opportunity to be involved in paid work.It is reported that an additional 1.3 million people in the UK are about to find that out, in the near future, as a result of Coalition policies.I am sure you will be familiar with the'Reserve Army' theory.

  • Comment number 86.


    Lib Dems are wrong to support this. They clearly signed up to vote against, muted to an abstention in coalition agreement. It is their USP and people do not forget this kind of betrayal.

    The issue is that nobody seems to be capable of arguing the case for better and more graduates, and reducing barriers. Graduates already pay a graduate tax, its called income tax but given their higher propensity to earn more and thus pay more tax it is essentially the same. Students also already shoulder huge financial risks in the form of debt.

    I wonder if someone could do some analysis on how much a University graduate costs the tax payer beyond their education in terms of social work, police and crime, fire services, NHS, and benefits, compared against non-graduates. I am making assumptions here but I think that they generally pay more tax, cause less crime, less likely to be unemployed for any length of time and claim benefits, and given the co-relation between poor diet and poverty cost the NHS less.

    Not to mention the fact that Foreign Direct Investment is already going to shift future higher skill jobs elsewhere with a cap on skilled worker immigration/visas, this will only become a more real problem when we cannot offer a sufficient skill-base internally.

    Anybody who thinks £40k+ debt will not deter applications to university are deluded, and these costs will simply double-up with a broken economy. The increased rate of interest will also further reduce the total benefit financially of a university education to a point of meaningless significance.

  • Comment number 87.

    Denis MacShane and the withdrawl of the Labour whip? Why does this important story not feature prominently on the BBC News website? Or am I wrong in thinking this is a major story?

  • Comment number 88.

    "The first duty of a state is to see that every child born therein shall be well housed, clothed, fed and educated"

    I've just noticed that a bit haas been left off the quote we've been discussing:

    "till it attains years of discretion."

    Years of discretion essentially meaning until the child is old enough to think and take care of itself. I think this was considered to be around 14 at the time Ruskin was writing. Certainly I don't think Ruskin was advocating a life long dependency on benefits.

  • Comment number 89.

    "59. At 1:21pm on 14 Oct 2010, W12Chris wrote:
    Nick - can you explain why the BBC is reporting Denis Macshane being investigated by the Police but NOT that the complaint was made by those paragons of virtue the BNP? And would you agree that this is pretty shoddy reporting?"

    If the accusations are correct, does it matter who made them?

  • Comment number 90.

    We're back at that magical 10 in the moderation queue number.

  • Comment number 91.

    71. At 2:08pm on 14 Oct 2010, toryandproud wrote:
    Other than celebrating its demise, has anybody considered how sinister the Darwin Advisory Commitee seems, especially if it is to be replaced by a team of experts? Are we likely to see Torquemada, or one of his descendants, as its head?
    ===============================

    No, but then again I know what the Darwin Advisory Commitee does - which is something you obviously don't.

  • Comment number 92.

    Alan Milburn's idea looks a bit odd to me.

    What he's basically saying is that you should reward failure.

    ie if a school has been failing completely for years and is being completely mis-managed by a bad headteacher/board, then instead of firing the head-teacher/board and trying to improve the school, you pay the school next door additional money (ON TOP OF THE STANDARD PER-PUPIL FUNDING) to take-on some pupils from the failing school.

    So, what he's saying is "carry on paying/funding the failing school and don't worry about the fact that it's failing, and give some extra cash to the school next door that's working satisfactorily purely on the grounds that the satisfactory school is next door to a failing one."

    ie he doesn't want the failing school to be improved; he wants to keep funding that failure at normal levels.

    We shouldn't be funding proven failure; we should be firing the people causing the failure.

    The way to do it would be to allow the decent schools to expand, paying them the standard per-pupil funding. That way the good schools in an area will end up taking all pupils because people won't want to send their kids to a bad school, and the bad school loses the corresponding per-pupil funding because nobody would go there. In the end the failing school will close and you'll only have good schools in the area.

    By all means reward schools that are doing well, but please don't continue to fund failing schools; fire the failing schools' head/board and get someone else in who can do the job, or transfer the pupils to a better school that's being run properly.

    The mentality of continuing to fund complete management failure in schools is the cause of why some schools continue to be so bad. Use private-sector logic; if a business does a bad job then they lose customers and go bust, and the good businesses take up the slack. Same should apply to education.

  • Comment number 93.

    "Please tell me you don't work in the financial services field."

    Not sure what this has to do with it TAP and you are right I won't tell you.

    What I have been saying is little other than what say Keith Joseph proposed 25 or more years back but was never fully carried though by Thatcher. Unfortunately his wisdom and thinking is, or has been, sadly lacking in govt in last decade or so. What he and some others sought in the 1980s was significant micro-economic change (macro didn't come in to it). This was to some extent forced by the dire state of the economy in the UK at that time but it also constituted more than a hand being forced. We are at those cross roads again and I think a number of politicians (both Tory and LD) recognise this. It is not that radical and is based on a sound understanding of where change, growth and improvement comes from and the major issues facing Britain (5 million who could work not doing so, pension commitments, poor unresponsive education, etc). And I'm sorry to tell you that this will ultimately reduce redistribution particularly to the middle classes through benefits, education and the Opera! They are going to scream and shout and claim that they have some inherited right to state lolly, and many of them will be Tories, but it is all part of growing up and after 20 years of Labour and near Labour (Tories under Major)this is badly needed.

  • Comment number 94.

    17. At 11:04am on 14 Oct 2010, AndyC555 wrote:
    They got £60bn a YEAR in taxes from the financial sector.
    ===================================================================
    This puzzles me ... even at its peak, the biggest banks were only netting around £40bn in profit; and raising around £10bn in taxes. Where does your £60bn come from? Are you including taxes paid by employees?

  • Comment number 95.

    Why is it that politicians are allowed to get away with statements such as "free higher education is unsustainable", and imply that anyone who does not accept this as absolute truth is stupid, when those that do accept it are really the stupid ones? As Harold Wilson once said, public spending is a matter of priorities. The truth is that these politicians have other things in mind that they prefer to spend the money on, rather than developing the potential of our young people.

    The argument seems to be, that taxpayers who will never benefit by attending university, should not have to pay for those that do.

    If this principle was applied universally, many things would be "unsustainable". The support for the monarchy would have to end, because only a very few have any chance of ever becoming the monarch, and members of the Lords and MPs and their expenses would have to go. Junketing at international conferences would be threatened. Foreign wars which became unpopular would have to stop. ...

    The list could go on and on.

  • Comment number 96.

    42. At 12:30pm on 14 Oct 2010, toryandproud wrote:
    "Pensions in payment must be continued, in the overall interests of fairness."
    =======================================================================
    Really? Why? What's wrong with means testing them too? Why are they any different to child benefit? In reality, political suicide ... but hey, challenging times and all that.

  • Comment number 97.

    toryandproud 82
    jon112dk 83

    Rather than trying to take the mick based on about 0.1% of the information, why don't you go back to my earlier post, follow the link and actually find out what the Marshall Scholarships are all about, and also find out how little they cost. If you look closely, you might even notice that there is a partner scheme through which the US government funds scholarships the other way - would you like to close down that opportunity for UK students (which closing down our half of the scheme surely would)?

  • Comment number 98.

    #91

    Bad day on the lack of sense of humour front is it?

  • Comment number 99.

    #92
    Your sentiments mirror those I suggested in my post #28. Yet I am not sure that the causes of failing schools are quite as simple as you suggest. I imagine that many "failing" schools are in inner cities and many of the children will not have English as a first language and those that do may come from homes where education is not a priority.
    Also the "successful" schools will probably already be "full" and limit new intakes. Perhaps they would need to become selective in some way, perhaps they become academies or grammar schools?
    I tend to think that the "failing" schools need more support (to bring them up to the best, not just bog-standard) but can this be done in such a way that it is not a reward for failure?

  • Comment number 100.

    troyandproud @ 82

    It is sometimes said that the Marshall Plan was the greatest act of charity in history (at least until Bill and Melinda Gates came along) and I believe was actually gifted to various European countries in the aftermath of WWII, notably Germany.

    Our newly elected post-WWII Labour Government decided to use the bulk of the Marshall Plan money to fulfill elections promises to build new homes, schools and hospitals.

    The Germans instead prioritised building new factories with brand new American machine tools and before very long i.e. around 1955, engineers in the British motorcycle industry saw that this country was beginning to face a serious competitive disadvantage as the Germans had started cranking out very high quality machines whilst our factories struggled on with clapped out WWII gear (see Bert Hopwoods book - Whatever Happened to the British Motorcycle Industry).

    So you can see that the seeds of our long decline were sown a long time ago.

 

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