Monday, September 15, 2008

That Making it Happen Vote

I was very proud of my old friend Paul Holmes today as he proposed the amendment in the Make it Happen debate. I fear that his argument was lost in a rush of empathy for people who really are struggling to make ends meet. I'm not saying that feeling of solidarity is wrong, just that we need to make sure that we see the bigger picture. Allowing co-payments in the NHS is not the same thing as wanting them to happen. Like Paul said, a tax cut of a few hundred quid a year isn't going to mean much if you can't get the drugs on the NHS to treat your Cancer, or your father's Alzheimers.

The debate itself was extremely high quality - the Party at its best. I thought another old friend, Arnie Gibbons', intervention at the microphone was superb and passionate.

I was struck by the speech of the chair of Liberal Youth, Elaine Bagshaw, who spoke for the other side. She is one to watch for the future. She spoke eloquently about the difficulties she faced - not being able to even look at the bottom rung of the property ladder because of the £15,000 she owes on leaving university.

It strikes me that in Scotland, our students are very much luckier, thanks to the Liberal Democrat commitment, delivered in Government, to scrap tuition fees. I hope that our Party does not let that commitment go south of the Border. There has to be enough money for a free education for all.

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