Tuesday, October 12, 2010

+++Breaking News: Vince Cable is not the Devil

I am not best pleased with Vince Cable today. If I were married to him, I might still cook his dinner but he'd be eating it on his own while I went and complained about him to my friends over a bottle of red wine. (Bob, if you're reading this, I NEVER do that about you).

I think he's wrong to have painted Liberal Democrat MPs into a corner whereby they either disobey the party whip (and messing with Mr Carmichael and his wand is not an easy thing to do), or go back on a pledge they made to their constituents.

Having said all of that, I do think he's had a bit of a hard time on Twitter. There's no need to get personal, and I'm certainly taking no lessons in honouring Election pledges from the Labour Party. We've been electing the Lords for years, just as they promised in their 1997 manifesto, right? And let's not forget they're the ones who lumbered us with tuition fees in the first place.

Vince is as wise as he always has been, but even he gets it wrong sometimes.

However, if there were a way to get it wrong well, he's probably done that.

Imagine for a moment if the Tories had been in power alone. I very much doubt that their Business Secretary would have tracked down Lord Browne and bent his ear about the importance of the recommendations being fair and progressive. And they are to a point. To play Devil's Advocate a bit here, if we can't have no tuition fees (and I'm not conceding that we can't), then isn't this a better option than anything else? Nobody has to pay out anything to actually go to university so access isn't denied to those from less affluent backgrounds in the way it would be today.

And Labour? Would they, still in Government, be talking about a Graduate Tax? Of course they wouldn't. They'd bung on the fees - although I'm not so convinced that they would have necessarily covered all the angles.  I mean, it's coming to something when it takes a Tory to bring up the issue I blogged about earlier about interest accruing if someone takes time out to look after children. He confirmed in the House today that interest would not accrue under these circumstances.

Annoyed though I might be with him, I have to at least give some credit to Vince for taking an hour's worth of utter tripe from the Labour benches with patience and humour. I'd rate him above just about any Labour minister you might care to mention and definitely any Tory. I loved his line about the road to Westminster having the skid marks of unenacted pledges all over it.

So let's tell Vince and our MPs how we feel, urge them to find a solution that doesn't involve lumbering our kids with debts at the start of their adult life that may stop them saving for their own old age - but let's not demonise them. They're good people, whatever they ultimately do with this. Vince said in his statement that they're looking for ideas and feedback before coming up with their final proposals. Let's get to giving them some.


Stephen Glenn said...

Bob I can vouch for that she has never compalined about you over a bottle or even two of wine.

Anonymous said...

>isn't this a better option than anything else?

No....we're not even sure what the option is yet either, but you still seem to be supporting it.

There are lots of options that wouldn't cause the sort of inequality that a capless funding model will cause. I'm fine with much of the proposal, what I can't accept is that there's no cap and universities will set the fees.

If you and Vince are sure that free-market capitalism is the answer to the countries future education needs then that's fine, but you need to be really sure; it didn't work so well for the banks.

A few months ago you'd never of contemplated supporting such a thing, now your values are evaporating in a cloud of "what else could we do?".

If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.


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