Lynne Featherstone

MP for Hornsey and Wood Green

my blog
Lynne's Parliament and Haringey Diary, established 2003

Higher Education

Post the Browne report, Vince Cable’s been working to produce a more progressive way of funding Higher Education.

I have always believed that education should be free – for everyone – and always will. However, Labour ended the principle of free education with the introduction of tuition fees – and whichever way you turn in the current climate – those fees or costs are going to go up. I also despair that virtually the entire conversation around Higher Education is about the economics and nothing else.

Vince, as I said, has been working beyond hard to try and make this as good as it can be – and as progressive as can be.

A brief synopsis of the proposals:

1.       All students will repay less per month under this Government’s policy than they currently pay.

2.       The lowest earning  25% of graduates will repay less under this Government’s policy than they do now.

3.       The top earning 30% of graduates will pay back more than they borrow and are likely to pay more than  double the bottom 20% of earners.

4.       Over half a million students will be eligible for more non-repayable grants for living costs than they get now.

  1. Almost one million students will be eligible for more overall maintenance support than they get now

6.       Part time students will no longer have to pay up front fees benefiting up to 200,000 per year

7.       There will be an extra £150m for a new National Scholarship Programme for students from poorer backgrounds and we will introduce tough new sanctions of universities who fail to improve their access to students from backgrounds.

This is not coming to the floor of the House for a few weeks yet to come and is a difficult issue for Liberal Democrats because we cannot have the solution we, on the whole, want.

The Coalition agreement only goes as far as to say “We will await Lord Browne’s final report into higher education funding, and will judge its proposals … If the response of the Government to Lord Browne’s report is one that the Liberal Democrats cannot accept, then arrangements will be made to enable Liberal Democrat MPs to abstain in any vote”.

So the issue will be whether the Liberal Democrat MPs feel that the response to Lord Browne’s report is acceptable or not.

The NHS pledge which most LibDems signed up (including me) said: “I pledge to vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative”

Vince has made it quite clear that the pledge is subsumed by the coalition agreement – and indeed – because even if it wasn’t, as he said in Parliament, we cannot keep that first part of the pledge – it is no longer viable.

However, he also argues, that the second part of the pledge he has undoubtedly delivered on – a much, much fairer regime than under Labour.

I won’t make a final decision until the final proposals are on the table. I will have three choices in theory: support the Government (and as a Minister this would be the norm), abstain as per the coalition agreement  or vote against as per the NUS pledge.

Wed 3 November 2010
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Comments

  1. Carl Phillips says:

    Dear Lynne,

    The decision on which way you vote on higher education, tuition fees etc is not going to go away. Despite 100+ posts on this topic you are remaining silent. Any chance of an update on the way you’re currently thinking? At the moment I am 4000 miles from Highgate and apart from the Royal wedding the student protests (with some emphasis on the LibDem policy u-turn) are the only news about Britiain that is being reported – do you have nothing to add?

  2. Tony Medwin says:

    It would be great to have universities fully supported through increases in taxation, but that is scarcely an option we are likely to be offered in a long time. I have tried to understand (not easy!) how the new proposals compare with the current arrangements set up under Labour, in hard financial terms. Look at my conclusions here: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~ucgbarg/fees .
    I suspect that the uproar and government condemnation from students would actually be far worse if it were the opposite change that was being imposed on us (from the new system to the present one). This would be seriously anti-progressive. Those unconfident of gaining above-average career earnings would be deterred from university by the larger amounts they could expect to pay back, while prospective bankers would be well pleased. Imagine the uproar!
    Why are the libdems so dismally failing to explain how terrible the current system is? Yes, they pledged to vote against it – that was good! They should claim credit for the progressive features of what is being proposed. Yes, the fees will go up (incidentally putting more clout into the hands of students choosing their courses) but this is only a technical breach of faith, since these will only be paid by the ultimately well-off, those who really benefit from professional skills and who mostly know from the outset that university education is well worth the investment. Who would opt to work in the supermarket because they were afraid that university education might put them into an earnings bracket where they would have to pay what it costs? This isn’t going to be perfect, and it’s not going to save the government money for a very long time, but it has important good points.

  3. Carl Phillips says:

    Tony,

    In the the link that you provide, irrespective of the comparisons being made, I note that you ask “would they be protesting more or less strongly?” Either way you imply that they would still be protesting – and justifiably in my opinion especially when many students gave their votes to a party which pledged not to support increased tuition fees; for many of these younger voters it was probably their first experience of voting in a general election and, therefore, no doubt expected more from the LibDems who made so much of their supposed integrity in order to win the student vote. I hope it doesn’t deter them from taking part in future elections – the students that is, I doubt anyone will care if the LibDems are still around or not.

    There is something else which you can perhaps shed some light on. It seems that since the formation of the coalition the new buzz-word that keeps getting used is “progressive” and it is not always clear to me what it is supposed to mean – is it merley a synonym for “better” because if so I don’t think this fits with, for example, the definition of pregressive taxation. I note that you use the term “anti-progressive” instead of regressive. So what’s your meaning?

    By the way, it’s good to see UCL students taking an active part in the demonstrations alongside students from SOAS and some of the other colleges.

  4. Mr Bubblebath says:

    Carl, the misuse of the word “progressive” by the LibDems is one example of the way they are twisting the English language to suit their purposes. “Progressive”, as I’m sure you know, when used in relation to tax, means a tax which hits people on higher incomes relatively more than those on lower incomes. LibDems now use the word – when talking about tax – to mean “which we think is a good thing”.
    Another example of the LibDems’ destruction of the English language is the word “pledge”. Traditionally a pledge is a promise, a commitment to a particular course of action. In LibDem-speak, a “pledge” is something you say to get elected and, once in power, feel free to ditch.
    One further example: the LibDems like to talk about the “new politics”. In the mouth of a LibDem, this means “the old politics of lying and deception, which when we do it, is somehow exciting and groundbreaking”. I wonder if anyone has noticed any more examples of LibDem-speak?

  5. WilliamW says:

    It’s all semantics to you Lib Dems, isn’t it?
    You were all were happy to benefit from the student vote in the election. You lined up to sign the NHS pledge and made sure you were photographed doing so.
    The first stirrings of concern began when you jumped into bed with the Tories. How could you reconcile two such diametrically-opposed parties. We waited while your leaders spouted fine words about reigning in the worst excesses of the Conservatives.
    Well, here is the first test. A tripling of fees for university students. No matter that you start paying back when you’re earning more. No matter that a few crumbs may be thrown to the odd poor student (who will no doubt be paraded before the cameras at the next election)
    The bottom line is that a student who pays £9000 in fees today will have to find £27,000 by the time you are finished with them. Vince Cable can dress this up in any fancy language he likes – but the maths doesn’t lie. It’s a 300% increase in fees.
    To add to the hypocrisy, Cable says that, had he thought the Lib Dems would be in power after the election, he would not have signed the NHS pledge – I suppose one should admire his frankness.
    Now he is saying that he may abstain from supporting his own policy. If he does not support it, why propose it? If he was pressured to do so, why not vote against it? Really, does the man have no moral compass at all? Do any of you? Abstention on this issue is no more than evasion. If you wish to regain any respect from voters like me, you will have to grit your teeth and vote against your Tory masters.
    In your desperation for power you have all compromised yourselves in the eyes of the electorate. You can see the realisation of it in Nick Clegg’s face at PMQs as he sits next to his two new friends – the ones who will drop him without a second thought when the time is right.
    You may cling on in local government but Lib Dems are finished as a national party in this country. ConDemNation indeed.

  6. Tony Medwin says:

    Carl, Sorry I used ‘progressive’ in its technical sense, without clarifying. I take it to mean that the cost of something (education) falls more heavily on those who can best afford it. This is true both of the present and proposed schemes, as the calculations show, but it is much more marked with the proposed scheme. Comparing the top and bottom examples I chose to illustrate, the wealthier person pays a maximum of nearly £4k/ann (6% of income) compared with the graduate on 80% of average earnings who pays at most £600/ann (2% of income). The corresponding figures for the current scheme are £3.6k (6.5% of income – at a stage of life when earnings are typically lower) and £1100 (4% of income) for the low earning person.
    Yes, in general I am with the LibDems in regarding ‘progressive’ as on the whole ‘better’. I’m not sure what point you are making about taxes. Surely you are not saying it would be better if the rich paid less tax than the poor, either in absolute terms or as a proportion of their income – or are you?!

    Yes, I think (and indeed hope) that many students would have protested if a government had proposed to replace the scheme under consideration with that in place at the moment.

    Mr Bubblebath & WilliamW, Sticking just to the student issues, the pledge was “to vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative”. It seems to me that the proposals embody the 2nd half of this, and if one substitutes the phrase ‘student debt’ for the word ‘fees’ in the first half, this part is embodied too. It was easy, before looking carefully at possible schemes, to regard ‘fees’ and ‘debt’ as almost synonymous for many students. The proposals, as long as they are implemented and sustained sensibly, show that this need not be the case.

    I don’t want to get engaged in political invective. I believe we have a better government than if the Conservatives had won outright, and probably than if Labour had won outright. It would have been interesting to see what a Lib-Lab coalition could have achieved, but let’s try and be constructive with the government we have and the mess the world is in.

  7. Mr Bubblebath says:

    Tony Medwin, you say in passing that you “don’t want to get engaged in political invective”. Well you are already engaged in it. You’re in the grown-up world where people put forward their points of view and then debate them. So please, don’t give us that wide-eyed faux-naive stuff that the Lib Dems resort to when it suits them.
    And by the way, if you think the government slashing 40 per cent of university tuition funding and tripling the ceiling on student tuition fees is somehow “progressive” – in any sense of the word – you must be either seriously deluded or very much on the right wing of politics. Or to put that another way, you must be a Lib Dem.

  8. WilliamW says:

    Just for the record, Tony Medwin – who are you and on who’s authority do you reply to these posts?

    I thought I was addressing my MP through this forum – you know, the one who popped up at every photo opportunity and replied to emails and letters religiously before the election (and yes, did invest serious time and energy into a wide variety of causes)
    The same one who has been unusually silent and almost completely invisible having gained a sliver of power.

  9. PeterP says:

    But the person paying £1,100 a year at 4% of income would have to pay this for the rest of their life in order to cover £27,000 plus interest.

    The proposals announced today to give free fees for the first and second years to pupils who qualify for free school meals and attend a university where the fees are £9,000 p.a. mean that these students will end up with exactly the same debt as a current student, i.e. £9,000, so no progress there.

    How about a small tax levy on existing graduates who received their university education for free in order to transfer wealth from old to young?

  10. Mr Bubblebath says:

    PeterP – are you happy spending your time trying to think up ever more ingenious ways of punishing people for going to university?
    By the way, the rise in tuition fees is only half the story. This government has WITHDRAWN ALL STATE SUBSIDY FROM ARTS AND HUMANITIES COURSES. (That is why, under these proposals, the difference will have to be made up for by students paying much higher tuition fees.)
    Lynne, are you happy with that? To me it is the work of a thoroughly Philistine, destructive and anti-working class government.

  11. PeterP:
    You say “the person paying £1,100 a year at 4% of income would have to pay this for the rest of their life in order to cover £27,000 plus interest”
    NB This doesn’t apply to the new scheme. It is the largest payment (at equivalent 2010 value) made by a low (80% average) earner on the present scheme, reached after about 20 years. The assumed debt of £20,000 (current fees + maintenance) would then be paid off in full about 3 years later. On the new scheme the highest payment for the larger debt (£38,000 including £27k fees) would be only £600, also after about 20 years. After then the low earner would continue to pay till year 30 when the remaining debt (still about £28k of the original £38k, at 2010 prices) would be written off.
    I agree it would be better if universities were funded through general taxation, perhaps even selectively targetted at past graduates. Subsidy through taxes was the situation when I was a student – but I think that when I had my first job the basic tax rate was 30% (rising to 75% for high earners!). So it’s not completely accurate to say I and my contemporaries didn’t pay for it. The LibDem party has in the past (1997?) proposed raising income tax to pay for education, and I would support them if they tried again to do this now – but is it realistic?
    I have added some corrections and extra calculations to the website I set up – http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~ucgbarg/fees . It is very important to pressure the govenrment to commit to raising payment thresholds on the new scheme, otherwise we will be back somewhere worse than where we are now. I hope that Lynne Featherstone and other MPs will pursue this.

  12. Nick says:

    Lynne – you possibly haven’t had a chance to reply to my email, letter or voicemail.

    Are the rumours true that, despite pledging to vote against fees that you and other Lib Dem Ministers will vote for on Thursday?

  13. kemlyn says:

    Nick Clegg has told all Lib Dem Ministers they must vote Yes. There are Tories voting against and, of course, Labour MPs will vote against.

    Strange, I always thought a well-educated work-force benefited the entire nation. It appears the Lib Dems now think it only benefits the individual, and so the individual should foot the bill.

    The Liberal Democrat Party, born 1988, died 2010. RIP.

  14. Dave says:

    Yeah, it’s hilarious looking at that main page and seeing nothing at all about the main issue that people have been discussing this week.

    I can’t be bothered to go over all the arguments about why increased fees are a bad idea – they’ve been well made already elsewhere. For me the key issue is the breaking of a pledge. Why on earth should anybody believe a word you say ever again, ever? The pledge was plain enough. All these weasel words we hear that somehow it doesn’t apply if you’re in a coalition are just patent nonsense.

    Are you even going to apologise for breaking your word? Tell us under what circumstances we’d be able to trust you again?

    What kind of person are you, really?

  15. james farfisa says:

    I just want to know which way you will vote Lynne. Whatever you say, you DO know and have probably known for quite some time which way you are going to vote. Just be upfront. I don’t expect much from you anymore but will make comment when I want to because you are still my MP, until the next election.

  16. Ellie says:

    It’s simple really. You can go with your heart, your principles and your constituents, and vote against the tripling of fees. Or can decide that being a Minister is more important than your principles, and vote for it.

    If you do the latter, you’d better enjoy being a Minister while it lasts, because you’d be unlikely even to be an MP after the next election.

  17. Hello Lynne. I know this decision will be the hardest you’ve probably faced in politics, and I won’t presume to tell you what to decide.

    We know, if we’re honest, that your seat will almost certainly go to Labour at the next election whatever you choose; but we also know that in the next few months, you are the person most likely to get your equalities bill passed, and we know that you can only do that if you stay in the Cabinet – which means following Mr. Clegg’s apparent diktat that you vote for this tuition fees bill on Thursday.

    But we also know (or at least assume, based on your previous position) that you hate the bill as much as we do, and that you don’t want to vote for it, but that we just don’t have the mathematics on our side to stop it.

    So you are faced with a choice: a principled stand, most likely in vain, against a tuition fees increase you hate, which would mean giving up your equalities bill; or having the opportunity to pass the equalities bill but being branded a turncoat for the next four years. And then losing your seat anyway, whatever you choose.

    The point is, it is grotesquely unfair that Mr. Clegg and Mr. Cable have put you in this position. But I will carry on supporting you as my MP. I suspect, sadly, that I might end up being in a very small minority.

  18. Tom says:

    Charlie: which equalities bill are you talking about? I don’t remember one in the Queen’s speech, and I can’t find anything on google about one being proposed.

  19. Katharine Blake says:

    If you believe in the concept of the so called ‘Queen’, how can you believe in the concept of equality? Why do people still adhere to childhood fairytale characters?

  20. Carl Phillips says:

    Nick Robinson just reported (8.40 am) on Radio 4 that Nick Clegg has persuaded all of his ministerial team to vote in favour of increased tuition fees. Is this correct Lynne?

  21. Lynne – all strength to you if you do vote for the new student fee & loan package, for the reasons you set out well at the outset. As you well know, the prophets of Baal can shout loudly, but may not always succeed best at laving the thirsty land!

  22. Pat says:

    If you vote for this bill in raising tuition fees in spite of your promises and your stated beliefs, then you will never be trusted again. There are even Tory MPs who have the courage to vote against it. Have the courage of your convictions and vote against it even if it means resigning. I know a number of children who are now deciding that they will not study for university because they do not want to start their adult life in over £30,000 of debt. Also, I believe, this will hit women hardest (equalities,please!) as they are paid less and therefore will take longer to repay the debt and accrue greater interest.

  23. Oh dear! Pat – please explain to the children you know that they will have nothing to pay if they don’t get a decently paid job, they will pay less for the next 20 years if they are on average earnings on this new scheme, that if female and earning less than men for whatever reason they will have to pay less on the new scheme, and that if they get a well paid job they will admittedly have to pay more – but very likely a university education will have helped them get into that position and, if they would have got there anyway, it will almost certainly have helped them get more enjoyment out of life.

  24. Carl Phillips says:

    Tony,

    Prior to the last election Lynne maintained that it was good to “engage”. For the past few weeks some of us have been trying to get Lynne to discuss the subject of tuition fees; we have not been cutting ourselves with knives nor have we been ranting and raving, but no answer came, no sound was heard.

    I look forward now to being overwhelmed by a flood of goodwill from the ConDems. Britian will become again a prosperous land … but I fear it will only be for the few.

    Meanwhile I imagine Lynne is already riding her chariot towards Jezreel …

  25. kemlyn says:

    Tony,

    What an astonishing concept, telling those considering going to University only to do so if they are sure they won’t earn enough to have to pay back the fees. And if they are unfortunate enough to live in London and therefore almost certainly earn above average national wages, then tough, you should have thought of that before you took a degree.

    Yes, that will definitely encourage young people to enter further education.

  26. Tom says:

    Tony,

    Actually, given that the £21,000 threshold is in 2016 money, it’s really not that much more than the current threshold. It’s certainly not much more than the current threshold was when it was introduced. So unless your idea of a ‘decent paid’ job is very different to mine, yes, they will still have to pay.

    As for paying less for 20 years on average earnings? Up to a point, Lord Copper. Annual payments will be slightly less, true; but under the current system, they will pay off for fewer years in total, and pay off less in total.

    This worry about fees also overlooks the much more important and fundamental problems: the HUGE cut in the teaching budget for universities (around 80%), and the marketisation of higher education. Stefan Collini lays bare the worrying endpoint of the Browne review here: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v32/n21/stefan-collini/brownes-gamble. It’s well worth a read.

  27. Can Okar says:

    Dear Lynne,

    I have tried calling your office but to no avail. I am writing to express my sense of utter betrayal having just just heard that you will be abandoning your pledge to us, your constituents, to whom that pledge was unequivocal.

    In May of this year, I walked to Jackson’s Lane with a sense of political optimism for the first time in my life. I had spent much of the previous two months persuading friends and family that you and your party represented something new in politics. It should be noted that I agreed on some and not all of your policies but your fees stance was obviously a central tenet of your candidacy and I knew that I was helping to elect someone who had similar views to me on the value of education.

    It has been heartbreaking ever since to watch your party swivel away from the pledge you made. It was also an eye-opener into the contempt with which your party held us when we heard about pre-election plans to scrap your most public promise. You know as well as we do that this measure has nothing to do with austerity. Indeed, in the years when we most need to lower interest payments, it may actually increase public debt as you borrow in the interim period before 2016 when the first small repayments start trickling in.

    So it is quite clear that this is an ideological change. To those that defend it, they should recognise that the fee burden will continue to grow once the principle of society stepping away from tertiary education is cemented. Even with these proposals, we are seeing a 9% marginal tax increase on all middle-income earners for the rest of their working lives. And I see no reason for a debt-averse kid to “waste” time on sixth form college (when the EMA has been decreased) and then university (at which the maintenance grant could be as low as £1,000 per annum after rent) when they could just earn money straight away. Anyone who says that 15 year olds (you make the decision for university at about 15 when you’re considering A-levels) are the people who can make complex decisions about the wider societal good of education, long-term debt repayment, opportunity costs, variable fee decisions etc is mistaken.

    But even if this was a workable proposal, which I clearly believe it isn’t, a pledge is a pledge is a pledge. Why did you make it? Can I ever believe you again? As I said in my phone message, I believe this to be an act of wilful electoral larceny. It is even worse than “old politics” because you pledged to do things differently.

    I hope you and your party are destroyed by this. You have shown no honour and you have taken honour away from people like me who believed you and have been made to look like fools in front of all those to whom we defended you.

  28. mike garland says:

    So, the Sarah Palin of the Condem party has gone silent on the big issues- yet again.
    No surprise there then.
    Having seen the comments set down on this blog since May, and Lynne Featherstone’s inability and/or gross reluctance to actually engage with us, her constituents, should be proof enough now to the sycophants who crawl on these pages – i.e. Tony Gardner-Medwin just what a fake and a phoney she has been all these years.
    She has shouted from the sidelines in opposition since being elected in 2005, not with principles of the heart, or with the electorate’s best interests (as most of us who took her on face value actually thought) but has been motivated purely be ego and vanity.
    We should see if this proposterous MP can be recalled due to the now known deceit she espoused in her pre-election campaign material.
    We thought we had a genuine MP. How wrong can we be?
    Ms.Featherstone, you’ve betrayed those who elected you, our children and future generations.

  29. Tony Greenwood says:

    As Lynne is keeping an uncharacteristically low profile on this issue and not having had anything other than automated holding responses to my email and letter on student fees, I’ve just had a quick look around her website here. In the Blog section, you’ll find a sidebar box entitled “What they say about me…” And there in the box is a quote dated May 2010 from James Kirkup of the Daily Telegraph:
    “She’s more interested in telling what she sees as the truth than in toeing the party line.”
    Hmmm.
    Maybe this should be updated with:
    “Don’t listen to what Lynne says, look at what she does.”

  30. Glenys says:

    Lynne still has the quote on her webpage saying: “She’s more interested in telling what she sees as the truth than in toeing the party line”. Unbelievable !

  31. Mr Bubblebath says:

    Tony Gardner-Medwin, you and your ilk who tie yourself in knots trying to justify a thoroughly reactionary policy deserve the contempt of all those who stand for a progressive, liberal society.
    Lynne, you have been warned, advised, cajoled and begged often enough on this blog to ditch your Tory pals and stand up for us, your constituents. You have refused to do so.
    The opposition to your deceitful, unprincipled position is overwhelming. For me it is very similar to the way I felt towards your predecessor in this constituency for her support of the immoral and illegal war in Iraq.
    I look forward to the day, which may come sooner than you think, when you are unceremonially dumped just as she was. Along with, I predict, the vast majority of your lying, hypocritical Lib Dem colleagues.
    Fellow contributors, how about starting a campaign to recall Lynne Featherstone?

  32. Disappointed to find out that you, the ‘EQUALITIES’ Minister is going to apparently vote for the trebling of tuition fees for English students.

    That’s a real piece of EQUALITIES work there – NOT!

    Tell me Lynne, what’s so ‘EQUAL’ about Scots students paying no tuition fees whatsoever, Welsh students getting away with shelling out 3 grand pa and English students as per usual paying the most – 9 grand per year!!

    BTW, I’ve just come back from the chemist were I have had to shell out nearly fifteen quid for two prescriptions. Nice to know that in this ever-so-equal union of equals the Scots are paying £3.50 per prescription (free next year) and the Welsh pay absolutely nowt for theirs!!!

    In order that we in England can become democratically EQUAL to everyone else in the UK, I think that we need to have a First Minister and National Government who will act in OUR English best interests – for a change. One thing is for sure, the venal shinannegans that are practiced by the Westminster cabal seem to view us in England as little more than a cash cow to fund celtic largesse….. ENGLISH PARLIAMENT NOW!!!

    PS – Lynne, you should hang your head in shame.

  33. Tom (12:28 pm),
    I’m much in agreement with you here. The benefit to low earners of the fee/loan scheme depends crucially on the raising of the thresholds with inflation*. This doesn’t seem to be part of tomorrow’s vote, and it is what MPs and students should be pressing the government to commit to in the rest of the package.
    The university budget cut is not entirely real, since as I understand it universities will get most of the same money from the government, but in the form of fees paid on behalf of the students. But still, as Collini discusses, universities will change. (Thanks for the link.) I don’t think market motivation to match courses better to student needs will necessarily be all bad, and I think the worries about the future of arts and humanities tend to be exaggerated. A wider introduction of some kind of broader ‘liberal arts’ model for undergraduate courses and a separation and improvement of graduate level courses are likely directions for change, and could be good. Many students at present study things they are not really interested in or good at. It will be welcome if debates over change in universities can focus more on academic and student-centred issues rather than managerial ones and criteria for staff advancement that depend almost entirely on research.
    *But NB taking the threshold as effectively £19k compared with £15k, my spreadsheet shows the average earner as paying is still at most 3.5% of cumulative earnings for a £38k loan as against 4.4% on the present scheme for a £20k loan.
    Since I seem to be coming in for irrational slanging on the same lines as Lynne (whom incidentally I only know from this blog and her one about Elijah) I can quite understand her keeping her head well out of it.

  34. Carl Phillips says:

    Tony, you say you are coming in for irrational slanging on the same lines as Lynne. Well, many of Lynne’s constituents who voted for her and who are not happy with the tuition fees increase, the marketisation of higher eucation etc surely deserve some acknowledgement of their concern from their MP. How, useful or accurate is it, therefore, for you to brand them all prophets of Baal?

  35. kemlyn says:

    Simon Hughes has consulted his constituents, and listened to his local party workers’ views. They have requested that he vote against. He has said he will abstain at the least, but is considering their argument to go further.

    What about you Lynne? Or will your constituents be the last to know?

  36. Julianne says:

    Don’t let us down Lynne. We believe in you. You deserve a long political career; please don’t cut it short by voting for a flawed proposal. Thank you.

  37. Natasha says:

    Lynne,

    I am a student and i did not vote for you in the election, but know many students who did vote Liberal Democrat on the student pledge.

    If you do not vote against today I will be very smug at my decision not to vote for you and the liberal democrats, but will hope that you will be ready to show me that I maybe was wrong by working actively against the horrible plans the tories have for healthcare, social housing, other public surfaces and if you actually begin to act as a minister for equality, which it cannot be said you have done with respect to the issue a group protested outside your office for the other day.

  38. Mandy Hedley says:

    Dear Lynn,

    I am watching and waiting for your vote. I will definitely vote against you in the next election if you vote yes to tuition fee increases. So will my husband and anyone else I can get to listen. We have backed you up until this point. I have admired you.

    We are not stupid. We understand the coalition govt’s proposals. I have a lifetime’s worth of debt because I had to suffer in the American education system where college fees are crippling.

    Don’t humiliate us. Don’t lie to us.

    Woodgreen Voter,

    Mandy Hedley

  39. Simon Brind says:

    Dear Barbara Roche …

  40. kemlyn says:

    A sad day for the country when we decide that the benefits of a University education are only enjoyed by the individual, not by the entire community.

    A generation saddled with huge long term debt at such a young age. Just for wanting a decent education.

    Careful with that ladder while you’re pulling it up behind you Lynne, you might damage yourself.

  41. Helen says:

    Lynne,

    I couldn’t despise you more. Apparently you were ‘distraught’ while wobbling through the ‘YES, YES, YES INDEED, ANYTHING YOU SAY NICK’ lobby door today. Don’t expect sympathy – you have done this to yourself.

    I’m just explaining to my son that I’m writing a note to the woman who is a liar – that will be your Hornsey and Wood Green legacy. Adults who place a value on education and children who will suffer because of you will all know and remember your shameless conduct. Enjoy.

  42. Robin79 says:

    Bring back Barbara Roche!

  43. Adam says:

    You’re finished.

  44. Mr Bubblebath says:

    end of story – the opposition to the Lib Dems for what they have done is deep and widespread. For the coalition, this is the Poll Tax.
    Lynne, I feel sorry for you as a person but nothing but contempt as a politician.
    Abolish all tuition fees – it was good enough for me and most MPs –
    bring back mainnance grants – and reverse the cuts in state subsidy for arts and humanities degree courses.
    Stop the destruction of higher education.

  45. Julianne says:

    Sorry Lynne. You’ve lost me too.

  46. Kim North says:

    Dear Lynne,

    I’m very disappointed to learn today that you voted in favour of raising the cost of tuition fees, given that many of the public voted for the Liberal Democrats on the basis that they were a progressive party, interested in campaigning for social justice. This piece of legislation risks disenfranchising large majorities of future generations from the idea of education being an entitlement and risks further dividing society not only along the lines of wealth and class, but now also levels of education. Social mobility will be affected by this – for all the day-to-day quipping about the devaluation of degrees in the eyes of employers who encounter candidates who are all graduates, workplace experience is really only a piecemeal replacement for the rigours of intensive learning that take place in universities and colleges. Despite the fanciful idea that determined self-starters can succeed in any industry, the reality is that earnings are still tied into level of education. In a situation where the country is still to fully suffer the impact of the recession and unemployment levels are rising, I wouldn’t want to try and gain employment without having a degree.

    I also think that today was a dark day for British society, because university life more actively encourages people to develop into focused and critical thinkers. I sincerely hope that the desire and abilities of the British public to engage in important debates about how their country is run, hasn’t been ruined by this attempt to reform education funding – in a way that hasn’t even been properly designed yet! Hurried through and poorly considered, the whole lot.

    Having now seen the level to which the Liberal Democrats will stoop in order to keep afloat a coalition that neither party whole-heartedly ascribes to, I doubt I will be voting for you again.

    To all LibDems: Enjoy your time in government, you won’t in again for a long time. A week may be a long time in politics, but certain issues will stand as your legacy of compromises.

    See you at the next election.

  47. Carl Phillips says:

    Will we now be getting an explanation of how and when you reached your decision on which way to vote? If so maybe you can take into considertion some of the comments made by your constituents which you appear to have been ignoring lately. Needless to say I’m disappointed (again!) – but I’m bound to be, I’m a dreamer “I have always believed that education should be free – for everyone – and always will.” Sorry to steal your words Lynne … and before you mimic your “brave” leader and tell us that you have to act according to the way the world is rather than the way you would like it to be, you should ask yourself why you are a politician and why you expect people to vote for you. Surely it’s because you want to change the world from the way it is, and change it for the better- as oulined in your manifesto. Unfortunately I fear that today you have helped to introduce changes that will be judged to have been entirley detrimental to British society. And on this blog you have not contributed a single word of comment. So what next, membership fees for public libraries ? Admission charges for museums and galleries so that government support can be withdrawn entirely from anything which is considered to be economically unproductive?

  48. Stroud Green voter says:

    If you are one of the numpties who voted for Lynne Featherstone don’t blame her – anyone who bothered to check could see she was always an empty vessel. Blame yourself – you made it happen.

    As for the rest of us: we told you so.

  49. Jim says:

    Yup. I’m one of the numpties. Sorry everyone. Won’t do that again. Ever.

  50. Susan Eldridge says:

    I DEMAND the right to recall my vote for Lynne Featherstone. It was based on a promise which turned out to be a lie.
    Please can somebody tell me how to take legal action to do this?

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