Friday, December 10, 2010

Talk to your party first, Vince !

I have written to a number of Lib Dem MPs who voted for the rise in tuition fees, along these lines:

"I am disappointed that you didn’t feel able to vote against the rise in tuition fees. Surely the whips must have told the front bench the strength of opinion in the parliamentary party ? I’m guessing – and Vince’s comments on the Today Programme this morning confirm it – that the government developed this policy and THEN tried to sell it to the Lib Dem MPs. I am convinced that Lib Dem ministers need to discuss matters more carefully with their parliamentary colleagues BEFORE negotiating and announcing policies agreed with their Conservative colleagues in government.

I think the tuition fees policy is wrong and some of the arguments in its favour spurious but above all the mishandling of the issue has done damage to the party from which we will never entirely recover. No doubt we will rise above our current 8% but I believe that MPs who think it will all be forgotten by the time of the next election are whistling in the dark. Given the Labour Party’s current disarray, we have handed them an unnecessary victory as a reward for their opportunistic hypocrisy.

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