The Government should change its mind on tuition fees

November 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

I support an overwhelming majority of what this Coalition Government-and especially the Lib Dem Ministers within in-are doing and achieving.

This Coalition Government is right for Britain.

However, on one of the few issues I disagree with Coalition policy on, I feel I just have to speak out.

And that is tuition fees-as I’ve blogged here before about it, I won’t repeat what I’ve already said.

The purpose of this post is to let you guys know that on Saturday at regional conference I voted for a motion which called for a change in current policy, which is to allow tuition fees to rise much higher, and to abide by what remains Lib Dem policy (as opposed to Coalition Government policy) which is to oppose any rise in tuition fees and, in time, to abolish fees all together.

The motion I supported went on further to call on Ministers to re-examine the Dearing Report into higher education funding and to ensure that ‘graduated and prospective undergraduates, especially the poorest, are not disadvantaged or dissuaded from achieving their degree.

I await to see where the Government will place a cap on fees before I make a further judgement on Coalition policy.

I really want to support Coalition policies , but I must also stick up for working class and middle income families whose young people are not going to want to go to Uni for fear of racking up huge debts.

This debate is a great reminder, however, that the Lib Dems as a party is an independent party and has a number of policy positions not currently being put forward by the leadership.

I understand that, of course. Partnership means compromise.

But those of us not bound by collective responsibility can, do and are calling for a reversal to Coalition policy.

It is the only fair thing to do.

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Reflections from East Midlands regional conference

November 1, 2010 § Leave a comment

On Saturday I had the great pleasure of attending my first Lib Dem conference; the East Midlands regional conference, held at the Festival Hall in Kirby-in-Ashfield in Nottinghamshire.

I went along with Cllr Stuart Bray (Leader of Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council), Cllr David Bill (Deputy Leader of HBBC), and Michael Mullaney (PPC, Bosworth.)

It was great to have the chance to meet so many other Lib Dems from across the region and to hear of the great work going on in their areas.

Though, with Paul Holmes’ loss in Chesterfield in May, the East Midlands currently has no Lib Dem UK Parliamentary representation, there is-as Michael (outgoing regional Chairman) pointed out, plenty of reasons for us not only to not be downhearted, but indeed to be optimistic for future electoral success.

In Ashfield, our hosts for this conference, Cllr Jason Zadrozny…who gave an excellent welcoming speech yesterday…achieved a massive 17.2% swing to the Lib Dems, the second biggest swing to our party in the entire country, coming within a whisker of what was once a safe Labour seat.

In my own area of Hinckley and Bosworth our candidate Michael Mullaney and the rest of our wonderful team got the biggest swing against any Tory MP in the country (6%) and the 9th biggest vote rise in the country, out of 631 seats!

Another wonderful achievement is that the Lib Dems more than trebled its second places in the region from 5 to eighteen.

This places us in a great position for the next election.

If, as Cllr Stuart Bray pointed out in his remarks to regional conference on Saturday, we continue to work hard for local people in the communities we represent (or seek to represent) we have a good chance of retaining seats we have in local government and gaining more next May.

The fight back, then, starts here!

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