Hughes’s new role makes Farron even more important

December 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

Simon Hughes...knows his role!

I am a huge admirer of Simon Hughes.

He is one of our best known MP’s and beloved by most if not all of the ‘ordinary’ party membership, having held a number of roles within it, including Party President and, currently, its Deputy Leader.

Simon is a politician of principle, but also recognises the pragmatic choices politicians sometimes have to make, though they may be rather more ‘head’ than ‘heart’ decisions.

It was announced yesterday that Mr Hughes has taken on a sixth-month role as the Government’s Advocate for Access to Education, especially higher education.

As a powerful advocate for the rights of less well off pupils/young people I’m sure he’ll do a great job in this role…visiting schools and colleges across the land to lobby students to continue their education/training, in the hope of ensuring each of them is able to fulfill their potential and make the most of their God-given talents.

As someone who benefited from the widening out of access to higher education in the past decade or so, I wish him well in this role.

However this news does, inevitably, lead to one specific question: Was Simon Hughes promised this role if he pledged not to vote against the rise in tuition fees in the recent vote in the House of Commons?

I’m not passing comment, I’m merely asking the question.

Asked by reporters yesterday, Hughes said he’ll still be able to speak out against Government policies as he is not ‘a member of the Government.’

Well, o.k., but he can’t possibly be able to speak quite as openly-at least on education policies-as he has been doing in recent weeks and months, surely?

Which makes Tim Farron-our new President-all the more vital, in being a constructive voice of criticism (where he disagrees with Government policy) and of championing backbench opinion and our voice, as ‘ordinary’members/activists/candidates/councillors.

I was very proud to be a small part of Tim Farron’s campaign team in his recent bid for the party Presidency (I championed his cause here in the East Midlands); I supported him for a number of reasons but primary among them, was his ability to support the coalition and be very vocal about our progressive achievements in Government whilst making clear, where necessary, when Lib Dem policy differs from current Coalition policy…and making sure the genuine, socially liberal voice of our party is heard.

With Hughes largely tied up with his news responsibilities for at least the first-half of 2011, Tim Farron becomes an even more important Lib Dem Voice, in lobbying the party leadership, in connecting members/activists with Government ministers, in making our cause loud and clear in the media.

It is a testament to the strength of our party that we have two such talented MP’s on our parliamentary back benches.

I wish them both well in 2011.

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