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Dear Mr Cable.....

(22 Posts)
LilyBolero Sun 21-Nov-10 19:03:30

Dear Mr Cable,

I note with interest that you have stated in the news today that...

""We didn't break a promise. We made a commitment in our manifesto, we didn't win the election. We then entered into a coalition agreement, and it's the coalition agreement that is binding upon us and which I'm trying to honour,""

May I ask in what circumstances you COULD have kept the promise - let me remind you of the wording..."I pledge to vote against ANY rise in tuition fees".

Presumably if the LibDems HAD won the election, there would not have been a vote to raise tuition fees, as the policy was to abolish them. So no opportunity to honour the pledge and vote against any rise. The only circumstance in which you COULD keep the pledge is if the LibDems lost the election (which you did, you came third. Third. Behind Labour.).

Was it therefore merely posturing to buy votes? Did you ever have any intention of keeping it? Because from here it doesn't look like it. Please don't insult people's intelligence by saying we 'don't understand what is proposed'. I understand 27k worth of fees per child.

Good luck with Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special - I'm slightly surprised you have the time for this, given the parlous state of the nation, but maybe I don't understand that etiher.

From a hard working parent who has been totally shafted by this coalition government.

johnhemming Sun 21-Nov-10 19:53:27

The pledge talked about getting a fairer system. For the majority of graduates it will be a graduate tax for 30 years.

This is a fairer system. Ignore the figure about the total of the "fees". Look at what people actually pay.

LilyBolero Sun 21-Nov-10 20:20:52

Mr Hemming, the wording of the pledge was "I pledge to vote against ANY rise in tuition fees". That is an unequivocal statement. It does not depend on election results, or further agreements. It is a PERSONAL promise to vote in a particular way in a particular vote. So any LibDem who signed that pledge and then votes to treble the fees has broken the promise. If you're not prepared to keep a simplistic promise, then you shouldn't make it.

It is NOT a graduate tax because the highest earners will pay it off quickly. A fairer solution might have been a graduate tax for a fixed time (say 20 years?). Then you really would have had a progressive system where the highest earners contributed the most. As it is, the worst place to be is going to be on an income of about 40k, where you will pay the most.

If Mr Cable is saying that the coalition agreement supercedes the promise made to students, any LibDem MP proposing to vote for the trebling of fees should be prepared to fight a by-election so that the electorate have the opportunity to give or deny a mandate. The Coalition agreement is non-elected, and given that the LibDems campaigned on a manifesto of slower, shallower cuts (similar to the Labour party), and that the total number of Lib/Lab votes was higher than Tory votes, I would suggest that the mandate is for a slower deficit reduction plan.

LibDem MPs should be very careful about patronising the electorate, pretending that they are somehow keeping this promise. If you buy votes with simple promises, you must keep them.

LilyBolero Sun 21-Nov-10 20:24:53

Just for info;

Full text of the pledge;

" I pledge to vote against any increase in fees
in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce A Fairer Alternative "

That would be a FAIRER ALTERNATIVE TO HIGHER FEES. Not....Higher Fees.

You can argue that this scheme is fair till the cows come home, the fact remains that the richest do NOT contribute the most, the Government has been disingenuous with its quote of 21k (compared to 15k) to start paying back, as it is 21k in 2016 - equivalent to 18.5k today, so not such a great deal after all. The British government's contribution to HE in terms of GDP is lower than most countries in the developed world - even America. Please don't insult us by treating us like we are too stupid to understand what is happening.

johnhemming Mon 22-Nov-10 07:10:47

The scheme is a graduate tax for the majority of graduates. For a minority there is a cap which is linked to the fees.

The calculations on Net Present Value show that the richest graduates do pay the most. You can see this on the IFS website.

The changes I pressed for were to increase the amount paid by the richer graduates.

This means that up to an income of 41K there is a sliding additional charge to be cleared before hitting the cap.

johnhemming Mon 22-Nov-10 07:13:46

This is the initial IFS analysis
www.ifs.org.uk/publications/5307

In which you will find the following comment inter alia.

"Under Lord Browne's proposals, more than half of graduates would make repayments for the full 30 years, effectively paying a graduate tax over that period."

Blackduck Mon 22-Nov-10 07:23:28

But the proposals allow for the fees to be paid up front so richer families will avoid the debt and thus the more wealthy will not pay more. The poor, are hopefully covered nut those in the middle are screwed. I have read your arguements on other fora and the bottom line is you do have a choice - vote against the proposal as you claimed you would do in your manifesto

johnhemming Mon 22-Nov-10 07:37:32

That is why I asked for two things. Firstly, a redistributive penalty on up front payments so people cannot escape the tax scot free and secondly greater burden sharing by the better of graduates.

Those were announced by the government post the Browne report.

LilyBolero Mon 22-Nov-10 09:05:56

As I understand it though there is NO suggested penalty for paying up-front fees, therefore the scheme will mean that those students with rich parents will be further advantaged once they graduate because they won't have payments to make. That is where a pure graduate tax based on a fixed time and not linked to a fee amount is better, because everyone would have to contribute (of course the rich offspring could still ask their parents to pay their tax, but that is inescapable). And those on better salaries would contribute more, year on year, without the ambiguity of interest rates etc.

The cutting of teaching budgets is very worrying too - we do actually NEED graduates in this country, and as such, we should fund the universities properly (as I pointed out before we ALREADY are one of the lowest in terms of % of GDP, without the cuts!).

I have to say that the thing I find most disgraceful about this whole episode is the attitude of some senior LibDems, who seem unable to grasp that the pledge they made to students, prospective students, and their families, will have gained them many votes. It was not a pledge based on winning the election, it was a pledge based on LOSING the election (which they in fact did). They should not try to spin their way out of this. They should also realise that it is galling to watch the cabinet - with 20 millionaires sitting round the table, all having benefited from a free education, blithely imposing a lifetime of debt on kids who have done nothing to cause the financial problems of this country, and who are already being hit by cuts. In the run up to the election, the LibDems talked about getting the super-wealthy to pay. But we as a family are NOT the superwealthy - the IFS has us on the 34th centile on 'Where do you fit in' based on income, council tax and number of people in the household. We have been hit as a family for Child Benefit (3 thousand a year - and we will REALLY feel this, as it is 10% of our income), we will be hit for university fees too, plus all the other things like VAT and NI. Just taking university fees and Child Benefit, and ignoring the interest on the university fees, we as a family have been stung for over £100k. That is 30k worth of Child Benefit, and 72k RISE in fees (I took the existing 3k out of the calculation). Is that really a fair way to cut the deficit? It is the equivalent of dh working for 4 YEARS for free.

This is where the government needs to look hard at what it is doing. It is incomprehensible to me why children and welfare recipients are being targeted like this, whilst the super-rich emerge relatively unscathed. The amount of tax avoidance that is being clamped down on is pitiful. But woe betide you if you are a low earner on HB.

The world has turned upside down, and the LibDems are just nodding away (watch Clegg and Danny Alexander sometime in the house). Their position in the current polls should show them that this is NOT what people voted for. And one final word on Danny Alexander (I am aware this has turned into a rant, but I am SO SO upset by everything this Government has done, we are affected so much as a family) - how does he square campaigning to save the forests in Scotland, whilst trying to sell off our precious forests in England? This was supposed to be a new kind of politics, and I think it may be, but not a better kind.

johnhemming Mon 22-Nov-10 09:32:40

>As I understand it though there is NO suggested penalty for paying up-front fees

AIUI there is. I did ask for it. I spoke personally to Vince Cable about it.

This is the statement
www.bis.gov.uk/news/speeches/david-willetts-statem ent-on-HE-funding-and-student-finance

Which includes the following:

"The Government is committed to the progressive nature of the repayment system. It is therefore important that those on the highest incomes post graduation are not able unfairly to buy themselves out of this progressive system by paying off their loans early."

LilyBolero Mon 22-Nov-10 09:58:51

That is different - that is a penalty for redeeming your LOAN early (along the lines of paying your mortgage off early - early redemption penalty). That doesn't cover students whose parents whip out their chequebook at the beginning of Freshers Week and pay the fees upfront - for these RICHEST students there would be no loan, and therefore no penalty, thus advantaging them for the next 30 years after graduation.

LadyBlaBlah Mon 22-Nov-10 10:51:22

I would also like Mr Cable to reply to a letter and email I have sent him about something that his department has pledged in the Coalition agreement.

The agreement says:

"We will promote small business procurement, in particular by introducing an aspiration that 25% of government contracts should be awarded to small and medium-sized businesses and by publishing government tenders in full online and free of charge."

This is another thing they seem to be going back on or at least were empty words. Ever since Sir Phillip tax avoiding Green came in and reported that the best way for govt to save money is to buy everything centrally, then there is absolutely NO CHANCE this pledge will even be considered.

I have written and emailed his department, but not a sausage back. Not even a standard reply. Nothing. I see no signs of this happening. I see no real signs that they are going to support small business in any way other than ridiculous NI concessions which make little difference to most small businesses.

On another note, wouldn't it be marvellous if Phillip Green's wife left him and did one with all his her money?

LilyBolero Mon 22-Nov-10 11:46:35

Interesting question LadyBlahBlah! Hope you get a reply, assuming Mr Cable is not too busy preparing the QuickStep...

JohnHemming - could you confirm whether Vince Cable specifically said paying fees upfront would be penalised as you imply below? This has not been said in any press releases/reports. If not, then how can this be called progressive when the rich parents can buy their children out of the system so that the richer students do not have to take out a loan (and therefore incur interest payments).

edam Mon 22-Nov-10 14:09:34

The main point is that the Lib Dems signed the pledge to vote against an increase in fees. It's not ambiguous at all. People who voted Lib Dem voted on that basis.

Lib Dems who vote for any increase in fees - however much it is hedged about with 'oh, it's not really an increase, it's a graduate tax' are breaking an election pledge and outing themselves as downright liars.

LilyBolero Mon 22-Nov-10 14:18:53

Absoluely edam.

LilyBolero Mon 22-Nov-10 14:19:29

That should be absolutely obv!

KaraStarbuckThrace Mon 22-Nov-10 14:53:01

Don't forget according to leaked documents Clegg made the decision to back tuition fees before the election. So he was campaigning on something he had no intention of following through with.

In other the the Lib Dems were ready to betray their principals and their voters to grasp power.

edam Mon 22-Nov-10 18:43:48

Kara, very good point.

Yes Lily it should but sadly that doesn't seem to be obvious to some Lib Dems. Especially the MPs, such as John Hemming. For whom I had a lot of respect before this issue, as it happens.

Seems to me the Lib Dems have proved they are unfit for power.

stoatsrevenge Mon 22-Nov-10 19:01:03

And unfit for another vote from me....... EVER.

LilyBolero Mon 22-Nov-10 19:17:01

lol, I agree with your post completely, but what I meant was that I had misspelt absolutely in the previous post, so was clarifying what I meant! grin

But yy to being unfit for power.

Blackduck Mon 22-Nov-10 19:46:41

Lily exactly the point I was tryin to make about people being able to pay up front - I too have seen nothing to contradict this. Notice mr hemming hasn't been back to answer that one....

LilyBolero Mon 22-Nov-10 21:04:15

BlackDuck - I would like him to come back and answer that. If fees are payable upfront then it is NOT progressive, and not fair, and demonstrably not a graduate tax.

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