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Clegg's apology over tuition fees

(37 Posts)
longfingernails Thu 20-Sep-12 00:01:15

I think it is very risky, but probably the best way out of the Lib Dems (and his) enormous credibility hole. It was always a stupid pledge to make, frankly, knowing that both Tories and Labour were committed to the Browne review process.

But by subtly reminding the Westminster village that it was Vince Cable who was in charge of actually drafting the tuition fees legislation, Clegg can dramatically reduce the credibility of the quisling socialist responsible for the anti-Business Department. See how Cable was made to squirm by Paxo tonight! And now that Laws is back, the Orange Bookers can rise ascendant over the SDPers...

At the same time, there is a mindless section of the British voting populace, who feel "moved" by politicians undergoing the masochism strategy (see Tony Blair's temporarily semi-successful detox over Iraq). I don't understand it myself, but it obviously works.

What is good is that the current political atmosphere seems more coalicious than in recent times, and there accordingly seem to be progress on several fronts (most notably, more excellent work by Gove, ably assisted by Laws, on exam reform).

The Lib Dems need to realise that their ridiculous obstructionist strategy DOES hurt the Tories, yes, but it also hurts them. If they can be seen to be more responsible, and acting in the national interest rather than fighting like ferrets in the proverbial sack, then they might be able to build upon the (very shaky) plateau afforded by Clegg's apology.

MrJudgeyPants Thu 20-Sep-12 10:26:21

I don't think it matters that much either way. The LibDems have used the coalition to ably demonstrate why they have been out of government for so long. I can foresee a return to the days when they could hold their party conferences in a phone box.

I simply can't see a reason for voting for this generation of LibDems at the next election. Their manifesto promises are, demonstrably, not worth the paper they are written on, they are a party split between the Orange Bookers and the rest and they have shown themselves, through the usual combination of sleaze, larceny, dithering and incompetence, to be the precise mix of self-serving politicians and creeping Jesus' that this country needs like it needs a hole in the head.

Also, between now and Christmas there will be the unedifying spectacle of the bun fight between Chris Huhne and his wife as the truth comes out about that speeding ticket.

VeritableSmorgasbord Thu 20-Sep-12 10:28:13

Vince squirming on Newsnight is going to hurt the LibDems, he's the nearest thing they have to a credible future leader. I'd be surprised if Clegg keeps his seat at the next election.

niceguy2 Thu 20-Sep-12 10:30:08

Vince Cable has been strutting around like such a pompous arse that I'm glad he got a good shoeing from Paxman.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 20-Sep-12 15:47:46

Clegg's mirroring Milliband. The difference being that he's apologising before stepping down in favour of a new broom whereas Milliband apologised from the position of new broom elect. I think some squeaky clean LD candidate will emerge in the next 12 months - a charismatic figure possibly not even in parliament yet - and Clegg will be quietly wheeled away to that desert island with his packet of fags and 8 favourite records.

claig Thu 20-Sep-12 19:47:09

'Clegg will be quietly wheeled away to that desert island with his packet of fags and 8 favourite records.'

So you think he will go to the House of Lords?

chipstick10 Fri 21-Sep-12 12:13:12

I didnt see newsnight, what a shame, i may have i player it.

Dontaz Fri 21-Sep-12 21:41:14

Vince Cable on newsnight he really was squirming to the point he called Nick Clegg 'pledge' getting his words muddled up. If Nick Clegg thinks his 'sorry' will work then he is a 'fool' the students now beginning are getting their £10.000 loans with interest beginning immediately will they forget this, when it is the election year?? As a parent of a daughter who has taken a gap year to decide what to do, I WILL NOT FORGET EVER that they will ENSURE THAT SHE HAS A DEBT OF £65.000 so Nick, 'I'm sorry' that is not nearly good enough. Who wants their child to have so much debt and as parents given no time to plan or try to help to save. Increasing the fees was wrong then and is wrong now they could have raised them slightly even doubled them but to increase to £9.000 was and is a disgrace. They said only a few universities would charge the full fees, that is a lie almost all have and those that have not are charging £8.000 plus so how can they be trusted with anything.
Lib Dems should be wiped out will they be sorry about the NHS or the Welfare Reforms when they wake up and realise what THEY HAVE DONE? I don't think so, his apology actually made me more angry and more determined not to allow them to ever forget.
They have betrayed our young people the people who voted for them, and now Clegg and Gove are going to betray the next generation with his stupid E-BACC so well done LIb Dems happy conference!
Clegg will disappear to Europe and the sooner the better.

dotnet Mon 24-Sep-12 07:22:41

Yes, dontaz, I agree the LibDems have screwed it for themselves and can never retrieve things - it is now impossible to regain all that goodwill the students and many others bore them, pre-election.

Saying 'sorry' IS brave I suppose, but unless you say sorry and then make damn sure you go on to put things right, it simply CAN'T be enough. And they can't put things right now; the Conservatives have the whip hand over them and wouldn't countenance it.

A lot of the LibDems DIDN'T vote for the outrageous tuition fees for our children; they're the ones I feel sorry for. Until this happened, they looked to be a party of decent minded people. Vince Cable, Norman Lamb, Nick Clegg and the other pro-sky high student fees voting MPs have now killed their party stone dead.

MPs are so feather bedded and lead such comfortable lifestyles that many of them have no concept of what life is like for the majority - that a debt hanging over our heads - no matter how far into the future - is a worrying black cloud; absolutely NOT a thing with which to endow our young. The Scots and the Welsh understand that.

I feel deeply upset by the way the middle aged generation has treated our young ones. No wonder the number of English applicants to university has dropped so much. I'm ashamed of this English government's philistine attitude to education.

niceguy2 Mon 24-Sep-12 10:57:09

I WILL NOT FORGET EVER that they will ENSURE THAT SHE HAS A DEBT OF £65.000 so Nick, 'I'm sorry' that is not nearly good enough. Who wants their child to have so much debt and as parents given no time to plan or try to help to save.

Hi Dontaz

Firstly I agree that the lib dems have fucked it up for themselves. To clearly say one thing then welch on it a few months later is unforgivable. Especially when the coalition agreement gave them the opt-out on it. Arguably it's the worst political mistake made for as long as I can remember. I almost voted for the lib dems purely on the issue of student finance so I am glad I didn't.

But... that all said and done, I think we need to stop looking at the fees as a debt. If you actually look at the new system it's actually not that bad. OK, it's not as good as free but both the Tories & Labour were going to introduce higher fees anyway.

The way the repayment's work mean it's actually closer to a graduate tax than a traditional debt/loan. Repayment's don't kick in until you earn £22k a year. At that point you should be taking home £1450ish per month and repaying £7.50.

When you are earning £50k a year, you will be paying back significantly more (£217.50) but then your take home pay should be nearly £3k per month. I think if you ask most young people if they'd pay an extra £217 in taxes to earn £3k a month, they'd say yes!

If you get made unemployed, career break, pregnant or a pay cut then repayments are adjusted/paused.

Don't get me wrong, I've a daughter myself who will be going to uni soon so like most parents I'm trying to get my head around the whole system. But given free is no longer seems to be a realistic option, this seems the next best thing.

It's probably best if we don't fret about the total amount we are repaying but more the monthly repayments. Just in the same way that if I think about the sheer amount of money I've borrowed for my mortgage (and the total I must repay), I'd probably have sleepless nights. But the monthly repayments are fairly comfortable.

dreamingofsun Mon 24-Sep-12 14:23:13

nieguy - it will be interesting to see if this affects the supply of key workers such as teachers and healthcare professionals in expensive areas like london and the south. 50k may sound like a lot of money - and in many areas it is - but there's also rent/mortgage and childcare costs to factor in. Plus tax and NI. I wonder if the extra £217 a month will be the extra that breaks the camels back and means that professionals move to cheaper areas

niceguy2 Tue 25-Sep-12 09:10:55

Dreaming. £50k is a very good salary but it certainly is a long way off from being rich and not needing to worry about money. On that much I agree.

But I think you miss one important point. And that is the idea that it's the degree which enables you to get those higher paid jobs because you are better qualified. And without the degree that you'd not be earning £50k. That's the idea anyway.

Of course there will be plenty of people who will earn this and more without a pesky degree but there will be many MANY more who never do.

The point is that the degree is not really a debt as such but for most it's more akin to a graduate tax.

There are no guarantees in life. Having a degree doesn't mean you will earn loads. I'm sure there are many people with degrees flipping burgers at McD's. But statistically graduates do earn more over a lifetime than those without. So as I've told my daughter. Which camp do you want to be in? The one with a degree, statistically more likely to earn more and therefore have a more comfortable life albeit with a student 'debt'? Or the one without and take the chance that you will be one of the lucky few to succeed without?

Personally I'd rather uni education be free. I'm a big fan of all education being free. But that's unrealistic in the current climate, so like I've said, it's more a case of balancing the cost versus potential reward. And that in my book is still good.

dreamingofsun Tue 25-Sep-12 09:42:54

niceguy - agree with some of what you say. Free degrees aren't unrealistic in wales and scotland though.

you've also not commented on my suggestion that it will affect the supply of people in key jobs that people don't need to do in the south or london, eg teachers.

niceguy2 Tue 25-Sep-12 13:23:51

Yes dreaming, I take your point on free uni fees in Scotland & Wales but I was simply referring to the fact that as someone living in England, with both main parties committed to charging fees and the lib dems who probably will run away screaming at any future votes on anything to do with students, i think it's unrealistic for me to hope for free tuition. Like I said, personally I think it should be free but that's a personal opinion.

As for key jobs in London, I don't think it will have any impact at all. Why? Because under the new system, monthly repayments are actually lower than the previous system.

Let me give you an example. Let's say a teacher is earning £40k. Some earn more, some earn less but let's just go with it as an example. Under the old system they would have been repaying £181 per month. The new system, they will repay £142 per month.

So they repay less but over a longer period. And let's face it £40 living in London is neither here nor there if you were planning to buy a house.

People are understandably struggling to get their heads around the size of the debt but are not fully understanding the nature of the system.

As Martin Lewis more eloquently puts it than I can:

"It’s time to stop calling student loans 'debts'. They are not really loans at all – what we really have is no-win, no-fee higher education."


dotnet Tue 25-Sep-12 18:53:41

I don't trust the claim that the threshold of £21k earnings before starting to pay off the debt, will rise with inflation. Sooner or later some b......d in government will have the spiffing wheeze of freezing the threshold, thus calling to account more and more people whose earnings are further and further below the national average wage.
The whole thing stinks. My dd's cousins are Scots, so I'm very very aware that our kids didn't have to be treated this way.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 26-Sep-12 08:54:04

When I was at university back in the eighties I wish someone had told me we were enjoying the halcyon days of free education!!! There may have been no tuition fees but there were plenty of other costs to contend with as a student. Despite being the DD of parents on low income I didn't get a grant because they had savings. Even those that got a grant ran short. So I and many other working class kids in a similar situation made ends meet either working nights, holidays and weekends or with massive overdrafts, all of which had to be paid back at the going rate whether you had a job or not. Children from wealthy families could just call Dad for some extra cash when they ran out.... same as they do now.

I think the system in place today where the loans are at preferential rates and where it doesn't have to be paid back if you're not earning may look expensive on paper but is much more up front and affordable.

dotnet Wed 26-Sep-12 14:17:13

How odd that you didn't appreciate the student grant system - I certainly did. Yes, we mostly needed to get jobs during the summer and at Christmas, but that was our own choice so we could take an interesting holiday camping abroad or something once a year.
I know the idea is that this year's students are supposed to 'forget' that they have put themselves into debt, and not worry about it, but personally I think that is a really bad attitude to inculcate.

Borrow - and then forget about it; that's a bad, bad mindset for adult life.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 26-Sep-12 15:35:43

I didn't get a grant, didn't get any cash from parents & never got any interesting holidays either. smile Worked like stink to pay rent to various landlords and was one of the few that didn't have a big overdraft at the end of 4 years.

I don't seriously think any student is going to 'forget' about their student debt any more than my old uni mates 'forgot' about their overdrafts. They'll be getting annual statements presumably and they can choose to work summer jobs and so on if they want to bring down the balance a bit quicker. From what I hear from friends with kids going to uni this year the standard of tuition and facilities are certainly much more clued up than they were in my day when we were seen as a bit of an inconvenience rather than a valued customer. ...

Timeforabiscuit Wed 26-Sep-12 16:02:41

I voted Lib Dem purely on their Student Finance position, I was one of the first intake to have no Grant and all Loan.

I have a middle ranking technical position (which needs a degree), and brings in a reasonable salary.

BUT if I continue having the payments deducted from my salary as stands, it will never be paid off.

I have a mortgage (much cheaper than renting in this area), two children in full time childcare, redundancies and all the normal "stuff" - oh and apparently I need a pension grin.

The choice was simple for me - when I was earning enough to repay student loan, I stopped my pension as I was on a council pay freeze and childcare went up. I think this is what many people in my position do in the short term.

It is an extra tax - but mine is around £19,000 ballooning up to £24,00 (the low pay years piling on the interest)

I cannot imagine a £65,000 debt for a 21 year old, it's reprehensible.

UnimaginitiveDadThemedUsername Wed 26-Sep-12 17:29:11

But as niceguy2 points out, new graduates aren't going to be in the same financial position as you, Biscuit. And it's not debt in the same way as a credit card debt is debt.

niceguy2 Wed 26-Sep-12 22:18:13

Timeforabiscuit. You are in a very similar position to me except i still got a small grant since they were being phased out.

The thing missing here is a change of mindset. You are looking at this as a £65k debt for your 21 year old and thinking "OMG that's terrible". But what if they went out and borrowed £200k for a mortgage? Would you look at it as "OMG that's terrible that they have a £200k debt!" Chances are you wouldn't because you'd see it as an investment.

The uni education should also be seen as an investment. One which crucially you repayments are based on your ability to pay.

The other thing that is very important to bear in mind is that the repayments are structured such that the monthly amounts are lower than under the old system. So in actual fact the monthly burden is less.

Like I said before, the days of free uni education are gone and sadly about as likely to return as Lord Lucan. Once you look into the actual details and not the rhetoric, it's actually a fairer system than the one it replaces.

dotnet Fri 28-Sep-12 12:48:32

Grants were best, the 'old' system was less bad than the recently imposed one. IF I'd needed to borrow £3,250 a year for tuition fees (approx the amount last year, if I remember) - well, that's not great, but as I think it's important to clear debts ASAP, I'd be prepared to start paying back once I earned £15k. The over all amount owed would be much, much less under the old system.
If you've been brought up to pay off what you owe, then the failure to pay anything because one's wages don't reach £21k will feel shabby - like declaring oneself bankrupt. People who are honourable about debts hate the feeling that arrears aren't being dealt with.
The drop in university applications by students in England surely speaks volumes? Loads of decent young people hate the idea of becoming grand scale debtors.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 28-Sep-12 13:01:35

"The drop in university applications by students in England surely speaks volumes? "

I think it actually says that young people are looking at FE more critically, not just rolling out of A-levels into degree courses just to kill time. That was always the down-side in the old days.

Do you really think there's any shame these days attached to debt? My view is that the buy now pay later culture is very firmly entrenched, unlike 20 or 30 year ago when saving was encouraged over borrowing.

somebloke123 Fri 28-Sep-12 14:14:15

Grants are indeed best - for the student that is.

However they do have to be funded from taxes. When I went to university (so long ago that they weren't even called "unis" - that's how old I am) I did get a grant, but at that time only around 5-10% of school leavers went on to university.

One can certainly argue about whether it was the top 5% or just the most fortunate - and also whether it was right in any case for them to be grants rather than repayable loans.

The reality though was that for such a low student population it was at least doable economically and politically. With 30-40% now going to university it just isn't. Well - maybe it is for the Welsh and Scottish because they have relatively low populations and are subsidised by South East England.

With the vastly larger student population now the new system seems reasonable enough to me compared with any feasible alternative. As has already been pointed out it's more in the nature of a graduate tax rather than a loan. And if after graduation you become a poor artist living in a cold garret you will never have to repay a penny. You will have got your expensive university education absolutely free courtesy of the taxpayer.

Also if we're talking about jobs which are greatly in demand, and for which there is a shortage of applicants, whether it be engineers, translators or whatever, the salaries offered will have to be adjusted to match in order to attract suitable candidates. Since it is ultimately take-home rather than gross pay which matters, it may be that the market will have to adjust to accommodate any loss in net pay due to loan repayment.

Timeforabiscuit Fri 28-Sep-12 16:25:23

Absolutely - education should be seen as an investment, but does the current situation provide enough return given the risk is all on the individual - a young and financially inexperienced one given the stakes.

By the risk - I mean the extra money you need to source via credit cards and overdrafts as loan will only cover fees and partial rent (not everyone can get a bursary).

My subject was Geography - I am passionate about it, get me into a room discussing mapping and Geographic Information Systems and i am a pig in muck , i drifted onto the course as at 18 I had no firm direction.

The current system works very well for those who are very driven and focused - they will get what they want because they are built that way.

This system weeds out the 2:2 and below.

If I was to go through the system now I would probably baulk at a degree -and I think that's wrong because I would never be able to pay it back, never.

There is shame in owing, and there is massive shame in looking at my bright 4 year old daughter and thinking that I will still be paying off my loan when she is just starting to look at her options at 18.

Taxing people for wanting to learn is just plain sh*t

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