The Thick of It


Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Bother for Teather

Lib Dem education minister and former Islington councillor Sarah Teather will be lining up with her colleagues to vote for trebling of tuition fees tomorrow. That much was clear today when she refused to answer questions from Sky News about why she had changed her mind on fees. Like many Lib Dems she probably hasn't and like most Lib Dems hadn't thought there would be any consequences of any of their policies as they all knew they wouldn't  win the election - except Nick Clegg who still hides behind the claim that the policy only counted if they won.

The Lib Dems are being punished on this issue precisely because they made such play of being honest and offering a new politics and because this policy was used at the election to demonstrate this. They are being punished because it was this policy that garnered so many votes for them. They can't have it both ways.

This isn't about voters not understanding the art of compromise and coalition. People haven't forgotten that the Lib Dems specifically targeted the student vote to win university seats.

Teather might not like it but she and her colleagues have to live in their own mess. Her more than many because she chose to raise the issue of student fees in her maiden speech to parliament. She said: 

"tuition fees are serious issues of concern to my constituents. All the evidence suggests that fear of debt will deter those from lower income families and ethnic minority communities."

Finally, a reminder from her own website in 2008, courtesy of the Wayback machine:

Of course, just like the real Sarah Teather, and despite the issue being so "close to her heart", her current site makes no mention of tuition fees at all. If actions speak louder than words, tomorrow she and the rest of the Lib Dems get to show us what they really think.

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