A turncoat is a person who shifts allegiance from one loyalty or ideal to another, betraying or deserting an original cause by switching to the opposing side or party. The election was in May, around the same time of course when A Level Students began to apply to universities and plan the next stage of their education. Of course Mr Clegg was not elected but would not even be in the position he is if it were not for his deal with the Tories, but we can fairly expect him to stand by the agreed principles and policies of his party. As deputy Prime Minister, he has a duty to his voters to abide by what he promised at least as far as he can. Before the election Mr Clegg promised to scrap university fees entirely, listing,
- Scrapping tuition fees for first Higher Education degree qualifications
- Fully funding the off-the-job training costs of apprenticeships
- Improving access to Higher Education for under-represented groups
- Reforming the bursary scheme to make it available more fairly across universities
Underneath the coalition’s plans, there is an obvious and sickening agenda of drastic social change: not just the brutal cutting of public spending, but a decisive rolling-out of the market-obsessed, “choice”-fixated ideas that took root while Margaret Thatcher was prime minister, were revived and retooled once Tony Blair decided he had to define himself against the Labour party – and now look set to be taken to their logical conclusion by the Tories, and the like-minded Lib Dems who took their party into the coalition. Here lies another reason Wednesday’s events were so significant – for within the government’s plans for higher education lie not just the hiking-up of fees, but an entire reinvention of the very ethos of our universities, whereby the idea of education as a public good takes yet another kicking, and everything becomes down to “choice”, and whatever is meant to be good for ‘business’.
On, Wednesday, amidst a dull roar of the 50,000 strong crowd, massed outside, Clegg stumbled through his speech as if he really could not believe what he was saying either. “We have stuck to our ambition? Our wider ambition?”, “Our policy is more progressive?” (Hoots from all sides, including his own.) “The truth is before the election we didn’t know…”. If you did NOT know, Mr Clegg, then why did you make those promises? Answer? To win the student votes! You would have to have been living in a box for two years to not realise the economic condition of this country, (and those who believed him and voted for it must have been with him) but to then march in with this piece of blatant social engineering is unforgivable. Clegg also seemed to accuse some of his Lib Dem colleagues of having their heads in the sand in relation to tuition fees. This will result in University education again ending up, a right to the privileged and prohibitively expensive to those from all but the wealthiest households. This is certainly not a liberal move, and I should NOT have to point out (but I will) that countries in which the poorest are kept in their places by depriving them of education at any level either through cost or legislation, rarely thrive or are able to compete in the world market.
Before the election, he told us “there isn’t a serious economist in the world who agrees with the Conservatives…”
How can anybody defend gathering the votes of millions of people on a clear mandate of opposing these Tory proposals, and then – as soon as the door of power opens in your direction – championing each one of them? How can we defend that same outright opposition being forgotten in favour of adopting their position of Lap-dog/whipping boy? This is hypocrisy to say the least. Clegg enabled David Cameron, who got only 36% percent of the vote in Britain, to take the lead in Parliament, and even that percentage was on a promise that “we’re not talking about swinging cuts.”. Some 60% of us voted AGAINST the conservative party. (Is this some form of sick revenge?) During his campaign, Clegg promised he would “prioritise the interests of the poor.” His agreement on these cuts will mean that the poor will not only be losing their job, but their homes too. I wanted to believe in him at first but I am now very glad that I stuck by my instincts because I could see what would happen if either got in. I do not feel betrayed but please allow me to feel indignant on behalf of those who do as we are ALL now stuck with both of them.
The report into higher education by the former chief executive of BP (says it all) was hailed by the government as setting its “strategic direction“, and thereby opened the way for the lifting of the cap on tuition fees so that Universities can charge what they like, and much more besides. A recent YouGov survey commissioned by the Sun found that the public opposed the Browne proposals by 45% to 37%; and an ICM poll from around the same time offered the choice between raised fees and the far fairer option of a graduate tax, and found that people favoured the latter over the former by 61% to 29%. While the population meekly accept the ‘need for austerity’, Ipsos Mori found that 59% of people agreed that there was “a need to cut public spending on public services” – the kind of statistic cited almost daily by those newspapers who, DO affect public opinion, by habitually encouraging the government to cut further, and faster.
Housing in Crisis Too.
“And what really matters? Thousands and thousands of families in just a few months facing debt, stress, eviction and homelessness.
“Weeping children, desperate mothers, defeated fathers. How dare we do this? It is carnage, carnage of our own people and we should be ashamed.” – Baroness Hollis of Heigham
The events at the protest is what turned it into a riot. Throwing fire extinguishers off a tall building could kill somebody, and whatever thug did it should go to prison but most acted eloquently and passionately and peacefully. Cameron complained that there were not enough police at the protest – but he is in the process of dramatically cutting police numbers (he’s a hypocrite too, but that’s another post). Boris Johnson, the Conservative mayor, angrily condemned student violence – hoping we have forgotten that when he was a student, he and the Prime Minister were part of a gang of aristocrats called the Bullingdon Club.
It’s illegal to damage property regardless of whether you can afford to pay for it. Decent people call it vandalism and the fact the Bullingdon Club knew they could get away with being louts because they had money makes it worse. They did it because they were rich louts, not because they believed in anything (other than the power their money afforded them). They had no frustration or anger, they just felt like destroying things. The same way that they’re destroying the country now: because they feel like it. The damage the protesters did is irrelevant compared with the thousands of lives the Tories are taking pleasure from destroying and a party whose members cheer at the announcement of 500,000 job losses does not deserve it’s position. They have consistently wept crocodile tears, turning moist-eyed and saying it was “immoral” to “burden the next generation with higher debts.” So, why, as a solution they have introduced a program that definitely will while conspicuously ignoring the glaringly obvious hypocrisy of gaping tax loopholes which allow the already wealthy to avoid paying their share and profit further from this carnage? Why are they not demanding the banks pay back the money they were loaned? Because they really don’t care, that’s why and it was extremely foolish to trust these toffs (who believe bankers deserve a nice fat reward for clearing up their own mess) with our welfare. People who kick others while they are already down, do not care about their well-being.
Clegg told Daybreak: “I should have been more careful perhaps in signing that pledge.
It was the greatest Liberal of the twentieth century, John Maynard Keynes, who explained definitively why this thinking (put a hold on everything including measures to boost economy) is wrong and in fact caused the Great Depression of the 1930s. While we slip closer to another, we see Ireland is collapsing deeper and harder into depression because it did cut in this way and killed its economy. The coalition is either doing this out of incompetence or they are trying to effect social and severe changes. I fear it is a little of both. If we are “bust” now, we have almost always been bust. Since 1750, our national debt has always been higher than it is now, except for two 40-year gaps. The debt was more than twice this level in 1945, and we still built the NHS and secured decades of prosperity. Johann Hari was the only journalist before the election who warned this would happen but David Cameron called it “black propaganda”, and snapped at a single mum who tried to challenge him about it at a public meeting that she should “run for office yourself” if she was so bothered.
Also, spare me the insincere sophistry of Mr Duncan Smith, who’s millionaire lifestyle and his odd ‘kind’ gesture seems to mask his true nature about as well as a Venus fly trap. Can people stop looking up to money please? It’s pathetic and it doesn’t produce better people, just richer ones. Smith’s evil decisions, evident lack of compassion, and painful ignorance of the facts is triggering now an exodus of poor people from their communities. It will force them to move away from their low-paid jobs in our great cities, and to move into concrete blocks of poverty in cheap-areas with pre-existing unemployment problems. Housing is only cheap where there are no jobs! I am interested to know how Mr Smith believes his decisions will improve anything? All it will do is force people into poorer areas, lead to overcrowding, and force them to commute long distances at great personal cost to keep their jobs negating any saving they make on their accommodation. For a generation now, we have been whittling down our stock of council housing mostly under the Tories but under New Labour too. They were sold off, which was a good policy because it expanded home ownership but instead of investing the proceeds in building more council homes and affordable housing, they were frittered away on tax cuts for the wealthy. The only viable and fair option now is to reinstate a program of house building, which would in turn generate employment but instead Con-Dem coalition has decided to cut house building to its lowest level in generations and stage mass evictions.
Clegg and his party were left under no illusion about the level of fury felt at the party’s U-turn as the National Union of Students (NUS) warned students would attempt to oust Lib Dem MPs who vote for a tuition fee hike by trying to force a by-election under proposed recall legislation in the constituencies of MPs who renege on a flagship manifesto promise to oppose any hike.
Today, the deputy PM defended the U-turn and insisted that the government’s policy would help generations of poor people go to university. I wonder how, when families stand to lose their homes stand to lose their homes and much-needed help? The coalition’s cuts are barbaric and divisive. As the population increases, and lives longer, our housing crisis will only increase and divide us further. A one bedroom flat in London will fetch between £190k to £300! This is a ridiculous price and it is therefore no wonder that so many need Housing benefit for rented properties. It is beyond me why people had have skirted around the fact that most property is over priced and over valued by estate agents eager to make huge sales commissions and seller’s rates.
The applicants of Housing Benefit do not receive that money, the landlords which charge it do. These landlords will charge up to the cap because they can, regardless of the standard of the property so the cost of housing has been artificially inflated (29% of new housing projects were deemed unfit for habitation AND we have NO room size standards in England and Wales.) by people making a living off investment buying and landlords charging whatever they think they can get away with. How about placing maximum rates that people can charge for certain size properties to stop people from being held to ransom over exorbitant accommodation prices? In the debate led by Baroness Hollis, demonstrated also that landlords are not compelled to accept tenants who rely on this benefit and only a tiny percentage do. There are at least 5 or six applicants for each of the properties that are available.
As Patrick Wintour and Randeep Ramesh report in the Guardian today, the proposals will include tough sanctions on Job-seeker’s allowance and those who refuse to work: these sanctions already exist. It is understandable why people become disenchanted when employers do not even acknowledge that they have even received the application let alone, if the post has been filled or why they were not right for the job. I do think it should be a legal requirement to reply to applications, seeing as simple courtesy seems to be viewed as optional extra these days. An application response letter would also add proof to the Job-seeker’s efforts in finding a job by giving them something to work on from even if it is only the reassuring thought that they have not been ignored.
“I was worried for the safety of people in the building because I know people who work in there, not just the Conservative Party but other offices as well,”
So Mr Cameron, Mr Clegg, it’s okay to destroy the lives of the thousands that you DON’T know, as long as the people that you DO know and share your politics (in your party) don’t get hurt by the desperation driven backlash. Nick Clegg finished his speech with a lavish tribute to Iain Duncan Smith. “He deserves enormous credit for the policy we are putting forward today,” Clegg said. Duncan Smith has “unrivalled expertise” in this area. Merely passing the buck or more telling that it seems?
We now know what’s coming: the deepest and quickest reductions in public spending since the 1920s – which, according to an under-reported quote from David Cameron, will not be reversed, even when (they wont) our economic circumstances improve. Clegg, Cameron and other ministers get are dangerously close to reviving the nasty old trope of the ‘undeserving poor’. As if to try to neutralise recent fretful noises from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Iain Duncan Smith talked about worklessness being a supposedly self-imposed “sin” (Does he know everyone’s circumstances then?). Changes to housing benefit alone will detrimentally change this country for decades. These moves will lead to, poverty, homelessness and yet more riots.
Wiping out another generation’s skills and abilities and limiting education to only those that can afford it is a recipe for regression. Only an idiot that thinks the Tories care about the middle-class any more than they do of the working-class and when the Tories have nothing left to kick and take from the working classes to support the rich and clear up the mess left by the banks, the middle will be the next target. It is inane to blame all ‘Labourites’ (I hate that phrase. Particularly as it includes the supporters of the party who have no part in policy making.) for the misdirection suffered under the New Labour experiment. It has been a failed experiment in some ways, many ways, but that does not mean for a nano second that we cannot regroup, and establish a better set of values that are more akin to the old Labour ones.