Well, what did you expect Vince to say?

Posted on December 1, 2010


I know I am not the only person in the UK not to be shocked and appalled by Vince Cable’s announcement that he is considering abstaining from voting on the tuition fees rise.

However, the majority of media coverage I have seen has focussed on the fact that he has had input into the finer details of the proposed bill, and would be a hypocrite if he did not endorse it. How much influence do you really think he’s had?

I for one think that behind the scenes he has probably had a lot of pressure to go against all his instincts, produce a plan the Tories will be happy with and conform to the role a small minority party has in a coalition government.

What options does he really have?

1) A vote in favour contradicts the pre-election promise made by Libdems to oppose a rise in tuition fees – meaning he would lose a huge amount of support, resulting in a smaller chance of being re-elected.

2) A vote against splits the government and undermines the entire efforts of a coalition to work together on policies that they may not all totally agree with.

Remember, the Libdems are not in the majority. Their initial reason for going into coalition was to save our economy by taking action, rather than let indecision continue through another round of elections.

It was not because every Libdem MP suddenly jumped to the right. They have accepted that over the course of the next five years they will have to present many policies which are not representative of a true Libdem view, but in order to govern the country effectively it is a ‘must’ rather than a ‘want’.

Mr Cable’s decision is a tactical one, to conserve any remaining support they may have.

The Libdems confined themselves to this fate as soon as they agreed to go into coalition with the Tories. At least by abstaining as a party they can project some sense of identity separate from the Conservatives.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg (image obtained from Wikipedia. Attribution: Nick Clegg)

However, Nick Clegg’s remarks this week have not helped the Libdem plight. He warned student protesters that it is they who will put people off going to university.

The Guardian reported: ‘Clegg warned of potentially “tragic” consequences whereby the poorest would be put off applying at all.’

I’m sorry Nick, come again? They are putting people off? Well… I hope you’ve got a bloody good explanation for that comment…

Oh no that’s right you don’t. Brilliant, well done mate.

Cue the sounds of Libdem MP’s palm slapping their heads.

Please do not read this as a defence for the coalition’s plans, but rather a defence for Vince who finds himself between a rock and a hard place. His only choice is to abstain.

This clip from ITN summarises nicely.

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