I have watched parliament for many years and seen many critical government votes. But last night as I drove home from work I listened to my government win a vote on university fees and felt numb.
Of course, Labour introduced the fees in the first place without a mention of its manifesto at a time when the country wasn’t financially bust.
And wasn’t it Lord Brown’s review commissioned by Labour and started before the election that recommended higher fees in the first place?
Also, this rise in fees wouldn’t have happened if the Tories (including Mel Stride I assume) hadn’t voted for it as well.
Nevertheless, it has been the Lib Dems who have born the brunt of the anger in the streets and I fully understand why. We made a promise and have a policy that says “no” to an increase and we broke that promise.
Certainly some Lib Dem MPs have understood the importance and voted against the motion. Others, faced with the reality of how we actually would have to pay for no increase right now, simply abstained. Some will have voted for it knowing it was the best deal we could get.
All must have gone home knowing, as I do, that our party will never be the same again.
In opposition it it easy to say ‘no’, to blame the other side for the countries woes. In government it’s not. As a junior partner in a coalition I can imagine it is even harder.
On Question Time, they asked if this is the end of the party – of course it’s not. It is the beginning of something new. We are learning to oppose bad policy while in government, and, given the election result that is exactly what the voters wanted us to do.