As MPs prepare to vote on raising tuition fees up to £9000 a year, three straightforward facts appear to have eluded Coalition ministers.
In a style so eerily reminiscent of the worst of Blairite disciples, their pitch has consisted of either repeating a mantra (that the new fees are "fair") or playing with semantics, which is generally the resort of the desperate.
But if only they could just clarify three questions:
1) The Coalition claims tuition fees have to be raised now and by this much because it would reduce public spending. They are repeatedly arguing that prior to the general election they "didn't know quite what the state of public finances were" and that the deficit needs sorting out and quick .
For the sake of the argument, let's just say we believe them. Let's assume that the LibDems were so inept that they truly thought state coffers were 9000 times worse off than expected.
The fact is we won't be seeing any of the new hiked-up graduates until at least 2016. Even assuming that they all miraculously land a £40k job each straightaway, it will be years before the benefits of their repayment scheme is felt.
And guess where the money is going to come in from in the meantime? The state, of course. So how would the new tuition fees regime help towards the public deficit?
2) The Coalition are making a big deal out of the fact that the new repayment threshold will be set at £21000 which, they argue, is fairer than the current £15,000.
But they forget a simple fact. At the very best, people will start repaying in 2016. Realistically, much later on and, in any case, for much longer. So if you consider the expected growth of wages, the threshold may actually not be much of an improvement on the current £15,000.
3) Clegg claimed that the tuition fees protests are going to "damage" the situation and have the effect of "deterring the poor" from applying to university.
Now Clegg. This is not Jonestown where you expect believers to follow you blindly at every turn without even a bellyache.
You can't for years make "scrap tuition fees" one of your flagship policies, ask for hundreds of thousands of votes on that basis and then - the moment you change your mind overnight - seriously expect that everybody will just go "oh alright then", drink the kool aid and follow you blindly.
Fair enough you just wanted to grab as many votes as possible with no shame, but at least show some dignity now. Appreciate that people are harbouring all sorts of feelings towards you and your sect-- ranging from slightly puzzled to outright pissed off.
And either way. How are those protests going to "deter" the poor? You didn't have a problem when your party kicked up a fuss until the other day, did you? Wasn't your opposition to Tony Blair's hike also likely to "damage" the situation?
"It is simply wrong to penalise people who want to make the best of themselves by saddling them with enormous mortgage-style debts from the day they graduate, especially when we know the root of the current economic crisis was too much debt. And it's clear that people from disadvantaged backgrounds are far more likely to be put off going to university if it costs them tens of thousands of pounds".
Your words, Clegg, January 2010. Just do the decent thing and resign.