Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Top Tories and LibDems against VAT rise

Leading figures from within the government explain why increasing VAT is wrong.

David Cameron:
"You could try, as you say, to put it on VAT, sales tax, but again if you look at the effect of sales tax, it’s very regressive, it hits the poorest the hardest. It does, I absolutely promise you." (April 2010)

Conservative Home:
"Higher VAT is an unacceptable tax on the poor. [It] costs the poorest twice as much" (December 2009)

Nick Clegg:
"Liberal Democrats have costed, in full, our proposals for tax cuts. We can tell you, penny for penny, pound for pound, who pays for them. We will not have to raise VAT to deliver our promises. The Conservatives will. Let me repeat that: Our plans do not require a rise in VAT. The Tory plans do. Their tax promises on marriage and jobs may sound appealing. But they come with a secret VAT bombshell close behind." (April 2010)

Vince Cable:
"A big, sudden jump in VAT would stall any early recovery and hit shops hard. Also, some companies have learnt how to dodge VAT". (September 2009)


Brian Lawton said...

For clarity, then, Nick Clegg didn't say that increasing VAT was, in itself, wrong. He simply explained that there would be no need to were the Lib Dems' spending commitments implemented in full. As the Lib Dems didn't win a majority, they have been unable to implement their spending commitments in full.

Vince Cable's comments were made at an earlier, more precarious stage of the recovery.

claude said...

The human capacity for denial never ceases to amaze me. I am speechless.

Who are you fooling, Brian Lawton? Yourself?

The whole VAT bombshell campaign with slogans in CAPITAL LETTERS that "a BOMBSHELL of £389 a year" was going to be inflicted upon your average family...and you still fool yourself that Nick Clegg didn't mean to say it was WRONG?

What you gonna say next, that the LibDems were championing First Past the Post after all? Come to think of it, if Nick Clegg turned round tonight and said that, yes, he never actually meant electioral reform, you'd probably go round the net and plaster every blog sticking up for him and his latest u-turn.

Jesus Christ, people, when are you going to wake up and stop acting like disciples from Jonestown? Do you actually enjoy being taken for a ride or treated like an idiot?

As for Vince Cable's comments, I'll tell you about Vince Cable's comments:

“We were trying to score a point against the Conservatives, if you like,” he told the BBC. “OK, well that was in the election. We have now moved past the election.” (28 June 2010)

I pity you, Brian, for even trying to publicly defend the most inexcusable, dirty type of electioneering tricks. It's knaves like you who make all of this possible. Pathetic.

Brian Lawton said...

Claude, the Lib Dems were making a clear point ("scoring a point" if you like) that Tory spending plans would necessarily involve an unannounced tax rise, with VAT being the most likely option, and that Tory plans were not, therefore, all they were cracked up to be. Were the Lib Dems to have won a majority, no such rise would be necessary. And yes, I agree with Cable, that this occurred during the election.

The election, of course, is long since over - again, I agree with Cable on this - and we have a Coalition Government of Conservative and Lib Dem MPs. Whilst the Lib Dems would, of course, rather VAT did not have to be raised at all, the combination of the economic situation and the electoral arithmetic makes this unavoidable. That's not denial, it's reality based on how things are rather than on how we'd all like them to be.

You mention electoral reform: it is only thanks to the Liberal Democrats that there is to be a referendum on electoral reform this year.

Perhaps you'd be kind enough to refrain from personal comments. I'm sure we can remain respectful even if we disagree.

Stan Moss said...

The Lib Dems were fully aware of the size of the Budget deficit, were they not? When Clegg said that their calculations were fully costed, what else did he mean, Mr Lawton?

And let's stop justifying every single about face and act of political dishonesty by brandishing "the DEFICIT".

The deficit was revised downwards from £163.4bn to £156bn after the coalition was formed, having previously stood at £178bn! The VAT rise was a political choice, not an economic necessity.

"Were the Lib Dems to have won a majority, no such rise would be necessary."

But Mr Lawton, everybody knew the LibDems were never going to win a majority. You can't write that and then expect to be taken seriously.

Nobody, even Clegg or Cable realistically thought a Liberal majority was likely.

Otherwise you will agree that whatever pre-election pledge can be discarded on those grounds, in which case every single thing said during the election campaign becomes pointless.

I don't recall any LibDem politician, Clegg or Cable alike, ever saying "these are our promises, this is what we want to do but bear in mind, only if we get an outright majority".

Mr Lawton, we have a major problem of political disillusion in this country. It is behaviour like that of your party, and Mr Blair before you (with his constant appealing to realism and realpolitik to justify his own beefy list of lies and u-turns), that no matter which electoral system, is undermining British democracy from our very foundations.

You can have First Past The Post, PR, SVP, AV, BBC, ATV or whatever. If parties continue to behave so shamelessly and dishonestly, less and less people will trust democracy.

claude said...

I'm sorry for the strong tones in my last comment. I was too harsh and I hope you can accept my apology.

The reason for my words was that clutching at straws to justify what is flagrant electoral dishonesty via "cunning" techniques based on playing with semantics, I will admit, makes me go postal.

Nick Clegg and his lackeys have been profoundly dishonest. It really is before everybody's eyes.

See, the point, is, he didn't make a passing or less passing comment over the fact that "Tory plans were not, therefore, all they were cracked up to be", as you put it. He and his party launched a roaring, intense, first-scale advertising campaigns criticising VAT rises and the impact they would have on ordinary families. Their economic guru, Vonce Cable, was hopping from TV studio to TV studio and writing opinion columns explaining why VAT is regressive and wrong.

Why do you keep trying to play it down?

Stan above makes an excellent point and one I fully agree with. Britain has already got a massive problem with trust in politics. This type of stuff we keep seeing from MPs is just lethal.

The Blair years dealt a massive blow already. Now the LibDems (the one party that campaign on a platform of being more honest and ore straightforward and "unlike the other two") are finishing the job with electioneering of the worst kind.

Andrew King said...

It's popularly supposed that goldfish can only remember things for about three seconds.

The thought leaders of our glorious coalition seem to be operating on the assumption that the little people who vote have a similarly limited attention span.

The goldfish factiod is , by the way, a myth.

Brian Lawton said...

Stan, my point about the deficit is relevant in the context I mentioned: the combination of the deficit and the electoral arithmetic. Were either of these different (i.e. the deficit a lot less or the Lib Dems with far more seats), a better tuition fee deal would have been a more likely outcome. The economic situation in itself is not an excuse, as you say, since Lib Dem plans were fully costed based on knowledge of the deficit, but also on the basis that the Lib Dems had a majority, which they do not.

For the Lib Dems to write a manifesto based on anything other than a majority would seem odd: should they have written one for the situation in which they are in a coalition with the Tories and one for the situation in which they are in a coalition with Labour? Wouldn't they have to agree these with the other parties beforehand? Perhaps they'd need another for if they were in a 'rainbow' coalition with Labour, the SNP and Plaid? Perhaps they'd need a number of separate ones for any particular coalition based on the proportions of the coalition made up by each party (for example, whether the Lib Dems are a small part or a large part of the coaliton). Surely such an approach is unworkable.

The Lib Dems didn't win a majority, so I'm not sure how you can expect them to implement their manifesto in full (any more than you'd expect Labour to now be implementing their manifesto in full). Should the Lib Dems have refused to go into Coalition unless their manifesto was accepted in full? If so, this would surely have been a betrayal of the Conservative vote, which was rather larger. Are you suggesting that parties shouldn't compromise in the event of a hung parliament?

Incidentally, I am not a member of the Liberal Democrats (or any other political party). Unlike Blair, though, their compromises appear to me to be based on the reality of the situation (the combination I mentioned above) rather than based on populism and political posturing. Unlike the Lib Dems, the smaller partner in a coalition, the Labour Party were in Government alone, so there was no need for them to compromise with another party.

Claude, apology accepted - I do understand your anger. It is, of course, hugely disappointing for all of those who wanted many Lib Dem policies implemented that not all of them can be.

I don't doubt that the belief was that VAT is regressive and that this was played on at the time of the election. But, after the election, it was then drawn to my attention for the first time by the IFS that, when measured in terms of expenditure, a fairer way of looking at standard of living, VAT is progressive. Now of course, the poorest in our society would be better off still were VAT not increased at all, but at least it's something that it's progressive - given a tax rise is necessary, at least those with the highest living standards are paying proportionally more than those with the lowest living standards.

claude said...

Hi Brian,
you wrote that "The economic situation in itself is not an excuse, as you say, since Lib Dem plans were fully costed based on knowledge of the deficit".

Good, that's a start. At last.

You also wrote that "The Lib Dems didn't win a majority, so I'm not sure how you can expect them to implement their manifesto in full ".

But then what are manifestos for? They may as well publish their own used-up arse paper, don't you think? Write anything you want, literally, to woo as many muggings like me as possible, because it won't matter will it?

"I don't doubt that the belief was that VAT is regressive and that this was played on at the time of the election. But, after the election, it was then drawn to my attention for the first time by the IFS that..."

And this is exactly it. You've nailed it.
This is what a lot of people, myself included, are taking in. Too much "but after the election" going on. Parties kicking up a massive fuss over certain issues. Riding emotions, cashing in on popular sentiments, promising the unpromisable.

Then, polling day comes and suddenly, when voters take the same politicians (in this case the LibDems) to task, their response is a sneering references to "Santa Claus" or being "grown-ups".

And then we moan of low turnouts!

"If so, this would surely have been a betrayal of the Conservative vote, which was rather larger. Are you suggesting that parties shouldn't compromise in the event of a hung parliament?"
Erm...the thing is, the Conservatives too promised they wouldn't raise VAT. They categorically stated that. Or, about tuition fees, they said nowt about it throughout the election.
Can you start seeing where I'm coming from???

And in any case this is exactly why, back in May, so many (now former) LibDem supporters (like myself) were dismayed by the decision to enter a Coalition. They feared exactly that too many core principles were going to be thrown out of the window. We could discuss what is now old and futile (supply and confidence, a Tory minority government, a Rainbow coalition - which I never thought was feasible btw etc), but the fact is, those who frowned upon a coalition with the Tories knew the impact upon the LDs was going to be devastating. In all honesty, I didn't think it was going to unravel so radically and so quickly.

"But, after the election, it was then drawn to my attention for the first time by the IFS that, when measured in terms of expenditure, a fairer way of looking at standard of living, VAT is progressive."

Incidentally, yes, I read the IFFS study you mentioned, and on it the IFFS offers two ways of reading at it with contrasting findings, one the exact opposite of the other. Mr Clegg though said ordinary families will be £389 worse off and launched a campaign based on it. That was 7 months ago. I believed him. My bad.

Brian Lawton said...


I'm really not sure I've said anything new with my comment about the Lib Dems actions being based on both the economic situation and the outcome of the election. Which of these has anyone been suggesting should have been ignored?

Were a party to have won a majority, it would be quite reasonable to expect them to implement their manifesto in full. But this didn't happen. And it is clearly impossible for both the Lib Dem manifesto and the Conservative manifesto to be implemented in full since they are not consistent with each other.
By sound of it, you voted for the Lib Dems because you wanted their manifesto to be implemented in full. However regrettable, not enough other people also did so and so the Lib Dems are not in power alone. The Lib Dems won fewer than 10% of the seats in the House of Commons yet you seem to be expecting them to implement their manifesto in full. That would not be democratic. We can't simply ignore the result of the election - hence the line "but after the election" that you so dislike. Despite your criticism of the Lib Dem manifesto as "cashing in on popular sentiment", it clearly wasn't popular enough.

I don't think that the Conservatives went further than saying that they didn't have any plans to raise VAT, whilst also saying it would be irresponsible to rule out such a rise:

It seemed likely to me that the Tories would raise VAT given that their plans, unlike those of the Lib Dems, were not fully costed. This is exactly what the Lib Dems pointed out, and I therefore share your cynicism about the Tories: you seem to say that you also believed Nick Clegg about the Tories needing to raise VAT given the uncosted elements of the Tory manifesto. All of the Lib Dem commitments, on the other hand, were fully costed and hence no rise in VAT would have been needed had they been able to implement their manifesto in full. That is, what Clegg said was accurate, but not enough of the electorate voted Lib Dem.

On the specific point about timing, I was referring only to the timing of my change of mind, which came about as a result of seeing the IFS' analysis - I don't speak on behalf of the Lib Dems. The IFS did indeed look at it both ways with different results just as you say. The key point is that they said that the approach based on expenditure was a fairer way of measuring living standards than the approach based on income.

On tuition fees, my understanding is that both Labour and the Tories were intending to raise them but do give me a reference if they said otherwise.

claude said...

We're going round in circles, Brian. You keep erecting the strawman of people unrealistically expecting to "implement their manifesto in full". I keep talking about doing the exact opposite of what was promised at a staggering speed.

And yet it's not clear whether, say, VAT rise (or trebled tuition fees) are a good policies per se, as sometimes the LibDems seem to condend, or whether they're doing them reluctantly only because they're in a Coalition.

The constant changing the goal posts reminds me so much of Weapons of Mass Destructions vs democracy in Iraq vs the Kurds vs 9/11 according to the justification of the day.

The only consolation is that, as it seems, I'm not the only one to be unconvinced by Brian's and the LibDem's current state of form. From 23% at the election 8 months ago to polls ranging b/w 8 and 11%, surely it can't just be misty-eyed Guardian-propaganda, or can it?

Brian Lawton said...


Firstly, tuition fees: it's probably a separate debate, but tuition fees have not trebled.

But focussing on VAT for now, ideally no tax rise would have been made. Since a tax rise was necessary - it would have happened had Labour or the Tories won a majority - I would prefer it to be progressive. That is, I would prefer the more affluent to pay a higher proportion than the less affluent. And the IFS say that VAT is progressive based on their preferred way of measuring it. So it's a fair tax and has also enabled, for example, 800,000 of the lowest earning people to be removed from income tax altogether. Hence the Lib Dems are delivering on their key manifesto commitment to fairer taxes. I therefore don't agree that this is "moving the goalposts": it's implementing Lib Dem principles as much as they can in the context of both the economic situation and the electoral outcome; I think I have been consistent in my explanation as regards VAT throughout.

For what it's worth, I am not a regular reader of the Guardian and haven't been for many years. Your point about the polls rather makes the point that the Lib Dems aren't doing what they're doing based on populism and political posturing as seemed to be the case with Blair, which is rather preferable in my opinion.

I certainly don't think this is anything like what happened with Iraq, on which I probably share your criticisms. Indeed, had we followed the Lib Dem advice and not invaded Iraq, we might not be in quite such dire financial staights now!

claude said...

"Your point about the polls rather makes the point that the Lib Dems aren't doing what they're doing based on populism and political posturing"

In which case, you will concede that the LibDems election campaign was run with populism and political posturing in mind. Either it was posturing then (which Cable acknowledged regarding VAT) or it is now.

As for tuition fees, we disagree. I think they have trebled and that the system the Coalition envisaged is not sustainable. But, yes, as you say, it's a totally separate debate.

"800,000 of the lowest earning people to be removed from income tax altogether."
Commendable, and I mean it, but which becomes almost irrelevant with the VAT hike. Dont forget that the poorest tenth of Britons pay £1 of their every £7 on VAT, the ­wealthiest tenth pay only £1 in £25.

And I trust you to know that in April the employee, employer and self-employed rates of National Insurance contributions (NICs) will increase National Insurance is going up.

Brian Lawton said...

I concede that the Lib Dems were trying to win votes and hence seats in the election; now, they are governing. I'm not sure why you take issue with this.

As I'm sure you're aware, NI has gone up far less under this Government than it would have done under Labour.

You can keep making the same point in different ways but, as I've said and, more importantly, as the IFS has said, VAT is progressive: the more you spend, the greater the amount of VAT you pay as a proportion of your spend.

You're entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts: tuition fees have not trebled.

claude said...

"tuition fees have not trebled"

In which caseyou have some work ahead of you to convince the world.

University are now legally able to charge as much as 3 times as what they used to. To me, to most people, that's trebling. The LibDem's playing with semantics is a game they are losing miserably. They can keep playing it, but the opinion polls will keep nosediving.

Brian Lawton said...

I thought you'd accepted that tuition fees were a separate subject so I can only assume you're now evading the subject.

Many part time students will no longer be paying up front tuition fees. Those who earn between £15,000 and £21,000 a year will now pay nothing towards their tuition fees. It's not semantics to say that that's not a trebling of tuition fees.

And unlike the £15,000 threshold, the £21,000 threshold will be adjusted for inflation every year.

claude said...

I like this selective quoting of the IFFS, Brian.

It's the gospel when they find that the VAT rise is not regressive, but it's not when they also find that "Government proposals for higher education would squeeze high earners less and cost the taxpayer more" (November 2010).

How bizarre, eh?

But well...perhaps if we don't wanna talk about the IFFS we can talk about other groups and other detailed studies who found the VAT rise affects the poor disproportionately. Which, after all, even more bizarrely, is what both David Cameron and Vince Cable were saying until the other day! Fancy that, eh Brian?

Brian Lawton said...

Another change of subject there: it's like you want to keep moving the goalposts!

"Unlike the independent think tank IFS, as tax adviser to the TUC, Murphy [who produced the paper to which you refer] is not without agenda."

I don't believe I've suggested that the IFS is wrong on the tuition fees issue. Indeed, they say of tuition fees:

"A focus on headline fee levels is not very informative given that repayments depend only on future returns in the labour market."

claude said...


1. Please stay with me on this.
The LibDems turned overnight from staunch supporters of £0 tuition fees to staunch supporters of the new system.
But here's the crux of the matter. This is why they're not credible.

They're not credible because at no point, like NEVER EVER, did they produce any paper, statement or manifesto between in which they argued in favour of any "second best" scheme remotely similar to the one just introduced (ie higher fees, up to three times as much with a higher repayment threshold etc).

They never even suggested that "ok, if we can't scrap them, for whatever reason, we'll sign up to this or that instead".

See, for instance, the LibDems were honest and transparent about electoral reform. They always argued in favour of forms of PR (like SV), or even AV+. But they also, always, said that they were ready to realistically compromise and that AV would have been a possible one as long as there was a move away from the current first past the post.
That is an honest platform.

What they did with tuition fees was not honest. And, lest you forget, half their MPs, including Charles Kennedy and Ming Campbell, voted against, meaning that there were huge disagreements within themselves as well, not just from misty-eyed left-wingers.
Which is why this stubborn defence of the new system smacks of desperate opportunism.

2. Most observers, government included, concede that most universities (some say all) will charge £9,000. The only disagreement is whether most universities will do it or all of them. That's trebling. It's amazing that you can still deny it.

3. That quote from the IFS that you gave is actually a very good one. Because it fits exactly within what a number of other organisations have also highlighted:

-the whole scheme is unfeasible and unsustainable in the long term as it's based on unrealistic expectations of repayment;
-it will squeeze high earners less and cost the taxpayer more
-it hurts social mobility;
-it will not save the taxpayer a single penny;
-it adds to net public sector debt.

This (and more!) was said by: the Institute for Fiscal Studies, London Economics, the Higher Education Policy Institute, the university think tank Million+.

4. Back to the VAT. You are being very selective in your reading of what the IFS are saying.
They are not saying it is progressive full stop.
Instead, what they're saying is there are two ways of looking at it: it "will be a regressive move, although once an individual's lifetime spending is taken account of, it is a more progressive form of tax than often assumed". Hence they say it may be "progressive" only if seen from a certain angle. That's a very different kettle of fish. Look at the two charts the IFS produced.

But even so, how can you feasibly deem "progressive" something that everyone concedes (including the oracles at the IFS) hurts you now and in the near future (which is when all the pain of the cuts, inflation, NI and higher transport fares) while only turning "progressive" (says the IFS), over a lifetime !

In any case, I agree with Tax Research UK that the IFS' "positive" reading of the VAT "affair" contains fallacies. And, I maintain, until the other day, it's what both Vince Cable and David Cameron argued. It is regressive and it hampers recovery.

5. The IFS said in June that the budget is not progressive.

Anonymous said...

There are two central tenets of British democracy, which are mutually contradictory.

1) That the UK is a democracy; that the people vote every so often for different parties on the basis of what those parties have said in their manifestoes; politicians are accountable to the electorate because they offer themselves up for regular re-election on the basis of how they implemented what they said they would do.

2) That politicians need to take tough decisions; that this is grown up politics; that this often means doing the opposite of what was promised in a manifesto and in an election campaign; breaking election promises is a sign of a serious politician.

For a good example of the latter see this

The tension between these two beliefs is growing all the time. The electorate are better educated and better informed and won't stand for pig-in-a-poke voting. It is becoming clearer every day that there are different kinds of tough decisions: tough-but-doable decisions (putting up VAT, invading Iraq) and tough-and-undoable decisions (banning bankers' bonuses, telling the Americans that the UK doesn't break international law). Some of the tough decisions of the last decade (invading Iraq, giving the Police shoot-to-kill powers, locking people up without charge) were so extreme, and so ineffectively opposed by the Conservative Party, that the public has been revolted.

The LibDems have walked straight into the middle of this wthout a clear strategy. Instead of being a solution they have become a part of the problem. The people who have voted for them have expected them to be honest and to avoid the so-called "grown-up politics". Instead the LibDems appear to have swallowed "grown-up politics" hook, line and sinker. Simon Hughes was in the Evening Standard and New Statesman recently saying that the public would now trust the LibDems because they would see that the LbDems were a party of government. Unfortunately for Simon Hughes, most of the people who have voted for the LibDems don't want the LibDems to be a party of government in the sense that he is using it: there are already two other parties of government to vote for. The ideological differences between the parties is small and the only real USP of the LibDems is that they are honest with the electorate and represent a new kind of politics. The LibDems have thrown away that USP in just over six months.


Brian Lawton said...


1. Not that it's relevant to whether or not tuition fees have trebled, but they absolutely did argue for a second best scheme: the Lib Dem manifesto did not commit to the abolition of tuition fees in the lifetime of the current Parliament.

2. My previous quote from the IFS explained that focussing on the headline levels is not informative. As I've explained, the lowest earning graduates will pay less under the new scheme and won't be paying anything like treble what they would have been paying under the old scheme.

3. None of your points are at odds with the fact that tuition fees have not trebled. You're not trying to change the subject again are you?

4. As I've said, the key point is that the IFS said that the approach based on expenditure is a fairer way of measuring living standards than the approach based on income.

5. Again, this is rather irrelevant to the other points in this chain, but the article you link to gives a more rounded assessment than the headline:
"the IFS agrees that the richest will pay proportionately more than the poor to repair the public finances". The IFS accepts that the budget is progressive until 2012 - needless to say, there will be another budget between now and then. In any case, though, this is another separate debate.

You make some interesting points though they aren't directly relevant to the VAT subject, of course. To my mind, this is a liberal government implementing liberal policies. You only need to see Ken Clarke's announcements on prison reforms, for example, to see that this is a government quite different to any other in living memory, whether red or blue.

claude said...

This is getting rather boring, Brian as you are obviously partisan to the LibDems' sect.

when you write:
"1. Not that it's relevant to whether or not tuition fees have trebled, but they absolutely did argue for a second best scheme: the Lib Dem manifesto did not commit to the abolition of tuition fees in the lifetime of the current Parliament."

That to me is the end of this debate. To argue that they may not have been able to "scrap tuition fees within the lifetime of this parliament" is "absolutely arguing for a second best" has nothing to do with the new hiked up tuition fees scheme. Like ZERO. I mean, have you smoked crack or something?

To say we can't promise to scrap them right now (but "we will oppose any raise", they also said - let's fight this goldfish memory, shall we) is not remotely to argue in term of any system based on paying up front, higher fees and the rest.

I remind you that the scheme introduced in 2004 also was based on not having to pay a penny upfront.

The LibDems consistently slated the whole edifice on the grounds that it was based on debt.

At no point did any of the LibDems ever imply that by tweaking that system, or increasing the total fees, or raising the threshold, it would suddenly turn from appalling to fantastic. And this is the thing: from appalling to fantastic. From the apocalypse to the best thing since sliced bread.

Don't treat other people with contempt. Really, who are you trying to fool.

I'm glad you find this government extremely good and exceptionally liberal, good for you. So liberal that I can't wait to see how your Liberal masters will engage in the next semantic tango when David Cameron's freshly announced new "employment regulation" is officially presented. I'd love to see how/if they can defend it and still pretend that they're any different from the Tories.

The LibDems as we know them won't be around for very long. Sorry, Brian.

Brian Lawton said...

You're right that this is getting rather boring: rather than accepting the evidence when it suggests that you might be mistaken, you continually bring up different issues; rather than engaging properly on any one issue, you raise others in an apparent attempt to find something where your criticisms of the Lib Dems might be more valid.

That's your choice, of course, and I don't doubt that you will be able to find some such issues. But that won't change the facts that (a) the most independent analysis we've discussed says that VAT is progressive, and that (b) tuition fees haven't trebled.

In response to your latest sidetrack, though, many part time students have indeed been having to pay up-front tuition fees since 2004. What this Government has done is to remove up-front tuition fees for many of them. This is, therefore, quite the opposite of what you seem to be claiming.

I certainly haven't claimed that the tuition fees deal is "fantastic": as I made clear earlier, I would much prefer it if the economic situation and electoral arithmetic had allowed a better deal. I've simply explained that tuition fees haven't trebled -it would be really helpful if you could avoid making such strawman arguments.

Brian Lawton said...

It appears my latest comment has been deleted. Was this an accident or is there some other explanation?

claude said...

Hey Brian, just got back from work.
No conspiracy theories! ended up in the Spam box, for some reason. Perhaps the automatic blogger robot is cleverer than we think ;-).

Here it is though Brian. It's back on the thread.

Brian Lawton said...

Thanks Claude.