Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats have come in for an enormous amount of criticism for a broken pledge - for going into Coalition with the Conservatives - for making cuts and, it seems, for being the cause of all the world's problems - in spite of all this I support Nick Clegg.
Firstly the pledge - anyone who voted for the Liberal Democrats because of their pledge to vote against an increase in student fees is entitled to be angry - I can absolutely understand this point of view. Either the pledge should not have been made or having been made the Libdem MPs should have voted against the increase in fees. It was a compromise within the context of the Coalition and Nick Clegg and the Party have paid a price for that and that is fair enough - we should not break pledges.
That said - I personally think there is a case for students paying for higher education although the increase was far too large and it will obviously be easier for those with wealthy parents to bear the cost.
We have a deficit and all the three main Parties say they would make cuts - so the cuts have to come from somewhere. Knowing what I know now (and if I was at the right age) I would still pay to do a degree today because of the way the payments are structured - it is doable and in most cases worth it; you don't pay much until you are earning and I - like many people of my age - have had bigger mortgages than any of the student loans past or currently proposed. I didn't do a degree at University after school so I am not pulling up any drawbridge here.
I joined the LibDems after the Coalition was formed - not because of it - the Coalition has, of course, not helped local LibDem politicians at all. I joined because of the work of local LibDem campaigners who were supportive and busy in the community not because the Party were in Government.
However if the Liberal Democrats had actually declined to go into the Coalition I might not have joined them - if they had an opportunity to be part of Government and turned it down I would have asked what on earth they were in politics for. Who votes for a member of Parliament and does not want them to be in Government - whatever Party? We keep hearing that Nick Clegg and others Liberal Democrats only joined Government to enjoy the big cars and the status - as if they might be the only Party politicians that might enjoy these trappings - what nonsense.
Some people are angry that we went into Coalition with the Tories and not Labour - mostly Labour people it seems to me. I don't know what discussions took place in the five days after the election but I can imagine why the Coalition was not with Labour. Labour looked like they were in a mess - an unpopular Prime-Minister and a crisis of leadership - look how long it took them to sort of their leadership after the election and by some accounts some of them were hostile to such a Coalition with the Liberal Democrats anyway.
What did Labour stand for after their years in Government? Certainly not for civil rights - and they did leave the economy in a mess with a failing - over indulged - banking sector which we could not allow to fail.
Under Labour we lost the right to silence - the right to choose a trial by jury - we experienced an increase in surveillance through CCTV and they wanted us all to have ID cards - who needs more of that?
Going into Government with the Conservatives was a compromise - they are the Party of the rich and the land owners - but we are not in Coalition because we like their policies but we are annoying their right wingers by holding them back.
The narrative that the LibDems are not holding back the right wing elements of the Tories suits Labour but as long as the right wingers are moaning about the LibDems we should be happy about the Coalition. There are plenty of angry comments promising the annihilation of the Liberal Democrats - other predictions are for simply fewer LibDem MPs. It was not that long ago since the LibDems were a tiny party with 4 per cent of the vote and less before that - so we should do the right thing and ignore the howls of protest and fight for Liberal values in Government. We will lose sometimes - we are after all a minority Party- but we should certainly fight all the way.
Nick Clegg seems to be the most unpopular man in the UK - how perverse? A mistake with a pledge - yes of course - but he has not led us into a war causing the deaths of thousands of women and children or enabled the financial sector to virtually ruin the Country - he agreed to join a Coalition at a time when the Country needed a stable Government. He has shown himself to be a tough character to stand up against the right wing press and those many other critics. Knocking Nick Clegg is easy - it does not require any courage since everyone is piling in - he has shown far more character than some of those haters and detractors who look for popularity or to demonstrate their virility. So I support him.
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