Lib Dem chiefs face party battle on tuition-fee pledge
The Liberal Democrat leadership faces a showdown with party activists over plans to ditch its flagship policy of abolishing tuition fees at the 2015 general election.
David Laws, the former cabinet minister and key adviser in Nick Clegg's team, told The Independent on Sunday he would be "very surprised" if the policy was included in the party's next election manifesto. He warned that Britain has become a "caste-like society", where the poorest struggle "to do well in life".
Mr Laws told The IoS: "Given all the pressures on public finances, I would be very surprised if that proposal finds its way into the... manifesto. Nobody should expect students to be grateful that the taxpayer has transferred an extra burden on to their shoulders.... But actually what we have created is a fairer, more progressive system."
Money was better targeted at the pupil premium and early-years education. "There's no use simply putting that money into free education over the age of 18 when most goes to affluent students who do well in [our] caste-like society."
An attempt to water down the policy in 2009 sparked a furious backlash, which meant that Lib Dems pledged to abolish fees in the 2010 election manifesto. The policy was then predicted to cost £1.8bn by 2014/15. Instead, Mr Clegg became a national hate figure when the coalition lifted the cap on annual fees from £3,290 to £9,000. Officially, abolition of fees remains party policy.
Mr Laws also revealed plans for a refreshed coalition agreement later this year. A document dubbed "Coalition 2.0" has been shelved, but a new list of priorities is being drawn up by Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem Treasury minister, and Oliver Letwin, the Tories' policy guru. Mr Laws said: "We need to produce a slimmed-down list of the big things we are going to achieve in the next two and a half years."
London council removes 'unacceptable' Stamford Hill posters telling women which side of the road to walk down
Kim Kardashian 'nude pictures' leaked on 4chan in new celebrity hacking attack weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
Isis in Syria: 60,000 Kurds flee terror in new exodus
Alan Henning kidnapping: British aid worker's wife appeals to Isis to release him
Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
- 1 Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?
- 2 London council removes 'unacceptable' Stamford Hill posters telling women which side of the road to walk down
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'nude pictures' leaked on 4chan in new celebrity hacking attack weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 4 Matthew Miller: American sentenced to hard labour in North Korea 'wanted to be Snowden II'
- 5 Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...
£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...
£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...
£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates of pay : Randstad Education Gro...