Editorial: Did Nick Clegg sell out in vain?

 

Pity Nick Clegg. Just when he might have thought the ire over university tuition fees is finally fading, his most convincing defence of the controversial Liberal Democrat U-turn is revealed to be built on sand.

Despite the rumpus, the theory behind university tuition fees is a good one. If the state can no longer afford to bankroll tertiary education, asking students to contribute, once they have a decent job, makes sense. Except the equation only works if the Government's sums are right. And according to a respected think-tank, they are not. The result is a £1bn-a-year hole in the public finances – barely less than the annual £1.3bn that tuition fees were to save.

The mismatch is troublesome enough for the Treasury. For Mr Clegg, who excused his politically suicidal volte-face on the grounds of inescapable financial necessity, it is the final, most painful, irony of all.

Comments