Firstly, I want to say well done to those Lib Dem MPs who stuck to their pledge and voted against the rise in tuition fees. This included Jenny Willott (Cardiff Central) who resigned as Chris Huhne's parliamentary aide, as well as the other two Welsh Lib Dems - Mark Williams (Ceredigion) and Roger Williams (Brecon & Radnorshire). Three of the MPs from the East voted against the rise - Bob Russell (Colchester), Julian Huppert (Cambridge) and Simon Wright (Norwich South) - though the later seemed to take a lot of persuading...
Three other brand new MPs opposed the fee rise - Ian Swales (Redcar), Mike Crockart (Edinburgh West) and Stephen Lloyd (Eastbourne). As did the Liberal Democrat Party President Tim Farron (Westmorland & Lonsdale) and former leaders Menzies Campbell (Fife North East) and Charles Kennedy (Ross, Skye & Lochaber).
The other 9 who kept their promise were Annette Brooke (Dorset Mid & Poole North), Andrew George (St Ives), Mike Hancock (Portsmouth South), John Leech (Manchester Withington), Greg Mulholland (Leeds North West), John Pugh (Southport), Alan Reid (Argyle & Bute), Dan Rogerson (Cornwall North) and Adrian Sanders (Torbay). Martin Horwood (Cheltenham) was also intending to vote against the government, but was at the climate change conference.
Those on the Fence
Excluding the two at the climate conference, there were 6 Lib Dems abstaining: Lorely Burt (Solihull), Simon Hughes(Bermondsey), Tessa Munt (Wells) - one of the new MPs, Robert Smith (Aberdeenshire West & Kircadine), John Thurso (Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross) and Stephen Williams (Bristol West). All six represent a pledge broken, and I can no longer support them.
Then there are the 28 who voted to increase tuition fees to up to £9,000. If I'd have gone to university paying fees of £9,000 - as would be likely, because I'm studying a humanities degree - I would have left university with a debt of just under £40,000. That's almost double my predicted debt of £21,000! I can't see how it saves any money at all... I'm certain I will never pay off my £21k before it's written off, let alone double that (which would average out at £1,333 a year for 30 years). But this is about more than just tuition fees, this is about TRUST!
Here, I will detail those in the Liberal Democrats who have betrayed their voters, students, and their party.
Nick Clegg - Deputy PM (Sheffield Hallam);
Vince Cable - Business Secretary, (Twickenham);
Danny Alexander - Chief Sec. to the Treasury (Inverness, Nairn, Badenock, Strathspey);
Chris Huhne (absent at Climate Conference, but intending to vote with govt.) - Energy & Climate Change Sec. (Eastleigh);
Michael Moore - Scottish Sec. (Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk).
Norman Lamb - Chief Parliamentary and Political Adviser to the Deputy PM (North Norfolk);
Nick Harvey - Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Devon North);
Jeremy Browne - Foreign Office Minister (Taunton Deane);
Lynne Featherstone - Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Equalities (Hornsey & Wood Green);
Ed Davey - Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment Relations, Consumer and Postal Affairs ( Kingston & Surbiton);
Sarah Teather - Minister of State for Children and Families (Brent Central);
Paul Burstow - Minister of State for Care Services (Sutton & Cheam);
Steve Webb - Minister of State for Pensions (Thornbury & Yate);
Andrew Stunell - Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State for Community Cohesion (Hazel Grove);
Norman Baker - Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Regional and Local Transport (Lewes);
David Heath - Deputy Leader of the House of Commons (Somerton & Frome);
Alistair Carmichael - Liberal Democrat Chief Whip (Orkney & Shetland);
Mark Hunter - Assistant Whip (Cheadle).
Worse than this, there were 11 Lib Dem MPs without paid ministerial positions who broke their pledge and voted to increase tuition fees - four of these were brand new MPs:
Gordon Birtwistle (Burnley);
Stephen Gilbert (St Austell & Newquay);
Duncan Hames (Chippenham);
David Ward (Bradford East).
The others were:
Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed);
Tom Brake (Carshalton & Wallington);
Malcolm Bruce (Gordon);
Don Foster (Bath);
David Laws - former Chief Sec. to the Treasury (Yeovil);
Jo Swinson (Dunbartonshire East);
John Hemming (Birmingham Yardley).
These 28 people no longer speak for me, for the Liberal Democrats, or the UK's students.
I call for all those who broke their pledge to stand down at the next parliament.
As that seems unlikely, I call on local parties to deselect those who have betrayed the party and instead stand candidates who are honest and stick to their pledges unconditionally.