Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Clegg to students: stop, look, listen

The BBC reports here that UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (Liberal Demcorats) has appealed to students to "listen and look before you march and shout" during today's nationwide student protests against proposed raising of the university fee cap from about £3,200 per year to £9,000 per year. Clegg had campaigned against any rise in university fees during the spring general election, his party's platform called for the abolition of all fees, and he had described (pre-election) proposals to raise fees to £7,000 a disaster. Liberal Democrats performed strongly in seats with universities, attracting large student support.

Perhaps the issues the public was most aware of in the Liberal Democrat platform were its opposition to the Iraq War and its opposition to student fees. Inevitably, compromises must be struck within a coalition government. Not all party manifesto pledges can be met in full or in part. However, to abandon perhaps one of the most widely known and most popular positions amongst their supporters to such an extent -- and then to treat opponents like children with the old school saying of "stop, look, listen" -- is incredible.

Expect opposition to the Liberal Democrats to harden and public approval for the party to decline even further. This is a political party in meltdown facing possible near electoral extinction -- all at the price of being unable to resist the opportunity to grab power. The real tragedy is the party seems to be unaware of its growing crisis.

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