You couldn’t make this up. The Liberal Democrats having misled voters about tuition fees after going into government with the Tories and suffered the consequences of a loss of support and trust. Then later apologised for which we are thankful, albeit only for giving the world some Nick Clegg auto-tune comedy, they are coming back around for another pass.
It is being reported that the Lib Dems are considering whether to promise to reduce the £9,000 cap on university tuition fees in their manifesto at the next general election. They are also considering doing this with a straight face. No doubt this idea was developed at an election strategy meeting entitled “how gullible are voters?”.
The Independent reports that it has been told by senior Lib Dem sources that the idea is among options being looked at by a working party on higher education policy.
“The Government’s decision to almost treble the maximum fee to £9,000 a year was the most traumatic one for the Liberal Democrats since the Coalition was formed. At the 2010 election, they pledged to abolish fees, for which Nick Clegg issued a dramatic public apology last September.
“Some Liberal Democrats are worried higher fees may be deterring young people from going to university and want their next manifesto to include a plan to set a £6,000 cap, with the government making up an estimated £2bn shortfall in universities’ income.
“Insiders say the party’s decision could be influenced by figures due at the end of this month on the number of student applications. Latest figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) show a drop of 5.6 per cent on the previous year.
“But Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister responsible for higher education, is thought unlikely to support a lower cap. The Business Secretary believes the Ucas figures suggest that students from disadvantaged backgrounds have not been put off applying to university, partly because the loans covering fees do not have to be repaid until a graduate earns £21,000 a year, the Independent reports.