I was enormously distressed to watch Nick Clegg’s performance on the Andrew Marr Show yesterday because I once worked for the Lib Dems.
We finally were allowed to see a glimpse behind the mask. Mr Clegg let the cat out of the bag on what he really thinks of free university education. Although his party has since the Nottingham spring conference of 1996 consistently voted in favour of a policy of free university education, Mr Clegg boasted gleefully about what this coalition government has done with the money from raising university tuition fees to £9,000.
Mr Clegg is one of a small group of Lib Dem MPs who have never been in favour of free university education.
In 1999 their MSPs at Holyrood abandoned the policy to form a coalition in Edinburgh. In 2010 at Westminster they did the same to form the coalition. This small group of MPs jettisoned the policy as part of coalition negotiations because they wanted to anyway. Mr Clegg has consistently subverted the party policy on free university education whenever he can. This explodes the myth once and for all Lib Dem members make the party policy. Perhaps they did in Charlie Kennedy’s time, but not on Mr Clegg’s watch. That is probably why they stabbed Charlie Kennedy in the back in the first place.
Nigel F Boddy
Former parliamentary researcher at Westminster and Holyrood