The UK election: the issue of higher education fees

 8 May 2015

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WonkheMark Leach writes on the Wonkhe website that the collapse in support for the Liberal Democrats in the UK general elections can be attribute, in large part, to the party’s u-turn on the issue of university fees.  It’s a basic issue: it’s about the place of trust in politics .

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UK Election

Lib Dems in freefall

It looks like the Lib Dems are in serious trouble. The Conservatives are gobbling up their seats and their votes across the land. Their u-turn on tuition fees has been totemic for the party – and acted at a lightening rod for disaffection amongst their supporters. Vince Cable is in trouble in Twickenham, Nick Clegg is fighting for his political life in Sheffield Hallam, Danny Alexander has all but lost his seat. All of them architects of the £9,000 fee regime and the ‘betrayal’ that lost the party so much support.

As I wrote earlier in the week, this has remarkably little to do with higher education fees and funding policy, particularly when you consider that many of these votes are going to the Conservatives who also supported this policy in government. But fees have come to represent something else in the public consciousness: a basic issue of trust in politics.

Other notable Lib Dems familiar to the HE sector, who are likely to lose their seats tonight are David Laws and Simon Hughes.

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