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Elaine Bagshaw a former Chair of Liberal Youth posted her response to Nick Clegg’s email on Facebook. I felt it deserved a wider audience and therefore with her permission I am publishing that response below.

My response to Nick’s tuition fee email

Dear Cowley Street staffer/poor intern that’s been given this job,

Thanks for your email. I note it’s the exact same one you sent to MPs last night, that many had already seen and reacted to. The fact that you haven’t acknowledged a single point about debt and trust and the hundreds of others that have been made by people since we all saw that email, shows how little you now respect the membership of this party. If you want an “open dialogue”, start by opening your ears and listening.

You keep referring to this dire financial mess argument. The problem here is that we had a fully costed and affordable manifesto – I know, I helped formulate the thing in FPC, in which a 6 year plan to scrap tuition fees was included AND costed. I have to ask whether you will now be using this as an excuse to drop all of our other pledges? Have you started a review of our manifesto and the policies in the coalition agreement, to see if we can afford them? Have you started a process internally to make sure we never produce a manifesto that, in hindsight, contains pledges we simply can’t afford? No, didn’t think so.

You may not have made any detailed decision but you and Vince both publicly endorsed the broad themes in the proposal. Vince did so on Tuesday morning before the ink on the Browne report was even dry. It is not an open dialogue when you have already decided privately and said publicly what you are going to do.

There are some good points in the Browne report, the extension of support to part-time students is an excellent move, but all it proposes is to tinker with the system. I agree that major reform of the system is needed, but Browne simply isn’t it. It was a narrow review that hasn’t tackled many of the major issues in HE, and hasn’t looked widely enough at the alternatives.

But the biggest issue here is trust. I have been a proud member of this party since I joined at Uni because we are not like Labour and the Tories. It was us who could during the expenses scandal could hold our heads high and say that not a single on of our MPs had flipped their homes or overclaimed on a mortgage. Now, we sit in the same ditch as every other politician and political party that said one thing to get votes and did another once in power. I believed that over the next five years we could get a lot out of the coalition, and that we wouldn’t be wiped out at the next election. Now, I’m not so convinced. You and Vince over the past two days have shown yourselves to be just like every other power grabbing politician, and frankly you have treated the membership with disdain. I supported you in the last leadership election, but if happened again today I wouldn’t be able to. I am seriously reconsidering whether to stand for any publicly elected position whilst you are leader of my party.

You have let thousands of party members and voters down. You may be enjoying government now but it is us who will have to pick up the pieces of this party when you are gone. The legacy you are leaving us is not one I will be proud of.

Yours,

Elaine

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