The Liberal Democrats were drawing up plans to abandon Nick Clegg's flagship policy to scrap university tuition fees two months before the general election, secret party documents reveal.Read an extract from Rob's book HERE.
As the Lib Dem leader faces a growing revolt after this week's violent protest against fee rises, internal documents show the party was drawing up proposals for coalition negotiations which contrasted sharply with Clegg's public pronouncements.
A month before Clegg pledged in April to scrap the "dead weight of debt", a secret team of key Lib Dems made clear that, in the event of a hung parliament, the party would not waste political capital defending its manifesto pledge to abolish university tuition fees within six years. In a document marked "confidential" and dated 16 March, the head of the secret pre-election coalition negotiating team, Danny Alexander, wrote: "On tuition fees we should seek agreement on part-time
students and leave the rest. We will have clear yellow water with the other
[parties] on raising the tuition fee cap, so let us not cause ourselves more
The document is likely to fuel criticism among Lib Dem backbenchers and in the National Union of Students that the party courted the university vote in the full knowledge that its pledge would have to be abandoned as the party sought to achieve a foot in government. Within a month of the secret document, Clegg recorded a YouTube video for the annual NUS conference on 13 April in which he pledged to abolish fees within six years.
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