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Category Archives: Liberal Democrats
Ed Miliband’s pledge to cut annual fees to £6,000 attracts criticism from George Osborne and Vince Cable
Labour’s high stakes pledge to lower the annual cap on tuition fees in England from £9,000 to £6,000, funded by removing £3bn worth pension tax relief, has been described as fraudulent by the coalition government and criticised by some experts as helping richer graduates.
In an effort to challenge the main criticism that the plan favours richer students, Labour said it would raise the interest rate on loans for wealthier graduates earning £47,000 a year or more and increase the maintenance grant by £400 a year for students whose family income fell below £25,000. It said the overall package was being funded by removing tax reliefs on some of the wealthiest in society.
Rolling coverage of all the day’s political developments as they happen, including Nick Clegg’s Call Clegg phone-in
Turning back to the migration figures, Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, has published a comprehensive review of the government’s record on migration at the LSE blog.
Here’s his conclusion.
The promise to cut net migration to the “tens of thousands” was generally regarded by immigration policy experts as unachievable, or achievable only at an economic cost no sensible government was willing to pay. In practice, the latter course was never tested: resistance from within government from the Department of Business, supported to a greater or lesser extent by the Treasury, meant that even non-EU migration was only reduced very substantially for non-HE students; for most other routes it has stabilised. Non-EU net migration is currently about 150,000 a year, slightly higher than EU net migration.
This does not mean the policy changes had no impact: the increase in the regulatory burden on business and the education sector has been substantial, and has certainly resulted in some reduction in skilled and student migration. The most damaging single decision was probably the closing of the Post-Study Work Route. However, overall, any economic damage was considerably mitigated.
There are 70 days, 10 weeks, until the election.
Here is today’s “election fact” from the Press Association.
Charles Dickens, in Pickwick Papers, gives an account of a fictional 1830s parliamentary election at Eatanswill where Samuel Slumkey of the Blue faction is pitted against the Buffs’ Horatio Fizkin. The rivalry is so heated that both sides will go to extraordinary lengths to secure a majority for their man, including keeping potential opposition voters in an alcoholic stupor to prevent them voting. The no-holds-barred campaign extends to the local press with the Eatanswill Gazette backing the Blues and the Eatanswill Independent the Buffs. The beating of drums and the blowing of horns and trumpets, the shouting of men and tramping of horses echo through the streets from dawn. Also included are more modern campaigning tools such as shaking hands with voters and kissing babies.
Mr Perker, Slumkey’s agent, says to Mr Pickwick: “You have come down here to see an election, eh? Spirited contest, my dear sir, very much so indeed. We have opened all the public houses in the place. It has left our opponent nothing but the beer-shops.” The result: Slumkey wins!
Sunder Katwala from the British Future thinktank has posted a good blog on today’s migration figures, which will show David Cameron failing to achieve his target of getting net migration below 100,000. He says he can’t recall “a more extravagant missing of a target since Chris Waddle ballooned his penalty practically out of the stadium when England went out of the World Cup to Germany in 1990”.
Here’s an extract.
Returning to politics, there is a simple moral to this sorry tale: careless promises cost trust. Maybe it is easy to understand how the mistake came about in opposition ahead of the 2010 election. The Conservatives found a popular soundbite, about migration being in the “tens of thousands”, and didn’t stop to think whether they had policies that could deliver it.
But making the same mistake all over again in the 2015 manifesto would suggest that nothing has been learnt from five years experience in government.
Here are today’s YouGov GB polling figures.
Update: Cons & Lab tied – Latest YouGov/The Sun results 25th Feb – Con 33%, Lab 33%, LD 8%, UKIP 15%, GRN 6%; APP -16 http://t.co/bKh6b0ALgk
Good morning. Here’s the agenda for the day.
9am: Nick Clegg hosts his Call Clegg phone-in.
Chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander says plan would make those who facilitate tax evasion liable for fines in the same as evaders themselves
The chief secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, has announced Liberal Democrat plans to make failure to prevent tax evasion a criminal offence.
The Lib Dem minister said proposals to criminalise “corporate failure to prevent economic crime” would be a key part of his party’s election manifesto, but that there was still time to pursue the plans before parliament dissolves in late March.
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Pressure builds on Ed Miliband to set out Labour’s plans for tuition fees, which may see fees cut to £6,000
Lord Mandelson has warned that the Labour party risks damaging its credibility if it announces its policy to cut tuition fees – expected next week – without setting out clearly how it would be funded.
In a speech to Universities UK, the former Labour business secretary said that if Labour announces plans to reduce university tuition fees to £6,000 it is vital that replacement funding from taxation is identified and announced at the same time, “because that will ensure that no credibility gap is opened up either around university funding or the Labour party’s commitment to reducing the fiscal deficit”.
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