Lib Dem U-turn, number 774

Vince Cable says he WILL vote for tuition fee rise.

Obviously I have a duty as a minister to vote for my own policy – and that is what will happen.

* Vince Cable speaking to his local paper yesterday

We want to support each other, we try to agree these things as a group as other parties do. But as I say, my position is somewhat different, but I'm willing to go along with my colleagues.

* Vince Cable speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live on Wednesday


Cable's confusion over his position on tuition fees is worse than I thought. The Telegraph notes:

He then later rowed back from his comments when asked about them in an interview with a student radio station.

Challenged over his newspaper interview, the Business Secretary said: "I didn't announce anything. I think there might have been some slight misunderstanding.

"What I did try to explain was that the Liberal Democrats as a parliamentary party will be deciding as a group how they will vote on Thursday and I would imagine that in the next few days there will be clarity on that issue."

Yes, Vince, some "clarity" would be great. I bumped into a Lib Dem minister the other night who told me: "We've made up our minds on how we're going to vote [on tuition fees]. We're just not going to tell you."

Peter Hoskin over at the Spectator's Coffee House blog writes:

To my mind, the most likely outcome – and one mooted in the papers today – is a three-way split. That is: Lib Dem ministers voting for the government's policy; most Lib Dem backbenchers abstaining as per the coalition agreement; and a handful of disgruntled Charles Kennedy types voting against it.

On Cable, he points out: "From proposing a graduate tax to backing down from it, from abstaining on tuition fees to voting for them, the Business Secretary has hardly been a model of consistency."

On a related note, Left Foot Forward has the classic video, from Thursday night's Question Time, of the Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, squirming over the tuition fees issue and evading, again and again, the question of how he plans to vote.

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

Show Hide image

Michael Gove definitely didn't betray anyone, says Michael Gove

What's a disagreement among friends?

Michael Gove is certainly not a traitor and he thinks Theresa May is absolutely the best leader of the Conservative party.

That's according to the cast out Brexiteer, who told the BBC's World At One life on the back benches has given him the opportunity to reflect on his mistakes. 

He described Boris Johnson, his one-time Leave ally before he decided to run against him for leader, as "phenomenally talented". 

Asked whether he had betrayed Johnson with his surprise leadership bid, Gove protested: "I wouldn't say I stabbed him in the back."

Instead, "while I intially thought Boris was the right person to be Prime Minister", he later came to the conclusion "he wasn't the right person to be Prime Minister at that point".

As for campaigning against the then-PM David Cameron, he declared: "I absolutely reject the idea of betrayal." Instead, it was a "disagreement" among friends: "Disagreement among friends is always painful."

Gove, who up to July had been a government minister since 2010, also found time to praise the person in charge of hiring government ministers, Theresa May. 

He said: "With the benefit of hindsight and the opportunity to spend some time on the backbenches reflecting on some of the mistakes I've made and some of the judgements I've made, I actually think that Theresa is the right leader at the right time. 

"I think that someone who took the position she did during the referendum is very well placed both to unite the party and lead these negotiations effectively."

Gove, who told The Times he was shocked when Cameron resigned after the Brexit vote, had backed Johnson for leader.

However, at the last minute he announced his candidacy, and caused an infuriated Johnson to pull his own campaign. Gove received just 14 per cent of the vote in the final contest, compared to 60.5 per cent for May. 


Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.