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4 December 2010

Lib Dem U-turn, number 774

Vince Cable says he WILL vote for tuition fee rise.

By Mehdi Hasan

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

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UPDATE:

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.