With the party I have voted for, principally for their education policy, bent on abandoning all those commitments, I feel I must take up campaigning against them.
Below is my letter to Rt. Hon Nick Clegg, I will post any reply I receive.
Dear Rt. Hon Mr Clegg,
Re: Student Fees
I consider myself a typical Lib Dem voter. I remember well the excitement of seeing my vote help bring Paul Burstow into office in Sutton, where I live. He has proved to be everything an MP should and could be.
I also remember your first interview on BBC radio 4 as the Lib Dem party leader, the sense of excitement I had, and the message of support I sent your office on email.
I have become an ‘activist’, formally by delivering Lib Dem leaflets with my children over the last few years, but more informally through word of mouth, and my social networks. My message has been vote Lib Dem, and you’ll get better policy and hard working MP.
So it is with a very heavy hear that at present I find myself unable to support the Lib Dems, despite my admiration for Paul Burstow. I have never been a single issue voter, but the issue of school fees has been so important to me, that I feel I have no other recourse under democratic process.
As I have searched my motivations, and wanted to take my democratic role seriously, being well aware of the mess our country is in financially, I have tried to avoid ‘preferencing’ my own issues. However on the issue of education and fees, I am rather distraught.
If there was one issue that led me to vote Lib Dem, is was education. I have always been willing, and remain willing to pay more in income tax for education. My friends who asked why I voted Lib Dem were always met with a passionate explanation of Lib Dem education policy.
And now I feel utterly betrayed. No response telling me that we have no choice, that the proposed tripling of fees is ‘progressive’ will assuage my deep disdain for the current move to throw policy to the wind. If I had wanted education thrown to market forces I would have voted Tory. And I watch as Scotland ensure their young people will not pay any fees at all.
Where there is a will there is a way, and I remain ready to pay more tax for education. Under previous Lib Dem education policy I would have gladly paid higher income tax for a generation of students who were not my own children. And now with 3 children soon to enter higher education I despair at the debts they and I now face. To hear my children question if university is worth while with the prospect of such large loans is heart breaking. The only story I have to tell them, is how the party I voted for to protect them, has deserted them.
If the Lib Dems support and enact the current plans for increases in education fees, I feel I have no choice other than to withdraw my support for the party. It is the only protest I can make within democratic process.
I will not be an activist formally, and more importantly I now find myself within many conversations talking about the Lib Dems betrayal of their deepest policy commitments. More than withholding my vote at the next election, and my informal support through relationships having been soured, I am determined on this issue to actively campaign against current Lib Dem policy.
I am posting this on my blog and will post any replies. I receive around 250,000 unique visits to my site every year, and my blog posting wit this letter will be emailed to 2,500 email subscribers. I mention this not to aggrandize my social media standing, but to confirm that I am determined that my friends all know of my rejection of the new Lib Dem education policy
There is still time for you to get back behind your policy commitments on education. I fear that without this, we will witness the demise of the Lib Dem party at the next elections.
Dr Jason Clark