The Roll of Dishonour: A Special Edition Whip
While browsing through Hansard on Tuesday night, I uncovered the records of the division on top-up fees, all the way back in 2004. You know what I found? I found that none of the MPs who voted for Top-Up Fees voted for the fee increase this time around.
In fact, I have a list of 125 names. 125 MPs who will try to paint themselves as defenders of the student interest, but in reality, were more than happy to vote for fees when their party was the one levying them. I’m asking the constituents of these 125 MPs not to praise these hypocrites, but ask them what changed their mind over the course of almost seven years, whether they regret their vote for fees initially, and of course, how much is too much:
Bell, Sir Stuart
Donohoe, Brian H.
Here’s another list: the 113 MPs who were horrified at the thought of tuition fees being trebled reach the dizzy heights of £3,000 back in 2004, but today thought nothing of trebling those fees again, when their parties have their hands on the tiller. Ask them what changed their mind? Did they actually vote against fees not because they wanted to defend higher education, but because they thought that three grand just wasn’t enough?
Beith, A. J.
Beresford, Sir Paul
Duncan Smith, Iain
Stanley, Sir John
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Young, Sir George
Finally, one more list. A much smaller list, of just 48 names. 48 MPs who believed that top-up fees were wrong in 2004 and are still wrong today. There will be plenty of others who weren’t in Parliament when this first vote was taken, who genuinely believe in their case either way. But for those members with a longer history, all 294 MPs who voted in the last division on fees and are still in the Commons today, only 48 – less than one out of every six MPs – voted the same way in January 2004 and December 2010. And every one of them voted no:
Brooke, Annette L.
Campbell, Sir Menzies
Donaldson, Jeffrey M.
So well done, that 48. The jury is still out on the 2005 and 2010 intake, and it will interesting to see how they behave if, in 2017, this issue comes up again – especially if (and it’s a big if) there’s been a change of Government in the meantime. Suffice it to say, I trust the SNP, Plaid, Green and Northern Irish Members more than I trust Labour, the Tories and their apologists, the LibDems, but even among their ranks are honest people who will stick to their beliefs. But until then, we can say that there are 48 men and women of proven principle. The outcome of today’s vote notwithstanding, and regardless of the shenanigans of the three major parties over the years, those 48 stand out as proof that politicians are not all the same. While the protesters are busy tear-arsing their way around London over a fait accompli, let’s reflect on how fortunately, there are still some good people in politics. The outcome of the vote may be a disaster for future students, but there is, if you look hard enough, something good to come out of all this.
Though I daresay the presence of 48 honest men and women will come as little comfort to the Class of 2015, who’ll graduate with twice the debt they otherwise would have done.