That’s the headline in the piece about the future for Vince Cable and the Liberal Democrats in The Guardian today.
It includes, ahem, this:
The point about tuition fees is particularly important, in my view. It’s a near dead-certainty that Labour will spend large amounts of money on targeted Facebook ads at the next election attacking Vince Cable over the issue at the next election.
Mark Pack, the former party strategist who co-founded the influential Lib Dem Voice, said Cable may have been aided if there had been a leadership race. “A contested leadership has the benefit of pushing you to come up with your message quickly, Vince did not have to do that,” he said…
Pack said the party still had several key strengths, a large membership as well as a unique selling point as a pro-remain national party. Cable, he said, needed to be well prepared for the pitfalls of leadership to avoid the problems that sunk Farron, who was dogged by questions about his attitude to homosexuality and abortion as a practising Christian.
“He is doing serious preparatory work now to be ahead of any potential pitfalls that might come up, such as what our policy should be on tuition fees. That’s an obvious question that will be asked,” Pack said.
“And there’s a lesson here from Tim Farron’s leadership. Thinking ahead, what are the things that are likely to be a problem come the next election?”
The question is, do we find a way to address the issue that recognises the way it is seem to symbolise a breach of trust and also find a way to move on from it which isn’t the self-defeating defensiveness of getting into the details of what the policy did (good though it was, it turned out, at reducing inequality in university applications)? Defensive detailed arguments about facts not only have limited persuasive power, they also mean time taken up at the expense of talking about other things.
That’s where the work Vince Cable has got rolling on detailed policy in this area is so important. If the learning accounts policy and graduate tax imitation can both be fleshed out in a way that’s workable, it’ll be a way to address the tuition fees obstacle by giving the party something positive to say not only about students but also about the majority of the population who don’t go to university.
After all, shouldn’t an education policy for the many be about all teenagers and not only the minority who go to university?