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by JOSEPH WATTS, Political editor
Saturday, September 22, 2012
A City MP last night claimed that if the Liberal Democrats had won the 2010 election outright, the party would have stuck to its pledge not to increase university tuition fees.
The comments from Simon Wright, MP for Norwich South, come just days after Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg made a video in which he apologised for making the pledge in the first place.
Mr Clegg said in his video: “I shouldn’t have committed to a policy that was so expensive when there was so little money around, not least when the most likely way we would end up in government was in coalition with Labour or the Conservatives who had both committed to putting fees up.”
Mr Wright maintained, however, that the primary reason the party had not been able to live up to the pledge was not the cost, but that it was in coalition with the Conservatives.
He said: “If it had been a Lib Dem only government we would have delivered on the manifesto and that included on tuition fees.”
He added: “Mr Clegg acknowledged that the policy was a very expensive one and that times have been very tough. But the pledge was part of the Lib Dem manifesto and it was funded in there.
“While it would have been very expensive, the policy we had was spread over a six year period, but we weren’t going to get agreement on it while in coalition with a party that wanted to increase tuition fees.”
Mr Wright was one of a handful of coalition MPs who rebelled against the government plan to raise tuition fees when the vote took place in December 2010.