We are predisposed to focus on the negative. Research has provided proof of that fact, but can we please stop focusing on Nick Clegg and his university fees mistake?
I am on track towards losing weight and regaining my health right now.
What that has to do with Nick Clegg and university fees will become apparent in just a second.
Anyway, I’m overweight and I don’t want to be.
Filling my body with green vegetable juices and plant based eating has been great. Last week I dared to eat some hot cross buns and a Tesco cheese and tomato pizza (love ‘em). Did I focus on all the wonderful green food I have been devouring? No. I focused on the day I ate a pizza and a few hot cross buns. I became so preoccupied with the “bad” food that I forgot to celebrate all the great stuff I ate.
And so it is with Nick Clegg and his university fees mistake.
Okay. He made a promise and broke it – which politician hasn’t done that? – But hasn’t he apologised enough already? Are we to beat him with the university fee stick until he (and his political career) collapses, or could we find it in our heart to focus on some of the good he has done as part of the coalition?
First, I have to say I dropped the Lib Dems like a hot curry fresh out the microwave (my pre-vegetable juicing days) when Nick Clegg formed a government with the Conservatives in 2010.
I didn’t vote Lib Dems so he could cohort with the conservative party (I refused to give life to the subconscious flight of fancy that suggested I might actually agree with conservative policies) and I was more than a little peeved.
Eventually though I had to let that go as I began to see how the Lib Dems were making an active difference in government. University fees aside (and I know it’s a huge aside and a huge ask) Nick Clegg, thanks to the coalition has made an impact.
So, what’s this impact I keep harping on about?
Firstly, my own opinion is that we (yes that is the Royal We) will have softened that conservative stiffness. You only have to ask the search engines to define the word “conservative” and “liberal” to see how the Lib Dems have done that.
Conservative: averse to change or innovation and holding traditional values
Liberal: Willing to respect or accept behaviour or opinions different from one’s own; open to new ideas
But back to the facts…
Here is what a Lib Dem coalition has achieved over the last five years:
Raising the tax threshold so that many of the lowest earners are exempt from paying income tax. Conservatives want us to believe it was all down to them because, lets face it, they need the kudos. The truth from THIS 2010 video doesn’t lie. David Cameron said it can’t be done and Nick Clegg did it.
Cutting tax breaks for the rich. Always a good thing to do.
Increasing apprenticeships for young people: My eldest son has a job thanks to training he received as part of an apprenticeship program and I think they are a fantastic way of supporting young people and getting them into work.
Championed same-sex marriage so that people in love, regardless of who they love, can celebrate that by getting married.
Secured measures to champion equal pay. The gender pay gap is an important issue and despite the conservatives’ efforts to block the proposals larger companies will now have to comply.
Increased social housing for the first time in 30 years. 190,000 affordable homes were built and 70,000 empty properties were repaired and put back into use.
Provided free childcare for all 3 and 4 year olds and free school meals, so our little ones are not attending school on an empty stomach. Having to watch a child stuff his pockets full of the leftover food of his classmates is not something that should be happening in modern Britain.
The Lib Dems delivered the biggest ever cash rise in the state pension and pensioners (who are largely ignored by most political parties – God bless Nicola Sturgeon and her pensioners’ plan) will receive an average £15,000 more over the course of their retirement.
There is a great Lib Dem info graphic on Mark Pack.Org that outlines what the Lib Dems have achieved as a result of forming the coalition.
So, you can go ahead and continue to beat the university fee drum or you can take a look at the bigger picture.
Take a look at what went right. Look into the positives that have been achieved.
The coalition was a good idea because it gave the Lib Dems a chance to get into government and make changes. Labour had their head in the sand and was not a viable option. The only alternative was to pair with David Cameron (who I believe definitely has liberal flights of fancy) and make it work, which they did.
Despite being a minority government the Lib Dems (and Nick Clegg) have done a lot of good and I hope they get a chance to continue doing it.
I know it is not our way to focus on the positive but it might just help you look at Nick Clegg and his university fees mistake (plus his coalition decision) a little differently, it did me.