Jonathan Jones

The Coffee House A-Z of the Coalition: T-Z

Here are letters T to Z in our A-Z guide the coalition’s first year. A-F are here. G-M are here. And N-S are here.

T is for Tuition fees

“Broken promises, there have been too many in the last few years.” So said Nick Clegg in a Liberal Democrat video during the last election campaign. It was favourite theme of his — and one that he deployed both during the TV debates and in signing a pledge to scrap tuition fees. This was to be a New Politics. Clegg was to be its champion.

Shame it didn’t quite work like that. The coalition agreement was damaging enough to Clegg’s aura: it didn’t guarantee that tuition fees wouldn’t rise, only that the Lib Dems wouldn’t have to vote for such a rise. But then came the Browne review, and the final contradiction to Clegg’s pledge: tuition fees would rise after all. The Deputy Prime Minister had gone from being the face of honest politics to its betrayer. He had become a hate figure for the very people who had previously trilled, “I agree with Nick!”

Such are the concessions and compromises of coalition politics, you might say — and you’d be right. But there’s no arguing that Clegg had, for many voters, lost his credibility. It’s a blow from which he and the Lib Dems are still reeling, and may never fully recover.

U is for Unions

The brothers are tearing up British politics once again. After a decade of confused murmuring, they finally had an enemy to get stuck into: a Conservative-dominated government that had mind to cut and to reform. What’s more, they now have their Own Man in charge of the Labour party. Labour MPs and members may not have voted for Ed Miliband — but the unions did, in droves.

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