Imagine the following scenario.

  • First, a Prime Minister lacking a clear parliamentary majority feels obliged by electoral forces to bring a particular policy to Parliament for MPs to vote on.
  • This policy is a notable u-turn from her previous position.
  • The new policy is also an uneasy compromise. It does not satisfy proponents of the status quo in or beyond Parliament.
  • Nor does it satisfy the demands of the Opposition, even though they had previously called for comparable changes.
  • The Opposition say, if they were in power, they would implement a different bolder new policy that successfully balances objectives that others claim are irreconcilable.
  • The Prime Minister ploughs on, saying there is no alternative and convinced her new policy will eventually pass and relieve pent-up political tension.
  • But parliamentarians from different political parties reject the policy. Instead, the country is left to choose between the status quo or a radically different proposal.

That may sound like the current political debates on Brexit. But it is also the position on tuition fees.

  • First, a Prime Minister with no clear parliamentary majority feels obliged by electoral forces to bring a particular policy to Parliament for MPs to vote on. The 2017 election result led to the Augar review, which is thought to favour a reduction in tuition fees.
  • This policy is a notable u-turn from her previous position. She had previously backed fees of £9,000 / £9,250.
  • The new policy is also an uneasy compromise. It does not satisfy proponents of the status quo in or beyond Parliament. Universities say they will be underfunded.
  • Nor does it satisfy the demands of the Opposition, even though they had previously called for comparable changes. £6,000 fee cap at the 2015 election; £0 fees in 2017.
  • The Opposition say, if they were in power, they would implement a different bolder new policy that successfully balances objectives that others claim are irreconcilable. Abolition of fees without reducing quality or restricting places.
  • The Prime Minister ploughs on, saying there is no alternative and convinced her new policy will eventually pass and relieve pent-up political tension. She pushes on with a fee reduction.
  • But parliamentarians from different political parties reject the policy. Instead, the country is left to choose between the status quo or a radically different proposal. £9,250 or no fees.