No twist in Cable's logic

December 2, 2010

I did not appreciate Times Higher Education's editorialising about Vince Cable's "tortuous logic" ("The Week in Higher Education", 25 November).

"We didn't break a promise," says Cable, reasoning impeccably: "We made a commitment in our manifesto, and we didn't win the election."

Quite so. I changed my vote on this single issue, deciding against a local Liberal Democrat (in favour of Labour, as it happens) solely because the Lib Dem pledge to end tuition fees seemed to me insane.

American universities dominate the worldwide quality rankings, and a major factor seems to me to be their policy of multiple funding sources and competitive, prestige-sensitive setting of tuition fees.

At the election, the Lib Dems were told by millions of voters that they could not be trusted to form a government on their own. As Cable says, they did not win. Now they are minority partners in a coalition that has agreed that tuition fees for university courses should not be set at zero. I approve.

Don't criticise Cable's logic: he seems to get it, and you do not.

Geoffrey K. Pullum, Head of linguistics and English language, University of Edinburgh.

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