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Edinburgh MP thinks twice on tuition fee pledge
Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West, Mike Crockart, refused to confirm if he will be upholding his pledge to Vote for Students
Marcus de Wilde
Wednesday, 27 October, 2010 | 00:00
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Edinburgh MP Mike Crockart has refused to uphold the 'Vote for Students' pledge he made before the 2010 general election. 

Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) has initiated the campaign after Mr. Crockart refused to confirm to EUSA President Liz Rawlings that he will honour a pledge signed before the General Election to vote against any increase in tuition fees in England.

EUSA’s 'Write to Mike' campaign asked the students of the University of Edinburgh to write to the Liberal Democrat MP for Edinburgh West.

Mr. Crockart met with EUSA President Liz Rawlings, Liam Burns, the president of NUS Scotland, and Simon Eltringham, president of Heriot-Watt University Students Association (HWUSA), on Monday 18 October. Mr Crockart was presented with 1,000 letters requesting “assurance that you will vote against any increase in tuition fees in parliament.”

A representative of Mr Crockart’s Parliamentary office told The Journal: “The Browne review is not government legislation on Higher Education; at the moment we don’t know what the legislation is that it is possible to reject or accept. Mike is working hard to relay the concerns of student unions, keeping dialogue open.”

In the wake of the Browne Review, the National Union of Students (NUS) is asking whether Liberal Democrat MPs will keep the pre-election pledge to vote against a rise in tuition fees.

The NUS’ Vote for Students Pledge was signed by all Liberal Democrat MPs before the election and was a key feature of the Liberal Democrat election campaign. Aaron Porter, president of NUS, said of the Browne Review: "We are supposedly all in this together yet students are being asked to pay for government cuts to universities.”

Mr. Porter also focused on the role of the Liberal Democrats in the coalition government: “If the Liberal Democrats renege on their promise to vote against higher tuition fees, if they back out, if they turn a blind eye to the situation, then an entire generation of students would justly feel betrayed.

"Now is their time to implement their flagship policy or face the consequences at the ballot box."

Liz Rawlings, president of EUSA told The Journal: “We’re fighting for the future of education as we know it. It looks like they will go back on that pledge.”

The remaining MPs for Edinburgh who signed the pledge will stick to their original promise, according to Ms Rawlings who personally phoned them.

Speaking to The Journal, Ian Murray, Labour MP for Edinburgh South, said: “The Liberal Democrats are relying on the smoke and mirrors of government which they are hiding behind. It’s really pretty deplorable. When you sign something you stick with it or you don’t sign. The Liberal Democrats problem was that they didn’t think they would get elected. They were elected on a lie.”

Mr Crockart said: “It is obviously a difficulty, but there are a lot of difficult things we are having to do at the moment.”

Mr. Crockart plans to reconvene with representatives of EUSA and HWUSA on Friday 29 October.

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