Helping Those Who Cannot Help Themselves

Following my post below about top-up fees, a correspondent writes to the Virtual Stoa:

It seems to me that there’s a perfectly straightforward line that Paul “The Thinker” Richards could have taken and which seems to me to be true and defensible (though difficult to defend on, say Newsnight or Question Time – for obvious reasons). Namely, that the what was denoted by “top-up fees” in the manifesto is something other than what is denoted by “top-up fees” in the current proposals and debate. That is to say, that what it was proposed to outlaw in the manifesto was the idea (then floated by some Vice-Chancellors) that universities should be able to charge in addition to the �1000 basic fee, a further fee at their discretion. The current proposals — no money up front, fixed ceiling to the fees, some element of variability, moderately painless and income-dependent repayment scheme — are different: the variable fees aren’t a top-up to other basic fees in the way previously suggested.

That sounds right, but what’s curious is that while Blair hinted at this line of argument in his Newsnight interview, when he stressed on a couple of occasions that the new funding system was quite unlike the old one, his main line of defence is still the sophistry that no manifesto promise is being broken in virtue of the fact that the fees won’t be in force until after the next election.Even that, of course, is a better line to take than Paul “The Thinker” Richards’ claim that manifesto promises don’t matter, words which I trust will return to haunt him if he is ever foolish enough to stand again for election to Parliament.

P.S. I see, incidentally, that Paul “The Thinker” Richards has been admonishing various anonymous bloggers here and here for their point-scoring activities and telling them to “clear off”. If it were to be the case that he’s thinking of me — wouldn’t it be nice? — this would provide further evidence of his contempt for his own readers, given that he hasn’t yet intervened to correct the untruths on the post on which I was commenting, and of which he would now be aware, but prefers to leave his falsehoods unedited and unacknowledged in order to continue to mislead those who stumble across his Thoughts.

P.P.S. S.i.a.A.o.W. raised the question of intemperance. For some of the reasons why I have such contempt for Paul “The Thinker” Richards and waste my own time drawing attention to his failings on my blog, see these earlier posts here, here and here from last November.

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