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20 March 1997
Why Vote Conservative? 
by David Willetts.
Penguin, 108 pp., £3.99, February 1997, 0 14 026304 7
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Why Vote Liberal Democrat? 
by William Wallace.
Penguin, 120 pp., £3.99, February 1997, 0 14 026303 9
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Why Vote Labour? 
by Tony Wright.
Penguin, 111 pp., £3.99, February 1997, 0 14 026397 7
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... each of the parties. Each author – a Tory MP, a Labour MP and a Liberal Democrat life peer – is worth reading for a justification of his party that rises above ritual partisan point-scoring. If DavidWilletts was not already the best-known of the three when the books were commissioned, he certainly is now. Allegedly known as ‘Two Brains’ to his friends (or alleged friends, perhaps), Mr ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Radio 3’s ‘X Factor’

14 July 2011
... In their foreword to the predictably dismaying Higher Education White Paper, Vince Cable and DavidWilletts deploy the standard language of the marketplace: the Higher Education Funding Council for England will take on ‘a major new role as a consumer champion’; ‘universities will be under competitive ...

Short Cuts

Howard Hotson: For-Profit Universities

2 June 2011
... In July last year, two months after assuming his duties as minister for universities and science, DavidWilletts granted university status to BPP University College of Professional Studies, making it only the second private institution in England, after the University of Buckingham, to be given the power to ...

Short Cuts

Jenny Diski: The Falklands

8 March 2012
... I would like to take Sean Penn and place him in the jaws of one of those crocodiles.’ Damn fine response. Instead of putting Penn in the Tower, the British have sent a prince in a helicopter, DavidWilletts and a nuclear submarine to the South Atlantic to show the Argentinians who they’re messing with. Not unreasonably, their foreign minister has made an official complaint to the UN about the ...
19 May 2011
... contrary to what Vince Cable has repeatedly told them is in their rational economic interest. And with regard to standards, the American company that owns BPP University College – which DavidWilletts granted university status only last year – recently lost its appeal in the US Supreme Court after being found guilty of defrauding its shareholders and is under investigation by the US Higher ...

After Browne

Iain Pears

17 March 2011
... air. It is a bad policy: it will damage research in the sciences and corrupt it in the humanities, as academics will have a strong financial incentive to become liars. Despite the doubts expressed by DavidWilletts, the minister for universities and science, the institutional momentum behind it has proven to be unstoppable: Hefce recently announced that the measure will go ahead unchanged. ‘Impact ...

Short Cuts

Christopher Prendergast: Student Loans

6 January 2011
... but pay unimaginably less than under the current arrangement. So by paying off the debt more quickly, the higher earner pays less interest – the low or static earner will always pay more. Cable and DavidWilletts have made noises about preventing higher earners benefiting in this way, but there is no clarity, and certainly no decision, on what measures might be taken, and it’s pretty clear that any ...

Corbyn in the Media

Paul Myerscough

21 October 2015
... have hardly been at issue so far, but on his willingness and capacity to play the role of modern political leader. Would he – could he? – perform the countless vital tasks that come naturally to David Cameron or Tony Blair: everything from how to comport yourself at the despatch box to the best way to climb out of a chauffeur-driven car, from how to use an autocue to knowing which pop band to ...

Progressive, like the 1980s

John Gray: Farewell Welfare State

21 October 2010
... Though few anticipated the agreement, it is not difficult to understand why David Cameron and Nick Clegg should have made a bargain to share power. By forming a coalition Cameron secured protection from his mutinous right wing, while Clegg became the pivotal player in British ...

Cash Today

Andrew McGettigan: Who profits from student loans?

5 March 2015
... on a colossal scale’ according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies – are to be found hasn’t been made clear, still less where the money will come from to pay for the £7 billion in tax cuts David Cameron airily promised in his speech to the Conservative Party Conference last October. When such pledges are discussed in the media, it is usually in terms of whether they are funded or unfunded ...

Sold Out

Stefan Collini: The Costs of University Privatisation

23 October 2013
Everything for Sale? The Marketisation of UK Higher Education 
by Roger Brown and Helen Carasso.
Routledge, 235 pp., £26.99, February 2013, 978 0 415 80980 1
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The Great University Gamble: Money, Markets and the Future of Higher Education 
by Andrew McGettigan.
Pluto, 215 pp., £16.99, April 2013, 978 0 7453 3293 2
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... destabilise’ the majority of institutions ‘prior to the entrance and expansion of the alternative providers, who in contrast will be nurtured into the new terrain’. On this matter at least, DavidWilletts, the minister responsible for higher education, has been clear: ‘The biggest lesson I have learned is that the most powerful driver of reform is to let new providers into the system ...

Bloody Furious

William Davies: ‘Generation Left’

10 February 2020
Generation Left 
by Keir Milburn.
Polity, 140 pp., £9.99, May 2019, 978 1 5095 3224 7
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... from postwar economic policymaking, both in its redistributive Keynesian phase and its subsequent neoliberal phase, has been growing for many years. Ironically it was a Conservative politician, DavidWilletts, who – in his 2010 book The Pinch – first assembled the evidence that a generational land grab had occurred in the UK, at the expense of the boomers’ children and grandchildren. The ...

Good for Business

Ross McKibbin: The End of Research?

25 February 2010
... who suggest that the bill is simply intended to embarrass an incoming Conservative government. If so, it will serve Labour right if it wins the next election and has to live with it. Meanwhile, DavidWilletts, the shadow minister for universities and skills, has said that the Conservatives will delay the REF ‘by up to two years to establish whether a sound and widely accepted measure of impact ...

Heir to Blair

Christopher Tayler: Among the New Tories

26 April 2007
... to show that the Conservatives were progressing nicely with the decontamination of their brand, ‘decontamination’ being the buzzword for the shearing off of voter-unfriendly associations. Before David Cameron, or ‘DC’, as he’s known, took over in December 2005, Conservative strategists had noted anxiously that focus groups would turn against almost anything – even, or especially, tax cuts ...

Browne’s Gamble

Stefan Collini: The Future of the Universities

4 November 2010
Securing a Sustainable Future for Higher Education: An Independent Review of Higher Education Funding and Student Finance 
by Lord Browne et al.
62 pp., October 2010
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... contribution to the costs of their courses. Dearing suggested that this should be done through a system of deferred repayments of an initial loan, calibrated according to income after university. But David Blunkett, the relevant minister at the time, decided that it should be imposed as an upfront charge, initially of £1000 per year. He also, in an equally ill-considered move, reduced maintenance ...

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