Oldham candidate Elwyn Watkins faces both ways on tuition fees

The Liberal Democrats’ candidate for the Oldham East by-election already has form as a flip-flopper on tuition fees. In July 2009 he claimed on his own website that:

I think it is morally wrong that someone should start out their working life with a huge personal debt

He clearly underwent some kind of moral re-alignment in the intervening 18 months, telling the Oldham Evening Chronicle on 9 December:

I would go with the coalition and vote for it

As highlighted by Labour Uncut today, however, Watkins brings his special brand of cognitive dissonance to a single interview, telling the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg:

I would have fulfilled the coalition agreement

So we’re clear you’d vote for them, Elwyn?

I still think they’re wrong and if I was an MP I’d still campaign against them.


Watkins is spinning like a top.


  1. Posted January 6, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    There’s no inconsistency there. He’s said that he disagrees with the fees, to the extent that he will campaign against them, but he will vote as his party instructs him.

    I wouldn’t want an MP who’d put his party whip before his morals and his constituents personally, but he’d be far from unique in that respect.

  2. Jackyboy86
    Posted January 6, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    ‘Fulfilling the coaltion agreement’ would have meant abstaining.
    So, he doesn’t like fees, but would either vote for or abstain dependant on what the party wanted him to do, thus meeting the coalition agreement.
    Which is fair enough. An MPs first term can’t be too whip-bashing, otherwise the press and the party lose patience and brand them troublemakers.
    One has to have some serious credence in a party before defying the whip openly and publically.

  3. Haneef Rashid
    Posted January 6, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Hi all,

    I organised a hustings with the three party PPC and ELwyn was one of them and I have it on film and the petition that he signed that he was against tuition fees. He does not know actually where he stands at least the labour candidate backed a graduate tax before the general election.

  4. David Boothroyd
    Posted January 6, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    The coalition agreement only allows the Lib Dems to abstain on raising student tuition fees if the outcome of the Browne review is one the Liberal Democrats can’t accept. As Nick Clegg and Vince Cable have been going round telling anyone who’ll listen that their policy of raising tuition fees is a good one, it’s plainly not unacceptable and so that part of the coalition agreement isn’t invoked.

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