Common sense about the election

From David Aaronovitch’s column

Now the Prime Minister threatens us with listening. Nothing makes me more worried than the demand that politicians should listen. For a start, some people talk much louder than others and are far easier to hear. Take top-up fees, an issue on which the Lib Dems probably gained tens of thousands of Labour votes. Nowhere during the campaign did I hear or see the question of support for poorer students raised with candidates or in the media. I would think that most people simply have no idea that these students will not have to pay fees and will receive, for the first time for years, a substantial maintenance grant.

The issue didn’t come up because the parents of such poor students don’t work in journalism and they won’t write to the papers or go on marches. The redistributive nature of top-up fees has been successfully obscured by middle-class self-interest. In the same way, the Iraqis who want British troops to remain while they build their country are not heard with the same Lib Dems arguing for withdrawal, no matter what the situation is.