Out of idle curiosity as much as anything I have been taking a look at how individual Lib Dem MPs are likely to vote on tuition fees next Thursday. A full list follows at the end of this post. The best source on this is the blog of Tim Starkey, a Lib Dem councillor who is co-ordinating the rebels.
Starkey wrote yesterday:
Be in no doubt - the lobbying efforts are working. Over the next week it is vital that students, parents and all those who care about widening access to university education write to their MPs and let their feelings be known. As I’ve said before, don’t just target Lib Dems. There are 4 Tories on the government benches who signed the pledge too ( Bob Blackman - Harrow East, Stephen Mosley - City of Chester, Lee Scott - Ilford South, Ben Wallace - Wye and Preston).
If one takes Michael Crick's narrowest definition of '26 plain backbenchers', more than half of Lib Dem backbenchers have already said they will vote against the Government. It is still almost half if one includes spokesmen and 'party whips' who are not members of the Government. This in itself would be a major blow to the legitimacy of the tuition fees hike.