Schools minister David Willetts has criticised plans by university vice-chancellors to encourage more competition in the government by getting everybody to vote for other parties.
‘No, I think you misunderstood - I never said more competition was a good idea, did I?,’ Mr Willetts protested. ‘Must have been somebody else. And as for giving people more information about their job prospects before they vote Conservative, I think that’s a terrible idea.’
Mr Willetts was responding to a proposal by university vice-chancellors to shake up government. ‘The system isn’t working,’ said Professor Mike Boskett, vice-chancellor of Watford University. ‘At the moment, MPs spend four or five years lazing their way through a Parliamentary term, paying very little attention and learning hardly anything. And then they can’t get a decent job at the end of it, unless they’re really telegenic like Michael Portillo or Ann Widdecombe.’
Professor Boskett said that slashing funding to the larger parties would widen access to the House of Commons. ‘At the moment there are two or three large, elitist institutions stuffed full of snobby halfwits who managed an Oxbridge PPE and think that counts as an education,’ he said. ‘A career as a minister should be open to everybody, not just PR men and Gordon Brown’s ex-speechwriters.’
Backbench Tory MPs are said to be especially ‘furious’ at the plans, which could cost them up to £66,000 each in salary at the next election. But some Liberal Democrats were supportive. ‘We’re quite happy for the Tories to get their arses kicked a bit more,’ said one Liberal Democrat peer. ‘It’s been our turn for the last 15 months so it would be nice to have a week off.’