Education Secretary Charles Clarke announced yet another amendment to the bill, designed to appease the remaining, remaining rebels.
Clarke, whilst idly heating a nipple shaped iron poker, announced "We will guarantee university places to any rebel child regardless of wealth or academic ability, the only stipulation is that their parent must vote in favour of the Higher Education Bill. Additionaly to appeal to a wider base of MP the bill will now come in pink, with solid islamic and feminist values."
Despite accusations that this was just another pathetic gimmick to dissuade rebels from voting against the Bill, Mr. Clarke was adamant that the new measures were part of a wider strategy to get more kids into university, "We are serious about this 50% target, and the only way we can achieve our goal is to get parents to force their kids through the system, paying off parents is the only of doing that. Even with these new touches, University's will still receive an extra billion pounds, at some point during one of next parliaments. Initiatives like these that have enhanced the bill will not in any way detract from the overall rise in funding to higher education."
Despite wide spread claims, and even the Tories admittance that they'd have to rethink their policy, the Education Secretary maintains that the government have got their sums right, "There is no way we have miscalculated, and if there were to be any discrepancy in the figures, the tax payer would not foot the bill, the lazy little student oiks can get their parents to pay can't they?"
A treasury spokesman added that if all else were to fail, the government would have to stand by its pledge to commission an independent review of tuition fees after three years, "We'd like to avoid it if possible, greater debt, falling graduate salaries, and an market saturated with poor quality graduates would not exactly provide conclusive proof of the bills success." He said whilst trying to add one plus one, "its three isn't it?"
No-one from the cabinet office was available for comment regarding allegations that Mr. Clarke would go if the bill failed, but a notice in 11 Downing street read "When this all goes tits up, just remember it was Tony who mentioned 50%, Gordon said it would be expensive, but Charles wouldn't listen."
Leading rebels were still defiant last night, one unnamed MP raved "If Tony hadn't got rid of me again I'd have sorted this mess out for him. Gordon's obviously had one of his tantrums and refused to pay for (inverted comma finger gesture) rich kids to get drunk, shag and take drugs for three years. Not that it'll affect me or my Brazilian boyfriend of course, but many of our wealthy friends will have more of their kids debts to pay off now."
Another rebel was more forthcoming "They, Tony and Charles really have missed the point this time, this bill is now so watered down it probably won't change anything. Class sizes have been rising unchecked since we started pushing this 50% rubbish, the value to society of a degree has fallen in this time, graduates are lacking in basic knowledge when they enter the work place. The incentive to enter higher education for the sake of education, has been eroded, obviously Tony wouldn't have appreciated this during his time at Oxford, he like most rich kids only went far a laugh. The degree they've already bought doesn't mean anything to them. As a way out of poverty plumbing's looking better and better, whilst academic achievement is becoming party central. I doubt this is the cool Britannia we signed up to in 1997."
Rebels claim they still have enough support to stop the bill, although a worrying trend in nipple burns has seen many rebels being "persuaded" to toe the party line.
Tory and Lib Dems spokesmen were not available for comment, it is believed both parties can't be arsed, one Tory MP put it thus "we hardly need to speak out do we, Mr Clarke has done rather a good job of ruining the bill himself, so we'll just sit back and let him fall flat on his face of his own accord. After all its rather unsporting to hit a man when he's already down."