UK Politics

Nick Clegg's gamble over tuition fee apology

  • 20 September 2012
  • From the section UK Politics
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Some of his advisers told him not to do it. They warned him that it would only remind people of something they were just beginning to forget. They feared it would overshadow anything they did now.

Nick Clegg thought differently. He decided that the only possible hope of redemption was through confession - to admit that he'd made an election promise he knew he had little, if any, chance of delivering.

The truth is, if anything, more stark. The Lib Dem leadership regarded their policy of scrapping student fees as unaffordable. They tried but failed to persuade their party to drop it. They decided not to push for it in any coalition negotiations (as is confirmed in Rob Wilson's book on the Coalition). Nevertheless, they decided it was an irresistible vote winner so they pledged to deliver the impossible.

The Lib Dem leader believes that his party is on a journey from the opportunism of permanent opposition to the responsibility of being a governing party. It is a journey which the voters will re-join him on if, and only if, they believe he has learnt from his mistakes.

That's why he has decided to 'fess up now.