In a video message released this evening, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg apologised for his party’s pre-election pledge to vote against any rise in tuition fees.
‘We made a promise before the election that we would vote against any rise in fees under any circumstances. But that was a mistake.
It was a pledge made with the best of intentions – but we shouldn’t have made a promise we weren’t absolutely sure we could deliver.
‘I shouldn’t have committed to a policy that was so expensive when there was no money around. Not least when the most likely way we’d end up in Government was in coalition with Labour or the Conservatives, who were both committed to put fees up.
‘I know that we fought to get the best policy we could in those circumstances. But I also realise that isn’t the point. There’s no easy way to say this: we made a pledge… we didn’t stick to it – and for that I am sorry.’
That Clegg feels the need to make this broadcast apologising nearly two years after that vote which raised the fees to £9,000 shows quite how totemic the party’s failure to keep its pledge was. It’s a brave broadcast to make just before the party’s conference, as it picks at the scab just to raise the issue.
But note that he is apologising for the pledge, not the policy that he eventually supported, saying that ‘we fought to get the best policy we could in those circumstances’. Neither is he apologising for the policy that the party originally proposed, other than that he ‘shouldn’t have committed to a policy that was so expensive when there was no money around’.Tags: Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, Tuition fees, UK politics