There’s lots of interest in this “Clegg apology” video this evening. Let be clear about what Clegg is apologising for though. He is not apologising for trebling tuition fees. What he’s apologising for is signing the tuition fees pledge.
Here’s the video:
What Clegg says is:
“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.”
That’s not an apology for raising tuition fees. That’s an apology for signing the pledge. Signing the pledge isn’t the bit that many of those angry with Clegg are angry about. In fact, it’s the bit that most of them probably agree with.
Clegg also says:
“I will never again make a pledge unless as a party we are absolutely clear about how we can keep it.”
Which is quite redundant, because no-one would ever believe a pledge Nick Clegg makes ever again.
Update: In a tweet in response to David Aaranovitch, The Lib Dem Press office confirm that this is an apology for signing the pledge, not an apology for voting for trebled fees:
Update: Here’s a video from before the last election in an interview with Dermot O’Leary (aimed at younger voters?) in which he describes their plan to cut all fees as “a costed plan”. He even links debt through student fees to the poor state of the economy:
Update: Nick Clegg has already expressed his regret for signing the pledge back in November 2010. So what’s new today? Was it because no-one heard him the first time?