Nick Clegg’s apology wasn’t aimed at the public


11:55 am - September 20th 2012

by Sunny Hundal    


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There is a twisted logic to Nick Clegg’s apology for the tuition fees debacle, I think.

Keep in mind two things: first, the u-turn over tuition fees happened over two years ago. Secondly, Nick Clegg said only last year that he had nothing to apologise for.

He’s apologising now to pre-empt criticism from his own party. He is doing it because he knows that the party is jittery after languishing in the polls for two years, with no respite in sight.

With growing realisation there won’t be a stronger economy in 2014 to boost them at the election, Clegg can turn around to his party and say: look, I’ve made the apology now, what more would you like me to do? Haven’t I humiliated myself enough?

Essentially, it buys him more time. But it is also the last desperate throw of the dice by a marked man.

If it looks like the public haven’t cut him some slack within a year (its unlikely they will) – he has no more options left.

Let me offer another comparison. Ed Balls has apologised repeatedly (Ed Miliband too) in the Commons and the media for getting too close to the banks while being in power, and for being at the helm when the economy crashed.

But voters don’t forgive and forget easily. The Coalition govt and the public have collectively shrugged at Labour’s apology. There isn’t much hope for Nick Clegg either.

This is why I say the main aim was to shore up support within the party, not the public. It buys him some time, which is fair enough, but he is still doomed.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Libdems ,Westminster

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Reader comments


Thanks. This is a good reminder of who the audience for political statements are, who the politicians see as their ‘customers’. It ain’t us.

My reading of the commentary and comments is that this ‘apology’ has produced outrage and disbelief across the board. One wonders how it will go down with the Liberal Party?

It’ll be interesting to see how his approval ratings fare in the next few days.

He’s right to say that they will never “pledge” anything again, ever. It’s a shame because we’d all like politicians to come out and say something firm, without wrapping it in loopholes and wriggle-room. The tuition fees pledge is, unfortunately, proof that politicians need that massive buffer of bullshit and wriggle-room.

Well all know conference is coming so trying to get enough people into the hall will mean Clegg has to offer apologies.

Then again it was not to long ago Brown was apologizing for wars, for banking crises and god knows what.

But should Clegg apologize for the the funding issues related with university, not really labour did not and we all know what labour did in 1997, so I think the Liberal conference will take it on the chin because it has much more serious worries like will we have a party pre 2015, will Cleggie win his seat or will he step down unless the coalition can save the world by ending the depression recession, then again who cares about the Liberals.

He can’t say sorry sincerely without seeming condescending, and I suspect the motivation of this is actually persuading his local party not to deselect him as their candidate. I wonder if locals in Sheffield are joining the Libdems to make sure this happens. It’s the least he deserves. Oh – and can we have an apology for putting a vote n electoral reform above saving the NHS from Condem carpet-baggers? And set that to music?

He’s apologising for making the pledge in the first place, not for turning around and doing the opposite.
Fuck him, Cable and Laws for these notpologies.

I don’t think apologies are a bad thing, and can win admiration in the right context, but Clegg’s apology won’t wash with the public because:
– it’s two years too late
– there’s been no new evidence he wasn’t aware of originally
– it’s just one of a number of perceived failings

It’s definitely posturing prior to their conference. Benefit-cheat David Laws was asked about it on the Today programme this morning. It was noticeable that he constantly wanted to remind people of Vince Cable’s role – never once mentioned Nick, always “Nick and Vince”. Weak as Clegg is, following the elimination of Huhne and the disgrace of Laws, Cable is one of the few senior LibDems with any shred of credibility left to challenge him (I stress the word ‘shred’).

He’s apologising for making the pledge in the first place, not for turning around and doing the opposite.

Which he’s right to do. It was a stupid pledge, made in the full knowledge that it would be impossible to keep if the party were in power, and also made over the opposition of virtually all the party leadership.

What he really ought to apologise for was running an election campaign simultaneously on impossible promises AND how the Lib Dems represented a new future where politicans always kept their promises.

But then that’s just being a Lib Dem isn’t it? The capacity to believe six impossible and mutually exclusive things before breakfast?

It’s a fairly pointless apology, but you can understand why he thought it would do him no harm. If he hadn’t apologised at all, the same people deriding him now would probably think the lack of apology was disgusting, but obviously he couldn’t apologise for the rise in fees itself after enacting it into law.

Having said that, much of the coverage in the last 24 hours has been about the cynicism of senior lib dems in putting forward a promise that a) they secretly knew was stupid and b) they thought they would have to break anyway. They also ran on a platform of sticking to promises. This will presumably harm the party further. So maybe Sunny’s right: it was aimed at fellow Lib Dems.

Anyway, I think that subsidised tuition fees aren’t particularly progressive or redistributive anyway, and my thoughts are here:
http://leoleoleoblog.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/clegg-is-right-about-being-wrong/

Who cares what he thought pre-election or indeed what he may or may not think now, like every other politician his default position is a lie.
They are all liars.
Can somebody, anybody, explain why the human spirit is so optimistic that we keep voting for these utterly, repeat utterly shameless, worthless, parasitic, self-serving scum?
How many times would you let your dog bite you before doing something about it?
For the sake of your neighbours, your family and yourselves – STOP voting for them – they despise you.

Dear Nick Clegg……………Fuck you

You’re welcome.

11. Chaise Guevara

@ Barrie J

“Can somebody, anybody, explain why the human spirit is so optimistic that we keep voting for these utterly, repeat utterly shameless, worthless, parasitic, self-serving scum?
How many times would you let your dog bite you before doing something about it?
For the sake of your neighbours, your family and yourselves – STOP voting for them – they despise you.”

So what’s your solution? Vote for someone who isn’t standing for election? Don’t vote at all?

By the way, my MP is pretty solid and thus far seems to have been good to his word and his principles. And one of my friends has an MP in the family and he doesn’t come off as “shameless, worthless, parasitic, self-serving scum”.

12. Raymond Terrific

How come Superbrain Laws was behind this clearly unaffordable pledge? I know he’s never been the sharpest when it comes to paying for things, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised at the lying little shit.

So, come on boffins and brainspurts. Are the liberal democrats finished? Lets get this sorted!

Raymon – peace be upon me


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Diane Abbott MP

    Nick Clegg's apology: the last desperate throw of the dice by a marked man http://t.co/jaesL8M4

  2. Julian Rowley

    Nick Clegg's apology: the last desperate throw of the dice by a marked man http://t.co/jaesL8M4

  3. Ken Upton

    Nick Clegg's apology: the last desperate throw of the dice by a marked man http://t.co/jaesL8M4

  4. Peter Howard

    Nick Clegg's apology: the last desperate throw of the dice by a marked man http://t.co/jaesL8M4

  5. Ian Tucknott

    Nick Clegg's apology: the last desperate throw of the dice by a marked man http://t.co/jaesL8M4

  6. Steve

    Nick Clegg's apology: the last desperate throw of the dice by a marked man http://t.co/jaesL8M4

  7. gerard dean

    Nick Clegg's apology: the last desperate throw of the dice by a marked man http://t.co/jaesL8M4

  8. fiona ambrose

    Nick Clegg's apology: the last desperate throw of the dice by a marked man http://t.co/jaesL8M4

  9. IRejectFPTP

    Nick Clegg's apology: the last desperate throw of the dice by a marked man http://t.co/jaesL8M4

  10. Ben Mitchell

    @sunny_hundal reckons Clegg's apology buys him time, esp amongst Lib Dems. http://t.co/1a3YYF58 I think it makes him look worse & desperate.

  11. Zoroaster

    RT @libcon: Nick Clegg's apology wasn't aimed at the public http://t.co/nu3SuFCh

  12. Naomi Distill

    Nick Clegg’s apology wasn’t aimed at the public | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/Z0TEgr1U





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