“Mea culpa” from Clegg and senior Lib. Dems over tuition fees
The Liberal Democrats have apologised for failing to stick to their key election pledge of not raising university tuition fees.
In a party political broadcast expected to be aired next week, the Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg said making the pledge was a “mistake”.
He went on to say: “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.”
"There's no easy way to say this: we made a pledge, we didn't stick to it - and for that I am sorry," he said in the video. "When you've made a mistake you should apologise. But more importantly - most important of all - you've got to learn from your mistakes. And that's what we will do.”
“I will never again make a pledge unless as a party we are absolutely clear about how we can keep it," Clegg added.
The Deputy Prime Minister is hoping that this apology will get the Liberal Democrats past the most divisive issue that has rocked the party since it became part of the coalition government in 2010.
Before the general elections, all Liberal Democrat candidates for Parliament signed a pledge not to increase tuition fees but did tripled it once in government. For many Liberal Democrats what was worse was the fact it came from the Business Department – run by a fellow Lib Dem Vince Cable.
Mr. Cable too apologised and acknowledged that making the pledge was a mistake. But neither men apologised for approving and voting for the decision in Parliament when many Liberal Democrats, including former leaders Charles Kennedy and Menzies Campbell, voted against the move. 18 voted against it while 27 voted for the fees to be raised.
Instead Mr. Cable defended the decision to raise fees and said as students did not have to pay upfront fees they should not be a deterrent.
But the opposition Labour Party says the apology is not sincere and Mr. Clegg is crying crocodile tears.
"This was not just the small print of his manifesto, this was Nick Clegg's key election promise when he asked people to vote for his party. It is not good enough for him to just brush that promise aside,” Harriet Harman, Labour’s Deputy Leader said.
She continued, "Instead of crying crocodile tears he should vote with Labour to bring these tuition fees down. If Nick Clegg does not back his words with action he is just weak and spineless."