I understand Nick Clegg's attempted You Tube apology for his party's acceptance of up to £9000 in tuition fees. I think it's refreshingly honest. And totally wrong.
Raising tuition fees was entirely correct, as the Browne review - which recommended the idea - made very clear. And a Coalition government, if it means anything, means compromise. What happened was a triumph of hypocrisy by the left who, with the false outrage usually reserved for apostasy, systematically - and rather successfully - set about destroying the credibility of the Liberal Democrats, by highlighting their U-turn as a betrayal of principle.
But, as ever with the Labour party, hypocrisy is never very far below the surface. It's 1997 election manifesto promised not to introduce tuition fees - which were subsequently introduced. And to those who argue that a mere £3000 was acceptable, haggling over the price does not make breaking the principle any better. And then of course there was Labour's manifesto promise of a referendum on the EU constitution - later renamed the Lisbon Treaty. And just look how cleaver that now looks.. not only dishonest, but stupid.
No the real reason Nick Clegg is wrong is that the attacks from the left will continue to personalise this issue. And with it the future of the Liberal Democrats. When polling shows it not to have worked, Clegg will have no alternative but to stand down as leader, or face the prospect of electoral annihilation. But then I suspect he is already resigned to a 'senior statesman' role in the upper house after the next election. Somewhat ironic, given his outrage at having failed to abolish it..
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