Nick Clegg's apology was for the right reasons - human error in a coalition is inevitable
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Following Nick Clegg’s statement of apology in last Wednesday’s party political broadcast, there was understandably anger and derision in equal measure. The issue of tuition fees is a sore point for many students; for many the wounds are still raw. Commentators have attributed the backlash from Clegg’s apology to its addressing of the ‘wrong’ aspect of his conduct: the initial making – rather than the subsequent breaking – of the promise not to support a raise of tuition fees. His involvement in the fee-furore did little to alleviate the perception of him as David Cameron’s personal tea-secretary. Yet, could it also be argued that Clegg was opting to present a united front – at the expense of his own political agenda – so as to instil the public with greater faith in the strength and potential longevity of the coalition partnership? Before the 2010 General Election, I witnessed a heated exchange between candidates vying to become my town’s Member of Parliament. The debate was hosted by my sixth form college, so it was unsurprising that before long the question of tuition fees reared its head. In front of the group of students, for whom university expenses were about to become a very real concern, the candidate for the Liberal Democrats unequivocally pledged his party’s opposition to any rise in tuition fees, and even suggested that, were his party in power, they would be looking to get rid of them altogether. His Labour opponent accused him of being at liberty to make false promises due to the reality of the Liberal Democrats’ third-party status removing the threat of ever having to fulfil these assurances.
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