Two and a half years in to the coalition, Nick Clegg has decided to apologise for his pre-election pledge to scrap university tuition fees. Not, note, to apologise for breaking his pledge. Not to apologise for increasing them to £9000 per year. But to apologise for making a promise that he didn’t think he could keep. His apology follows the same structure as a cheating husband apologising to his devastated wife for making wedding vows while knowing that he was prone to infidelity.
Rather than debate the pros and cons of the issue I thought that I would add a personal perspective, to show why my generation (who campaigned against the fee rise despite it only affecting those younger than us) might expect more than a two minute Youtube clip.
During the 2010 general election, I was an undergraduate student at the University of Brighton. Although I was not involved in student politics at the time, I considered it vital for the health of our society that as many people as possible should vote in the election. Low turnout, particularly amongst the young, was and remains a depressing feature of British democracy. The National Union of Students was running a campaign to get young students registered to vote and informed about the policy stances of the major parties. I volunteered to help with this campaign, and I did manage to sign some students up, and tell them a little about what the various parties were promising. The issue that I was asked about more than any other was tuition fees.
How many of those students that I signed up to vote for the first time in their lives will have concluded that voting is a waste of time? Why would they be wrong about that? How many will vote again? Why should they? Nick Clegg’s little video gives no answers to these questions.
Of course this post does allow me to share this little gem with you (c/o The Poke).