19 Sep 2012

Clegg admits tuition fee promise was a mistake

In a party political broadcast, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg says ‘when you’ve made a mistake, you should apologise’, admitting a manifesto pledge to vote against increasing tuition fees was mistaken.

The video is the Liberal Democrat’s party political broadcast to be shown on television on Monday night.

In it Nick Clegg said: “We made a promise before the election that we would vote against any rise in fees under any circumstances. But that was a mistake.

“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. I shouldn’t have committed to a policy that was so expensive when there was no money around.

“Not least when the most likely way we’d end up in government was in coalition with Labour or the Conservatives, who were both committed to put fees up.”

Pledged to oppose increases

The Liberal Democrats, led by Nick Clegg, pledged in 2010 to oppose any increase in tuition fees.

In November 2010, more than 50,000 people took part in a protest against plans by the government to allow some universities to charge up to £9,000 a year from 2012 – up from a previous cap of £3,290.

At the time, more than 100 Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidates signed a petition calling on Nick Clegg, to oppose a rise in university tuition fees.

The plans were voted through, although at the time Clegg tried to dampen down criticism about the increases.

He said: “Nobody will pay a penny back until their earnings reach £21,000 per year, compared to £15,000 now. The highest-earning graduates will pay back the most.”

In his latest video, he added: “There’s no easy way to say this: we made a pledge.

‘I am sorry”

“We didn’t stick to it – and for that I am sorry.

“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.