Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word

I've decided, perhaps because I've had very little else to say over the past couple of weeks, to jump on the bandwagon and talk about the apology that shook the world. Well, the apology that gave me a sense of relief at the very least. I am, of course, talking about Nick Clegg's apology for signing the tuition fees pledge.

This video was extremely cathartic for me. Despite my ever growing ability to rattle off the list of manifesto pledges we've delivered like some kind of puppet mouthing a mantra, not to mention defending the decision to break the pledge on occasion, in my heart I still felt betrayed over fees.

It wasn't the fact that we'd raised tuition fees that really got to me. I'm idealistic enough to believe in an education system that's free for all and focussed on bettering the species rather than bettering careers, but realistic enough to know that this isn't going to happen without a massive shift in both public and mainstream political opinion. The problem I had was that when we did this we did so in a way that felt totally reminiscent of the Tories and Labour.

Political common sense should have suggested to me that this was the right way to do things. Don't express regret or distate as the red tops will destroy you. In fact friends of mine have said exactly the same thing when I've bemoaned the seeming friendliness and ease with which we've worked with "our coalition partners". In my heart of hearts though, I've always felt a sense of dissonance, because the human being in me wants to see our politicians remember that they are part of the species.

What Nick Clegg did with his video was show that he hasn't forgotten what it is to be human. We can all understand a reasoned argument most of the time, but sometimes we just want someone to say "I'm sorry" as well, and that's what Nick did. It may have been political spin, but to me it was based on a better understanding of human nature than most other politicians in Parliament have shown in my lifetime. 

It's this that has made me feel immense relief. I can at last go forward knowing that our MPs may be doing things that I don't wholeheartedly endorse or can barely stomach, as well as the great things that I won't bother listing here, but that they are at least retaining some sense of humanity whilst they do it.

In my view, both Labour and the Tories have failed to do this during their spells in government over the past 33 years. It is though something that I believe we must do if we are to come out of the coalition with any vestige of our former strength. Nick Clegg's video gives me hope that this is not only possible but is actually highly likely. I'll say I'm sorry now if that sounds a bit naive.

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