“… I’m so tired,
I’m so sick and tired…”
Our apology for a Government seems to be spending much of its time saying “sorry” at the moment. And, just like Morrissey, I experiencing a distinct increase in my level of fatigue with them.
Firstly, Little Nicky pops up to make us all feel his pain on youtube, saying sorry for promising something he could not deliver, and for in fact doing the opposite on tuition fees. The instant auto-tuned hit has been an enormous flop in terms of convincing non Lib Dems that they are anything other than a puddle of yellow water on the steps of number ten.
Clegg was using a mix of two political techniques, borrowed from two other progressive leaders:
Firstly he used the “Blair Gambit” – “hey, I am a decent guy who had to make a tough choice in hard times, but I am a pretty straight guy…’
Secondly, he employed what has become known as “The Clinton defence” – “Y’all caught me out, aw shucks, I’ll never do it again, and I feel your pain – please, feel mine. Can I give you a hug? Can we forget about it?”
Most interestingly, his apology was less for introducing an increase of £9,000 in student fees, and more for promising to eventually abolish them. In essence, Clegg is saying that his mistake was to propose and campaign for a progressive measure. Breathtaking cynicism. Employing the techniques pilfered from “the fornicator in chief” and possibly the most mistrusted and reviled British politician of recent times – lets see how that works out for you Nicky…
And then we have Andrew (Grant) Mitchell. Oh dear. Not good Mr Mitchell, not good at all. Up until last week, most of us believed that the Conservatives were in a committed relationship with Ms. Laura Norder, although they may have had the odd fling with that G4S hussy. Apparently no more, “the Bobby on the Beat” has become “the pleb at the gate”. Step forward Mitchell, and display the fruits of your expensive education…
… Andrew Mitchell used that other weapon in modern political warfare, the “Non Apology Apology”. Used often over the years by GW Bush, Hilary “misspeak” Clinton and over here by Peter Mandelson. Manfully, he stepped in front of the news cameras to say, in effect ” I never said that, but I am very sorry for the things I never said.” Of course you are Andrew, of course you are…
A word to the wise Andrew, try not to swear at Policemen, however hard your day has been. They tend to have notebooks in which to write stuff down, and as Leveson is proving, access to the media. As anyone who has been on a demonstration in the past thirty years knows, or as any Football fan could tell you, they tend to get a bit narky when insulted…
In general, politicians, like the rest of us, do make mistakes – most of them are human after all. Of course, sometimes an apology is welcome, and a useful part of the process, yet in these cases the words do not ring true.
Much of the left has spent years shouting loudly at Tony Blair, demanding that he apologise for Iraq and Afghanistan, and that he should then be put on trial. Blair refuses to apologise because he does not believe that he was wrong – to my mind he is right not to, as it would be a palpable lie in this case.
In any case, since the Clinton era of misdemeanour-lie-apology-next misdemeanour -apology ad infinitum, the tactic of simply using a form of words to cover your ass is devalued.
Part of Nick Clegg’s problem here is that his version of the Coalition narrative no longer rings true to many who voted or campaigned for him in 2010. Mathematically, the only stable coalition was between the two partners in Government now, but there were other alternatives. Firstly, a minority Tory Government, backed on a looser “confidence and supply” basis by the Lib Dems, secondly, and more interestingly, there was the never discussed option for another General Election.
It is fairly obvious as to why no party would want this – they had just spent all their cash on the original campaign. However what did the voters want? The hung parliament indicates that it did not want the Tories to run the country, and did not want Labour to continue in the old way. Nick Clegg and the Orange Bookers bottled their chance, scared, as was everybody else, by what could possibly happen in the global markets should another election (that is, actually asking us what we think again).
I doubt we will ever get an apology for this…