LONDON – Britain's deputy prime minister made a rare public apology Wednesday for breaking his party's promise to block increases in university fees as he seeks to claw back dwindling support.
Nick Clegg, who leads the Liberal Democrats in the ruling coalition, said the party was sorry it didn't stick to its pledge to oppose a rise in tuition fees – a key plank of its pre-election manifesto.
Support for the centrist party fell sharply after its U-turn on the issue in 2010 which sparked huge student protests. In a party broadcast on Wednesday Clegg apologised for making a promise he couldn't keep, but notably stopped short of an apology for backing the hike in student fees of up to £9,000 (11,200 euros, $14,600) a year.
"We made a promise before the election that we would vote against any rise in fees under any circumstances," he said in a short video clip produced at his home in south-west London.
"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." He said he shouldn't have committed to such an expensive policy at a time "when there was no money around."
"There's no easy way to say this: we made a pledge, we didn't stick to it – and for that I am sorry," he added.
The apology comes as a new ratings poll by Ipsos Mori shows voter satisfaction with Clegg has fallen to its lowest level ever, dropping from 31 per cent to 23 per cent. - AFP