What Nick Clegg's apology tells us about the Lib Dems

Nick Clegg is surely one of the least successful politicians ever to have held a cabinet position.

The deputy prime minister is always a bit of a party mascot, having no department to run. But Clegg is the coalition's mascot, and there are few people, even among Liberal Democrats, who don't hold him in contempt.

He went into coalition with the Conservatives with the aim of persuading the nation that the two parties could work together. He has persuaded the electorate instead that coalitions are largely just a way of legitimising policies that don't have a democratic mandate.

His apology for signing the tuition fees pledge has been roundly and deservedly derided. But in saying his party should not have made a promise that it could not be sure it could keep, he has given us a stark preview of what we can expect from the next Lib Dem election manifesto.

It will be short and to the point: "Vote for us. We can't promise anything. You're welcome."

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Deborah Orr, for The Guardian on Saturday 22nd September 2012 00.07 Europe/London

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