To Paraphrase an old joke…
He delivers a Green Investment Bank, New Green Deal and cancels the third runway at Heathrow but is he known as Clegg the Green?
He delivers two-and-a-half BILLION quid for deprived school children but is he known as Clegg the Educator?
He delivers a tax cut to every basic rate taxpayer in the country but is he known as Clegg the Generous?
He delivers the AV referendum, an elected House of Lords and a fixed term Parliament but is he known as Clegg the Reformer?
But he screws-up over ONE pledge to the NUS…
The deed is done.
Have a HEART people.
We all LOVED him during the election, and thought he was totally magnificent. So what if it turns out that he CAN walk on water but he gets his SOCKS WET in doing so.
No, I realise it's more SERIOUS than that. For some people, this will be a burnt bridge too far – and a metaphor too mixed – and they won't be able to support Nick any more. And that's sad.
Remember, Nick has still delivered MORE from a Liberal manifesto than ANYONE since Mr Lloyd George, and he's not split the party nearly so badly as the boy David did! Er.
Look, in spite of the meeja's ALL-TOO GLEEFUL expectations of a three-way – or even FOUR-way – split, in the end the Liberal Democrat votes divided almost exactly into ministers who voted to keep their pledge to the Conservatories and backbenchers who voted to keep their pledge to the students.
And now we see why that UNPRINCIPLED OPPORTUNIST Mr Potato Ed put his own brand of student politics above the urgency of the Climate Change summit AND broke a long-standing tradition of which his own Party had taken advantage, when he refused to "pair" any ministers: he wanted to POSE and PREEN that every single Hard Labour MP voted against the rise. How sad that his response to the GROWN UP politics of the Coalition is to become more tribalist and isolationist.
It is typified by the accusation of "BETRAYAL", the worst sin – at least according to Mr Dante – the one that gets you sent to the NINTH and very DEEPEST circle of HELL.
Are we supposed to believe that Captain Clegg is, like LUCIFER, some fallen angel flung splat into uttermost perdition?
It's this constant refrain of "betrayal" that hurts the most. It doesn't hut US – our fluffy skins are thicker than that; I'm not made of ELEPHANT HIDE for nothing! No, it hurts the discussion, it hurts POLITICS. It reduces intelligent debate to the level of the PLAYGROUND: his fault, her fault, his fault, her fault!
And it ignores the fact that HALF of our MPs actually DIDN'T break the pledge; ignores that the rest of the Party has repeatedly restated our support for the policy; and just ignores, for that matter, that when we couldn't deliver on the pledge we KEPT ON FIGHTING for the best possible deal for students in the face of Conservatories who would not let us raise the extra cash to pay and a Labour Party that would rather play SILLY BUGGERS than engage constructively either in Coalition negotiations where they demanded an increase to SEVEN thousand, not SIX, or since when they've suddenly invented graduate tax proposals that would be LESS PROGRESSIVE than the deal WE negotiated.
It's not like the NUS are even keeping their OWN pledge, since their policy is just a RE-BRAND of student loans as a capped graduate tax. And yesterday's Tell-lies-o-graph revealed that, when pushed to the wall, odious little self-serving Labour-crats like Mr Aaron Porter would rather CUT GRANTS TO THE POOREST than have rich little princelings made to contribute more.
But never mind ANY of that!
You want to know who betrayed you? It was all those STUDENTS who said they'd vote Lib Dem and then didn't bother to turn out. If they could have been BOTHERED to "protest" for five minutes at a ballot box then we could have had a dozen more MPs and had the LEVERAGE to block the fees rise.
And it's worth reflecting that students ARE a PRIVILEGED class. For all that they shout the loudest. In all the hullabaloo the voices that AREN'T being heard are the more-than-fifty-percent of people who DON'T get to go to university.
I believe in abolishing tuition fees because I believe in greater OPPORTUNITIES for EVERYONE. And if there's one thing that I've realised in the debate over student fees it's that we haven't thought nearly enough about how to bring the same sort of LIFE-CHANGING opportunity to people OTHER than our most academically gifted. What has happened to our polytechnics? To apprenticeships? To the third of people LEFT BEHIND by Labour?
So we need to start thinking again about post 16/18 education and training and investment in our young people's future. And that is where we should start.
The deed is done. Let's move on. Together.
Captain Clegg asked his fellow MPs to walk through fire with him. So here is a CHEERY video to remind him how THAT works out…