When sorry isnt enough….
Sorry is a big word to say in politics. The admission that you have got something so totally wrong that you have to publicly abase yourself before the electorate is not one any politician likes to make because apart from anything else it pangs the semi-mythical cloak of alleged infallibility that you wrap yourself in and makes you look well, very human indeed. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. However, for it to work it’s always generally a good idea to be clear in your own mind that you were wrong in the first place.
Sadly, neither Nick Clegg nor Andrew Mitchell actually truly do believe they are in the wrong. Clegg in his now much lampooned Party Election Broadcast clearly is running through his head the Blairite dictum that the ends ultimately justify the means. He, apparently, is sorry for making the pledge not to raise tuition fees but not actually for raising them. This is a bit like somebody standing up in court and proclaiming regret for breaking in entry but not actually saying sorry for spiriting your HD TV out of its resting place, down the road, and onto the local black market. Clegg’s apology is less a sign of him turning a corner and more a rather whiny and low-key death-rattle. The parodies prove that, nobody is seriously going to look at Clegg without thinking of the Poke video.
Mitchell, meanwhile, isn’t sorry because he doesn’t see how he has done anything wrong. His version of events, that he didn’t really call a police officer a “moron” and a “f***ing pleb” has actually been flatly contradicted by none other than Mr David Cameron who deemed what he said as “inappropriate and wrong”. Obviously, joined up thinking is at as much a premium in the Conservatives communications department as it is in the rest of the Party. Words really do fail you when it comes to Mr Mitchell’s tirade, arrogant sense of entitlement is a phrase that springs to mind but barely does the man let-alone the government justice. He is quite correct in one thing, not only do the police not run the government or the country but neither actually do the people of Great Britain.
Mr Mitchell has however spared one mans blushes. He has buried under his foul-mouthed tirade yet more pear-shaped economic figures from the artist currently known as Calamity George Osborne. Under the veil of the omnishambolic attempts of the government to actually run the country this is the news that will have the greatest long-term impact. It is quite clear that the next election will be fought on the terms of continuing austerity. Both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats will be wedded to having no choice but to continue down this dark path. Labour should be offering a clear break, making a clear statement that they will not continue with this policy or try to save its face. A radical change of direction is the only thing that can save Britain’s economy from being sunk without trace for decades. So, as we approach Conference season, let’s hope that is what we are going to hear from the top-table, because anything else would leave more than messers Clegg, Mitchell & Co owing Britain a sincere apology.