By Elliot Morgan
Deputy PM Nick Clegg finally confronted a handful of frustrated students on Wednesday in a television interview for the BBC about the increase in University tuition fees.
The Liberal Democrat leader has kept a low profile after the hike in tuition fees and scrapping of the EMA allowance scheme prompted nationwide protests in which the Conservative Party Headquarters was vandalised, 17 people were injured and almost 100 arrests were made.
Sheffield students protest
Over 2,000 students from Sheffield Hallam and University of Sheffield, along with College and school children marched on town hall in Mr Cleggs home constituency.
More than anything, it was the sense of betrayal which angered students after Nick Clegg promised to abolish tuition fees all together if elected, a promise which he didn’t follow-up on, albeit in a coalition government.
Clegg was branded ‘stupid’, ‘mad’ and ‘malicious’ by one student during the interview but responded with promises that the new system, although bleak in the short-term, would be fairer on those with poorer backgrounds deciding to go into higher education in future years.
“In these very difficult circumstances creating and helping to create a system which over the years I think will be shown to be a much fairer one than the one we inherited.”
Back in May 2010, Nick Clegg was extremely popular amongst young voters, especially after his success in the live televised debates in which he shone as a beacon for real change and gained his campaign catchphrase “I agree with Nick” courtesy of then Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
How the tide has turned
Clegg refused to apologise, stating that the benefits of the coalitions compromise would be seen in the coming years but scrapping tuition fees altogether in the current economic climate was impossible as there is ‘simply no money’.
(Quotes courtesy of the BBC)