For politicians, it seems sorry really is the hardest word. Perhaps for none more so than Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, whose recent attempt at an apology was widely mocked in the media before being rapidly turned into a viral autotuned single, the sales of which stormed up the iTunes charts and turned Clegg into a pop sensation overnight.
Understandably, many are saying that his apology video is simply too little too late, that he has betrayed the trust of the nation and for that there can be little compensation.
Certainly, this opinion can be seen in many opinion polls, with some suggesting that the Liberal Democrats may actually be the fourth party in the UK, labouring behind UKIP, a statistic that creates a fairly obvious cause for concern.
Despite the widespread negative reaction in the media and from the public, the video shows an attempt from Clegg, however misguided or flimsy, at a legitimate apology. Depending on the degree of cynicism you hold it either represents a straightforward, if horrendously late, admission of error that should perhaps be applauded, or an insincere and snivelling attempt to regain the trust of an electorate, that flat-out doesn’t seem to care.
Perhaps I still harbour an admittedly somewhat naive soft spot for the unfortunate Deputy PM, but for me the apology video rang true. It is simplistic, perhaps overly so given the severity of his betrayal, but it shows a political strength not often seen: the ability to admit an error. Clegg is apologetic without looking overly foolish, he remains personal and looks genuinely sorry.
Clegg’s political position is definitely unenviable. Outmanoeuvred at every turn by a Conservative party that simply has more power and way more bargaining chips with which to play, he has nonetheless held his party together and fought hard in cabinet for the various policy victories that Cameron has been careful to grant him, for which the deputy PM should surely receive some sort of recognition.
The Liberal Democrat leader is a political figure who draws such polarised responses that often it can be hard to pin down public opinion. Despite the media furore over his apology video, it was legitimately a positive move for the Deputy PM, and one that should reflect his political strength, not weakness.
Nick Clegg is a man who looks remarkably comfortable given the situation he has been placed in, and despite the deserved scorn he receives for his betrayal, he remains a capable and effective political figure. Yes, it’s fun (and hilarious) to heap abuse on him, but does it really achieve anything?