It was a gamble. Nick Clegg's extraordinary public apology after breaking his initial promise on tuition fees was intended to show that the Lib Dem leader means business in the run up to the next general election; however, it could have backfired in bringing up the whole U-turn saga, once again. In the upcoming party conferences, all three party leaders know that they need to step up to the plate and show voters what they can offer, an opportunity which should be cherished as there appears to be no clear front runner in the race to power in 2015. For Clegg, he has shown in this latest statement that he is determined to lead his party into the next general election. Vince Cable should be aware that Nick Clegg is a man with a plan, albeit a risky one, and it appears that Clegg is determined to demonstrate how he has matured his party since unexpectedly coming to power with the Conservatives in 2010.
Perhaps Clegg's latest stunt will shock David Cameron and Ed Miliband in coming up with some drastic tactics of their own. Polls suggest that public opinion is wide open and if there was ever a good time for a party leader to pull a stunt in an attempt to swing the electorate their way, now would be the time to do it. Clearly, Nick Clegg is determined to hold on to his leadership, but Cameron and Miliband should also start thinking. Since the reshuffle, the debate on Heathrow's expansion has raised concerns after Justine Greening was controversially removed from her position as transport secretary. Cameron needs to win back those who may have started to think that he would be prepared to break his manifesto pledge, just like Nick Clegg did. All three leaders will also be aware that they are not immune from threats to their leadership. Those plotting to bring Boris Johnson to power may be in the back of David Cameron's mind, whilst the Labour party may well be wondering if Ed Miliband has what it takes. Can the other Ed do a better job, or perhaps even his brother? Such questions will be at the forefront of the minds of Cameron, Clegg and Miliband come the party conferences, and it suggests that Nick Clegg's public apology may not be the first unlikely statement made in the next few weeks. All cards are on the table, they've got everything to play for.
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