20/09/2012 12:22 BST

Nick Clegg's 'Sorry' For Tuition Fees Is Just A PR Stunt, National Union Of Students Says

Nick Clegg's tuition fee apology has fallen on deaf ears, with a student leader saying it is nothing more than a "slick, PR-driven, self-serving machine".

Michael Chessum, an organiser for the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts and a member of the NUS' national executive, told The Huffington Post UK the apology was not directed at him or any other student.

"It was an apology for ever having promised the abolition of tuition fees," he says. "In fact, the apology is a double-dishonesty: the new Lib Dem narrative that 'there is no money' is about shifting the debate away from the betrayal of their manifesto and towards the idea that they had no choice."

Nick Clegg's apology was aired unexpectedly on Wednesday night

Chessum also says there is a limit as to how much the Lib Dems can shoulder the apology. "They are responsible for £9k fees and the sellout of our education system, but they're not alone."

He says his initial reaction was laughter "and a vague sense of surreality".

"There have been so many comedy mashups of Clegg on YouTube since 2010 - it was nice to see them make one of their own."

But Chessum adds he doesn't feel let down by the Lib Dems and their broken promises.

"I never expected them to deliver on what were left-ish promises from the heart of a Tory government, and lead by Clegg and the orange-bookers - whose politics are basically Tory.

"I think there were a significant number of students and younger voters who will feel let down - but perhaps that isn't a terrible thing. By creating an untarnished pole of attraction for a wave of liberal electoral idealism, and then wrecking it, the Lib Dems have provided a crash course in the realities of the political class: that they are rich white men acting on behalf of rich white men.

Clegg's apology has now been given a remix by The Poke, and in the wake of the spoof's popularity, The Lib Dems have agreed to the song being released on iTunes.

He adds: "I don't think the Lib Dems are seriously trying to get the student vote back - they've probably worked out that it's a lost cause. This apology is actually about a big shift to the right within their party leadership: instead of apologising for actions, they're running with the actions and cutting loose their old principles and pledges.

"Clegg's apology is as sincere as it is possible to be for a slick, PR-driven, self-serving machine to be. He's sincere in the sense that he really believes that he shouldn't have promised the abolition of fees. But that's not really an apology - it's more a giant act of self-assurance."