The apology consensus: Farron distances himself from Clegg mea culpa

By Charles Maggs  

The Liberal Democrats pre-election pledge to scrap tuition fees was "relatively modest" and the party "should have fought harder to make sure they kept that promise," according to Tim Farron.

The comments saw the Liberal Democrat chairman take on a markedly different tone to his leader's video apology.

"Personally, I think we should have argued for it much harder in the coalition negotiations and we should have made sure there was a red line there," he told  Sky's Murnaghan show.

"This is the first coalition in peacetime in living memory and we all make mistakes. The Tories did, we did. We should've been much, much harder on that issue."

Farron, a left-wing Lib Dem who is often touted as a possible future leader, voted against the bill that saw fees rise to as high as £9,000 a year when it was passed in 2010.

In a way, his comments are the precise opposite of Clegg's. The party leader suggested the promise should never have been made while Farron agued it should not have been dropped.

In his speech to his party conference yesterday Farron scathed the previous Labour administration.

"Brown left us with no money, our options were not immense," he said.

The Lib Dems conference continues today with Vince Cables key notes speech followed tomorrow by chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander and deputy PM Nick Clegg.