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David Laws – Your country needs you

May 29th, 2010 Posted in Uncategorized by

As much as David Laws may hate me expanding on Andy’s timely but short post I cannot let this matter pass without adding my own views.

David Laws’ resignation is nothing short of a disaster for this country.

It was his vision, his fine mind, his sheer brilliance that brought such a shine to the coalition. It will be a much poorer Government for his leaving it.

I am confident that the Parliamentary Standards Commission will find that the definition of “partner” was indeed ambiguous and open to interpretation – and David Laws will get a clean bill of health. Why?

1)It is very clear to any that worked in and around the Lib Dems that David Laws DID NOT share a social life with Mr Lundie. 2)David Laws has said that they have separate financial arrangements. 3)They had not undertaken any ceremony of any sort celebrating their “union”.

From what I can see, therefore David Laws has a very strong case that the rule was badly phrased and open to interpretation. In David Laws view, Mr Lundie was not his partner as laid down in the rules. I cannot see how David Laws is anything other than “technically” correct – on this matter.

In these “whiter than white days” . We also have to ask however did he flout the “spirit” of the rules?

Here I say Yes perhaps he did – but with huge mitigating circumstances.

1. The rule about renting from (rather feebly defined) “partners” only came into effect in 2006. So the figure of £40,000 is almost certainly wrong.

2) I understand that he claimed considerably less than he was entitled to claim.

3) Most importantly we should consider the motivation of the man. This was a man – not seeking to personally enrich himself – he did that in the city many moons ago. This was a man seeking to keep his private life – private.

Between 2001 and 2006 his claim was entirely legitimate. And he claimed.  When the rules changed in 2006 had he suddenly ceased to claim rent from Mr Lundie – any low grade idiot would have put two and two together and drawn the inevitable conclusion about the nature of his relationship with Mr Lundie. The idea that David Laws could have “confidentially”asked for clarification from the claims office ( as some have suggested he should have done) is to show ignorance of the system. Be in no doubt that had he ceased his claims in 2006 when the change of rules occurred -( or indeed even raised it with the wrong person “confidentially”)  the rumour mill of Westminster would have been in overdrive. He would, in old-fashioned terms, “been outed” there and then. So he almost certainly maintained the status quo on his claims to protect his privacy.

This is not a typical “expenses scandal”. He claimed less than he could and sits sat in cabinet amongst many who had committed much worse “errors of judgement” over their expenses and got re-elected by their constituents.

This is about a man’s decision on how to manage his privacy.

I say again. I think it is a disaster that he has resigned. I hope this has not caused him to turn his back on public life. I trust he will return to this position as soon as he has been cleared by the PCS. I pray that his return is not too late. And I fear that even a few weeks or months away , may be too long.

David Laws. Your country needs you.

16 Responses to “David Laws – Your country needs you”

  1. Layton C Says:

    Although David Laws is obviously a very capable guy and his skills will be missed in the government, there is one thing that those who keep calling him an honourable and honest man seem to be missing…HE LIED!
    In a recent interview David Laws was asked if he was in a relationship and he said he was not.
    A desire for privacy is one thing, telling a downright lie is another.
    How can someone who is a known liar (never mind the expenses bit) continue in such a high profile position?
    Of course he had to go…
    And why does the telling of such a lie seem to go unnoticed on forums like this? Surely we are all agreed that the truth is of paramount importance?

  2. Edward Lord Says:

    I am sorry Layton C, but despite the great strides forward in achieving equality for lesbians, gay men and bisexual people, we still live in a society where levels of bullying, harassment and violence on grounds of sexual orientation are still a regular occurance. Regretably also, certain elements in our rabidly right wing press continue to use sexual orientation and lifestyle as a stick with which to beat politicians (and others in public life). Some people are happy to be open about their sexuality, others less so. It doesn’t make them a worse person and it doesn’t make them a ‘liar’ if they choose not to reveal something which is in fact entirely personal and nothing to do with the public, as long as they are not a hypocrite, which David isn’t.

  3. Rick Says:

    he only had to tell those around him he was claiming to maintain his privacy. He didn’t have to actually do it. Do you honestly think his mum reads his bank statements?
    you know as well as the rest of the country that any normal person with this defence wuld have been taken to court by the benefit office for fraud. That IS the point. One rule for MPs and another for the rest of us is not going to cut it any more. Any member of the Armed Forces doing this would be court-martialled, yet as a Minister, Laws could be voting in Cabinet to put them in harm’s way. This is deeply immoral. At least the Queen has two sons on active service.

    It is a disaster that highly competent people are staying out of politics because it’s still full of crooks, and surrounded by apologists for them like yourself. The point about many other politicians being as bad should not be used as an excuse for letting Laws off the hook. It should be an incentive for the likes of you lot to get rid of the rest of them as well. You really still don’t ‘get it’ do you?

  4. Barendina Smedley Says:

    Angela, your post was excellent – clear and to the point.

    As for Rick’s comment, though, isn’t it possible that ‘highly competent people’ are staying out of politics – and they are, we agree on that – not because ‘it’s still full of crooks’, but on the contrary, because most ‘highly competent people’ don’t actually want the degree of scrutiny of their private activities – financial, social, sexual, whatever – that we currently demand from our elected politicians, although of course not from our journalists? I can’t imagine that David Laws’ experience is the sort of thing that is going to send successful, mature, intelligent people who have already proved their worth in other professions flocking to contribute something in the political arena as well.

    That thing about ‘getting it’ rings a bit hollow today. No, I don’t ‘get’ why the Barclay Brothers should be allowed to depose elected politicians though a combination of homophobia, envy, power as an end in itself on the part of the media and extreme naivety on the part of much of the electorate – but good luck, Nick, as you wait to be ruled by the government of those without sin, as many before you have waited – generally for quite a long time, it must be said.

  5. badger Says:

    A far more important issue for the country which everyone seems to have passed over is that this exposes the shortcomings of the coalition arrangement in which Lib Dems have rights over some posts and Tories have rights over others. Instead of asking who is the best person to replace David Laws in what is arguably the most important job in the country right now, the question is which Lib Dem is most suited. With all respects to Danny Alexander, the most obvious and most able replacement is Phillip Hammond who has done an excellent job as shadow over the last two years. At a time of major national crisis, it’s not very comforting or sane to allocate this post on the basis of party rather than ability. This is not a party point. I would say exactly the same if the positions were reversed.

  6. Layton C Says:

    Edward Lord – I’m pleased you’re sorry.
    You’re assuming a bit too much.
    Nothing in my comment mentioned sexuality.
    My understanding is that David Laws was asked (in an interview) if was in ‘a relationship’ (without qualification), and he said he was not.

  7. Angela Harbutt Says:

    Badger – I rather agree with your point that it should not have mattered whether it was a Lib Dem or a Tory that replaced Laws – just the best person. Indeed I think it would have looked rather good to put a Tory in – it would signal that this was not a “carved up coalition” but a “coaltion of the best talents”.

    Returning to the David Laws issue for a moment…and this issue of whether he lied…. If you are going to bar any MP who has ever lied – who exactly could you put into Government from ANY party given that all of them LIED about the state of the economy and the scale of the cuts that are now needed.

    You seem to be saying that knowingly misleading the public over policy during an election campaign is acceptable but concealing your sexuality – by denying you are in a relationship – is a sacking offence. That just seems a perverse argument to me.

  8. mpg Says:

    @Angela Harbutt

    I am certainly impressed by Laws’ abilities and am definitely disappointed that we have lost such a talent. However, I don’t quite understand how anyone can think he has done something that doesn’t merit his resignation, aside from ideological bias. Laws himself acknowledges the difficulty of being the man charged with cutting the fat from government while his own expenses are murky at best, and fraudulent at worst.

    I would appeal to everyone to encourage Laws back to frontline politics in due course. However, it is right that it is inappropriate for a Chief Secretary to the Treasury to carry on at a time when his financial proprietary is rightly questioned, and when he himself acknowledges he cannot help but think he did something wrong.

  9. realist Says:

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    i’m sick of the imbeciles in this once great country who think this pointless prick or anyone in government now has any fucking use whatsover.

  10. realist Says:

    Get a grip you lib-dem wet blankets.Before long you will be tossed away like used toilet paper by the tories- and rightly so-you have no mandate! Go away you pointless scum. If your ilk ever run this once great country god help us.

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  11. realist Says:

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  12. realist Says:

    I agree with rick 100percent

  13. tim leunig Says:

    David could have behaved differently. When the rules changed, he could have rented a different flat, as he later did. From a political perspective (“the only interpretation of the rules is the worst one possible”) that would have made sense.

    You can contest whether James counts as his partner, and as people writing on ConHome have pointed out, it is emphatically not clear whether the DWP and benefits agency would have ruled that this was cohabiting or not. As David has said, a partner is someone with whom you are in an open relationship, with whom you go out, and so on and so forth.

    We now need to see John Lyon’s verdict. It might be that David is hugely criticised – if he is, Lyon is independent, and we have to respect that. Or it could be that he says that, like Jeremy Browne, and like Liam Fox, there was no loss, and although money may have to be paid back, his career goes on. In that case, Laws’ detractors must accept that. We now need to wait and see. I hope that we do not have to wait long. Indeed, since the facts are well known, I do not know why we could not have had a decision within 24 hours, that is, on Saturday.

  14. Jack Hughes Says:

    @Barendina and @Edward,

    If you think Laws is innocent you should base your case purely on his innocence.

    You weaken your case if you try to claim “he is innocent and he is very talented at something andgay people need a break.”

    It looks like you think he is a bit guilty but this small degree of guilt is balanced by some other positive factors.

  15. Barendina Smedley Says:

    Jack, at a purely rhetorical leve, your point is entirely correct – more argument is rarely better argument – but on the other hand, what am I to do if I genuinely believe that human beings aren’t perfect, but that we still (for the moment anyway) will end up being governed by them, and thus that we should focus more on whether the human beings in question are good at the business of government, as opposed to whether they are morally flawless, have never once lied to anyone about anything, have never cut a corner or done anything questionable, etc, etc? In truth, we should probably all leave the details of Laws’ guilt, or otherwise, to be discovered by a proper investigation. But all the same, if one wants to reduce my case to its simplest form, I think Laws is too good at what he does to have been sacrificed on the Barclay Brothers’ already gory shrine.

    Also, to be fair, I don’t think I ever said ‘gay people need a break’ – my indifference to the details of Laws’ sexuality is absolute – I do think everyone deserves a bit of privacy, even politicians, but that’s a general point, not a specifically Laws-related one.

  16. Cookie Says:

    I am gutted that Laws had to go. Had to. Gutted because … like Laws I could fairly be described as being both liberal and conservative. Had to because … he has broken the rules in such a way that he must have known he was breaking them and/or suggests moral cowardice on his part (if his family and friends would be upset about his being gay then he should have faced them years ago).