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.