I will not be joining other sites, including the BNP, in attacking ex-Treasury Secretary David Laws, who resigned at the weekend following the revelations that he had for a number of years been claiming expenses to pay rent on a room in a house owned by a rather handsome young man whom, it now transpires, is his domestic partner. This was against the rules as members of Parliament are no longer allowed to claim expenses for property leased or rented from spouses or partners.
David Laws' resignation is significant because he is the first member of the new coalition government to fall victim of the scandal surrounding MP's expenses, and because of his position in the new government. Had Laws been Minister for Culture or Fisheries it would not have been a big issue. However, as Chief Secretary to The Treasury, Laws would have played a huge role in attempts to deal with the country's astronomical New Labour and mass immigration fuelled deficit. Laws would have been the person in charge of implementing the massive spending cuts which will have to be made, and significantly, who would, and would not, be in receipt of tax payer's funds.
That is why Laws had to go, it was his proposed role in the new government which made his position untenable. After all, if you run a company, it is one thing to find that someone in Marketing has been fiddling their expenses, but a very different thing when that person is the Internal Auditor.
Laws is guilty of hypocrisy, and he is guilty of cowardice, this is 2010, he was a Liberal Democrat MP , who cares if he is gay? Seemingly he cared, and that is really rather sad.
However, when it comes to the act of claiming money to cover his living expenses, it is hard to escape the conclusion that, had David Laws been open about his sexuality, or had his partner been a woman, he would have been fully within his rights to claim his share of a joint mortgage. Laws is after all a member of parliament with a constituency in the South West of England, in excess of a hundred miles from London, making it impossible for him to commute after a late night session in Parliament. He is in the position that the second home allowance was designed for.
Under current rules Members of Parliament are fully entitled to claim for his living expenses, and £40,000 over eight years is relatively modest in terms of London rents. However stupidly David Laws acted, in fairness it does appear that his primary motive was to protect his privacy rather than enrich himself from public coffers.
The same can certainly not be said about many of his contemporaries. Some cases are currently before the courts, and verdicts have not yet been reached, but if the allegations are correct. What Laws did bears no comparison to for instance claiming mortgage repayments for a non-existent mortgage, as one ex-MP is accused of doing. At least Laws lived where he was claiming for and the scandal does not approach that of the Labour peeress who allegedly claimed £100,000 in rent for a flat, she never even visited, let alone lived in, and then escaped prosecution on “a technicality” - the “technicality” presumably being that she is Asian.
David Law's also did not express total contempt for the British tax-payer by claiming for home cinemas, duck houses and moat cleaning. He is not in the same league as some of the crooks and scoundrels in Parliament.
What we have is a man who could not come to terms with his own sexuality, if he had done he so, and then claimed the money he was fully entitled to claim, he would almost certainly still be in his job.
Within the wider public there is a lot of sympathy for David Laws, who is seen to have acted honourably by resigning so speedily, also the general perception is that this is a private matter. Like many others, before, this happened I thought that Laws appeared one of the best of the new coalition ministers, who appeared genuinely prepared to put party affiliation aside for the good of the country, and I doubt I am alone in feeling genuinely sorry for him.
Therefore, with the greatest of respect to my fellow bloggers, many of whom I admire considerably, by attacking David Laws we AGAIN appear to be shooting at the wrong target.
It will do us no good to appear to be exploiting the situation, and worse, if it appears we are attacking him because of his sexuality, and that will inevitably be the allegation made against us by some, that will very likely lose us far more support than it gains.
What has happened is a major blow to the new coalition government, it exposes, once again the scandal which is MPs expenses and it also raises questions over the judgement of both Cameron and Clegg, were they really not aware that Laws was being less than open about his domestic arrangements, and not think to check whether he was being any more forthright about his expenses?. However, although David Laws was stupid, hypocritical and had to go, he was far from being one of the worst offenders, in fact he is nowhere close.