However, I should like to quote from a couple of journalists from newspapers at different points of the political spectrum. First up, is Gerald Warner, a man I find moderately interesting most of the time. He is, however, quite right in the conclusions he draws, most importantly the fact that new politics is awfully like old politics with the establishment, as before, leaping to the rescue of a beleaguered member.
In his reply to Laws’ letter of resignation, David Cameron told him: “You are a good and honourable man.” That is good to know. So, why is he leaving the Government?During one discussion I had about l'affaire Laws with a stalwart member of the Conservative Party and fervent supporter of
The little local difficulty was that Laws, over an eight-year period, had claimed more than £40,000 in expenses, against the parliamentary rules. It seems that further expenses remain to be scrutinised. According to The Daily Telegraph: “He also regularly claimed up to £150 a month for utilities and £200 a month for service and maintenance until parliamentary authorities began demanding receipts. Claims then dropped to only £37 a month for utility bills and £74 a month for his share of the council tax. Claims for service, maintenance and repairs dropped dramatically to less than £25 a month.”
It is fortunate that we are dealing here with a good and honourable man, otherwise some people might put an uncharitable construction on those facts. Cameron went on to say in his reply to Laws: “I am sure that, throughout, you have been motivated by wanting to protect your privacy rather than anything else.” Reading that and the similar drivel that has cascaded out of the establishment over the past 24 hours, one would think that Laws was under some compelling duress to take £40,000 of taxpayers’ money in order to protect his privacy. On the contrary, his privacy was only invaded because he had taken public money.
The other journalist is media analyst, Roy Greenslade, who makes an obvious point about the outrage expressed by some journalists about the Daily Telegraph's unseemly behaviour.
Journalists, of all people, should beware of blaming the messenger. It's true that I regularly criticise papers for what I perceive to be their failings and for overstepping the mark. But the Telegraph, in possession of documents that showed Laws guilty of a substantial breach of parliamentary rules and standards, was obliged to publish.Mr Greenslade is a little out of date. He still thinks of journalists as being outside the establishment. Sadly, no. They are part and parcel of what we need to bring to heel.