Monday, May 31, 2010

A few quotes about David Laws

Amusing though I found the David Laws story I did not see any need to write about it. There has been plenty of coverage. In particular, I have been entertained by the sudden outrage expressed by Conservative and Lib-Dim supporters of the Coalition when their blue-eyed boy was shown to have behaved as shabbily as all the people he had castigated in the past. The outrage was not with him but with the journalists who uncovered the story and the people who demanded Mr Laws's resignation. As for the pretence that the whole rather shabby episode was done because the man wanted to keep his same-sex partnership "private", that cannot possibly be taken seriously. Are these people saying that the Lib-Dims are so narrow-minded and intolerant that the unfortunate homosexual members of the party have to hide in corners and fear exposure? I find that hard to believe.

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?

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.
During one discussion I had about l'affaire Laws with a stalwart member of the Conservative Party and fervent supporter of them being in government the coalition, I was assured that an honourable and, above all, rich man like Mr Laws was most certainly not acting from motives of personal enrichment. Ahem, I asked, what were his motives? Chivalry? Altruism? Love of his country? Belief in small government? Protection of his privacy, I was told. I am afraid that if Mr Laws, for whatever reason, wanted to protect his privacy he need not have claimed any of that money at all, particularly if he is a man of honour and integrity. He is rich and can afford to live in London with or without his partner. Ah, but he was entitled to expenses and he should be praised for not claiming all that he could. Undoubtedly, as a supposed believer in small government and the free economy, Mr Laws has had many severe things to say about the entitlement culture.

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.


  1. WitteringsfromWitneyMay 31, 2010 at 4:29 PM

    Absolutely, Helen - absolutely right, as you usually are! Especially the last two sentences of your post.

    On the matter of 'ability to pay', on the basis I am means-tested for benefits should not MPs be means-tested for ACA which is, after all, a benefit? No wonder MPs suffer from 'one rule for them and one for us' accusations.

    Also on the subject of 're-instatement', perhaps a 'one strike and you're out - for good' rule might just concentrate the minds of those who wish to be accorded the title of Rt. Honourable & Honourable?

  2. The boyfriend obviously couldn't afford the mortgage on his own - and he couldn't take on a lodger, who would have been party to the fact that only one bedroom was being used by the MP and PR bod. So, what to do? Milk the taxpayer of course!

  3. I am amazed by the softy waffling of the toy coalition, "he is an honourable man". No he isn't, he is a cheap thief who steals from the poor because he can. And that I'm afraid says everything we need to know about "call me Dave", accessory before and after the fact!

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