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Saturday, 29 May 2010

David Laws - the sheer hypocrisy....

.....of those Labour activists and mouth pieces on twitter and in the blogosphere for the turning on, of the anti machine.

It is sheer hypocrisy though, because when their MPs were being pictured walking into court for actual fraud the same bloggers/tweeters were all strangely silent.

I have long admired David Laws (not like that) politics and how he has handled himself within the Party and on the economics stage in the real world.

Has today's story in The Daily Telegraph also explained the reason why Alistair Campbell produced a framed photo of David Laws at the end of Thursday's BBC Question Time, is it he who tipped the Daily Telegraph off, who knows?

Or was Campbell going to put the framed photo of David in the seat where David had been due to sit, again who knows?

The Daily Telegraph's story claims that David Laws:
  • Claimed between £700 and £950 a month between 2004 and 2007 to sub-let a room in a flat in Kennington, south London, owned by his partner who was also registered as living at the property;
  • From 2007, David then began claiming £920 a month to rent the second bedroom from a new house bought by his partner, who also lived there.
David Laws has issued a statement, published in full by The Daily telegraph, as follows:

I’ve been involved in a relationship with James Lundie since around 2001 — about two years after first moving in with him. Our relationship has been unknown to both family and friends throughout that time. James and I are intensely private people. We made the decision to keep our relationship private and believed that was our right. Clearly that cannot now remain the case.

“My motivation throughout has not been to maximise profit but to simply protect our privacy and my wish not to reveal my sexuality.

“I claimed back the costs of sharing a home in Kennington with James from 2001 to June 2007. In June 2007, James bought a new home in London and I continued to claim back my share of the costs. I extended the mortgage on my Somerset property, for which I do not claim any allowances or expenses, to help James purchase the new property.

“In 2006 the Green Book rules were changed to prohibit payments to partners. At no point did I consider myself to be in breach of the rules which in 2009 defined partner as ‘one of a couple … who although not married to each-other or civil partners are living together and treat each-other as spouses’.

“Although we were living together we did not treat each other as spouses. For example we do not share bank accounts and indeed have separate social lives. However, I now accept that this was open to interpretation and will immediately pay back the costs of the rent and other housing costs I claimed from the time the rules changed until August 2009.”

There are many people with different opinions on this out there, I have selected four that you can go and read directly for yourselves and my opinion follows.

Liberal Democrat Voice;
I think many people will have a fair amount of sympathy for David’s position. Clearly in an effort to maintain his privacy, he has kept secret his domestic arrangements; and any form of secrecy will lead some to place the worst possible interpretation on it.
Sara Bedford's blog, Always win when you're singing;
I’m not from the same wing of the Lib Dems as David Laws. I’m not a likely cheerleader for him. But his performance since his appointment to the cabinet has been astounding, with a mastery and articulation of his new brief which has delighted most of the political world. Don’t resign and give the Telegraph their pound of flesh David. Your party, the coalition and, the country’s economy need you.
Jerry Hayes on Think Politics website;
Has David Laws behaved corruptly? The answer was simply put in a tweet by the Financial Times journalist and serious thinker, Christopher Cook, last night. If Laws had declared his relationship he could have charged the taxpayer for the whole mortgage. So when banner headlines demand a scalp, I hope that David Cameron and Nick Clegg have the compassion and common sense to ride out the storm.
Tony Grew is parliamentary editor of and writes in defence of David Laws.
It is an intense sadness to me that David Laws never felt able to step out into that new sunshine created by Tony Blair and New Labour. He was never able to learn that the vast majority of his colleagues and friends do not give a damn about who he shares his life with, as long as it made him happy.  Instead one of the richest MPs in parliament found himself in a ridiculous position - claiming rent from the taxpayer to refund his boyfriend, so that no-one would find out he was his boyfriend.
Now, my opinion for what it's worth is this, David Laws has tried to keep a difficult private life just that, private and has today paid the price for that because The Daily Telegraph don't respect that view, who ever it is.
Given David could have claimed the whole mortgage under the rules the taxpayers have not been shortchanged so David Laws should not resign, he is doing a great job and should be allowed to continue.
For me, it is really sad that here we are in May 2010 and a person's sexuality is front page news.
When will The Daily Telegraph grow up?


Stuart said...

An excellent piece. I am pleased that so much mature commentary is popping up online over this.

There are those of us who understand the agonising about when and how to tell those closest to us. I remember it, and it was horrid.

Unfortunately, this poor man has had his hand forced, and is having to have those conversations in the midst of a media storm. I cannot imagine how hard that must be.

Anonymous said...

Agree absolutely. At worst this is a technical breach of the rules. He may have claimed under the wrong rule, but if he had claimed under the right rule he would have been entitled to claim more. And he's paid the money back anyway. Don't see why this is a resigning matter or anything like it.

Sophia Pangloss said...

What's so 'difficult' about David Laws' private life Andrew?

It's painful for many of us that this should be a story at all. Everyone has a right to privacy in their home life an Laws is no different. As Jerry Hayes points out he could have declared the relationship and claimed full housing costs. The inevitable corollary of that is that if he wanted complete privacy at home and in his relationship, then he should have kept the Fees Office and their damned rules as far away as possible ie by not claiming any expenses.

Claiming expenses is not compulsory, and if MPs want to do so, they must accept the rules therein. It's not good enough for a Chief Secretary to the Treasury to have the luxury of defining his own relationship, while denying that self-same to many many 'little people'

Michael said...

This story is not about about Laws' sexuality. It's about the fact he got caught with his snout in the trough.

A person on housing benefit would lose their benefit's if they did what Laws did. They can't keep their relationships private, they have to declare them on the forms.

If Laws wanted to keep his private life private, he should of not taken the money.

It is also a morality issue.

When he was slashing 6 billion off the budget, which is going to effect the working & lower middle class more than anyone. Didn't he think 'hang on I claimed for 400k, which I can afford shouldn't I pay it back?' (actually where was his morals when he took it in the 1st place?).

It is a typical example of on law for the rich & elite & another for the rest of us.

And before you say anything Andrew about why I didn't say this type of thing when Labour MP's were doing the same thing. I did & so did a lot of people from the left in & out of the Labour Party.

Lottie Beecroft said...

This is an excellent piece and i am glad people are beginning to ask questions of the telegraph!

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