Daily Archives: May 29, 2010

David Laws to go?

5.45pm I’m hearing rumours from 2 independent people who might be in a position to know, that David Laws is about to resign. He’s going to cite that his position has been compromised by a the story the Daily Telegraph published this morning, he’s deeply sorry and that he is stepping down to avoid further scrutiny of his private life and those that he loves. One rumour claims he may step down altogether – but I’d consider this unlikely in such a relatively young politician.

6.18pm Seems it’s not just me: Tim Montgomerie on twitter: Unconfirmed but I’m hearing Laws will quit this evening. Huhne and Browne being mentioned as possible replacements.

6.20pm And it would seem Dale might have the scoop? I’m told David Laws has just resigned.

6.30pm Well the twittersphere is alive with rumours now – whether any of them are true I’m not sure, this has a distinctly stage managed feel to it – even if he wasn’t intending to, it may now be too late to put this one back in it’s box.

7.00pm Well, still no announcement – there are rumours that it was tendered but not immediately accepted. Doesn’t explain why certain Lib Dems appear to have their staff briefing that he’s already gone. If this debacle demonstrates everything it’s that the government press office needs to be better: and the Lib Dems need to stop leaking like a sieve, we know they can do it.

7.19pm Iain Dale is saying there’s going to be an announcement at the Treasury, but I don’t seem to be alone in saying that I’ve not seen an Op Note yet, several hack chums are equally in the dark.

7.22pm Aha, an op note is circulating, I’ll be amazed if anyone other than those based immediately in Westminster get there in time to cover this though. There’s an announcement expected anytime from 7.45.

7.25pm Not a single main stream media outlet is even trailing this is a possibility beyond this morning’s rehashed and tired opinion pieces.

7.40pm Still nothing, this is either the best twitter rumour ever, or it’s been so quickly sprung the media that no one is yet responding, but even that seems odd: literally no one is covering this apart from twitter and blogs.

7.48pm Sky calls it. David Laws resigns.

7.52pm And I’m hearing that Danny Alexander is going to take over, surely that can’t be true? It must be Huhne surely?

7.55pm Sky call it again, Danny Alexander to replace David Laws, reformers can breathe a sigh of relief.

8.00pm David Cameron issues a statement saying he hopes that ‘in time’ David Laws would serve the government again in cabinet

8.02pm Nick Clegg expected to make a statement to the press shortly. Taking the fore on this one.

8.20pm Nick Clegg actually sounds angry, describing David Laws’ privacy as having been ‘shattered’ – door certainly seems to be open for a return in time.

8.23pm You know, the reason this all seems strange is we’re all used to the sight of shamed Labour MPs clinging onto their positions no matter how heinous or depraved their actions – It seems like the honourable thing to do, it’s not the right thing for the country, which is a shame – it won’t stop this being used as ammunition at every opportunity by those not enamoured with the Coalition.

Final thoughts

So David Laws has gone – he was, and always has been, one of my favourite Liberal Democrats, clearly he’s broken the rules to keep his private life, private – and it’s been his downfall. It’s a great shame as he is a superbly bright man, just the sort you need when things need doing, not spinning. I do hope that the press now give him the space to sort out his private life, coming out is a gut-wrenching experience at the best of times, without it being forced on you.

More on Laws

You know – there’s a distinctly unpleasant smell about many of the comments surrounding David Laws at the moment, accusations that ‘militant’ homosexuals (god alone knows what they look like) and ‘agenda pushers’ will keep him in his job: and you know what – maybe that’s a good thing? Not the keeping in his job because he’s a woofter, no – but keeping him in his job because he’s good at it, and if the Parliamentary Standards Commission finds his ‘crime’ to not be worth a reprimand why should rabid commentators thirsty for blood get a scalp just for the sake of it seeming ‘the decent’ thing to do (in best daily mail speak).

As I was saying yesterday, his expenses pale into insignificance compared to what others have taken, it’s his honesty over the nature of his relationship which you have to call into question. Of course if they were just friends with benefits then one can understand why it was treated as a landlord/tenant agreement, if they formalised the relationship in any other way however – then it’s an entirely different matter: and the money should be not only repaid, but investigated to the full extent of the law.

I’ve been saying for a long time that Parliamentary expenses should be simplified – this is yet another case where the rules were grey and we’re once again all pontificating on whether to hang David Laws out to dry or let him ‘get away’ with it. Of course this stems from our general assumption that most politicians are scum, movers and operators of the lowest order; which is unfair – many really, genuinely, aren’t – but while there is still not enough public transparency in the details of how they’re paid and how they claim work expenses, and indeed who presides over the ajudication of setting those fees and how they’re administered, we’re going to rub against this again and again.

It is of course, not just Parliament: Parliament is just an unfortunately public example. Expense fraud, if you want to be blunt about naming it, is rife in any business where expense accounts are the standard way of claiming back a significant proportions of outlaid income. Maybe that should be the argument for building a hotel with 650 rooms for MPs, setting a standard pay grade for all of them, giving them a free travel pass (as in the forces) to and from their nominated home to their nearest London terminal free on national rail or an airline of choice (in standard class) and doing away with all the expense and rigmarole of the IPSA and the fees office – Simplistic many in Westminster might scream, but you’ll never know until you actually give it a try.