Tag Archives: David Laws

Bang On.

Matthew Paris in writing in The Times yesterday is absolutely bang on with his assessment of the David Laws situation. I urge you to read and comment.

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.

The Telegraph still holds the Sword of Damocles

This time last week I was talking about Expenses being the monster that just won’t die, and it seems that the sword of damocles is still dangling as the Telegraph reveal tonight that David Laws has claimed £40,000 in expenses to pay for a room – hang him, the tabloids predictably scream, while some of the broadsheets can barely control their sneers of revulsion that it’s ‘his boyfriends’ house.

But, please – first a little perspective, this is over eight years which comes to about £950 a month: that’s not expensive for London, my weekly rent is about half that – so I think we can safely say that there’s been no financial gain: and how much did it save on him renting or buying a place of his own – ultimately he’s most likely saved us all money.

But, it is a question of honesty, David Laws’ said he didn’t give the full detail because it wasn’t his spouse – that’s a grey area in the rules that the IPSA will want to be looking into: I think it’s probably fair to say if you’ve been with someone since 2001 then I think it’s not unfair to claim that you’re a ‘proper’ item: which of course brings us to the real reason it was kept quiet: David didn’t want to out either himself, his partner (a director at an international, politically connected PR firm) or his relationship in general. All credit to The Telegraph though, they didn’t out him – and they could have done: the really delicious irony of course being that climbing into the cabinet has rather forced him out of the closet.

I find it difficult to stand by the hang him and flog him brigade, but equally I find it difficult to support this idea that he was simply protecting his private life – he’s a public figure, a long term partner is a long term partner: and he should have been up front about that: most people would have made nothing of it… instead, he’s needlessly wounded his reputation and potentially his cabinet career. I think it’s unlikely Cameron or Clegg will want to be rid of him: but I expect you’ll be seeing less of him for the next few weeks.

Turning the tide of waste…

The first cut is the deepest, or at least that’s how the song goes – clearly the coalition haven’t listened to much Rod Stewart (or if we’re being picky Cat Stevens), because the first cuts made to public spending have been a little shallower than we might have expected. It’s great news of course that schemes to create jobs have been cut (as the reality of those schemes is many of the jobs ended up being public sector), it’s superb, and humanising, news that the Ministerial car pool is being shelved, and even better news that the frankly ludicrous child trust fund has been axed.

But amongst the many cuts announced this week you couldn’t help but feel that this was simply a prelude: the ’emergency’ (in all senses of the word) budget being where the sharpness of the axe really will be felt. I applaud the immediate cuts, but I’m mindful that in many cases these were the easy ones – the government has a really messy job ahead of it, because it isn’t just going to be expected to make cuts: it’s going to be expected to change whole sections of society’s outlook away from it being the Government’s core job to provide employment.

You see, the problem with all Labour governments is that they have all historically mixed up private and public sector, it doesn’t matter which one you’re in, so long as you’re working – except that’s economic nonsense: public sector jobs don’t generate wealth or tax revenue. While this is perfectly acceptable for core essential services (security, defence, health and teaching) it’s totally ludicrous anywhere else. Under New Labour the public sector exploded; whole towns and cities where unemployment was traditionally an issue suddenly found themselves awash with work opportunities – all paid for by the tax payer, and all – ultimately – doomed to be unaffordable.

This is the attitude we’re going to have to change, the coalition is going to have to make people understand that jobs created by government don’t raise tax revenue – they’re subsidised jobs paid for by an ever shrinking group of entrepreneurs and business owners and the people who work for them, the people by and large who have smaller pensions, work longer hours, have less holiday and less job security. There is something horrifically unfair about this – Labour perpetuated that it was all for the ‘fairer’ society – but it failed to do this miserably by creating a society where a huge proportion of the jobs were paid for by mugging Peter to pay Paul.

You can browse the Grauniad or any number of local authority websites to find the dredges of this era of profligacy at the private sector’s expense: Community street football advisors, Gypsy & Traveller Liaison Officer, Biodiversity awareness officers, vast numbers of ‘communications’ and ‘pr’ advisors – the list is as bizarre as it is endless; these non-jobs (as highlighted by the TPA) are a fallacy, and it’s going to take a long time to convince people that this society can do without endless state-sponsored jobs, and even longer to convince people that they can (in many cases) create their own wealth, start their own businesses, and most importantly that you can thrive in the private sector if you’re willing to throw away the unaffordable perks of being paid by the public purse.