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David Laws' resignation is very bad news for the coalition and for the country
29/05/2010 22:59:00

David Laws has done the right thing in resigning. What he did broke the spirit of the rules and possibly the letter of them too. Only he can know for sure but he is probably also right to say that it would have been extremely difficult for him to focus 100 per cent on the crucial work of sorting out the country's finances over the next few months.

I hope in time he returns to government. First, unlike so many Ministers in the last government, he has done the honourable thing and resigned quickly rather than clinging on to office. Second, unlike many of the MPs who broke the rules in the last Parliament he didn't do so in a way that was designed to benefit him financially. Third and most importantly, he was doing a crucial job and doing it well. Nothing is more important to the future of this country than getting the deficit under control: this resignation is therefore very bad news for the coalition and for the country as a whole. On Wednesday morning, I sat behind David and watched as he calmly responded to a series of questions from the Labour benches. One answer in particular stuck out - a Labour MP was criticising him for removing ringfencing from government grants to local councils (in other words, allowing councils to spend the money government gives them how they want); he replied by pointing out the philosophical difference between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats on the one hand and New Labour on the other - unlike them, we don't believe central government knows best.

One final thought: despite the progress we have made during my lifetime, it is a sad reflection on our society in 2010 that so many people find it difficult to be open about who they are.

Comment on this blog

 

Readers' Comments

On 30/05/2010 19:56:00 Paul Ogier wrote:
I understand from your blog of the 25/5 Queens Speech that constituent electors will be given "the right to recall their MP where they are guilty of serious wrongdoing". In the two broadcast statements made by David Laws it was during the second one that he said that he had been wrong re claimed expenses.

To me it illustrates the potential problem for all MPs if the proposed agreement/policy is enacted within the next 18 months.

Will the right to recall by constituent electors be after guilt has been established? And established by who? The Independent Parlimentary Authority or a formal judicial court or tribunal or the court of constituency electors? How will guilt be assessed? On what evidence? On the basis of proof beyond reasonable doubt or on the balance of probabilities? What will be the definition of wrongdoing? Will it be a legal definition requiring IPA and judicial courts or a moral definition with all the hazards that this would contain within the constituency electoral court of public opinion - a local expression of the so called 'big society'. In my opinion, the big society isn't inevitably or necessarily an open society, which may have been a factor in David Laws trying unsuccessfully to separate his public roles from, in my view, wholly private matters irrelevant to his role as an MP. It will be interesting to see how this develops once the IPA has reported and the response of the constituency court of Yeovil.

 
On 02/06/2010 12:08:00 Anthony Miller wrote:
His defence of "We lived together but we both have independent social lives" is comedy gold - imagine if a hetrosexual man used such an arguement...?

Whether or not David Laws wants to keep his homosexuality secret no one was standing behind him or James Lundie forcing them to take the money and he was clearly worried about the ethics of the situation or he wouldn't have moved out the flat before the General Election.

The most mitigating factor is probably that he probably never expected to have such a high profile job - although I'm not sure how that is mitigating as the immorality seems quite clear.

I dont know how he seriously expected to keep his sexuality secret though. Perhaps it's sad but the days of "sailor boy" Ted being in number 10 and no one suggesting he was gay will never ever come back now.

For better or worse if you are in politics or the media at any high level now people will always feel they have a right to know absolutely everything about your private life.

And many of those in the public gaze seem only too happy to engage in the glossy magazine faustian bargain - it's easier than talking to Jeremy Paxman after all ...until you do a Lembit Opik.

Met someone before Christmas who always seemed a bit camp and was shocked when he told me he was divorced after 5 years and had had a mental breakdown due to suppressing his homosexuality for decades - presumably because either his parents would never accept it or he couldn't come to terms with it himself.

I thought that sort of thing only happened in the 80s but while we may never again see the infamous "It's a straight choice" Campaign slogan (ironically a Liberal machinated one)... dislike of the unlike is never far under the surface.

 
 

 

 

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Gavin Barwell, House of Commons, SW1A 1AA, Tel  020 8660 0491      © Gavin Barwell  2017       Promoted by Ian Parker on behalf of Gavin Barwell, both at 36 Brighton Road, Purley, CR8 2LG