Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Saturday 29 May 2010

David Laws should not resign

Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice

The story that broke last night about David Laws and his £40,000 claim
for rental of a room from his lover is reverberating around the
blogosphere today.

My initial thoughts last night were that he should not resign and that
this seems more like a technical breach basically forced upon him
because he is gay and wanted that information to remain private. I
argued this strongly on the paper review on 5 Live yesterday. Having
slept on it I am even more convinced of this.

I don't have much time this morning but Sara Bedford has said
everything I was thinking in detail in a great post here:


Tommy Q said...

I'm afraid I disagree. The rules are very clear and he has certainly broken them. For someone with a treasury brief to do this is especially reprehensible.

We cannot allow arguments over privacy or sexuality to get in the way of a blatant breach of the spirit and substance of the rules.

We cannot be tribal about this - we need to demonstrate that this is about the new politics and Lib Dems are not the damaged goods of the old parties.

I think David Laws is one of the most impressive people ever to represent the party, and I do believe that his resignation would be awful for him personally and for the party.

I do however fear that the consequences will be a loss of face and trust - particularly amongst us who do hold Lib Dems to a higher standard that the discredited others.

Joe Otten said...

Had he disclosed the relationship, it seems he could have claimed for the whole house and not just the room. - The second homes allowance can be spent on a whole family home.

Tommy, the rules are not very clear, and much hinges on the meaning of "like a spouse".

Kalvis Jansons said...

The logic to me is clear.

Were the rules clear? No!

Did he do wrong? Probably.

Should he resign? Given the answer to the previous question, he should offer his resignation.

Should his resignation be accepted? Unclear, but it should be offered.

Antisthenes said...

The government could do with a Campbell and/or Mandelson on their team at this moment a bit of mendacity and obfuscation on the grand scale they practice would keep Laws in post. I am not a Lib-Dem but a Tory but acknowledge that Laws is an undoubted asset and if he were to resign would be a great loss for the government.

Unknown said...

As I've said on other blogs, I don't understand the entire "expenses fiddling" part of this story.

Didn't David Cameron claim £20,000 a year in expenses on a house owned by himself and his wife? How is this different from David Laws claiming £11,000 a year in rent, paid to his partner?

How many other cabinet ministers claimed similar amounts? Someone mentioned Michael Gove flipping his home for Capital Gains Tax.

Are people upset just because he kept his relationship secret? What exactly is the resigning issue here?

Kalvis Jansons said...

If he might have broken the rules, he should resign. If we believe he did not, there is no story here.

Alex W said...

"I'm afraid I disagree. The rules are very clear and he has certainly broken them. For someone with a treasury brief to do this is especially reprehensible."

I don't. If you follow that logic you have to absolve all those MP's who claimed that they "Didn't break the rules".

It's the principle which is important. David Laws didn't make any claim which wasn't entitled to (had he made public his relationship he could have claimed it under a different rule anyway) and the costs of his claims are not unreasonable for what they represented... £920 a month is a fair amount for renting in London.

This is a far cry from expense scandals that actually offend the tax payers. I repeat, he was entitled to the money under one rule or another (in fact more if he had claimed it under another rule). His only6 motivation seems to have been to retain privacy of his personal life.

Given this I think he retains his principles (which is the only reason for expense scandals to bring in to question a politicians posting anyway) and therefore is entitled to keep his position.

Alex W said...

Meant to add.

When the expense scandal first started, and politicians resorted to stating that they did not break the rules, the general public were quick to insist that this was not the point, that it was 'the principle' that mattered.

Why are they now so insistent that it's 'the rules' which count? Why the U-turn... why the double standards?

Anonymous said...

If the issue is Laws only wished to protect his private life why didnt he just pay out of his own pocket? It's not like he hasn't got the money. I think the sexuality issue is a red herring. He claimed money he shpuldn't and was caught. The DWP has guidelines regarding cohabitation, lets apply these to Laws and see how it plays out.

Alex W said...

@ Anonymous.

The thing is, he didn't claim expenses he wasn't able to if he had made public his relationship. He could still have claimed a second home cost... just under a different rule.

There was no reason not to do this other than to maintain his privacy. So no, I don't think it's a red herring, and no, he didn't get caught claiming money he wasn't entitled to. He got caught claiming money he was entitled to but under a different rule to one he could have otherwise used.

There is a big difference there.

Kalvis Jansons said...

It is important that the new handles this well. It is a gift to Labour, if they do not.