So David Laws has finally resigned after realising that his position was totally untenable. Good. After all he did claim around £40,000 in expenses that the rule say he shouldn’t have.
But it now looks like the word has gone out from the top of both sides of the government coalition: “close ranks and don’t rock the boat”. Yes, it’s damage limitation time. Poor David Laws, having to resign just 17 days into his new job. Isn’t it a shame? And he is a good chap too.
Some of the quotes attributed to senior politicians over the weekend simply show that they are treating the public with nothing less than sheer contempt.
The Prime Minister told Laws, “You are a good and honourable man. I am sure that, throughout, you have been motivated by wanting to protect your privacy rather than anything else.”
Oh that’s alight then. I know that he claimed up to £40,000 he wasn’t entitled to, hid the fact, didn’t come clean when the expenses scandal was raging and only acknowledged his guilt when he was finally found out by a newspaper – but he was only trying to protect his privacy.
Let’s not forget that all of this only came to light because Laws chose to make the expenses claims in the first place. He didn’t have to. No one forced him. If the privacy of his relationship was so important to him then he could have simply decided that he wasn’t going to make the claims. It’s not as if multimillionaire Laws needed the money in any case.
Laws’ party leader Nick Clegg said that he had always admired his fellow Liberal Democrat’s integrity.
Laws has integrity? What a joke. Unless there is some new definition of the word in the Lib Dem dictionary?
And let’s not forget that this is the same Nick Clegg who during the election campaign claimed that his party was whiter than white. and that all of the expenses excesses came from “the two old parties”. Remember his pious posturing in the first of the televised debates? Wonder how hypocrisy is defined in that dictionary?
Senior Tories have also been lining up to support their former Government colleague. Laws’ short term boss, Chancellor George Osborne, said, “I have a huge admiration for the way he has conducted himself in the most difficult circumstances.”
What, lied and cheated? Squirmed and made excuses? Claimed that the person he lived with and had been in a relationship with for years wasn’t actually his partner? And the Chancellor admires his conduct. Says it all really.
Ian Duncan Smith got in on the act too, telling the BBC that his respect for Mr Laws had grown since they started working together in the coalition, and that he was a “thoroughly decent person”.
A decent person who was forced to resign after being caught out for breaking the rules and pocketing money he didn’t deserve? Hardly a credible assessment, is it?
I think there is genuine sympathy among many people for the fact that David Laws has sort of been outed. But that’s really a total red herring. The main issue is his abuse of the rules for his own personal benefit, not who he chooses to have a relationship with.
It has taken 65 years for the Liberals to get back into the Cabinet – and less than three weeks for their first resignation. Breaking the mould of politics?
I find talk that Laws can make his way back into the top tier of politics amazing. We were told that this was the start of a new approach to government, a squeaky clean coalition that would run the country in an open and fair manner. Do they really think that we will just forget about his actions and welcome him back into a top job?
If David Laws returns to government then we can be certain that all of the talk was just that, and it’s really business as usual.
Mind you, Laws’ actions have convinced some of us of that already.