Saturday, May 29, 2010

The rise and fall of David Laws

It's been quite a week for David Laws. It began with his meteoric rise as he took a star role in the Commons in implementing cuts and standing up to Labour, leaving many Conservatives wishing he was one of us and tipping him as a future leader of the party. And that's not just if the Coalition has the same result as so many of its predecessors - in the early days of the Cameron leadership Laws was highly tipped as one of the Liberal Democrat MPs most likely to switch parties.

And then came the revelations in today's papers.

I have some sympathy of Laws's position - his expenses situation is the same today as it was twelve months ago. I also have sympathy that it has been difficult for many MPs to be openly gay - he was not the only member of the current Cabinet who was in the closet when appointed this month - and that society has not advanced all at the same time. There are still parts of the country where homophobia is widespread.

And it seems this is a case of someone starting a relationship with their pre-existing live-in landlord so at what point Laws started breaking the rules is unclear, especially as even he seems to have thought his landlord was not his "partner". I would suggest that when Laws and the landlord moved homes in 2007 would have been a clear point when he should have come to a different conclusion about whether or not he was breaking at least the spirit of the rules if not his understanding of the letter of them.

Politics is a harsh environment and there's nothing the media enjoy more than seeing an Icarus. But let's have an end to this trial by media. It should be the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, not the editor of the Daily Telegraph, who decides the extent to which Laws has done wrong. Until then he should not be sacked just to appease a baying mob.

If Laws goes then someone will have to be appointed to replace him. I hope that the appointment is made on the basis of who has the best ability, not the right party label. The following words were written nearly eighty years ago but still apply today:
I am sure it would be resented in the country and indeed it would not be right to put a man into the Cabinet whose only qualification was that his inclusion would maintain the balance of the parties in the Cabinet. I am confident that the country demands at this juncture the help of its very best men regardless of party.
They were written by David Margesson to Neville Chamberlain in 1932 when the death of a Liberal Cabinet minister created a vacancy. But they apply as much now.

1 comment:

angela said...

What I would like to know is why did the Daily Telegraph suddenly decide to wreck his life, which they must have known they were doing, by making these revelations?

Why now?

And who was the motivating force behind the Telegraph's action? He had just put in a brilliant performance in the House, he was a star in the making. Who cut him down at such a crucial moment and why?


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