Friday, May 28, 2010

David Laws: I Hope He Survives

I'm about to hit the hay as I have to get up early in the morning to do my LBC show. Guess what the phone in is likely to be about. Yup, David Laws.

The Telegraph has revealed tonight that he has claimed £40,000 in expenses over eight years to rent a room from someone who turns out to be his lover.

The first thing to say is that there appears to have been no financial gain. Renting at £950 per month is not extortionate by any means in central London. And if he had moved out into his own place it would no ddoubt have been far more.

I suspect part of, if not all, the reason Laws didn't fess up to this arrangement before was because he did not want to 'out' his relationship. Many of us have suspected for some time that David is gay, but if he didn't want to come out, that was his business. He and his partner didn't even tell their friends. I know exactly why he did this. I did it myself for a very long time.

The Telegraph hasn't outed him, but he has courageously decided to be completely open about the circumstances of his relationship and rental arrangements.

Sir Alastair Graham has been first out of the traps calling for his head. I used to have respect for his views, but no longer. He hangs around Westminster like a bad smell.

I hope David Laws survives this, partly because I do not believe he has a dishonest bone in his body, but also because the Coalition needs him. He has been hugely impressive over the last few weeks. But of course there will be questions about his future. It will be a test for him as to whether he can survive the pressure, but I truly hope he does.

If you want to air your views on LBC tomorrow morning between 7 and 10 you can call me on 0745 6060973 or email iain@lbc.co.uk.

UPDATE: This is David Laws' statement in full...

I’ve been involved in a relationship with James Lundie since around 2001 - about two years after first moving in with him. Our relationship has been unknown to both family and friends throughout that time.

I claimed back the costs of sharing a home in Kennington with James from 2001 to June 2007.

In June 2007 James bought a new home in London and I continued to claim back my share of the costs.

I extended the mortgage on my Somerset property - for which I do not claim any allowances or expenses - to help James purchase the new property.

In 2006 the Green Book rules were changed to prohibit payments to partners.

At no point did I consider myself to be in breach of the rules which in 2009 defined partner as ‘one of a couple … who although not married to each-other or civil partners are living together and treat each-other as spouses.’

Although we were living together we did not treat each other as spouses - for example we do not share bank accounts and indeed have separate social lives.

However, I now accept that this was open to interpretation and will immediately pay back the costs of the rent and other housing costs I claimed from the time the rules changed until August 2009.

James and I are intensely private people. We made the decision to keep our relationship private and believed that was our right. Clearly that cannot now remain the case.

My motivation throughout has not been to maximise profit but to simply protect our privacy and my wish not to reveal my sexuality.

However, I regret this situation deeply, accept that I should not have claimed my expenses in this way and apologise fully.

I have also referred myself to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner.

109 comments:

Paul said...

Ian, although you say that the Telegraph didn't out David Laws and, indeed, the Telegraph has stated that it did not intend to out him, the Telegraph's statement in that regard is incredibly disingenuous: unless David Laws was living with his partner, there's no story whatsoever. How exactly was the Telegraph going to run with the story without revealing his sexuality? The story would have made no sense whatsoever.

LetUsFaceTheFuture said...

Oh come on! Don't play that.

He's fiddled expenses. That's all that matters. He must be sacked at least from his prominent Treasury position.

Adrian said...

The Telegraph has really become the new gutter press - between their ever more intrusive expenses campaign, and the insane jealous rantings of that buffoon, Simon Heffer, there is no longer any reason for reading it other than Matt's cartoon.

Is the public interest of "MP claims half the rent of a share flat" really worth the personal hurt it causes to thoroughly decent man?

I'd almost rather read the Sun. At least they don't pretend to be a serious newspaper.

paul said...

hardly a surprise leopards do not change spots and neither do politicians.

Jeff said...

Being an effective Minister shouldn't be a factor when a question of principle is raised as in this case.

David Laws knew he was in the wrong while the expenses storm kicked off in earnest and to have to be dragged out into the limelight like this is just awful.

And how can you say there is no financial gain? He is living with his partner and paying off his mortgage with public cash, clearly against rules going back to 2006. If there's no impropriety then why is he paying £40k back voluntartily?

It serves you well that you can respect David's character and integrity Iain but, as I say, it shouldn't be a factor here. He has to go while an investigation is carried out.

I'm not convinced that the Lib Dems have the strength in depth to cover this position either.

RJF said...

As you say, I hope he survives and he probably will. After all, there are many worse offenders. People in glass houses and all that.

Man, outed to your family as well the wider world and parliamentary expenses to boot. That is one bad day at the office.

fairbank007 said...

Iain

I truly hope that David Laws survives this. He has been an impressive & integral part of the new Government.
It is a shame that his private life has been exposed in this way.
Everyone (even those in public life) has a right to privacy.

J said...

I smell Campbell/MI5.

How else has thiscome out?

HarveyR said...

I think Laws is an able chap and if the Chief Sec position has to go to a LibDem, I couldn't think of any better.

There have been enough cases of "It was all within the rules" but this wasn't even one of those. And what's the point of having rules if there is no sanction when they are found to have been broken?

If Laws wanted to keep his relationship secret, why on earth did he enter into the rental arrangement with his partner and then claim it on his additional cost allowance. It it were not a same sex relationship would anyone look at a rental arrangement with a secret partner as anything other than an attempt to hide an expenses fiddle?

It will be a challenge for the Standards Commissioner to come up with a form of words which exonerates Laws and unless he can, Cameron will be faced with having to live up to the statements he has made - that those found to have broken the rules should be sacked.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Being secretly gay is one thing, and understandable. Fiddling expenses is quite another. Clearly the man himself realises he must pay the money back and perhaps there a line should be drawn under the affair.

David Laws has already shown he is an asset. It would be a shame if this ended his ministerial career.

Terry said...

He should resign.

forgelindin said...

As David Laws says, he should not have claimed his expenses in this way.

Osama the Nazarene said...

I also hope he survives this but if he did not want to 'out' his relationship he simply should not have claimed. Seemples!

He is now making amends but has damaged his and the government's position.

Interesting to see how hypocritical Labour become on this.

Gareth said...

Iain said: "I suspect part of, if not all, the reason Laws didn't fess up to this arrangement before was because he did not want to 'out' his relationship."

Laws didn't consider the person he is in a relationship with to be his partner. Riiiiiiight.

He should have stopped claiming for the rent in 2006. A more above board approach would have been to claim for a proportion of his partner's mortgage costs. The rent wheeze for the sake of privacy is what lends it the appearance of deceit.

wv: talentid !!!

Lloyd B said...

When I recently found myself unemployed, I didn't qualify for income-based allowance because my partner was expected to support me. We have a two bedroom flat and could have pretended we were not in a relationship, but that would have been fraud.

I fully respect David Laws' right to keep his relationship private and sympathise with his decision to do so. But he is an independently wealthy man who should not financially benefit from this decision.

Furthermore, if holding seperate bank accounts and having seperate social lives is effective criteria for non-cohabitation, then I could have got the state to pay me 65 quid a week to stop going to pub with my girlfriend.

Kiera Hardie said...

I think it would be instructive to apply the same rules to millionaire MPs squirrelling away rent allowances as are applied to ordinary people accused of claiming means tested benefits as single when they actually have a bidie-in.

Mr Laws is f**ked if these rules were applied to him. If he was claiming benefit he'd be called in for an interview under caution, and getting his suit pressed for a court appearance.

Terry said...

Well behind with the news tonight so I'll have to mosey on into the big Y (that's Yeovil) to catch the latest on Sat. Paddy Pantsdown will be apoplectic for sure.
Yet another "inadvertent" trougher. Is there no end to them?
Perhaps under the new legislation we should kick out all MPs who were in situ pre this election - yes, even Ministers - and start with a clean sheet. Newbies can't be worse than what is going on now.
It's a pity as Laws was shaping up nicely but he's in good company - Gove - so may survive.

Lawless Anarchist: said...

Three things strike me about this case.

Firstly, does this explain Laws' none appearance on Question Time? Cambell was evidently well prepared. Watch back the show (@ 57 mins in) and see the knowing look in cambell's eye when he says 'no bottle, new bond villain'. Maybe, just maybe, CCHQ dodged a very public bullet.

Secondly, this is a very sad affair that a Liberal went to such tenuous lengths to cover up his sexuality.

Thirdly, why oh why didn't downing street vet every minister's expenses fully? surely people in Westminster knew about the situation with Mr Laws.

kev said...

He is effectively being discriminated against for being gay and in the closet.

He was claiming about £11k per year compared with the maximum of £21k which was claimed by many MPs–including David Cameron. He could have taken out a joint mortgage and then the claim would have been totally above board. So why didn’t he do this–as he says it was because he was gay and in the closet.

Does anyone seriously think this would be a story if the circumstances were identical but he had paid the money to a female partner?

This story is simply gay-bashing of the most horrible kind.

Doug Daniel said...

Pretend he's not gay for a minute. Pretend the story is that David Laws has been caught paying £40,000 of taxpayer's money in rent to his live-in girlfriend of 8 years. Is it still okay?

This is no different to Jacqui Smith pretending her sister's spare room is her main home, or any of the various house-flipping everyone was so outraged by.

I'm sorry that he felt unable to tell his friends and family he was gay, but taxes are not an inconvenience fund for MPs. We're not a charity. If he was so scared of coming out, surely choosing a life away from politics would have been a better route than fraud?

Daedalus said...

I am have no interest what so ever in what Mr laws sexuality is, I am not interested in where he lived or who with.
I am concerned if he has illegally claimed expenses (and on this point it must be, was it legal when he claimed them, rather than is it illegal now.)
My biggest worry is that we will loose him from office, so far the boy “done good” as far as I can see. To loose someone with his talents this early in the coalition would be devastating.
And this from a Tory voter since 1975, who thinks we need a new Maggie. But also on the libertarian side of the party who thinks gun control is hitting the target first time. Or not buying one in the first place because you don’t need one.

I may cancel my Telegraph subscription!

Daedalus

faddly said...

Wouldn't know about the Green Book, but his interpretation of "partner" is narrower than the DWP's....

golden_balls said...

Lets see how Cameron deals with this. Laws should at least stand down until the investgation is finished.

Before the election you would have demanded a Labour Minister resign or at least stand down during the investigation.

One view before the election a different one afterwards why doesn't that suprise me !

Jimmy said...

"The first thing to say is that there appears to have been no financial gain."

Except for the expense claim obviously.

"I hope David Laws survives this,"

Imagine my surprise.

Dino Fancellu said...

The PM should stand firm on this, and tell anyone looking for Mr Law's head to fuck off. We need the economy fixing, we don't have time to sacrifice good men.

Oliver Drew said...

I am somewhat sympathetic in this case. Moreso than I was in previous scandals.

The reason for that is the manner in which David Laws has presented himself and his case. He has apologised (unreservedly), paid back the cash and referred himself to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner.

At this point I don't think that he should lose his job over this - whilst serious it is nowhere near as serious as some of the home flipping and phantom mortgages that we saw in the last parliament...If the parliamentary standards people feel the need for further punishment then however the situation changes. Further should the law on MPs recall be passed, it will be up to his constituents whether or not he should remain in post as an MP.

His ability to do his job however, is not under question imo. He has done very well.

I hope he comes through this. He has been one of the "stars" of the coalition so far...

-0- said...

If he stays, it'll look like an utter fit-up. It's precisely *because* Laws has been such a valuable coalition member that the fact he has fiddled expenses must mean the end of him as a cabinet minister, at the very least.

The Conservative/Lib Dem coalition has derived a lot of political capital from the fact that Labour were worst stung by the expenses scandal. Back pedal now, and further lose the faith of an electorate that is already dubious; that 'new politics' tag is already embarrassingly moribund - and practically on the vine at that!

Oriel boy said...

Iain, you should read this for more information from Mr Laws:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article7139807.ece

Rush-is-Right said...

The question sure is... Does it pass the smell test.

I think it does. It is not that the amounts he was claiming were egregiously high. Compared with what the ghastly Balls couple or the loathsome Jacqui Smith got up to which were all judged to be within the rules, this Laws case tranks very low, even if it's a misdemeanor at all.

Move on, nothing to see here.

Kevin Davis said...

He has made financial gain because he invested in the bigger property that his partner then bought.

I was the PPC against him and I can tell you that the only campaign he ran in his literature was that he was whiter than white on expenses and that he was the cheapest MP in Somerset. His literature had nothing else in it. For this to now emerge is disgraceful.

Much though I wish this coalition to succeed, and I clearly have an interest, I cannot see how he can stay on. This is the man about to inflict enormous financial pain on the people of this country with his financial cuts to spending and all the while he has been fiddling them for personal gain. As for this guff as to when a partner is not a partner it just seems ridiculous.

javelin said...

One problem of being good at his job is that other people won't offer him the support he needs. They will let him get injured - that's politics.

A second problem is that he broke the rules / so I would expect the punishment to follow.

A third problem us that when as a gay person ( or any other ) you receive equal rights you can't then complain when you are treated equally.

M said...

Much as I usually admire what you say I have to say you have got it quite wrong over the Laws scandal for you are defending the indefensible here.

Laws has broken the rules and should pay the price without delay.

Eddie Strange said...

Laws should stay. What he was doing with his expenses he believed to be within the rules at the time, he`s paying the money back and has referred himself to the Commissioner on Standards. The Telegraph has become a complete bore on expenses. In terms of great wastes of public money in our time the MPs expenses stuff is not even in the Blue Square League.

Eddie Strange said...

Laws should stay. What he was doing with his expenses he believed to be within the rules at the time, he`s paying the money back and has referred himself to the Commissioner on Standards. The Telegraph has become a complete bore on expenses. In terms of great wastes of public money in our time the MPs expenses stuff is not even in the Blue Square League.

JuliaM said...

"Oh come on! Don't play that.

He's fiddled expenses. That's all that matters. "


Couldn't agree more. Special pleading cuts no ice with me.

Battersea Boy said...

This is David Cameron's opportunity to show that he is a strong leader, just like John Major.

Mr Major would undoubtably have sacked Laws on the spot for fiddling his parliamentary expenses - it's not as if he needed the money, is it?

Having said that, I will be very sorry to see David Laws go. But go, he must. And soon.

eddie said...

As long as he and his partner are treated in exactly the same way as we ordinary folk, then there's no problem. If we ordinary folk had been caught incorrectly claiming forty thousand quid of taxpayer money, would we be allowed simply to pay it back and call it quits - or would we have to pay interest on it (a la Revenue) and a massive fine? Will the said Revenue be checking Mr Lundie's tax returns for the past six years to ensure that all the monies he received in rent, utility, maintenance and servicing bills has been fully declared and the tax thereon properly paid?

If not, why not?

Moriarty said...

A real pity. Economically literate Lib Dem MPs are a bit like buses under a Labour council. You wait around for ages and then none come along at all.

Unsworth said...

No mention of Clegg here. Surprising, I think. Let's understand that Laws is/was part of the negotiating team working to Clegg's leadership - and that Clegg as well as Cameron was involved in selecting Ministers etc.

Where does this leave Cable?

Cynic said...

I feel very sorry for him but I am afraid that he should go.

There's no shame these days in being gay and he been concealed it last year from the expenses inquiry. He could even have continued to conceal it but just paid the cash back 'on principle' but he didn't.

The question is, who did out him on this? Who was the little mole who knew about this and decided to bring him down and use the Telegraph to throw suspicion onto the Conservatives?

Has Gordon's little dirty tricks operation survived?

Cynic said...

Kevin

One point. Dont make the mistake of adopting the carefully crafted Mandleson line on the cuts.

You say

" This is the man about to inflict enormous financial pain on the people of this country "

Sorry. Nonsense. The pain and damage has been caused by Labour.

The best analogy for David Laws is of a doctor trying to cure a virulent STD that you contracted from a previous partner. Is the Doctor to blame because it hurts?

No. Blame Gordon and Tony. All the pain, suffering, social dislocation, repossessions and job losses are down to their failed policies and mismanagement.

Lady Finchley said...

You know we hardly ever disagree Iain but this is dreadfully damaging to the Coalition and what he did was plain wrong. It really does question his judgement and yes it is a venial sin compared to the Wintertons, Jacki Smith etc but it is still wrong, wrong wrong. And it will give even more moral authority to IPSA. Yet again MPs staff (yes I am going on about that again because nobody else seems to care) and now small suppliers are suffering at the hands of IPSA. One of our small suppliers has not been paid since April and has to ask the bank for an overdraft so he can stay afloat. His is a one man business which I fear will go under - he is a thoroughly decent chap who used to be paid promptly from the old Fees Office. So, you see, David Laws' misdemeanour will have a knock on effect albeit indirectly.

Deanna said...

Insulting or Niaive? Either way this scandal does not invoke sympthay or confidence from the public. What kind of man hides behind his sexual persuasion to claim on the one hand, that he didn't think his partner should be treated like a spouse since they had separate bank accounts and separate lives?! Yet in the next moment admits he re-mortgaged in order to lend money to his partner to purchase property?!!
Incredibly dumb of him to think we would swallow that one! Sexual persuasion SHOULD NOT be a matter in this debate OR ANY OTHER; the facts stand alone - he was SERIOUSLY WRONG to do what he did. One camp or the other Laws - you are not a LAW UNTO YOURSELF! Out you go and let the axe fall properly for this Government - start as Cameron claimed they would go on - have upstanding members and clean MP's. This flys in the face of acceptable practice. The audacity after the recent MP's expense scandal? How can he advise Treasury?!!!!!!!!! It is a joke to the public and to the World.

juga said...

I can see why he would say they didn't consider themselves "partners" according to the definition. They were, after all, landlord and tenant. How many partners pay each other rent?

At least this incident might finally put a stop to the Libs Dems saying how much better on expenses they were than the other parties.

John said...

He has to be sacked. The question is, who should sack him? Should it be Clegg, the champion of 'a new type of politics' or should it be Dave who has gone on record to say he would sack any minister who is in breach of the rules or the spirit of the rules?

Iain, we all know your reaction to this would have been very different if it had been a Labour minister. This is disgraceful double standards.

Nat said...

How can we trust that Mr. Laws will protect equal gay rights, when he spends £40,000 of public money to hide his own homosexuality?

I am a British gay man. It is very difficult for people who, like Mr. Laws, are stigmatised on account of their homosexuality and who, unlike Mr. Laws, do not wield decisive political power. Disempowered gay people need empowering gay political leaders.

Last week, Eddie Mair questioned the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, on BBC Radio 4's PM. He asked him about the two twenty-something LGBTQ Malawians currently facing 14 years imprisonment for being gay. Mr. Hague asserted that "if we are going to win over other countries to our own values, we have to increasingly inspire them with how we represent those values ourselves". By going out of his way to hide his homosexuality, how does Mr. Laws expect us to trust that he, or his coalition government, can inspire Malawi, or any other homophobic government for that matter, to adopt the values he claims to represent?

Far from representing and inspiring equal gay rights, the values he rather seems to represent and inspire are the values of "Don't ask, don't tell" that the United States has just voted to repeal (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/7779303/US-paves-way-for-gays-to-serve-in-military.html) He seems to represent all the repressive secrecy of the era in which I came of sexual age: that era of John Major's Back to Basics. Shame on you, Mr. Laws, shame on you.

Peter said...

How many more times does this have to happen.
Simply pay MPs a decent salary and tell them to get on with it!
No bloody expenses!

strokecityemboli said...

Who cares about whether the relationship is with a male or female? Follow the money...the questions that need answered:
1) Did Laws claim the rent after he extended his Somerst Mortgage to help his partner buy the new flat in 2007?
2) Did James Lundie pay Laws back some money to help with Laws' now bigger mortgage? (If so the public money is ending up back with Laws.)
3) Did Laws mislead his mortgage company when extending his mortgage?
4) Did Laws have to state a purpose for the loan, and if so was it to help a friend buy a flat?
5) Was this indeed whay Laws pulled out of Question Time?
6) Did Alastair Campbell place this story with the media after being denied his big chance on Question Time?
7) Without revealing his sexuality, did Laws seek clarification from the Fees Office as to whether it was OK to claim rent for a flat he shared with a long-time sexual partner?
8) Regardless of the 'partner' definition, did Laws ever consider there as a potential conflict in claiming in these circumstances?
9) Did Lundie declare the rent to HMRC, and did he claim tax relief on the loan interest on Laws' part of the borrowing(s)?
10) Much of what happened was when Laws never dreamt of being in government, but what made Laws tell a newspaper this week that he was single and not in a relationship?

More question than answers - hope the Sunday papers dig a bit deeper.

Joe Public said...

Iain, the effing trougher must be sacked. Immediately.

£40k fiddled; just how many 'normal' workers do you think would retain their jobs if they'd been caught fiddling that magnitude of expenses?

Politicians live in cloud cuckoo land having one set of laws & regulations for us proletariat, but they think those shouldn't apply to them.

His sexuality has nothing to do with it, he's a fiddler.

Pam said...

How dreadfully sad.

:(

I don't see how he can survive in the Cabinet at the moment and may be better out of the spotlight.

I do feel the life he has been living must have been an enormous strain and I can sympathise - having decided not to come out when he first entered into the relationship, the longer the situation went on the harder it must have been to end it. And being outed by the media must be a nightmare for anyone.

What concerns me is not so much the expenses - yes it's wrong but a lot of people have repaid wrongly claimed expenses, including Cameron. And his rationale that they weren't partners although living together makes perfect sense if you look at the mental gymnastics he must have been undertaking to keep an apparently committed relationship secret. (It's like the bizarro version of 'I did not have sex with that woman.')

What concerns me really, in terms of his political ability, are the mental gymnastics and the denial.

People have been known to return to government after a suitable period and if he is as able as it appears this may be the best way ahead.

However, taking a prominent position in government and expecting to be able to keep his private life private shows either extreme naivety or an inability to deal with the realities of political life - neither of which are ideal attributes in a senior politician.

Dr Snuggles said...

How this is such a scandal yet Balls/Cooper got away with double-flipping etc. is beyond me. Laws' situation is obviously far from the black and white many political enemies are painting it. He is a talented minister and I wish him well.

The Lakelander said...

Can we now expect a statement from Nick Clegg saying that he was wrong when he claimed, in the first election debate, that "not a single" Liberal Democrat MP had benefited from property-related expenses claims?

No, I thought not.

Jess The Dog said...

I think he should survive, for a number of reasons.

- Cynically, the government is still shiny and new and can get away with it.

- Morally, Laws has a good reason. I'm reminded of Lord Browne of BP....they grew up in a very different era and which placed a high value on privacy, under the circumstances.

- Laws has come forward and held his hands up, acting responsibly and with integrity. Not weaselling words about technicalities or repayments.

- Some of the worst offenders are still in the Commons. Blears for one.

- Cameron would do well do demonstrate moral courage by defending Laws.

- Laws is a new minister and this minor scandal pre-dates his office.

- Opponents will be perceived as homophobic and will be reluctant to attack Laws on this issue.

Cameron and Clegg should stand firm and defend Laws, who has erred but should be forgiven.

Simon Gardner said...

OK. I’m not gay and so haven’t had to go through the decision about coming out.

Clearly nobody else is wondering why a man of his maturity in the most liberal party has to feel he had to stay in the closet?

He was bound to have been outed at some stage, surely?

All this grief seems to have been caused by Laws’ attempts to stay in the closet to his family about a relationship that must at the very least have been heavily suspected by everyone near to him.

One wonders if he mentioned it to Cameron when he was appointed?

awkwardgadgee said...

He has to go. Hardly what the government need as he seems to be genuinely willing to stand up and defend a return to fiscal responsibility.

But it is either "a new politics" or it isn't. (We all know it isn't really, but they should at least be trying to look sincere about it)

Mr Laws is not the only gay man in the cabinet, and this cannot be used as an excuse for what looks like simple expenses fiddling.

Sean Haffey said...

What I am about to write below may be entirely wrong, so please feel free to point out where it is.

The point of this allowance is surely to cover the cost of a second home that an MP needs: one in his/her constituency and one near Parliament.

It appears that this allowance was used for this purpose. The fine print says it shouldn't be used to rent from a partner (mainly I suspect for reasons of apparent propriety) but IMHO this is a technical breach rather than one that particularly enriched him.

Guthrum said...

Oh Please God don't start this again-

Laws had the opportunity to deal with this last year, he decided not to. An honourable man would have done so

He is now playing the discriminated Gay card to justify his actions.

You simply cannot have an untrustworthy person in the Treasury, they have only announce a 1% cut in sprending, it is going to get tougher when large scale cuts are required of 10% plus and whole sale sackings of public employees.

If Con-Dem do not announce his rapid departure, there will be no credibility.

Nobody is above the Law- the sooner that they get this through their thick skulls the better.

Mandelsonian Politics should be finished, not continued with

Jess The Dog said...

There is another option.

Laws could stand down as minister and as MP, force a by-election and stand as the Lib Dem candidate.

The Tories could step back from the contest. Labour could fight the by-election if brave enough to risk accusations of homophobia and gross double standards, given their own party's snout-troughery.

If re-elected, Laws could resume ministerial office unscathed, dispelling completely any lingering doubts.

Potentially risky but principled, in line with public opinion, and a test of the recall proposals.

This is now what I would recommend, although I think he could and will stay in post.

strapworld said...

Iain, I do agree with you.

People on this blog are forgetting the awful truth, the cabinet is full of expense cheats! In terms of actual money I do believe Maude is the winner- did he apologise? Did he pay it back? No he was told he 'acted within the rules' well I am of the opinion that all those that changed their addresses knew exactly what they were doing, and a good forensic questioning by a good QC would have got that truth from all of them. None of them were subjected to anything like a rigorous cross examination, on oath, as they should have been.

My view is that Laws is far too good to be lost, especially when others around the cabinet table have been allowed to carry on - Prime Ministers and Deupty Prime Ministers included!

Actually, I feel that David Laws is a good man and should be supported.

alastair said...

Iain, do the MPs a favour and out all those still in the closet - so the lies etc can stop. In todays world there is no reason why anyone should lie about their sexuality (Laws) or religious preferences (Blair) or anything else.

At the same time, tell us the truth about Gordon Brown, Shuan Woodward, and Charlie Kennedy and anyone else that "Westminster" knows the truth about.

Cynic said...

He really really has to go.

The Purpleline said...

Iain may I ask how you treated the Jacqui Smith story? You know the one renting a room at her sisters house?

Did you give her a hard time?
Did you call for her to step down?

Really what is the difference?

This man was in a sexual relationship with his partner and claiming 900 quid a month extra for the privilege of a nice cosy close to the office shag instead of getting a train home or paying for a proper house or simply declaring his special interest.

I know you do but you cannot have it both ways Iain. It is a shame as I think he was an important cog in the wheel. But David Cameron should have asked each and every minister he appointed to cabinet if they wanted to declare anything that could come back to cause embarrassment in office and as a full cabinet minister of the crown.

I suggests he does this now and asks each one to put it in writing that they have nothing that could impede on their career. This can then be released at times of press speculation distancing the PM from any problems.

titus-aduxas said...

"PAAE must not be used to meet the costs of renting a property from yourself; a partner or family member (including a spouse or civil partner);..." - Current "Green Book"

"3.3.2.
You must avoid any arrangement which may give rise to an accusation that you are, or someone close to you is, obtaining an immediate benefit or subsidy from public funds"

"3.3.3.
ACA must not be used to meet the costs of a mortgage or for leasing accommodation from:
.............
a partner or family member."

-Both from the 2006 Green Book.

Iain, what part of those rules did David Laws not breach??

strokecityemboli said...

Laws helped buy the flat in 2007. Does that mean he's a part-owner. As a shadow owner was he entitled to claim public funds on the property?

cyberboris said...

http://cyberboris.wordpress.com/2010/05/29/we-need-david-laws/

David Laws absolutely should not stand down. If society was not so tough on anyone who does not conform to the narrow social stereotype set in stone by bigots, this would never have happened.

When will we have advanced enough as a society to let people just be themselves? And why is the Telegraph printing this NOW? It wouldn't be jealousy would it, because of Mr. Laws' brilliant performance in the House of Commons? David Laws is brilliant, he is uniquely qualified for the job he has been given and the circumstances regarding his expenses are far more understandable and forgiveable than most peoples, and they are still there, and they are not even sorry! We need him, it is not all his fault, he has apologised, paid back the money, let him keep his job and let's move on.

canvas said...

I think David Laws should stay. He is one of the best politicians of his generation. I don't believe he has a dishonest bone in his body either.

I hope the tory press don't persecute him. Laws is a private person and we should respect that. I hope public opinion is with Laws. He's a good egg.

Dungeekin said...

Despite being a fan of David Laws since he became Chief Sec, I don't think there's any question he has to go.

Whatever his reasons, however personally justifiable he felt they were, and however 'under' the maximum limit - he broke the rules. And there endeth any discussion on whether or not he should stay. Break the rules, you're out.

To attempt to remain in place would be seen as self-serving from his perspective, and to fail to sack him would open Cameron and Clegg to calls of weakness and hypocrisy.

If Laws goes straight away, under his own steam, he can do so with some dignity and people can then draw their own conclusions about why the Telegraph waited until now to try to destroy a man.

If he doesn't - then he could, I believe, do significant damage to the Coalition and their need to retain the moral and ethical high ground at present.

D

thehoatzin said...

Oh dear

the new politics? same as the old politics.

The rules say that you can't claim rent to pay a spouse, and you don't move house with your landlord!

Simple as that. He's ripped off £40,000 and tried to get away with it. It would have been more every year until he was discovered. There is not other interpretation of the rules.

He has to go. With a very big apology.

someday said...

He is a crook, a cheat and a fraudster.

Will make an excellent government minister.

The fact that he's also a homo won't do his prospects any harm either.

norman said...

@Jimmy and other Labour supporters. Laws has not committed any criminal offence as Mandelson did. Still Mandy was brought back to be the most powerful government minister and try to play the role to stictch up a colaition of losers. I am straight with a wife and a son, and I see this as the homophobic gutter prattle by the DT and some. Worse than that the Brown Broadcasting Coprporation in the name of Humphries was going on about Laws. Humphries, who never had a job outside this licence -sucking monolith dared not ask the Lord Sleaze whether it was proper for him to accept a ministerial post when he first appeared in R4. The coalition should trim BBC.
PM Cameron should keep Laws where he is, and let the Labour fret and fume.
There is a bigger agenda behind this by the Labour and their friends. PM Cameron should keep steady and if the commissioners clears Laws, he should stay. As for Alastatir Graham , a union fossil and a Labour supporter he should shut. He did enough damage in NI.

golden_balls said...

@John

Did you see iain on sky news what a sorry excuse he's become. He used to berate Labour Minister's for fiddling expenses and now he's become an apologist now his party is in government what a Hypocrite !

Using the fact that Laws is gay as an excuse is emotional drivel at best and shameful at worst.
So the gays are allowed to fiddle expenses to keep it secret ? i wish i'd known this.

btw on a different topic you looked different on tv rather rugged but please no more pink shirts.

Ronald said...

Fairbank 007

Yes he does have a right to privacy, he does not have the right to unlimited tax payers money.

If they are living in the same house and having sex I would count that as a reasonable definition of partners, irespective of who was paying money to the other.

Roger said...

My view is that David Laws has done the wrong thing, but this looks like a deliberate stitch up. The Telegraph had this stuff ages ago but chose not to use it until now. Why now? Possibly because Laws looks like he could be seriously useful as a Chief Secretary. And who will benefit from his departure?

I would put this in the "it all happened before the last election" category and tough it out to save a talented individual.

Martin Wellbourne said...

In answer to the question "How many partners pay each other rent" I would say "Quite a lot, if...", the qualification being that the rent needs to be actually paid by someone else. Similar arrangements are rife in benefit land - it's just a mechanism for moving state money into the clan coffers. It says nothing about how the participants regard one another.

Dan Sullivan said...

Thing is I think the issue or instruction about renting from partners or family is that you would in effect be benefiting yourself as you would be in a position to inherit if they were your partner. And there might be some upside to renting from yourself instead of paying the money directly towards a mortgage (though how I'm not sure)

What is odd about this is that he was perfectly entitled, under both the rules and the intention and spirit of the rules, to money towards a 2nd home in London as his main home is in his Yeovil constituency. And he claimed that, indeed had he used the money to buy himself a place there would be no problem at all. That he used it to rent from someone else would not be a problem either, but it becomes a problem when the person you are renting from is viewed as your partner. Why?

I think it would be to prevent you from claiming rent towards a place when you in effect already own or have access to the property for free. I presume there is some reason for this, but I can't think of what it is. Thing is that if there is no legal relationship with Mr. Lundie and if Mr. Laws was not due to inherit then viewing them as partners doesn't make sense. And if they were partners and David Laws was in effect contributing to the mortgage of a house he would eventually own then that's the same as claiming the 2nd home allowance towards the purchase of a house. Again how is that a problem?

It looks to me more like a situation that falls between the cracks of the rules but which isn't in breach of the spirit of them. Odd one.

Jules said...

sorry iain but he's no better than jacqui smith, feathering the nest of his kith and kin. the expensesgate juggernaut rolls on. talented or no, canny or no, gay or no, the man has to go; cameron needs to act swiftly and unambiguously and laws must resign or be sacked after the bank holiday. it's a shame. attempts to whitewash stuff like this will play very badly with us. the taxpayers. excision of the guilty is the only way forward.

Grand_Inquisitor said...

Clegg made a big thing about a 'new politics' and cleaning up Westminster. In that light, Laws ought to stand down from his Post. The credibility problem has now switched to focussing on Cameron & Clegg and their actions.

It's a pity, because I thought Laws was settling in well to dealing with the economic problem we have.

Dan Sullivan said...

Kevin "He has made financial gain because he invested in the bigger property that his partner then bought."

but if he was co-owner and was claiming for a mortgage instead of rent then he'd be above board wouldn't he? So he's at a financial loss to have claimed rent for a property it would appear he had no interest in when he could have claimed it as a mortgage and benefited.

norman said...

@golden balls. More like graniteballs a person can have! Why can't these hyperventilating creagtures wait for the commissioner's report. The very same people accepted Baroness Scotland's bevaviour. If I were Cameron, I would sit it out. These hypos will never accept a Con-Libdem coalition even if thius had not broken out. Strange bedfellows they have become-UKIP+Labour+ BBC+ DT + any loonies.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

David Laws has apparently broken the rules on claiming expenses for monies paid to partners for renting a flat. I don't think this is in any doubt. Laws admits wrongdoing and is paying it back.

What complicates this is the somewhat emotive issue of his homosexuality. His defense is that he wished to keep secret his relationship with another man, and consequently did not declare that he was renting from a partner. Two wrongs, however, do not make a right. Firstly, he has been less than honest about his private life, and this would not have been much of an issue were it not for the fact that the claim for expenses was predicated on it.

In order to make sense of this one must try and separate the two strands of this story. But like DNA they are a double helix, of deceit and subterfuge.What many commenters are struggling with today is the inability of the issue to untangle the two strands; our heads tell us he is culpable, and must go, our hearts tell us otherwise.

Goodwin said...

Oh purleaze! Nothing changes. He's fiddled his expenses. He got caught. He's badly mislead and let down his constituents and his country. This isn't France, Greece or Italy. He has to go.

JMB said...

What would the reaction me to a male heterosexual MP renting a room from his mistress and claiming it on expenses but not admitting to his relationship with her because they were both "intensely private people"?

Jorge said...

No matter what happens, some people will be unhappy.

Just make him pay a large-ish fine, and scrutinise his and his partner's tax returns and if anything is amiss, deal with them according to current practice.

Now that he's outed, he can get into a civil partnership. We can consider him married from that day.

Pass a recall bill quickly and if his constituents don't like his actions, they can recall him.

Kiera Hardie said...

Iain, the only defence anyone's making that cuts any ice is that if we weren't in a homophobic society and Mr Laws felt safer and freer to be open about this, he's have declared his situation.

In an earlier post I drew the link between a rich man gathering £40k in parliamentary expenses, and a poor man misrepresenting his situation to the benefits authorities.

It is a criminal offence, by the way, not just to misrepresent, but even to fail to disclose a material fact when claiming a welfare benefit, and such failure is punishable by up to seven years in prison.

If the poor man got caught, the DWP fraud investigators would not be impressed by the argument that we live in a homophobic society. He would be prosecuted, he would be had up in court, and his personal life and relationships would be common knowledge. The BBC might even feature in one of those now commonplace "scrounger" documentaries.

Mhy should a millionaire parliamentarian be subject to a lesser standard of scrutiny than a poor man failing to disclose to the DWP hat he has a partner in work, leading to him getting welfare benefits?

Because he's a decent chap, well spoken, good at his job?

Roger Thornhill said...

" did not treat each other as spouses - for example we do not share bank accounts and indeed have separate social lives."

Oh Please. Pull the other one. If his partner was female there would be no defending him.

Laws is in our legislature. He should have the Rule of Law flowing through his veins. It seems not.

DiscoveredJoys said...

We've just suffered 13 years of allegedly corrupt behaviour supposedly justified by 'spin'. Do we really want to continue with that 'one rule for us and another rule for ordinary people' elitist bullshit? I don't.

Do we really want to send a confused message to new MPs about the degree of 'forgiveness' available to rule breakers? I don't.

I do recognise that Laws seems to be an able man in a key position - but he would have to be replaced if he was run over by a bus. I would like some way to be found for him to be 'rehabilitated' quickly, but we need the censure first.

Morlock said...

One man is merely accused* of misusing public money, and Iain goes ballistic.

Another actually admits to such misuse, and apparently walks on water.

Principles. I guess the only one that matters is the principle that "you're own" are exempt from them.

---
* Any further news: was Mike on leave or not?

KCB said...

Saw the story and immediatly thought of this:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Laws, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Laws.

The noble Media hath told you Laws was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Laws answer'd it.
Here, under leave of the Media and the rest
For the Media is an honorable man;
So are they all, all honorable men

He hath brought many cuts home to London
Whose work did the Chancellor coffers fill:
Did this in Laws seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Laws hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet the Media says he was ambitious;
And the Media is an honorable man.

I speak not to disprove what the Media spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Laws,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

But yesterday the word of Laws might
Have stood against the world; now lies he there.
And none so poor to do him reverence.
O masters, if I were disposed to stir
Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,
I should the media do wrong, and the left wrong,
Who, you all know, are honorable men.

longrun2 said...

No-one can claim there was anything wrong with the claims prior to 2006. If David Laws had not claimed for the rent when the rules changed in 2006 he would have outed himself. If he had bought the house and James Lundie had been his "tenant" Mr Laws' claims for larger sums of money would have been accepted without question. The claims were for the necessary cost of living in London during Parliamentary sessions.
Mr Laws should have stopped claiming in 2006 even if Mr Lundie did not meet the definition of a partner* because, as titu-aduxas says,
"3.3.2.
You must avoid any arrangement which may give rise to an accusation that you are, or someone close to you is, obtaining an immediate benefit or subsidy from public funds"
It has indeed given rise to an accusation (similar accusations were made about Gordon Brown's cleaning bills).
I regard this as an error of judgement but not an attempt to defraud and I (neither gay nor LibDem) should be sorry to seem him forced out by a 'dirty tricks' campaign.
*Only Messrs Laws and Lundie know whether or not he did.

Gallimaufry said...

How very dare he!
Am I the only one to suspect the shitty stick of the pro-Labour Cable and Hughes in this affair?
It makes me laugh to hear the MPs squeal that the guidelines on claiming expenses are soooo vague and complicated and therefore awkward problems like this are bound to happen. Who drew up and approved the guidelines? Parliament. What's the odds that any CGT changes will favour the unique hardship of MPs and peers who simply must have second homes subsidized by the taxpayer.

Victor Southern said...

His own statement tells us that he had a direct financial interest, by way of investment, in the home where he claimed for rent paid. That is not then a grey area in expenses but possibly a question of fraudulent claiming.

Let us not drag the matter of his sexuality across the trail - the sex of his partner and landlord is of no relevance to the apparent offence.

It will be hard for Laws to remain in high office.

golden_balls said...

@norman

you said

"Why can't these hyperventilating creagtures wait for the commissioner's report" is that what the Tories said in the last parliament ? no they demanded they should stand down while being investigated. whats changed ?

Paul Halsall said...

None of this is the problem.

The problem is that this government is intent on pushing millions of people who are living on #92 a week (Incapacity) benefit, which is no luxury, but just about possible, to Jobseeker's allowance at #64 a week, which is more or less impossible to live on.

Laws is an already very very rich man, and he joined a government where the first order or of business is to reduced the income of the unemployed *even when there are no jobs*.

I'm sorry he he felt the need to stay in the closet, but he deserves to face the pain that he his all to willing to inflict on others.

PIENOMICS said...

It seems to me that David Laws has done the taxpayer a favour. If he had rented an apartment on the open market the cost would have been much greater.

What intrigues me much more is the timing of the announcement. I smell the dirty hand of Labour spin doctors in this.

Politics really is a very dirty business.

maxy said...

How can you possibly argue that he should stay. If it were a Labour minister you would be jumping on your high horse. Is it not interesting that those who adopt a holier than than pose turn out to be the most duplicitous. Hiding behind this privacy facade is no excuse. If he were a beneift claimant, he would have been up before the magistrates on charges of fraud. If he were a truly honourable man, he would go and go now. Issuing a grovelling apology now is too little, too late and has come because he has been caught out. Go Mr Laws and go now!!! Men of principle and given that he is a very wealthy man do not behave in such a way!!!!

maxy said...

How can you possibly argue that he should stay. If it were a Labour minister you would be jumping on your high horse. Is it not interesting that those who adopt a holier than than pose turn out to be the most duplicitous. Hiding behind this privacy facade is no excuse. If he were a beneift claimant, he would have been up before the magistrates on charges of fraud. If he were a truly honourable man, he would go and go now. Issuing a grovelling apology now is too little, too late and has come because he has been caught out. Go Mr Laws and go now!!! Men of principle and given that he is a very wealthy man do not behave in such a way!!!!

thehoatzin said...

reminded me of a Hunter S. Thompson quote about Nixon:

"He was queer in the deepest way."

STFC Executive said...

you hypocrite

STFC Executive said...

You hypocrite.

STFC Executive said...

hypocrite

STFC Executive said...

hypocrite

STFC Executive said...

hypocrite

STFC Executive said...

hypocrite

STFC Executive said...

why not print Lundie's address? a quick WHOIS search usually does the trick for you. YOU HYPOCRITE

STFC Executive said...

Dale - why not telephone Lundie's employers - put em right on what the little tinker's been up to? YOU HYPOCRITE

STFC Executive said...

CAMPAIGN FOR LAWS TO BE SACKED OR FOREVER BE A HYPOCRITE

AncientBriton said...

http://ancientbritonpetros.blogspot.com/2010/05/bedroom-farce_29.html

Aboodi Shabi said...

Another typically good piece from you.

Nadeem said...

"The first thing to say is that there appears to have been no financial gain."

I guess the 40k just vanished in the thin air, this was corruption plain and simple, and to think it would have got away with it.. if it wasnt for those pesky kids!