A short extract from my MoS column...
David Laws is hardly the only gay in the Westminster Village. But he is perhaps the only one who thought his relationship could escape the glare of media scrutiny.
This rather quaint belief might have been reasonable had he not been thrust into the public limelight as a Cabinet Minister. After all, a backbench Lib Dem MP in a gay relationship is almost considered par for the course.
But through his stellar performance as Chief Secretary to the Treasury during the first three weeks of the coalition, Laws made himself a target.
Firstly, he made public the private note left on his desk by his predecessor, Liam Byrne, which said: ‘I’m afraid to tell you there’s no money left.’
And secondly, he pulled out of Question Time last week after Labour refused to withdraw Alastair Campbell as its spokesman on the programme.
This accusation may be way off beam, but it wouldn’t at all surprise me if somebody’s tricks department had tipped off The Daily Telegraph about the nature of his relationship with James Lundie and it was that which provoked them to trawl through their expenses files again.
Now, when I say 'somebody'... Conspiracy theory, or?
I'm with you, Iain. Something is not right...either labour spin doctors or tory old guard. Dunno. but it is very sad. bring Laws back!
One last shot from the grave from Alastair Campbell.
The gay thing still isn't the story. The money is.
To be honest, it's pretty scandalous that someone who can plainly afford the fairly modest rent on his second home claims it back from the public purse anyway, regardless of what he does with his landlord.
The last three pars probably aren't far from the truth, mind.
Lovely article in the Sunday edition of the Mail Iain. I posted yesterday that this tale has a strong stench of Campbell about it. How was Campbell able to produce a photo of David Laws at the end of QT? Every cloud has a silver lining. If my hunch is correct, maybe we'll see the back of Campbell and his like. That would be very good news. But who the hell is Danny Alexander?Surely someone like John Redwood would have been much more qualified for the job?
Shouldn't you have told the truth, Dave?
I think this was a witchhunt from the part of the Telegraph. I say: let's put the pathetic rag in boycott.
We've read it and it's a mad conspiracy. Calm down. Perhaps better to look more closely at the 'events' he's hosted recently at the Commons also.Face it, he's a shifty little operator who's got his comeuppance: more to come, one hopes.
Rumours have it that he was being considered intially for the Dept of Education . . . . at what point did the spooks step in and brief Iggle-Piggle and Nicky the Lonely Puppy?
David Laws and the Lib Dems are finding that the worst enemies are the ones closest to you.
Lets just say .....who had form just before the election for smearing Clegg?
I wonder if Simon Hughes is involved? We already know what he is prepared to do to win power.
Iain, (1) Was he right to resign?
(2) Does it surprise you how little understanding/sympathy the Telegraph and the Mail have shown of Laws' predicament?
(3) Will this first scalping now energise the enemies of the coalition (incl. those within the Conservatives) to work to undermine it any way they can?
It wouldn't surprise me in the least that a Judas was involved. Another point - most support for him seems to have come from media sources while most MPs have remained silent.
I wonder why?:
"Nothing to do with me, guv."
"There but for the grace of God"
"We've all been away for the weekend and had our phones switched off."
I don't follow that Tweetie thing - was much said there by anyone of importance?
Hardly a conspiracy, Mrs Dale. The Lib Dems are sanctimonious tossers and want to tax us to oblivion.
Mandelson took their chutney ferret down. That is politics, me old china.
Oh look everyone. I think Lassie's trying to tell us something.
I should like to propose an alternate "Mad Conspiracy Theory".
When the coalition begins to announce the ministers and SpADs The Telegraph begins to sift through the expenses information looking for dirt. While generally "aware" of Mr. Laws' sexual orientation they either cannot verify it or it is a step too far for the editorial staff. The Laws article is done and dusted Monday and is waiting for the go-no go on the sexuality angle (which does not come though) and the all-clear from the solicitor.
Sometime Tuesday a mate of Allistair Campbell calls him and tells him about the piece. Campbell, aware of Laws' sexuality, pulls some strings, calls in favours and gets himself onto Question Time using his upcoming book as a pretext. His intent - to out David Laws in-person live on national television.
No. 10 finds out Wednesday about Mr. Campbell's scheme. Cameron and a group of advisors from both coalition parties come up with a plan. If they can persuade the BBC to drop Campbell from the program, Mr Laws can go on-air as scheduled and they can kick the problem down the road. If Campbell is not dropped then they order Laws not to appear. They may or may not tell Laws about Campbell's intentions.
This is complete conjecture, of course. I don't even know if Mr. Campbell could be capable of such actions. But, does anyone know if there is staff on The Telegraph who knew Alistair Campbell during his Mirror days? Or how long ago he was booked for Thursday's Question Time?
As the kids over here remark "I'm just sayin'"
So why would Labour stop trying to wreck the country just because they no longer hold office ?
Those countries who have more violent revolutions have a point.
You are thinking what I am thinking! Who'se fingerprints do you see all over this?
There's no 'or'.
Mad conspiracy theory.
What a load of Balls...!
Come off it! Do you really think if his partner had been a woman, no one would have minded him renting a flat from her?
Some body from the left of the LibDems?
Some body who resigned one post to ensure another leftie got a seat at the table ?
Somebody who didn't get the leadership?
Somebody who comes across as a little bitter?
That person would have secretly want to destroy the leadership?
That person would have to be merciless?
Matey boy Alastair Campbell (never elected ) was on Question Time primarily to promote his new book.
This brings shame on the BBC, the integrity of Question Time should now be questioned.
Some day soon he will get his slap that Adam 'Big Fella' Boulton seemed to be squaring up to deliver.
Just read the column.
"We must beware of moving to a situation where only single, white, rich, straight, blameless males can go into politics, because believe me, that’s where we’re heading"
Persecution complex much? Come on Iain, not exactly one of your greatest fans here but you can manage better than this boilerplate Guardianista stuff.
Conspiracy theory or not, somebody in the greenhouse threw a very large brick provided by the owner.
Theory, no. Mad, no.
The facts if evidence could be found, yes it was all Alastair Campbell's doing and he should be pilloried for it, if not shot ;-)
Iain thats a step to far, what we should be talking about is the fact that he had the moral fiber to resign in very sharp contrast with the last lot.
You wouldn't happen to mean someone who very recently accused David Laws of 'over-groomedness' - a euphemism which really does take us back to a very long-vanished age of Fleet Street hacks and their very long lunches? Or, for that matter, someone who recently accused Mr Laws of 'facing both ways with ease', nudge nudge, know what I mean?
No, I thought not. It would be terrible to think there was a talented media manipulator out there with far too much free time these days ... hope you're wrong, though, for what it's worth.
Why don't you just say who?
The dark lord has benefited from a media blackout of his "arrangement" - maybe it's time that changed.
Outing for outing sake (even with disguise of expences which was actually a bargain deal for the tax payer compared to what he could of claimed if all was known) is just not a done thing- and shame to the telegraph to pretend it was otherwise...
Erm - yes, because the Daily Telegraph have always been in Alastair Campbell's pocket haven't they?
If you're looking for any kind of conspiracy theory I think the fact that Cameron has mightily upset the right wing of his own party, many of whom did not support a coalition in the first place, is probably a more significant factor than question time or Laws' sense of humour failure.
You can hardly accuse the Telegraph of letting Labour off lightly in the expenses furore so it seems unlikely they would voluntarily reactivate it. There is probably a lot more where this came from.
Actually I think this time the govt has got off lightly. If this story had broken later it could have been much worse.
The same thing struck me, I have to say. It sounds like somebody has stitched him up.
Incidentally, on the one hand I think that given the expenses system had such inadequate and pathetic rules, any time you break one of the few explicit rules it did have you are going to be in trouble and deservedly so, on the other I think he was put in an invidious position by the changing of the rules, and was left to negotiate a path through them on his own, which he did to the benefit of the taxpayer rather than the cost.
I also don't think we can afford to lose people of intelligence, competence, integrity and quality over such matters in the face of the current crisis. So if somebody did stitch him up to either settle a political score or stop him lifting the public sector rock they were hiding under, I very much hope they get theirs.
We shall never know Ian, but at least he has restored some measure of trust in the system by falling on sword, unnecessary though it was. After all, Labour members did far far worse and held on to their positions in the past.
He'll be back at some point in the future, if the coalition goes the full term. He's too talented to be left out.
I too have had been thinking along the same lines (I would not be surprised if there are some people trained in the dark arts behind this).
I think the media have a lot to answer for: it was essentially a witch hunt that threatens the stability of government. have the media stopped to think that this country has now lost an expectional talent in the government that would have done the necessary work to cut the deficit in the fairest way possible?
As an ordinary member of the general public I cannot understand why he has resigned. As an MP for Yeovil, he would need to have a pad in london. If his partner was paying the mortgage then David Laws would have to contribute by paying rent - this would be the usual course of action for the rest of us.
£900 for a room is a bargain. Has anyone stopped to think about the alternative that would have cost the taxpayer more?
Can we bury once and for all the notion that this is anything to do with him being gay. He had his hand in the till. He rented rooms where he could have stayed free of charge and claimed the cost from the taxpayer. That's fiddling and would be fiddling if his partner was a woman.
Nothing to do with privacy either: stay private, don't claim.
Of course you're right!
When David Laws says he did not join the Conservatives because of "Section 28" - it was hardly a surprise to find he was gay. (Like Peter Mandelson being on the Board of Stonewall.)
When Tony Blair goes to Mass with his wife for years - why is it a surprise he become a Catholic!
Nevertheless, anyone in the public eye should just assume that any secrets they have will become public!
Also all those Labour MPs who hid their sexuality from the public (but not the press) should also be outed.
It's starting to remind me of a Very British Coup! (But without raving lefties in power)
The leaked letter, the QT pull-out and the fiddled expenses were all unforced errors. His judgement is as flawed as yours Dale.
Given we're talking about Alastair Campbell, I can't help but think that you're close to the truth, Iain.
Pam - why would right-wingers want to bring Laws down? He was crucial to the spending cuts that right-wing Tories support.
Whoever fired the bullet, David Laws was the architect of his own downfall. He wrongly claimed expenses for three years, apparently in an attempt to keep his private life private, but he was magically able to restructure those claims last year without his personal life being publicised. He broke the rules and his position was untenable. Would you have defended a Labour minister in the same way?
Conspiracy? Of Course!
Theory? "a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena"? - well it don't fit the bill!
Mad Conspiracy Reality is far near the mark!
"over-groomedness"? Aint heard that one since some hacks got stitched up by a phantom tailor - oh so long ago!
Janus - The Two Faced God, facing both ways - or should that read Two Faced Old Hack? Maybe someone has forgotten to look at themselves in The Mirror!
Old Holborn has a reasonable take:
"My theory, for what it is worth is that David Laws has had a visit from MI5 who always do a background check on new ministers to see if they are open to blackmail or any other threat. Looks like they may have caught a live one."
(He then starts lurching towards unsurprising homophobia..but that's, unsurprising.)
@ no longer anonymous - you know that word 'tribal' that keeps being bandied around? The assumption that underpins my comments is that this is 'tribalism' from the right of the Tory party who want nothing to do with a ConDem coalition whatever it may appear to deliver.
Ascribing it to Alastair Campbell is a handy get out clause but why should Labour be interested in destabilising the coalition at this point? They're in the middle of a leadership election.
I have some sympathy for David Laws because the situation he is in this weekend is a horrible one for anyone - he has lost his dream job when he'd hardly got his feet under the table and has had to come out under duress. Tough times for him whatever the rights/wrongs of the situation.
However I really don't buy into this 'the country needs him' stuff. If the pool of political talent and expertise within the coalition is so shallow then they'll be lucky to stay in power for 5 months let alone 5 years. Neither getting a double first at Cambridge nor being a millionaire banker guarantee that someone will have either political nouse or probity and those are two things that are going to be needed to see through the cuts. He's arguably demonstrated a lack of both. So in many ways I think the coalition has had a lucky escape for this to come out before he got his teeth into the cuts.
It appears that he's had to be replaced by a LibDem rather than the best person for the job. That does show up the limitations of the coalition rather starkly at a very early stage IMO.
I feel we should know more why The Telegraph choose to break the story now! I also suspect Campbell, by the way why did the BBC Politics Show give him so much free PR for his book?
The way The Mail has handled the story and yes about his personal life is a disgrace. Only for wanting to let the story fade, if I was Mr J Lundie I would take the matter up with the PCC, but after the handling of the death of Stephen Gately, I doubt it would make any difference, they seem to be a law to themselves.
I did say this coalition was going to be hilarious...
brilliant mind, my arse!
how thick could he have been in the first place to have done it, and then he tried to wriggle out of it by saying the bloke he's been boffing for untold years isn't his partner.
The problem is not that Laws is gay. The problem is that he wrongfully gave £40,000 of public money to his partner. That would have been equally culpable for any partner.
I grant that repaying when the expenses scandal was at its height might have put his sexuality in the limelight. On the other hand, as Simon Hughes found when his having previously denied being gay scuppered his chance at the leadership, it is better to say such things when one is not in the limelight than for them to blow uop when one is. I suspect the Telgraph may have a number of other things to tell about the LDs which weren't worth the space when the party was nowhere but are now.
My money's on Simon Hughes, overseen by The Merciless One...
Certain senior LibDems are still not that happy about the whole coalition deal. Whilst Simon Hughes is a good candidate for a power grab, a couple of past leaders of the party are still sulking!
Maybe the evil Campbell used his satanic powers to hack into Iain's blog to post batshit insane conspiracy theories to make him look like a paranoid loon? I mean what with him being evil and all-powerful and that? Can we prove he didn't?
I do not normally subscribe to conspiracy theories. However, there is something "not right" about this affair. Frankly, I would not be surprised if the merchants of the gutter, working for squalid labour are behind this.
A good start would be for the bbc to become a subscription service.
Bring back David laws. Soon.
You still don't understand do you. The gay thing is everything as without it there is NO story or fiddle.
There was nothing to find in his expense claims UNTIL someone tipped off the media that his landlord was also his secret lover.
I wonder which photograph bandying piece of crap that might have been then?
First it was a tragedy that such talented person was being forced out of office. Then it was all because he is homosexual that he is being forced out of office. Now it is a mad conspiracy theory.
Anything but the truth eh? He fiddled his expenses.
Laws will return. I insist upon it. And soon.
Whether or not David Laws leaves Parliament, has not a newspaper found an ideal solution to the present problem that, with no Fleet Street columnist who writes from within the life and subculture of the Lib Dems, that party of government is exempt from an important form of scrutiny? One of the more rightish papers, obviously. For example, The Daily Telegraph.
Cambell's first shot in the New War. Just wait and see.
OH's theory, posted here and elsewhere, was that it would have been MI5 while doing their vetting.
The ironic thing about this, as pointed out on your phone-in, is that if he had gone halves on the mortgage with Lundie he could have legitimately claimed a lot more. So he only broke the rules on a technicality. The law of unintended consequences and all that.
Laws sealed his fate when he revealed the contents of Liam Byrne's letter. It was the iconic statement of the year but also it showed some political naivety on Laws' part as it openly humiliated Byrne and Labour, not something that Campbell/Mandelson would let him get away with. If Laws had stayed at the Treasury, he would have uncovered all sorts of financial disasters left behind by Labour. Campbell wasn't going to let all that face public scrutiny.
"One last shot from the grave from Alastair Campbell."
Wish he was in his grave. The ghoul still walks the earth.
Slightly OT perhaps but I'd like to draw attention to the comments on David Laws in the Guardian blogs. Now there's a bunch of nasty old people, if you like, giving full rein to a splendid range of spluttering indignation, bigotry and plain boneheadness. The Grauniad is evidently the new Daily Mail.
This has to be the most insane thread I have read yet on this blog.
Who was it that conspired to get Laws to claim the £40 000?
Perhaps Mandy forged his signature aided by sinister agents from European Union and a dalek?
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