Saturday, May 29, 2010

More Thoughts on David Laws

LBC listeners were split this morning on the David Laws issue. Some phoned in with some very tough words for him but others were more sympathetic. There seems to be a font of goodwill towards the coalition. People wish it well. If David Laws survives, it will be because of that.

When Ken Livingstone came into the studio to trail his programme he said he couldn't understand why Laws would keep quiet about his sexuality "in this day and age". I understand only too well. I did the same thing for a number of years and only 'came out' (I hate that expression) to family and friends when I was 40. No one can understand how difficult it is, telling your parents that the person they thought they knew is actually someone else. Sort of. Everyone told me: "They will already know, you'll see". No, I replied. I know my parents. And I was right. They hadn't got a clue.

I will never forget that day, even though on many occasions I have wanted to. I'm glad I did it, but I know it was a tremendous shock to my mother and we have never discussed it since. So when David Laws explains why he wanted to keep everything private I understand only too well. The only reason was because he didn't want to hurt those closest to him, especially his mother. That's the thing about us gayers, we'll do anything to avoid hurting our mothers :).

Furthermore, those who accuse Laws of exploiting the taxpayer would do well to remember that he clearly didn't gain from the rental arrangement he had. He paid £950 pcm for renting a room in Kennington. I know this is a bargain as I looked to do exactly the same thing in Kennington last year but decided I couldn't afford it. If he had moved into a one bedroom flat the taxpayer would have been paying far more. If Laws was seeking to maximise his income he would have either designated his Somerset home as his second home and claimed for the mortgage on that, or he would have bought a property in London and claimed for that. He didn't, and yet he's being mercilessly slagged off.

What we have done here is create a system where MPs are now, on average, claiming far more than they used to before.

A lot will be written about the definition of the word 'partner' and whether David Laws has broken the spirit, if not the letter, of the 2006 regulations. It may well be that he will be forced from office because of it if the Standards Commissioners decides against him. If that is the case we all need to take a long hard look at what has been done in our name to our political system. When fundamentally good and decent people like David Laws are drummed out of office we all need to sit up, take notice and ask how we have let it come to this.

And spare a thought for James Lundie. He never asked for this. His anguish will be as great, if not greater, than that of his partner.


Unknown said...

I'm slightly confused by the entire "expenses fiddling" part of the story.

Didn't David Cameron claim £20,000 a year to pay for a house he and his wife owned?

Why is this different from David Laws claiming £11,400 a year to pay for rent in a house with his partner?

If David Laws resigns, does that mean David Cameron has to go as well? How many other members of the Cabinet will also have to go?

Are people angry because he kept his relationship secret? What are people saying he should resign for, exactly? Because he claimed expenses from the wrong box on the form?

The reporting from the BBC and the Telegraph on this story has been disgusting.

strapworld said...

I was greatly moved by this Iain.
Your great anguish came across. As a straight man I do understand and sympathise with you and other homosexuals in that position.

Livingstone may well say 'this day and age' but it was not that long ago when it was unlawful, unnatural etc and many people still view it that way.

Laws is, I believe, a decent man and I also hope he is supported and survives. He is essential to this coalition.

I am afraid that I cannot lose the feeling of foul play by the telegraph and others who want to kill this coalition. It was interesting to read of the comments to your programme this morning. It is the same on the blogosphere.

I have made the comment that the cabinet is full of expense cheats. Gove. Cameron. Clegg, Letwin, Fox, Maude etc. etc. so there is no such thing as a new kind of politics is there?

Well writen.

golden_balls said...

Don't go down the emotional route iain when you didn't when it came to Labour scandals.
Many people are affected when these arise children included but that didn't stop the Tory press and supporters demanding scalps.

I see the use of the Gay card as being disgraceful by you and others. To class someone who you've had a relationship with for nine years as anything other than being a partner is ridiculous.

I find your Hypocrisy breathtaking.

Tom said...

Why couldn't he have just *not* claimed a second homes allowance?

The one thing that really riles me about this is the sheer quantity of postcards and letters and leaflets I got shoved through my door telling me how all the Tory and Labour MPs were evil expenses abusers and only the saintly Lib Dems could rescue politics. (Almost as annoying as the Lib Dem leaflets telling everyone it was a "two horse race" between them and Labour - when in fact they came third in my constituency and Labour came third in the other one I briefly worked in.)

Kalvis Jansons said...

As always your comments are food for thought.

Clearly, even if he did break the rules, it is not on the scale of many other MPs. The system needs fixing.

It is a very sad situation for sure!

Bloomingpouf said...

Not so sure about the term "Gayers" - but it seems that when sex, money, sexualities and politics get into bed together, the media orgy is not a pleasant sight!

Has David L done wrong? Well probably! Did he mean to do it - well probably that too! Did he do it out of malice? Not likely!

Did he do it due to love? Looks that way!

Coming Out is never easy and a very individual, and in so many ways, private matter! I know so many people who came out 20+ years ago, and they have been ostracised by families ever since. The same still occurs today! Shocking aint it!

The media may love the Media Savvy Pouf and Outrageous Celeb, but they are only one face of Queer Culture - and the media should stop being so two faced about it!

Antisthenes said...

I hope David Laws survives, one because he is an asset to the government so by extension to the country. Also he comes across as a decent human being and I find it hard to believe his deception was motivated other than from what he said it was and was not done for personal gain or greed. This cannot be said of much of opposition ministers when they were in power and found to be up to their necks in sleaze and nefarious wrong doings but still remained in office. It is unfortunate the government does not boast a Mandelson or Campbell to spin this into the long grass on the other hand who other than Labour would want such mendacious obfuscating creeps in their party.

Anonymous said...

Anyway, what I'm thinking now is, he is single and adult, who he sleeps with is really his own concern. Maybe they were friends with benefits, no string, even if it did go on a long time. But he genuinely might have considered it that they were not partners.

Sorry to be so blunt, but why the heck shouldn't he have a relationship like that, they are not hurting anybody.

If it was that sort of thing, he is in the clear, and it is nobody's business but the two people concerned. People have all sorts of relationships these days, we aren't children.

Anonymous said...

I do not agree with LBC allowing Ken Livingstone to use his show as a campaign platform for his possible pitch for Mayor. He is biased and uses his normal trick of putting up false statistics to make his party political points.

Span Ows said...

He must be treated as all the others. If that means he keeps his position, or not, then so be it. That said, if Cameron and the Coalition as a whole came out (oops!) and said he has been sacked/he has resigned then that would add to the impression that things have changed...and they need to be seen to change.

Anonymous said...

mr lundie may not have asked for this, but he was quite happy to trouser taxpayer's money, wasn't he?

i'm sorry Iain but this is just wrong. i have no interest in where laws chooese to place his genitalia.....if this was a woman he had been secretly subsidising with our money my reaction would be entirely the same. he has stolen our money by lying and now is sickeningly equivocating over the precise definition of partner......if you share a home with someone for nearly a decade whilst in a sexual relationship with them they are your partner.

unless bizarrely he is attempting to claim it was only a sexual relationship because money changed hands? that is the only construction that can be placed on his claims....i lived with him, gave him money and we had sex, but we are not is ridiculous and deceitful.

it is a shame, as he clearly is extremely able, and seems to be the only libdem who even vaguley understands the level of trouble our finnaces are in. ut a lying thief is a lying thief

Anonymous said...

I do not agree with LBC allowing Ken Livingstone to use his show as a campaign platform for his possible pitch for Mayor. He is biased and uses his normal trick of putting up false statistics to make his party political points.

Alex said...

Iain, please spare us all the touchie-feelie arguments, particularly James Lundie's feelings (if he rented a property to an MP knowing that the costs were covered by the tax payer then he knew exactly what was going on). I don't care whether Laws is a good MP, cabinet member or minister (at least not for these purposes) and any judgement of him should be entirely objective and not the ligh of the wider political implications.

But that is not to say I think Laws did anything wrong (unwise maybe but not wrong). The fact is that he and his friend had no legal connection other than a lease of property and in the terms of the rules that makes them no different than any other landlord and tenant.

Is there anything in the parliamentary rule book saying an MP may not claim rental expenses if they sleep (well, not exactly sleeping), with their landlord? Thought not.

Old Holborn said...

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. If Laws was using taxpayers money to buy a flat "for his friend" to keep his homosexuality a secret, was it a voluntary arangement?

He could of course have reported himself to IPSA last year, not last night. I have to wonder why.

Lord Blagger said...

Iain. No one cares who he screws in his private life apart from a few nutters.

However, when he screws me financialy, it does matter.

That's what he's guilty of. He broke the rules. Since he signed the document to obtain the money and said it was in line with the rules at the time, in my opinion that is fraud.

Now if he can't be 'straight' (no pun intended) with his expenses, we can't trust him to do likewise with the public finances and what he tell us.

tainted goods.

DeeDee99 said...

If Laws had truly wanted to keep his sexuality private, he could have afforded to pay rent from his own money. He is a millionaire - probably a multi-millionaire. He was just another MP using the lax system of MPs expenses to claim for what he could. He probably could have claimed a lot more, as you say, if he had exploited the system even more. But that doesn't make it right.

The man he was living with was his partner ... few married or cohabiting couples these days share bank accounts or have social lives which depend on their partner. That is just an excuse. Do you really want the definition to be 'the person you reside with and are sh*gging.!'

Having said that, there are plenty of MPs who exploited the system far more than Laws. Many on the shadow front bench.

I think he should stay. He is doing a good job and the coalition Government and country needs him at the Treasury. He should repay the money and apologise for misleading the Expenses Clerks and then, depending on the findings of the Independent Commissioner, he should offer his resignation to Cameron. Cameron should discuss with Clegg, and should then refuse it - whilst making it very clear to the rest of the Coalition Ministers that if they have any 'nasty surprises' left relating to expenses, they should sort them out NOW.

Kevin Davis said...


I rarely disagree wit you but this is ridiculous.

Less than a month ago Laws fought an election where the only thing he put in his leaflets were re-elect me because I am a nice bloke and I did not fiddle my expenses. Therewas nothing else, not even policy, and he got Paddy Ashdown to write letters to everyone saying the same thing.

I like David and he has done a good job during the last few weeks but what he appears to be doing is using the sexuality argument as a smokescreen for the fact he clearly abused the system for personal gain (accepting that the personal gain was his partners and for a house Laws lent him money to buy).

Who he sleeps with is his problem but if a Conservative MP had paid to rent a room from someone it materialises he was sleeping with then that MP would not last five minutes.

The fact is David was elected by claiming one thing and doing another.

Declaration of Interest - I was his Tory oppo at the last election.

Treacle said...

Like David Laws, I spent decades in the closet. Then in the 1990s, in my 30s, I told my friends and then my family. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I had got to the point where I used cry when I woke up because I was still alive. Telling others made it possible for me to carry on. And yet I lost half my friends as a result, and it destroyed the relationship I had with my father. And, while I don't mind people knowing I am gay, I am still afraid to tell them. I do not expect Ken Livingstone or anyone who is not gay to understand this.

So, I feel every sympathy with David Laws. It feels as if we are back to the 70s, when the newspapers would announce that someone was gay and their life and career would be ruined overnight.

But despite all this, I am outraged at what David Laws has done. If his partner had a house and he was living there with him, there were no rental expenses that needed to be paid, and none should have been claimed. It's as if husbands and wives were to charge each other rent. Clearly, rent was only charged because it could be claimed back from the taxpayer. That is dishonest, and it is also against the rules. To claim that the partner was not really a partner because they did not tell anyone is just a sophistry, and a feeble one. It must have been how David Laws justified the dishonesty to himself, but it won't wash.

David Laws has swindled the taxpayer of a truly staggering sum of money. The fact that he has had a difficult time of being gay is enormously sad, but is irrelevant to the basic point. He must at least resign as a minister, and I think there is also a strong case for his resigning as an MP as well.

Neil A said...

This is an awful situation. Possibly the best (on the evidence so far) member of the Coalition cabinet is likely to be shown the door because of an economic culture that, in my view, takes an unacceptable interest in the sex lives of claimants. It's not just in the context of MPs expenses. It extends into the whole spread of "entitlements". Anything you can claim based on your own circumstances or income tends to be immediately lost if you have sex with someone who has more money than you. My girlfriend is entitled to no state help whatsoever as a single mother raising two children (apart from Child Benefit and, literally, a few pounds of Child Tax Credit). That is entirely based on the fact that she agrees to entertain me in the bedroom from time to time. If she simply rented a couple of rooms in my house she would suddenly be entitled to state support running into the thousands per annum. This creates a situation where it is a perfectly legitimate question for a police officer, HMRC or DWP investigator to enquire as to whether you are having sex with a particular person. That is a question that in any other context would be considered a quite appalling breach of your ECHR Right to a Private Life. As galling as it might be to have to pay out some benefits to the idle WAGs and other unwaged partners of the wealthy, I would much rather see a situation where every individual was treated as just that for the purposes of tax and benefits. Who sticks what, where and in whom is not something the state is entitled to know.

Hamish said...

David Laws has to go, Iain.
Well done for standing up for him.
It is because you are gay yourself and understand what pressures he was under. Not because there is a gay mafia.

I've dipped my nose into a few blogs this morning, and was apalled by the degree of homophobia being shown. Not just the pervasive sexual filth.

But things like: why did he have a problem with coming out? We all knew the place he was brought up in was rife with luvvies and poofs.

When this story broke, it was obvious he had to go. Cameron and Clegg should not have said: after you Claude, no after you Cecil. And Laws should have resigned instantly.

Unknown said...

Agree! Would that all comments on this were so connsistent, humane and articulate.

Unknown said...

Agree! Would that all thoughts on this were so consistent, humane and articulate.

Mick Turatian said...

Much better to have had an affair with one's landlord than to have rented a room from one's "partner".

This coy semantic aberration is as much to blame as anything!

David Boothroyd said...

Whether David Laws retains office or not, the main effect of this episode will be that the Liberal Democrats are no longer able to do their traditional 'holier than thou' job on the expenses scandal. If you look at David Laws' website it is full of claims of his own purity. Nick Clegg was preening himself about how good his party was in the first election debate.

Now of course David Laws clearly didn't see that his arrangements could be open to criticism. Perhaps he and his party will now realize than many of the other people caught up in the expenses scandal were thinking exactly the same, but they got the same treatment from the press. Now it's the Lib Dems turn to get their private lives done over, and suspicion cast on their motives.

Of course my inner partisan feelings cannot help but address to the Lib Dems remarks such as "Good, now it's your turn, you smug bunch of hypocrites". But I would try not to say this in public.

Pavilionopinions said...

Though sour at times, a bulldog wasp,
I've always like your hair.
Well-groomed and snipped and parted like,
Gold looms upon a bear.
A sultan of the Mandy school,
Some might believe you slither,
Yet I, for one, hope that this mess,
Does not mean our laws wither.

Anonymous said...

My first thought was DC should use this to show to the LibDems, the Conservatives and the country that he was committed to making the coalition work by keeping him in place.

I'm a David Laws fan, and I dont want to see him go, but looking into the situation some more I cant see how he can stay.

His private life has no bearing on his job, but following the rules does. I dont think his sexual orientation is relevant and I have sympathy for him wanting to keep his private life private. If he was straight and living with a woman it would be a similar situation.

I have no problems with him claiming the money, but as far as I can tell they have been 'living together and treating each other as spouses', which basically is a polite way of saying having a sexual relationship. The rules say he should have declared it as such and he did not.

If he was in any other job they could spin it. The coalition just cannot afford to have the distraction of having people snipe at the person who is the face of the cuts.

It makes me very sad to say this, but for the sake of the country he needs to resign.

If it's any consolation, I'm sure he will be back in government after a suitable time.

The Purpleline said...

Iain- stop playing the Gay card it simply will not wash.

Why could he not have had an arrangement with the fees office, where he disclosed what he was doing and why he was claiming 950pcm but had a desire because of his sexuality to keep that between the fees office and himself.

Surely they would have ruled it allowable as it was cheaper for the country. Or refused, but he would be in the clear whatever their response.

Being honest is the best policy for all.

Unfortunately, he never did the above, he never mentioned anything when others were being castigated and he is now in a position of authority where he makes changes that affect others.

The man is a typical politician he has been found out. Yes it is a great shame he looked and sounded really competent & yes I do believe Libdems in cahoots with Labour probably assisted in this coming to light, but the fact is he was living a lie on his expenses and for that he has to go to give credibility to the government.

Laws will be gone by Sunday evening.

Roger Thornhill said...

"Furthermore, those who accuse Laws of exploiting the taxpayer would do well to remember that he clearly didn't gain from the rental arrangement he had. He paid £950 pcm for renting a room in Kennington."

Iain, stop it. Where did the £950 go? Outside his personal sphere? No. That £950 stayed within his personal realm. He did not gouge the taxpayer, true, but that is not the only point here.

That said, and this is an important point, David Laws, by wanting to keep this private, opened himself up to blackmail. That to me is very foolish and irresponsible.

Woman on a Raft said...

I hope Laws survives, however it has put a question mark over his judgment. The issue is not him being gay, not even the money, but that instead of thinking "how will it look if I'm renting a room off my girl friend/boyfriend/relative" he decided that it fitted strictly within the rules, so he didn't have to bother about it.

Incidentally, if that is his long-term partner, why doesn't he do the decent thing and get civilly partnered? Mothers are keener to see children settled than is commonly supposed. That's what upsets us; children being alone. We aren't going to live for ever, so it is preferable to have everybody sorted if at all possible. Not that this should be taken as an instruction to rush in to unwise and alliances, but I gather the men were well suited.

I wish them both well and hope this can be sorted out as I would prefer to keep Laws in post if this lapse of judgment can be adquately explained to the public.

Bill Quango MP said...

This personal gain thing. The money stayed within his sphere.
Did Jacqui Smith's money not stay within her family? Was she not maximising an arrangement that benefited her sister?
She was told she had done nothing wrong.

Tony McNulty claimed expenses on a second home, occupied by his parents, which was 8 miles away from his primary residence. Is that not keeping the money within the family?
McNulty was found to have broken no rules.

There seems a possibility that Laws can just tough it out and hope that the Standards Commissioners takes one of its bizarre decisions and finds that he has broken only the laws of the court of public opinion, which count for nothing.

Good luck to him. If all the Wintertons trust funds and Conways fake staff and Cooper/Balls double claiming were allowed then Laws should receive nothing more than a reprimand and a top up for all his missed out on troughing.

Anonymous said...

No joint mortgage, no joint bank account, he is not a civil partner or a relative. The amount claimed is reasonable, it was not kept within the relationship as the owner had a mortgage to pay, (kennington houses are VERY expensive). I think the whole thing will blow over.

RJF said...

The problem with parliamentary expenses is that because of the nature of the system, most people ended up "guilty" when the scandal finally erupted in the Telegraph.

Unfortunately, there is now an irreconcilable conflict at work here: On the one hand, despite several imminent criminal cases for the most egregious claims and many dozens of MPs having to hand back sums that they received but shouldn't have, broadly speaking the Westminster class has "got away with it".

On the other hand, the Telegraph still has the ability to embarrass a parliamentarian at will because it possesses the details of their claims over the last 6-7 years.

I'm not usually one for the old Tony Blair "we need to move on" line but, because almost everyone has been corrupted by the system, we really need to. There is a parallel here - and I stand to be corrected on the details - but in early 1970s Singapore, the police force had become so corrupt that an amnesty for everyone was seen as the best way of getting out of the mess that had festered in the country for years. By starting again, Singapore became one of the least corrupt societies on the planet.

If we don't do something similar and find a way of getting the recriminations of the expenses scandal behind us, we really will all be the poorer for it - in all manner of the word.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

The whole thing is rotten and horrible for David and his partner and frankly, I am sorry that he could not have handled it better. Still, as you say it is not always easy to "come out". I well remember a gay friend coming out to me, years ago. He genuinely believed I was going to throw him out on the street, there and then.

I cannot imagine that feeling. But we must. We must.

Null said...

Iain, if anything does for David Laws, it will be that fact that he was paying money to his partner. Whether it was at the market rate or not, I think will be lost on the public.

In order to defend him, a complex and nuanced argument is needed. No something that most people will be interested in hearing.

Personally, I hope he survives, but my feeling is, he is toast.

Unknown said...

I run a business.

I need a rep to cover, say Yeovil.

I need my rep to report in to me in London 4 days a week for much of the year.

My rep already has a house in Yeovil.

I need to cover his expenses while he stays in London.

I run a business - I don't care who he stays with in London, I care moderately that it represents good value. I care deeply that my rep is well-rested.

For all I care, he can stay with his mother, boyfriend, girlfriend, a ménage a trois, the butcher, the baker or the candlestick maker.

The rule that might have been broken is pointless and should be changed.

Weygand said...

Sometimes one just has to accept that one is a hypocrite.

I hope Laws stays, because his continued presence is important to the success of the coalition.

But there is no doubt in my mind that he 'ought' to be sacked and that most other ministers already would have been.

His sexuality and whether he could have rented somewhere else more cheaply are completely irrelevant, both according to the rules and in moral terms.

I would prefer Iain to be a hypocrite like myself rather than to undermine his general credibility by trying to defend the indefensible.

Newmania said...

I am not especially impressed with the coming out thing I `d have thought it was harder to stay in, in the Liberal Party. On the other hand I greatly hope David Laws is not hounded from office ,he has been the Lib Dem who has impressed me most ,vastly more than that preening old fraud Cable .
People are complicated capable of petty greed vanity insecurity as well as genius courage and love . Conservatism seeks to recognize this not deny it ,doesn`t ?So I say let the utopian socialists get their knickers in a twist .We need good people and if it turns out that they have been slightly foolish in their private arrangements I don’t care .

Time for the coalition to close ranks a defend one of its brightest stars

Maverick Ways said...

So will co-habitees misclaiming Scocial Security be allowed to use the "we don't consider ourselves partners" defence?

No, I thought not.

Sean said...

I like David Laws, he is an honorable man, but even such people make mistakes they know they should not be making.

Right now we need the best people we can get to help sort out our financial mess that we find ourselves in, Laws is one of those people.

Redemption is a wonderful thing, lets hope david earns it, he is well capable.

kasou said...

Reading from Sweden I have come to the conclusion that the British Media are the real villains as far as the failure of the UK is concerned.

They seem to love killing off anything positive, anyone with brains, and god forbid waving the English flag.

Blame Brown but who were cheering the 'IRON CHANCELLOR', the UK media are idiots, love the drink and are usually considered foolish by their more intelligent comrades in Europe.

Sure the politicians are idiots but who tlaks to the public, who forms opinion...

The British MSM are CRAP...

And living in Sweden I am used to being it is sad to see what the British Press do to destroy Britain...WHY

Paddy Briggs said...

Outstanding post Iain- well done!

Libertarian said...

I am sick and tired of the baying mob of "outraged" sheeples who call for heads to roll without stopping to think about the kinds of things they do themselves.

We have no idea why Laws chose this root. All I can see was that there were easier ways to claim far more in expenses than he did.

If as he says he was trying to remain in the "closet" then paying no rent at all would have immediately started the gossip.

In the scheme of things people have done far worse in the last parliament and been rewarded for it, but that says everything about how our "red top" society is now days.

John Terry allegedly ( both have denied it by the way and no proof has been offered) had an affair. He was stripped of Eng captaincy and has been mercilessly pilloried and hounded ever since.

Yet the Deputy Prime Minister of the UK is caught in an affair gets a couple of weeks of snide phoar phoar jokes and a fucking peerage !!

Get a grip people.

I'm not a LibDem, I'm not a Tory

Let David Laws pay back the money and get on doing his job

Dal Maclean said...

oor guy. It seem to me he was paranoid about being outed...even his family didn't know hes gay till now. If he hadn't claimed I assume he'd have worried people would wonder why he was living with this bloke. I truly dont think this is a case of snouts in the trough... I doubt very much he would have taken the risk of being crucified on expenses for £25000 in the current climate without a very good reason given he's a multi millionaire. He looks to me to be good at his job and he should stay in it.

Dal Maclean said...

Poor guy. It seem to me he was paranoid about being outed...even his family didn't know hes gay till now. If he hadn't claimed I assume he'd have worried people would wonder why he was living with this bloke. I truly dont think this is a case of snouts in the trough... I doubt very much he would have taken the risk of being crucified on expenses for £25000 in the current climate without a very good reason given he's a multi millionaire. He looks to me to be good at his job and he should stay in it.

ChrisC said...

The "honourable" thing would have been to stay at his partner's house and not claimed for rent.
Friends sometimes stay at my house in London when on business and I know that they could charge their firms for an overnight stay on such occasions.
Strangely, in the non-MP world, it doesn't occur to them (or me!) to do so.

Whether this justifies Laws's dismissal I don't know.
But it yet again shows in stark relief the difference 'twixt them and us.

Ben said...

No amount of special pleading will make any difference to the facts of the case.

If Laws has been dishonestly using taxpayer's money, then he has to lose his job, both as Chief Secretary and as MP.

This new government must be a principled government, or it is bound to fail. There is no future in trying to go forward on bent moral principles.

Anonymous said...

@Lord Blagger. What did you do when both Tory and Labour MPs stole your money and flipped their homes. What are you doing when the Labour Troika has gone to the court?

Gudi has put on a wager ogd £500 for Laws staying. I agree with him. Hope the commissioner exonerates him, and until then the folks who are foaming at their mouths should keep them firmly shut.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you, Iain - a fine post, btw.

DaveA said...

I am a Tory but have friends at the Lib Dems. David Laws really did want to keep his private life, private.

For sake of the country I hope he is not forced to resign.

John said...

So it's ok to fiddle your expenses if you're doing it to hide the fact that you're gay?

STFC Executive said...

Let us get this straight (er, sorry) let's be clear about this: it's different because (a) we want the coalition to do well and (b) we should all be nice to Mums. OK, good, got that. If only we'd have told - Blears, Smith et al

tory boys never grow up said...

As much as I detest the political hypocrisy and vacuity of David Laws and his ilk he shouldn't be driven out of office on this matter. One only has to look at the outright bigotry and homophobia of many of the comments in the blogosphere, to understand why Laws was justifiably reticent in coming out.

As Iain says he has hardly sought to maximise his gains on his property by designating his country home as his second property and then mortgaging it to the hilt - I wonder who he has in mind who has used that little ruse?

Anonymous said...

Iain, I think that while your emphasis on the pain of "coming out" is understandable it is a tactical error as it allows people to attack you by accusing you of 'special pleading'.
Gordon Brown noticeably failed to resign over the cleaning bills paid to his brother.
The size of those bills could only be justified on the grounds that GB was an appalling slob, which would have reflected very badly on his upbringing by the Presbyterian Minister who was his father. I didn't employ a cleaner when I was working longer hours than Brown.

Lord Blagger said...

@Lord Blagger. What did you do when both Tory and Labour MPs stole your money and flipped their homes. What are you doing when the Labour Troika has gone to the court?


Protesting the hell of it. I personally wrote to the House of Commons accounts committee 5 years ago complaining about the lack of audit of expenses. There reply was that MPs are honourable and don't need to be audited. fnarr fnarr.

You see to think that its because Laws is a Lib Dem. Far from it. They have all been at it.

For example, take MPs in general. Did you know they slipped into the end of a pensions bill an exemption for their expenses from taxation. Just for MPs.

More interestly, we shall see how Laws handles his ill gotten gains.

Will he pay tax on the interest? (can't be an expense can it, and an interest free loan is taxable as a perk.)

Will he compensate the taxpayer by paying interest on his over claim? If not he has gained an personal advantage at the tax payer expense which is against the MP's code of conduct.

"MPs shall not give the appearance of a person benefit".

I'm waiting for those in court to say, its not against the rules because we gained an actual benefit.

Or Perhaps.

You can't find a jury not made up of my victims.


Unknown said...

he should not go because the political system is not capeable of managing the expenses for its MP's.Should of created a hotel or accomadation facility for MP's years ago, so there would be no need for any of them to claim any expenses, current system only creates abuse possibilities. The problem lies with a completely broken system. It's highly unlikly to change, power crazed politicians do not really care about anything other than being in control.

Dal Maclean said...

Its infuriating reading endless posts about how Mr Laws 'robbed' us of £40 000. He could have bought a house through expenses *and* charged us to furnish it - and it'd have been completely above board. Does anyone believe no one in the febrile Westminster hothouse of gossip would have questioned why he (unmarried, no girlfriend, refusing to answer questions about his private life) lived for most of the week, every week, at the house of his single male friend and didn't pay rent? He was trying to keep up appearances. I repeat. Poor guy.

The Big Dollop said...


With all due respect - the issue at hand is not his sexual orientation but rather his unethical conduct regarding his alleged exploitation of the expenses system provided for MP’s with constituencies out with London.

In particular with reference to the rules concerning the banning of payments extended to the spouse/ partner of sitting MP’s.

For Mr Laws to be involved in a longstanding relationship and to split hairs over a definition of what constitutes partnership is disingenuous to say the least.

You state that he did not accrue any financial gain from the matter even although someone apparently did – The sum of £40,000 has been mentioned as a viable figure for the amount of rent he allegedly paid his landlord, a scenario which to all intents and purposes meant the UK tax payer was effectively paying the mortgage on his lovers house.

To say it was about him being afraid of coming out in order to hide certain aspects of his life from his mother is just smoke and mirrors IMHO.

Regards Sir
The Big Dollop

graveca said...

Funny that everyone seems to agree that Laws is extremely able. Exactly the right man, on balance, to perform arguably the most important job in the cabinet/country at the moment. Namely, sorting out the truly horrific finances bequethed by the previous Government.

Funny that people seem to disagree on whether he goes
or not, essentially pro/anti coalition forming the
view of stay/resign.

Pity that in this country we will have to put up with second best rather than best man for the job. In any other place they would realise that the job at had is far far too important to jeopardise.

Pity that a decent man who wanted to perform public service and keep iis sexuality private now has it delved into by the press.

Our country is the loser here, that's obvious.

Dr G

originalchelseagirl said...

It's a tough call for Cameron and Clegg. Let's have some clear cool thinking and not rush to a decision. I greatly admire David Laws and hope he survives. I fear dirty tricks from Labour or Right Wing. The Telegraph is despicable and more will no doubt emerge as is the way with these things. The Coalition should force all their MPs to make a full and frank admission of their expenses on pain of sacking. Alistair Campbell's fingerprints are also over this - remember what happened to the last David that crossed him - RIP. Let's hope someone is taking care of David Laws and his welfare today. Someone needs to.

richard.blogger said...

I could not careless about his sexuality. These comments are applicable whether he is straight or gay.

First, he is a millionaire and he was sponging off the state. The fact is, the MPs still have not understood why the public were so upset with the expenses scandal - it was already rich people milking the system. Laws has done that. He did not need to claim the expenses.

The other thing is that his partner is a lobbyist. We have seen sanctimonious attacks by the LibDems on both Labour and Conservatives over lobbying. Would Laws have registered his partner under the lobbying register they were pushing? If so, then perhaps he should have mentioned his connection to Edelman before now.

Unknown said...

Interesting question as to why he claimed the rent at all when he was well off enough not to need to.

Is there peer pressure amongst MPs for everyone to claim at least a reasonable sum, to give collective cover?

Chris and Laura said...

The problem for Laws is that he's gone for the full hair shirt confession and repayment, suggesting that a) he knew all along that the claims were wrong and b) he didn't need the money anyway as he can now afford to pay the whole lot back just like that. In his statement he's saying that at the time he believed the claims were within the rules because he looked at the definition of 'partner' and decided that his relationship with Lundie did not qualify. They did not treat each other as spouses, he says. This suggests that they were friends who sometimes had sex together. Presumably at some point the scope, frequency and exclusivity of these activities pushes you over the line into a 'partnership' - but unless Lundie is planning to kiss and tell I do not see how that could be determined retrospectively. So Laws would have been much better advised to stick with his original assessment - even if it is somewhat 'Clintonesque'. As it is, I'm afraid he's convicted himself.

Sue said...

The fact that these people are so often millionaires makes it immoral, unethical and downright bloody greedy.

Houdini said...

Once again, only homosexuals have a hard time.

I'd swap my shitty, deprived and confusing childhood and teens with you any day son, so get over yourself.

Anonymous said...

Dear Thomas - i am not sure what you are getting at with Cameron. He and other MPs were entitled to claim for either a house in their constituency or a base close to parliament. Nothing untoward in all of that.

I am not sure that laws has done anything particularly untoward. He has claimed expenses for a base close to parliament, and not excessive. All quite legit. The issue is that the person he was paying to was an acquaintance, in this case a lover. But the sums were not nearly enough to be 'buying the house at taxpayers expense'.

Now this is similar to what Jacqui Smith did. BUT there appears to be a BIG difference. Smith claimed her real home was her second home and was in effect subsidising her real home at taxpayers expense. This does not seem to be the issue with Laws.

So clearly Laws payments were an assistance to his lover, but they were also a saving to the taxpayer. Given Smith was simply given a rap over the knuckles for something I think was far worse then Laws and the LDs will have to swallow their embarrassment.

Cameron and the Tories are not really involved, this is a LD affair (LDs who were claiming to be whiter than white in the election).

If Laws goes the LDs might have to lose a seat at cabinet even if they get a replacement at a lower level. And if Laws goes the real loser will be the country.

james c said...

How does sharing a bed become 'renting a room'?

Jimmy said...

Can someone explain to me how Mr. Laws' privacy would have been compromised by not claiming this money?

Edward said...

Seemingly every hour Sir Alistair Graham keeps popping up, to give an "independent" view.

But today - I was bored and did a search on Wikipedia!!! - I discovered that he is the Chairman of the Berwick Labour Party!

So it seems that this independent figure ... isn't!! Interesting!

Simon Gardner said...

The point has been well made that this disaster founded on Laws not wanting to be ‘out’ and the resulting financial shenanigans may not be so much down to Laws’ own choice.

It’s entirely possible that it was his boyfriend who was the one so worried about coming out and not Laws at all.

Having said that, any politician who thinks his private life is his private life is living in a fantasy land. Remember when Mandy was accidentally outed on Newsnight by Matthew Parris.

Laws’ private and thus financial arrangements were an accident waiting to happen.

Kiera Hardie said...

Iain - my earlier reservations, that if similar circumstances applied to someone claiming a means tested welfare benefit the claimant would be prosecuted, still apply.

A recent case in the news in Scotland saw a man who confessed to defrauding £80,000 in benefits getting two years in jail as well as having to repay the whole lot. Mr Laws will have to repay £40,000. If he had been caught fiddling benefits at that level he would surely have gone to jail for at least a year. His mum would certainly read about that in the papers.

Should Mr Laws get away with it because he's rich, and powerful, and it was Parliamentary rent expenses as opposed to means-tested housing benefit?

Should institutional homophobia be such a mitigating factor that Mr Laws might escape the far more serious consequences that would apply to a poor man living on sixty-four pounds a week?

I can see no good reason why a millionaire minister of the crown should be subject to a lesser standard.

If you think that a less stringent standard should apply to the millionaire, I would lke you to say why explicitly.

John said...

@DaveA - I'm sure he did want to keep his private life private, but he should not be allowed to fiddle his expenses in order to preserve his privacy.

Terry Stynes said...


I enjoy reading your blog, but sometimes have to gasp at your incredible detachment from reality. Are you some kind of spin doctor?
Your suggestion that Laws is being singled out because he's gay is grasping at straws isn't it?
This is nothing to do with Laws' lifestyle for heavens sake - it's to do with his lack of integrity in claiming expenses he's not entitled to.
I'm disappointed you've taken this "gay card" stance - I really thought you were above all of that nonsense.

John said...

Laws claims he hadn't realised he was doing something wrong. So we're to believe he didn't even question himself during the whole furore last year? In which case, he's either a liar, a hypocrite or just plain stupid. And to think some people have wondered why David Laws isn't a Tory. There's your answer folks, he is.

Unknown said...

I really feel sorry for David Laws but the sad fact that in these times of austerity how can he convince the ordinary voter if tarnished by the expenses issue. The fact is he knew the furore about expenses and didn't come clean. A real shame but he knew what he was doing.

Uncle Robbie's Kitchen said...

My heart and best wishes goes out to David Laws and his partner right now. We have only seen the media witch hunt going on and not listened to his side of the story.

True, there is an aspect that Mr Laws is yet another MP who has fallen foul of the expenses scandal, but that's really it, isn't it? It's not like he's done a Margaret Moran and claimed for 2 homes, one of which had nothing to do with her constituency, whilst lobbying for other work during a period when she claimed she couldn't work in her constituency due to stress.

He has claimed less than some MPs have and has offered to pay the money straight back, a sign of good character I think.

More importantly, he has tried to be discreet about his personal life. I know that feeling, having faced a degree of persecution when I 'came out' a few years ago too. If he had not claimed the living expenses, questions would have been raised on his personal life, which he clearly was not ready to face, putting him between the proverbial 'rock and hard place'.

A final point is that Mr Laws is about to try and find a way to undo the past 13 years of damage that the previous Labour Government has caused to our country's finances. To lose him now will be a disaster.

My words to him are to hang in there and do your best with your role in Parliament, this will eventually blow over!

Michael Heaver said...

"New politics" or not? Laws should go Iain. He has been tainted and will have very little public confidence, devastating considering his senior role in the government.

Houdini said...

I am a Tory but have friends at the Lib Dems. David Laws really did want to keep his private life, private.

Anyone stealing £40k of taxpayers money would like to keep their private life private wouldn't they?

I am utterly, totally appalled at the rank stench of hypocrisy here.

What Dale is saying is that if he wasn't homosexual and he was giving MY money to a female then he would be guilty? And the rest in support if he wanted to keep his stealing of MY money private then that would have been fine and the people making it not private are the ones in the wrong?

Total complete hypocrisy. If Laws had been CAUGHT before the coalition then Dale, like all others here, would be calling for his head.

And you wonder why Cameron didn't get a good majority? What's the difference between labour and people like sleazy Mandelson and the this lot? That's what the people/voters must be asking. Welcome back shortly to the Labour party probably and they can whistle for my membership fees at CCHQ next time if this is to be the norm.

Chrome Diplomat said...


I often (and particularly during the election) find it difficult to remember why you are worth reading, but every so often you right something which reminds me exactly what you bring to the debate.

This is an excellent post and one I think many of the commentators might want to actual mull over before they foam at the mouth about 'defrauding the taxpayer'.

This is a guy who, despite being a politician, has never really sought the media spot light- he doesn't have much of an ego and rarely is in the media for anything other than doing his job, and making useful, insightful comments. He has a right to a private life and the Telegraph have ridden over that right with a steam roller.

What he did was not helpful to the coalition or the libdems (of which I am a member) and my first reaction was 'muppet', but actually there does seem to be a genuine personal reason behind it and it is clear the amount he claimed was never over-the-odds, indeed he could have got plenty more through using other routes.

The Telegraph have a lot to answer for- despite some of their revelations being in the public interest it does seem now they are simply looking to use the documents they have to bring down anyone who puts their head over the parapet and who looks like being a success.

I for one would very much still like to see a full investigation into the Telegraph handling stolen goods- the stuff they have from the fees office was obtained illegally and they have never faced any repercussions from doing so. If they want to hold people to high moral standards they I believe they should receive the same treatment.

Houdini said...

If as he says he was trying to remain in the "closet" then paying no rent at all would have immediately started the gossip.

So the taxpayers have to pay £40k because David Laws decides he doesn't want people to know he is homosexual? How many pensioners care does £40k pay for? How many drugs for cancer sufferers?

Page With A View said...

"he clearly didn't gain from the rental arrangement he had". No he didn't but the point is that his partner did!

His sexuality is not an issue, nor should it be. It is not an excuse either.

He could have just bought a flat next door and let his lover stay with him but that would not maximise his expenses – by claiming for rent and ‘utilities’ he has enabled his partner to pay off more of his mortgage (at our expense) and upsell to a more expensive home. That is acting for personal gain. He is a clever ex-banker, he can do the maths.

Many commentators say he has bags of integrity – if he has then he should resign, for the sake of his Party at the very least. If he doesn’t, then in my opinion he forfeits such claims and becomes just another mealy-mouthed chancer whining that it was ‘within the rules’.

-0- said...

It's not about the spirit of parliamentary rules, it's about the letter. Leasing accommodation from a partner is against the rules. Concealing information regarding that fact - call a spade a spade, Iain - is *lying*.

Anonymous said...

Personally I'm glad to see the back of the new thief for old, he has resigned I hear, and quite rightly.

If you think it's anything to do with what or who he pleases to do you are seriously mistaken - or just stupid.

Bloomingpouf said...

@ Simon Gardner

"Having said that, any politician who thinks his private life is his private life is living in a fantasy land. Remember when Mandy was accidentally outed on Newsnight by Matthew Parris."

Not quite correct as Dear Matthew Knows only too well!

You may need to read a few red top archives circa 1987 to get the dates right - but I have to say that Dear Matthew (1997) did love playing with Paxo, who was quite apoplectic! Of course Paxo already knew.... for at least a decade, but was so wary of saying...and Matthew Parris does nothing by accident! There was no slip of the tongue that night!

It is interesting that at least one person has picked up on It's not necessarily Laws who is being most damaged by the Outing Activity!

Ian has been spot on with pointing that one out - even if so many have just missed it in the rush!

I wish the boys well, and hope that all will be calmer soon!

Lord Blagger said...

40K is 20 Standard British Peasants tax for an entire year.

It has take 20 people working on mimimum wage a whole year to pay for him, assuming they consume no services at all.

Anyway, its good he's gone. It's for taking the money and lying about it.

Now, could he have been a good minister? Probably. Bad for the government? Nope.

There are plenty of other Lib Dems or Tory MPs who can cut. If necessary, make someone a Lord and let them make the cuts.

Lord Blagger

Unknown said...


You saythat if laws had rented a spare bedroom from someone else it would have cost more to the taxpayer. That is correct. But

a) Laws' other half would not have profited and THAT IS THE POINT and
b) There are a lot of folks who commute from Somerset who work longer hours than MPs. Why the hell should we taxpayers pay for a 2nd flat for MPs anyway? and
c) laws election leaflets claimed he was so totally honest. Well they were lies.

This is not about sexuality. This is about someone telling lies to trouser more hard earned taxpayers cash. If this was a benefits claimant laws would now be facing criminal prosecution. Frankly he should anyway.

When will the Westminster village accept that its members should play by the same rules as we mere mortals?

Put party and sexuality aside - this is just the same as Jackie Smith. If this was a straight Labour MP what would you say? Gays deserve equal treatment in Every respect and that must include keeping to the letter of the law.

We the great unwashed expect better of our MPs and Laws is right to go. What will be a disgrace is if ( as Clegg implies will happen) he is allowed to do a Mandy and come straight back to office. This should be the end for him.

Marcus said...

This matter has nothing to do with sexuality - and it's ridiculous for Laws to claim this - or anyone else. He broke the rules; that's it. If he was so concerned at being 'outed', why jeopardise his position by claiming expenses which might well be scrutinized (as they have indeed been)? He's reported to be a millionaire, for goodness' sake!!! He had his nose in the trough like some others, tried in on, and got caught. This is fraud, and in any other section of the public sector he could be expected to be dismissed and face prosecution.

David Blake said...

And the BBC is still wheeling out Alastair Graham, despite the fact that they know that he is Chairman of the Berwick Labour Party. Not a word about this role, which is interesting because he did stray into party politics in his comments.

Treacle said...

I find his resignation letter and statment very odd. He says (I quote from the letter): "I cannot now escape the conclusion that what I have done was in some way wrong, even though I did not gain any financial benefit from keeping my relationship secret in this way." But his offence was not "keeping [his] relationship secret in this way": it was taking from the taxpayer very large sums of money to which he was not entitled. He is also quoted in the Independent as saying "I hope that others will now learn that it is time for people to be honest about their sexuality." Why is he lecturing other gay men about not comimg out of the closet, when only two days ago he was in the closet himself?

I feel sorry for him in his personal tragedy, but it is a tragedy of his own making, and there is a odour of hyposcrisy about it that I find repellent.

Craig Ranapia said...

Are people angry because he kept his relationship secret? What are people saying he should resign for, exactly? Because he claimed expenses from the wrong box on the form?

Thomas: To be blunt, if the Coalition Government is going to be cutting billions of dollars from public spending (it is, and in my view they're essential), the hands holding the scalpel have to be sterile.

And, dare I say it, if Cameron and Clegg are serious about restoring trust in politicians and the political process after thirteen years of sleaze and corruption, then they've got to walk the talk. Especially when it is politically inconvenient.

Houdini said...

I feel sorry for him in his personal tragedy, but it is a tragedy of his own making, and there is a odour of hyposcrisy about it that I find repellent.

What tragedy? Is he hurt? Is he injured? Has he lost someone? He is still a highly paid individual going for the sympathy vote that he does not deserve. He is a sleazy trougher caught in the act and now trying to mitigate his theft by playing the homo card.

Good riddance to bad rubbish, and a pity this wasn't made public before the election. I think we Tories forget, but wasn't he one of the whiter than white Lib Dums who tried to paint the other parties as sleazy slimeballs conning the tax payers? Good riddance.

madbreak said...

Iain, if he was a successful investment banker at JPMorgan then he has the gumption to come clean about his sexuality to his family and friends. Being "closeted" is not a human right it is a personal issue. In public life it is unlikely to survive these days.

I say this as a 45you gay man who worked in investment banking. The truth is that right-wingers (and you show this in your dislike of the term "came out") still have a slight embaressment at being gay and think people should just keep it to themselves; or at least not shout about it, as though all discrimination had been ended with he passing of the Civil Partnership Act. Not a great way to set an example to the current generation of gay teenagers coming to terms with their sexuality.

We are what we are. Let's celebrate the difference and get on with it.

Neil A said...

Let's be clear. If David Laws had declared his relationship with James Lundie, the two of them could have bought a house in London together and Laws could have claimed the price of the mortgage payments, the maintenance costs and the furnishing of the house on expenses. At a cost of up to two and a half times what he was actually claiming in rent. He has broken the rules and to resign is perhaps the honourable thing to do (although we'll miss him sorely I expect). He has NOT "stolen" £40,000 in any shape or form however. Please don't slander the man.

JuliaM said...

Madbreak:"The truth is that right-wingers (and you show this in your dislike of the term "came out") still have a slight embaressment at being gay and think people should just keep it to themselves; or at least not shout about it..."

No, what people object to is it being used as a shield when wrongdoing is discovered - 'I did this because I didn't want to reveal my sexuality'.

There was another option open. Not claim the money at all.

But Laws wanted it all ways, didn't he?

Houdini said...

He has NOT "stolen" £40,000 in any shape or form however. Please don't slander the man.

Yes he did. He broke the rules and effectively stole the money. Whether he could have profited more is debatable, but as it is he gave his boyfriend £950 a month of MY money for living in a room where he was living anyway. He thought he could get away with it, just like Blears and Smith and all the rest, but didn't and is now making ridiculous excuses about his sexuality, aided and abetted by people like Dale, to try and mitigate his theft. He is shameless and it was right he went and should go as an MP too. He is a slimy thieving LibDem every bit as much as the Labour troughers caught.

Would Dale be defending him if he wasn't homosexual? NO CHANCE! And THAT is what makes it very bad and very hypocritical.

Goodbye and good riddance to bad thieving rubbish.

And it would be libel, not slander.

Derek Williams said...

It appears Mr Laws would still be entitled to claim the £40,000 if he were to pay it to a different landlord, so it's hard to imagine how he could believe that the public would swallow the excuse that he claimed this money to cover up a secret gay relationship. It's a shame that so often, a gay person only comes out as a result of scandal, thus inescapably linking our sexuality with unethical behaviour by association. Disappointing though this is however, let's be clear that unethical and duplicitous behaviour is not, and never has been, the exclusive preserve of homosexuals.

Derek Williams said...

It appears Mr Laws would still be entitled to claim the £40,000 if he were to pay it to a different landlord, so it's hard to imagine how he could believe that the public would swallow the excuse that he claimed this money to cover up a secret gay relationship. It's a shame that so often, a gay person only comes out as a result of scandal, thus inescapably linking our sexuality with unethical behaviour by association. Disappointing though this is however, let's be clear that unethical and duplicitous behaviour is not, and never has been, the exclusive preserve of homosexuals.

Derek Williams said...

It appears Mr Laws would still be entitled to claim the £40,000 if he were to pay it to a different landlord, so it's hard to imagine how he could believe that the public would swallow the excuse that he claimed this money to cover up a secret gay relationship. It's a shame that so often, a gay person only comes out as a result of scandal, thus inescapably linking our sexuality with unethical behaviour by association. Disappointing though this is however, let's be clear that unethical and duplicitous behaviour is not, and never has been, the exclusive preserve of homosexuals.

Neil A said...


The point you're missing is that the taxpayer is obliged to provide a second home for an MP, either in London or their constituency. If Laws had wanted to he could have bought a flat in London, at our expense, and moved his partner in to live with him. That's after all what most MPs do. The reason he didn't is because he didn't want us to know that Lundie was his partner so he stuck with the status quo. Foolish? Certainly. Unethical? Probably. Criminal theft? Cobblers!

doot said...

The ironic thing here is that it hinges around whether or not James Lundie was his "partner" or not.

If the argument is that he's not a partner, that they only have a sexual relationship, then doesn't this make him his de-facto prostitute?

So, it's ok to claim "rent" when it's paid to your prostitute, but not to your partner?

Marc Luxenberg said...

Isn't anyone going to note the double standard of marriage vs civil partnerships? If marriage was available for all, either Mr. Laws would be married or he wouldn't. Instead,the government reimbursement rules had to be massaged in 2006 to include spouses, civil partners, and [my favorite] non-civil-partnershipped partners. Isn't that just plain ridiculous? I bet we in the US are only months from the same sort of "definitional" scandal surrounding alleged "domestic partners".