Politics knows no sweethearts…but plenty of hypocrites
Farewell for now David Laws, Lib-Dem MP, former chief secretary to the Treasury, whose departure seems to have brought to the fore a great deal of sympathy from various twitterers and commentators. I imagine it will surprise few people to learn that I’m not one of them.
Rather, I think it is tragic that this chap got away with paying his partner £920 per month from 2007-2009 for a bedroom (regardless of whether it was used or not). That’s £920 per month on the taxpayer, when parliamentary rules have forbidden leasing anything from a partner since 2006.
A lot of the sympathy is based on Laws’ sexuality, and the suggestion that the Daily Telegraph investigation ‘outed’ him. I’ve seen various people suggest that we’re somehow worse than a certain African country which recently pardoned two men from the ‘crime’ of homosexuality.
I’m sorry that any person’s private life gets trailed into their work life – but as with all the MPs who so ingraciously fell on their swords during the last parliament as a result of the same, if you do something wrong, break the rules or, worse still, profit at the expense of the taxpayer, you shouldn’t be allowed to glibly carry on.
What’s utterly disgraceful is that Laws, one of the privileged few, graduate of Cambridge, who slotted himself into a safe seat nowhere near his original home after bouncing around an unsuccessful candidacy or two, can claim so much on rent of a second property whilst people who can barely get together the rent on their only home have to navigate all sorts of problems to get anything from the State.
One wonders if MPs expenses have anything like the cut-offs of regular Housing Benefit, under which you get nothing once you have more than £16,000 in ‘cash, savings, bank deposits, Tessas, PEP’s, Unit Trusts, ISA’s, building society accounts, Tax Credit arrears etc. and all “liquid assets”.’ Somehow I doubt it.
I’ve heard the argument that they need a second home if they’re to function with a workplace that can be many miles from their home…but it doesn’t excuse un-means tested benefits. What is good for the goose, after all…
Most irritating of all have been the pronouncements from Cameron and Duncan-Smith (et al) that David Laws will be back. Either he did something wrong and shouldn’t be back at all (thus the attitude of the Tories – and myself – to Messrs Mandelson, Blunkett and company) or he didn’t and someone should show some balls and stick up for him.
No-one will be distracted from the budget by Laws’ actions if he’s done nothing wrong. The budget is serious stuff which people are going to be talking about up and down the country as regards what’s actually in it whether it’s delivered by Charles Manson or Postman Pat. It just goes to show, politics has no sweethearts but armies of those for whom hypocrisy or cowardice are simply different words for pragmatism.