Sunday, 30 May 2010

Bad Day for Country, Coalition and Telegraph

Last year The Telegraph undertook a fantastic public service in blowing the lid off the murky cover-up of MPs expenses. Without bias they gave all barrels to all guilty politicians of all colours. However it seems they haven't been quite as open and honest in their tactics as it first seemed. Why did they not unveil these details about David Laws when they were orgasmically pushing their "Expenses Files" a year ago? Could it have been that it wasn't quite deemed a big enough story? A minor infraction of the letter of the rules rather than some of the shameless abuse and flagrant fraud that went on elsewhere? Could it be that Mr Laws was clearly not gaining financially from the situation, in fact taking a cheaper option than renting his own flat? Or could it be that they are now willing to do someone's dirty work using their information to carry out political vendettas?

It now seems The Telegraph are happy to play politics with their small, but very powerful, memory stick. Since Laws became Chief Secretary hacks have seemed desperate to out him. TB hopes Holly Watt and Robert Winnett are feeling very smug and happy tonight. There is no doubt this story would have been tiny if the underlying aim hadn't been pointing a finger and screaming "SECRET GAYER!" If you have any doubt look at the headline of the original story. "Treasury chief David Laws, his secret lover and a £40,000 claim" - a sensationalist outburst worthy of the tabloids with a very carefully chosen order for the allegations. As for the £40k figure? TB can't get his head round that either - it was legal to pay rent to a dubiously named "partner" until 2006. So between 2001 and then Laws was claiming legally. So presumably the £40k figure mentioned included those legal payments. Though this is hardly surprising given the fact the story was a thinly disguised excuse at outing Laws.

It is no surprise that The Telegraph won the race to expose - they are now abusing their position as the leading light in the expenses fight. Without access to those files they wouldn't have the crucial name of the landlords, but it beggars belief that they found the link by themselves. Still the expenses scandal drags on, but now more viciously than the infringements deserve. The Telegraph need to release the rest of the expenses files so this scandal, thought dead, can be buried once and for all. The drip drip has to stop - it is fundamentally unfair- damn them all or damn none, don't play politics with timing and picking and choosing victims to fit agendas.

The economic security of the country has been undermined by The Telegraph's ego and flogging of a dead horse. The General Election was meant to clear the air, but it seems the Telegraph are still sitting on much much more than they let out originally. A line needs to be drawn under this scandal and if Laws's position was untenable, the many of the blue and red front-benches should also be hounded out of office too. But hold on, they weren't choosing to keep the fact that they were gay out of the soiled pages of the newspapers.

One thought that TB can't get out of his head is this whole affair reeks of a stitch up. Who tipped The Telegraph to the name of the landlord/boyfriend? Who might have know about the former Chief Secretary's expense arrangements? Former deputy leaders and presidents of parties are privy to that sort of information about their MPs. Who is on internal party manoeuvres? Who is in cahoots to see the left of Liberal Democrats have a stronger voice? Who are more opposed to the right-wing Laws than the likes of Vince Cable and Simon Hughes, both rocking the boats behind the scenes. Just sayin'.

As you might be able to tell TB is still seething about the fact Laws had to go though he sees why this honourable man felt he should go. Yes he was stupid, but on the scale of the expenses scandal this was not a resigning issue. His swift return is needed for the country and coalition, the figures being discussed for Laws pale in comparison to the figures he was slicing off the deficit. Osborne put it perfectly that he seemed to be put on the earth to undertake the drastic reforms and cuts needed to the state, Danny Alexander looks like a simpleton in comparison and there is no way the Emergency Budget is going to be as successful as it would have been under Laws's careful eye. Laws in the Treasury was by in far the best thing about this coalition and now that has been shattered.  In a desire for a quick scoop and cheap thrill The Telegraph have really blundered this time. Two people that are sadly missed - Will Lewis and David Laws.


Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more TB. Some of the sanctimony thats poured out today has been unbelievable. Referring to a man who took an undeniably cheaper to the taxpayer option (although admittedly still at a cost to the taxpayer) as a thief seems absurd. If we go down that route most of the cabinet and shadow cabinet will have to resign. Most of the expenses scandal focused on MPs following the letter of the rules but not the spirit. This is the direct opposite and one of the coalition's best minds has been forced out because of it. The Telegraph have not won themselves any friends in number 10 this weekend.

Cogito Dexter

I said more or less as much myself earlier.

The whole thing stinks. It's a total travesty. It's not even as if the public purse has lost out - by living anywhere else, Laws would have cost the State more in allowances, not less.

I'll not be buying the Telegraph again - certainly not with the current scandalmongering management/ownership in place.


Grow up you pathetic wannabe.

Red Rag

If you don't know who tipped them, then you are not as good as I thought you were. Who was tipping them, and a few other papers, before the election about Nick Clegg.....the Lib Dems are finding out very soon the worst enemies are the ones nearest to you.


I too understand why he had to go. But TB, surely it was well known within the Westminster bubble that he was gay? He must have been aware after all his years in politics that it's a dirty business.

What does that matter? Surely he should have realised he'd been stupid and done something to correct his mistake before now.

His swift resignation will stand him in good stead for the future I hope. His professional attitude is needed.


"Why did they not unveil these details about David Laws when they were orgasmically pushing their "Expenses Files" a year ago?"

If nobody knew he was in a relationship with his landlord, then no rules were being broken and there was no story. It's not rocket science.

And as for the public purse "not losing out", nobody forced millionaire David Laws to claim back his rent on his second residence, did they? If he wanted to keep his sexuality quiet he could just have quietly stopped claiming.

Anonymous said...

Talk in some quarters of a boycott of the Telegraph is nonsense. They did no more than they did last year and exposed the hypocrisy of an MP who campaigned that he was whiter than White re expenses. The timing of a move into his own rented accommodation in September after the scandal broke is also interesting.

I too was starting to like Laws but unlike the previous govt we should not seek to cover up or excuse the activities of frontline politicians. By resigning so swiftly his reputation has probably increased enabling an earlier return to govt when IPSA reports. As for those who briefed against him? I suspect they have now been 'marked'.


It doesn't take rocket science to work out what is going on and who is involved - I think you know.


Alastair Campbell held up a framed picture of Laws on QT, and I don't think this comes from Vince. I think the Telegraph WANTS the coalition to fail, and were fed this by Labour who have the same aim.

Lets not let them win, eh?


£40,000 is presumably £850/month (on average, was £750 - £950) * 12 = near enough £10,000/year, * 2006,2007,2008 and 2009, four year?

Old Holborn

OH theory

MI5 have just finished the report they do on all new ministers.

Secretly gay ministers are notorious for being blackmailed (indeed, the taxpayer was buying a flat for James)so he had to go.

Nice and simple to tip off the Telegraph rather than having to deal with the gay mafia in Parliament who would defend him at all costs.

GnosticBrian said...

This has nothing whatsoever to do with David Laws sexual preferences. And none of the big parties has a monopoly on sleaze; or saintliness, come to that.
Cameron was right, when the expenses affair blew up, to tell his MPs to come clean, for better or worse. Take the hit all at once. I don't remember Clegg making the same stand; opting instead for the line that LibDems are above such venality – when they obviously are not.
They throw the book at ordinary people who co-habit and overclaim on benefits for far smaller sums. MPs (including Cabinet Ministers doing important work) are not above the law. The number 2 in the Treasury was right to resign for having over claimed £40,000 and kept quiet about it after this all became a major scandal. Bad judgement. If there was any doubt in his mind, he could always have asked the parliamentary Commissioner for guidance.

Laws is very bright, he should have known that this would not look good and fessed up earlier.
I am also concerned by this little item in the Telegraph report:
Mr Laws's claims for a series of other expenses are also now expected to come under scrutiny.
Between 2004 and 2008, he submitted regular claims, in rounded figures, for service and maintenance, repairs, utilities and other items.
He typically claimed between £50 and £150 a month for utilities and £100 to £200 for maintenance. Receipts were not provided to back up the claims.
However, in April 2008, the rules were changed and MPs had to provide receipts for any claims above £25. Mr Laws's expense claims dropped sharply. For example, he claimed only £37 a month for utilities.
If David Laws is an independently wealthy man, why indulge in what can be presented as petty fiddling?

Faceless Bureaucrat


This has the whiff of Simon Hughes about it, probably tacitly supported by the Lib Dems' 'League of (Has Been) Gentlemen' - Ashdown, Kennedy and Campbell.

Laws did the right thing and quickly stepped down for the good of the Coalition - in glaring contrast to past Labour miscreants.

He'll be back...

Tory Bear


did you get my email the other week FB?

Anonymous said...

Considering Lib Dem staffers were furiously texting this announcement all afternoon - I think it's reasonably clear where it came from: for a party that proved it's very capable of not leaking (during the coalition talks) they leaked/briefed like sieves on this.

Poor form, and it's got Brutus style prints all over it: the Lib Dems know all about Brutus.

Wade Allsopp said...

TB You have far more insight than I re the machinations behind this stupidity at The Telegraph. However as a contemporary of Laws' both in Economics at Cambridge and in banking at BZW, I can concur that this is indeed a black day for the country.

Those lemmings stirred up by the Telegraph into baying for Laws' head seem blithely oblivious to the fact that The UK stands at the financial abyss or that Laws is the only LibDem MP remotely qualified for this crucial position. It was clear that with an economic lightweight such as Osborne as Chancellor, Laws would soon emerge as the key figure at The Treasury. Now we have Danny Alexander, the summit of whose career outside politics seems to have been head of Communications at the Cairngorms National Park masterminding our economic policy.


Faceless Bureaucrat


Sorry - now sorted...


Douglas Oliver said...

quite agree, the whole thing is sickening and highly damaging. Why is Britain and our media so obsessed with this rubbish, when we've got such big problems? I really think people don't realise the fiscal shit we're in.

Not convinced about the original telegraph report in being in wider public service to be honest, at least in the way it was published. Nor am I about it being leaked by senior lib dems.
But who knows?

Lawless Anarchist:

wow wow, this is 'thirsty' Will Lewis, right? It is only a sign of how bad his successor is that we can even contemplate missing the vituperative Labour-spinning Lewis.

(nit-picking cock-ness over)

As far the larger point- it seems Simon Heffer's mindless one-man campaign against the coalition rumbles on. NAd I think the roots of the conspiracy might be Alistair Cambell: look at the way he called Laws 'the new Bond villian' on question time the day before the story broke... very suspicious coming armed with a photo of the man!

Robin said...

Congratulations on a decent, dignified comment that restores my tarnished faith in humanity. Well done.


Really well done for what you have written. I just could not believe that when we have found someone who can actually handle the horrible economic mess we are in, the Telegraph would deliberately go and wreck it and attempt to wreck the career of someone who is practically irreplaceable. It is the height of irresponsibility.

As you point out, what is behind all this and what is their agenda? I couldn't help noticing that not many politicians speaking up for Laws sounded very sincere about it, including Saint Vince. Little Nickie didn't sound that heartbroken either.

Maybe David Laws is just too good. He is clearly brilliant, and his performance in front of the House was astonishing, he is a star in the making. Maybe it was all too threatening for some of them, and they would rather muck things up for him and the country than run the risk of having to deal with such a outstanding performer and future leader.

Apparently after his performance in the H. of C., his rating was polled and he scored way about David Cameron, Clegg, Vince, above most of them. They knew his Achilles heel and they went for it. Sickening.

I won't be buying the Telegraph again either.


ps. As to who tipped the Telegraph off, the News of the World said they had a photographer onto him, keeping him under surveillance, poking and prying because they had the evidence of his claim, so wanted validation that he was in a relationship.

These are the worst type of gutter press tactics.


Spot on TB. The Telegraph reporting has been salacious, malacious, and gaybating, even if there was a breach of the rules which might have been reported in a calm and dispassionate way.

Frankly the Telegraph is in danger of becoming a tabloid, the way the standard of its reporting is heading. Half the paper is filled with celebrity news or fashion stories these days: who on earth is their readership supposed to be now?

This latest piece of tawdry scandal-mongering confirms my growing view that they rather take pleasure in making others' private lives a misery, and that support for decent Tory things (like Parliament) is no longer a concern so long as the cash registers keep ringing.

Anonymous said...

"So presumably the £40k figure mentioned included those legal payments."

Oh dear; if you're going to construct a theory, get the basic facts right for God's sake.

As you state, the rules were broken from 2006 onwards, which is four years. Four years' worth of rent at around £900 a month (give or take) is £40k.

I don't like the Telegraph, but their story is a damn sight more credible than the tittle tattle you are engaging in from the sideines.

Laws was very, very wrong in what he has done. You can't weild the axe over public spending whilst trousering public money at the same time.

You need to accept that and grow up.

Jonathan Ellis
This comment has been removed by the author.

Perhaps we could step back and consider the wider issue about attitudes to gay people.

If society was more accepting of gay people then this wouldn't have been a story. Whether Laws' defence of wanting to keep his sexuality is legitimate or not it is only a possible defence because even in 2010 it is still something people feel they want or need to keep secret.

If Laws was straight and unmarried the Telegraph's vile tone wouldn't be credible. Similarly how much sympathy would there be for a straight man wanting to keep his relationship with a woman secret?

We still have a long way to go. One of the driving forces of the 1967 decriminalisation of homosexuality was to stop gay people ( mostly men ) being blackmailed. It seems even that aim hasn't been achieved fully yet.

Oh and was this article written in a rush as there are several mistakes in it.


I think the tragedy here is that he felt he had to keep his orientation secret, and nothing more. Everything flows from there - the bad decision to pay rent using public money, the discovery and his resignation, everything.

Come on, homosexuality is something that our country is almost peerlessly accepting of, a small bigoted minority notwithstanding. It saddens me that Mr. Laws still felt he had something to be ashamed of, and that he felt he had to go to such lengths to cover it up.

I wonder who he felt afraid of? The worst the press could have done would be to run the headline "Cabinet minister is gay!". I think we stopped thinking of that as a scandal years ago.

You'd think that a man with the confidence to take up such a prominent cabinet role would also have the confidence to go "all ahead full and damn the torpedoes" over his sexuality. The fact that he apparently didn't is a crying shame.

CumbrianStuart said...

Broadly agree TB. If Laws' transgression was so egregious why didn't the Telegraph expose him before the election so his constituents could vote him out. This is at odds with their pre-election posturing. By the way I'm no fan of Laws but this was unfair.

Raging Reg

A very well written article. I have found that through most of this rather sordid affair the most support coming from the Tories. I would have expected better from Labour, but their rather parochial and tribal instincts have kicked in.
I am a Lib Dem, and no fan of the coalition; but my sense of social justice would be the same whether the MP was Red, Blue or Orange; hounding out a politician; a bloody good one at that, on the spurious notion of expenses is rubbish. It was homophobic rabble rousing.

Anonymous said...

At the end of the day if the Telegraph did not publish this now then in a year or so a tabloid might decide to publish and cause another wave of scandals and dent public confidence again.

Mr Laws is a thief and a fraudster, that is fact! He has lied and cheated and could have 'come clean' himself when the initial expenses story broke, so why defend him or how he is forced out from a position of trust when he has lost the ability to command it.

Steve said...

Housing benefit claimants claiming when house owned by their partner are prosecuted daily.

£40,000 would get them a long prison sentence.


See my blog

I am very worried about the economic implications for all of us if the Telegraph and Simon Heffer succeed in bringing about the coalition's collapse.

Above all else we need good management of our economy and stability in government if we are not to go the way of Greece.

Anonymous said...

I have absolutely no interest in David Laws' sexuality- hidden or otherwise. I only have interest in the fact he claimed rent for a room when he shouldn't have. Disgraceful. The only honourable thing to do was resign, for that offence and that offence alone.

Anonymous said...

The Telegraph and the expenses expose last year was always going to be very dangerous and very dodgy – I said it then and its coming true. When someone releases something to a newspaper for some political whimsy, for money, just to feel good, or to get their own back on somebody, then it is never going to be a good thing. It should have been released, in total, to all the media at the same time. I’m sorry TB, but The Telegraph didn’t do it fairly – for a start they rolled out all the bighitting Labour miscreants for two weeks before mentioning the Tories – why not release all the big names at once? And they were always in a position to drip out information as and when they felt like it. How was anyone else to know exactly what was in the information, until it was eventually put into the public domain, which is how it should have been done, fairly and evenly. The Telegraph could have been hiding all sorts of information for all we know. As it turned out, the Telegraph did what it wanted to do – damage the Labour Party the most in the run up to a General Election, before having a go at the Tories and the mud stuck. And where was Cameron in all this on Saturday? He was quick enough to put himself forward last year as the bastion of honesty and the man who will rid his party and the government of the expenses scandal. Yet he was surprisingly quiet on Saturday. Wonder why – embarrassed I guess. Yes, there will be more to come,,,,watch out Liberals and those hiding their sexuality!


I agree with most of what you said, though I doubt that Simon Hughes or Vince Cable would have been the suppliers. It may be acliche, but being a bisexual himself, i doubt Simon Hughes would have forced the traumatic revalation of one's sexuality on a colleague. And Vince... well, he's more on the right of the Lib Dems anyway, and contributed to The Orange Book. And why would he want to see a colleague fall?

I think the Telegraph should be ashamed. Whether David Laws ought to have resigned is a matter for him and the Parliamentarry Standards Authority to sort out. But to play games with people like this is cruel, nevermind stupid. David Laws could have been crucial to bringing the country out of this difficult financial time. He clearly knew what he was doing in govt.

I hope to see him return!


Those defending the Telegraph must explain why they pounced on Danny Alexander the moment he replaced Laws.

Anonymous said...

In all honesty I'd never heard of Laws till the coalition negotiations started. Though I would say in the brief time that he has been on the radar he has impressed me immensely.

He will be a big loss to the coalition Government.


Benefits are part of the welfare state. MPs expenses are part of their remuneration package. Not the same thing so please stop comparing them.

Anonymous said...

I agree with this article.

It actually angers me when people say "why couldn't he just pay for the flat himself?" However much personal wealth a person has, I don't believe they should have to pay thousands of pounds out of pocket for something they need in order to do their job. He was entitled to money for a London home - and he was entitled to far more than he claimed.

No, technically he wasn't allowed to rent from a partner. But practically every adult, regardless of their relationship with the person who owns the property, has to pay something towards their accommodation. Why should MPs be exempt from that? Why should MPs' partners have to stump up the costs? Laws wasn't comfortable making the relationship known, so he claimed in a slightly different way. The amount of money he claimed wasn't excessive - in fact, it was pretty cheap for Central London.

If he'd declared the relationship, he'd have been entitled to more money.

If he'd moved out and rented somewhere else, it probably would have cost more, so he'd have got more money. If he'd bought somewhere else, he'd have been entitled to more.

The taxpayer hasn't in any way lost out here.

Laws was dishonest, and of course that's not a good thing. But his dishonesty has harmed nobody. It wasn't for financial gain, or some sinister political motive. It was to keep his private life private. It's unfortunate that that meant he had to lie in his public life, but ultimately, who exactly suffered by this being kept secret? I can't think of anyone.

And now let's look at who suffers from it being made public: not just Laws, his partner and their respective families, but the government and by extension, the country. Laws is a talented and able politician and economist, and we've lost him over something that, in my eyes at least, is trivial.

I really hope David Laws manages to return to the Treasury at some point. He's too good to lose forever over something that essentially did no harm.

Somerled said...

Historian is absolutely correct. The Danny Alexander "story" was nothing. Purely designed to try & destabilise the Government with no substance whatsoever. If that's the worst they can find then I hope they go broke fairly sharpish - as they deserve to. They've been a worthless rag for years and are getting worse every day.

Silent Marjoree said...

like most of the country I really couldn't give a a flying F*** about Mr Laws being gay. His opportunity to address whom he was paying rent to was last year and he chose not to. As a millionaire he should have & could have and didn't. Get thee to the back benches to atone as the voters don't want it.

Sam C

Good piece generally and well put - but those are outrageous slurs on Vince Cable and Simon Hughes (in the comments as well as the main piece) - on the basis of no evidence at all.

Anonymous said...

I would like to exchange links with your site
Is this possible?

Anonymous said...

I would like to exchange links with your site
Is this possible?

Post a Comment