Saturday, 29 May 2010

Oh dear David

Somewhere in the first half of 'The Blair Years', extracts Alastair Campbell's diaries released a few years ago, Campbell writes about a phone call he received in August 1997 from the News of the World, informing him that they would be running a story about Robin Cook's affair: 'your first sex scandal' Keir thinks, from memory, the line is.

It took Labour four months and it has taken the Coalition less than a month! Arise David Laws, the man variously described as a Tories favourite Liberal and a 'Bond villain'

But the David Laws story is much more than just a sex scandal. It is upsetting in the sense that Laws felt uncomfortable coming out, it is also upsetting that Laws has well and truly thrown his boyfriend under the bus to save himself, but more of that later.

So what is the story? To put it simply: a homosexual cabinet minister (who is, incidentally, a millionaire) in an attempt to hide his sexuality continues to claim rent for a second home when he is, in fact, living with his partner (claiming for rent to pay spouse or partner is forbidden). Said cabinet minister has defended himself by saying that he never really considered his partner as, well, his partner, pointing out that they didn't have shared bank accounts or shared social lives.

The definition of a partner? 'one of a couple… who although not married to each other or civil partners are living together and treat each other as spouses'.

So why the need to hide then, isn't that the crux of a relationship? If James Lundie didn't fill that definition then, well, he's not his partner and they are not in a relationship!

Keir has had several partners and has 'treated [them] as spouses', but has never had shared bank accounts with them and has always retained 'separate social lives'. Keir's parents have been married for almost 30 years, and have separate bank accounts. It is an odd defence, a defence that seems to be cobbled together and have no consideration for his long term boyfriend who, if it was Keir, would certainly be a bit upset at being described as not a partner!

So what should Laws do?

Keir is rather depressed that the expenses issue has dragged on. Keir also notes Clegg and Cleggerer's often repeated mantra prior to the election "...this discredited parliament", and Clegg's sanctimony on expenses. (Incidentally, Laws took this holier than thou approach in a press release on his website in the midst of the expenses storm)

Should he resign? In a perfect world, yes. Financial impropriety like this definitely discredits the man responsible for telling us proles how many jobs are going to be lost. It also, hopefully, punctures the balloon of 'new politics', of 'change'. Keir thinks he will survive, just about. Keir does idly wonder if this might have had anything to do with his no show on the Campbell dominated QT on Thursday?

One thing Keir is confident of is that if James Lundie was Julie Lundie there would not be this discussion. Equality works two ways.

UPDATE @ 18.42: Looks like Keir was wrong, Ever reliable Iain Dale, Tim Montgomery, and even the lovely Sally Bercow are all twittering that Laws has gone, possibly to be replaced by Chris Huhne or Jeremy Browne. The BBC are yet to pick up...

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