David Laws

I thought David Laws’ resignation was dignified and full of integrity – as is he – but very sad to watch.

This matter is now for the authorities to investigate – and will take its course. David’s brilliance is a serious loss to our government and our country – particularly at this time of great need.

But outside of the proprieties or otherwise of David’s arrangements for housing and financing thereof – what I saw when I watched his resignation statement – was the personal pain of an individual who has not felt able to be open about their sexuality.

However progressive our laws are – we have not yet reached the point where young people feel completely free about coming out. Iain Dale has a very good piece in the Mail on Sunday about his own experiences and the difficulties of coming out to his family and friends – and coming from a small village. Yes things are changing – but these personal matters are still not easy for the variety of reasons that Iain sites.

We also know that homophobic bullying in our schools is still a major problem. 98% of schools have anti-bullying policies but only 6% have specific policies to tackle homophobic bullying. Six out of ten children experience homophobic bullying.

During anti-bullying week at the end of ’09, Nick Clegg said:

‘It’s a sad fact that looking or acting ‘gay’ can instantly make someone a target in thousands of schools across the country’.

‘Until we deal with homophobia in schools, we’re never going to stamp out wider discrimination in society’.

 
Both Liberal Democrats and Conservatives highlighted this issue in their manifestos. In the coalition agreement it appears thus: ‘We will help schools tackle bullying in schools, especially homophobic bullying’.

David Laws’ untimely and sad departure from the cabinet demonstrates how very far we still have to go and how very right the coalition is to pursue this issue – for all our sakes.

0 thoughts on “David Laws

  1. Some excellent points on here and food for thought. For me it comes down to surprise that David Laws is clearly an extremely ruthless politician that has no problem in making cuts that will affect the poorest members of our society, yet felt too afraid to tell his parents he was gay.

    I am maybe not being objective on this – my son has autism and we are very concerned that the cuts will take away some of the care that is invaluable to us. 40% of children with autism have experienced bullying at school – also will the academy schools and ‘free’ schools still cater for kids with special needs? We have very real concerns about this government and the cuts that Laws was approaching with such relish. Maybe concern for his feelings was not my main priority!

  2. Correspondents seem to ignore the following:

    1. surely Laws must have been aware that his startling elevation would lead to media digging and that his clandestine relationship would soon be exposed. Regardless of the rights & wrongs of the sexual orientation issue, he is surely guilty of an astounding naivety, if nothing else?

    2. Laws issued a braggadocio PR in 2009 lauding his expenses claims as not having accrued any capital/windfall benefit to himself personally when clearly his payments allowed his partner to do so one-step removed. Why would he issue such a hubristic and misleading PR?

    Is there not an Oscar Wilde hiding in there somewhere?!

  3. “David Laws…full of integrity”
    Are you having a laugh Lynne? He is an embezzler, and seems to be using his sexuality as a defense for his defrauding the taxpayer of £40,000.

    Let’s face it, if he was white, male and straight, and abused the benefit system in this way, he’d be going to jail. I say we should lock up Mr Laws in a grotty, damp concrete room without a window, and throw away the key.

  4. This (according to the Telegraph) is the definition of partner in the rules on MPs’ allowances:

    “one of a couple … who although not married to each other or civil partners are living together and treat each other as spouses.”

    It makes total sense to me that their relationship need not have fallen into this not very clearly-defined category.

  5. Telegraph tomorrow has another expenses scandal – this time starring Danny Alexander. The world’s shortest cabinet career just got shorter..

  6. What is odd about this is that far from it being homophobia, the reason for the resignation is actually an acceptance the homosexual relationships are the same as hetrosexual.

    Sure if he didn’t want the relationship to be known about that is one thing – but would it have been any different if the partner had been a mistress?

    The principle is the same.

    he hypocrisy of the situation is that you can’t on the one hand rhetorically make statements about the need to recognise the status of changing families and relationships and on the other hand be giving public money to people you are sleeping with or have an emotional investment to.

    Oh and David Laws made himself a target. As I understand it the (non)’story’ of his sexuality came out some while ago and he challenged the editors of newspapers to justify their reason for publishing. It seems they have found their justification.

  7. btw

    If you really want to stop bullying it might an idea to get rid of anti-bullying week… this sort of thing only leads to commitee consensus’s’s’s’s’s’s which have no bearing in the real world.

    Also I do wonder about your quoting 6 in 10 children suffering homophobic bullying when something like 1 in 10 are homosexual – which in terms of discrimination is rather oxymoronic – as it would suggest that 5 in 10 children suffer hetrosexualist bullying, and 1 in 10 suffers discrimination based on their sexuality.

    Which in turn does make one question David Laws decision further as he would appear to be suggesting that there is something wrong with being gay – which as we know has nothing to do with happiness and is actually an acronym for Good As You.

  8. I am with Edward. We were told David Laws was going to keep an eye on slasher George and I for one had a moment of hope that the coalition may not be as bad as I feared. But the cuts are ruthless and without regard for the most vulnerable. I am very worried about the cuts in reading tuition, the cuts in supporting young people in to work, the cuts in university places. The shibboleth seemed to be the pledged £6 billion must be met within a week. Why? Household budgeters would act with more care. I am glad David Laws has gone because he didn’t show any respect for the weak and the vulnerable. He is typical of the breed of politicians who think they have an entitlement to public money. I don’t know why he didn’t buy a property with his lover so he could claim his expenses legitimately but he didn’t. As such he was not entitled to claim from the public purse. But claim he did – and for cleaning, maintenance of the property, utilities, etc. I am really very tired of reading what a wonderful man he was. He was ruthless towards others but wants a different standard for himself. A benefit claimant would not only have to be the money back but would be found guilt of fraud. I hope that, like Profumo, having been found not to be so upright that he can find grace.

  9. Lynne,

    Why is anyone buying the whole ‘didn’t want anyone to know about the relationship’ thing. Was anyone going to look at his expenses and decide that he must be gay because he didn’t claim. Could he not have rented another flat?

    What does he take us for? It has nothing to do with homophobia. Would anyone have had sympathy if a Labour minister had resigned in similar circumstances. This stinks and the best thing you can do, Lynne, is point out that it stinks.

    Michael

  10. Michael, I couldn’t agree more. I don’t think Lib Dems are doing themselves any service in how they are reacting to this. They look like complete hypocrites – quick to point the finger but slow to see failings on their own side.

  11. transfattyacid seems to have exclude the possibility – nay certainty – that many of those subjected to homophobic bullying will not become homosexual, let alone gay.

    Whatever the merits of anti bullying week, they indubitably include highlighting some of the bullies who try to prey on online commenters.

  12. Oh . . . can we expect a similarly accomplished – but no doubt similarly delayed – resignation from Mr Laws’ successor over his non payment of CGT on whichever taxpayer funded home he has baulked at paying tax on?

    In the ’20s Evelyn Waugh made fun of the political crises which recurred then: “the Prime Minister of the Week” was his phrase.

    Truly you National Liberals have brought the office of Chief Sec to HM Treasury to imitate this fiction. (Doubt this one will go, Cameron looks stupid enough already)

    http://tl.gd/1j753h – The Indie hasn’t taken this comment – Comment is Not free there, just as per the ToryGuardian. The new government presides over a society which in practical reality is less free every day.

  13. Lynne I do admire and respect you for many reasons. However, I do question your stance on David Laws. Here is someone who has systematically claimed expenses over many years. He campaigned on the basis of probity and integrity. The reason he has given for not being transparency – indeed for not maintaining the minimum standards he himself championed – do not withstand even the most basic scrutiny. At best it is hypocrisy and at worst it is dishonest.

    I do not wish to extend my comment to any personal criticism but I would like you to know that I expected more from you at this first test. This is not about whether you like or dislike Laws, or whether he was a good politician. Its about basic honesty.

  14. Lynne – homophobia is a real problem, but that’s not the reason people are angry about David Laws. What the public are seeing is the usual hypocrisy of MPs here – one law for MPs it seems, another one for the rest of us. I think MPs like yourself are seriously misjudging the public mood on this one, and you should have a rethink. Ben Summerskill of stonewall had a piece in the observer yesterday criticising laws. The issue here is nothing to do with his sexual orientation.

  15. Stonewall certainly doesn’t represent all gay people, and Ben Summerskill’s view in the recent piece certainly doesn’t reflect mine.

    Matthew Parris writes in The Times today – http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/matthew_parris/article7140642.ece

    It seems to me David Laqs had no intention of defrauding anyone, his intention was to claim as if he was living with a “friend”, because in his head he was, because he has unsuccessfully battled his gay demons. To suggest this is nothing to do with homophobia shows a gross lack of understanding of the difficulties gay people suffer, and even if it is not about the newspapers’ homophobia, it is certainly about Mr Laws own internal homophobia, no doubt created by our society and certain less tolerant religions.

  16. David laws did not break any rules. James lundie is not his spouse. End of! If you are to class them as spouses then you need to grant them all the rights that would come with a civil partnership. My partner was unable to claim housing benefit because we are living together but not in an official partnership. So I am expected to pay for him
    on a small wage which hardly covers one person’s outgoings let alone two. Yet we don’t get any legal rights. A disgrace that needs sorting. However, what is sad is that it appears so few lib dem mps feel able to be open about their sexuality in a party so tolerant and accepting. Is it because they fear being defined by their sexuality? After all until recently coming out would probably be the only story that would make a lib dem a household name in the tabloid press. Is the thorpe factor still a fear for lib dems, 30 years on. I do hope it’s not the case but it does seem odd that the most pro gay of parties has so few openly out gay mps.

  17. What piffle & lies! @Ashley byrne

    Look forward to you defending the next woman accused of cohabiting and claiming as though single but regularly sleeping with a partner.

  18. Juts as well so many National Liberal afficianados feel embattled by defence of their leaders’ dishonest and greedy hypocrisy – was worried the Labour Party would recruit the lousy ones as well as the many thousands of good ones.

  19. oh dear lynne thinks defendant anonymity in rape trials is a good thing – not in the manifesto of either party

  20. Quietzapple

    Actually I was under the impression that I was precisely pointing out that if about 1 in 10 is homosexual, and 6 in 10 report homophobic bullying (probably being called gay), ergo this is not homophobic bullying as the people involved are not gay, homosexual, call it what you like…. hence my use of the term hetrosexualist.

  21. Lynne – The coalition agreement is not what people voted on – it should only be made up of manifesto pledges that both parties could agree on – surely?

  22. @transfattyacid That was not clear to me, and is erroneous in any case. It is the intentions of those doing the bullying and, to some extent the reasonable belief of those being bullied (and others bystanding) which may be homophobic.

    Homophobia is not solely as the object of its loathing does.

  23. @Lynne Featherstone Do you seriously expect the anonymity of rape defendants to stick? Much is made by your new found colleagues and their still more right wing followers of the small numbers of race relations cases which find their way to court.

    Can you imagine the rage involved when a rape case which should have resulted in prison fails? Or that your new law will be obeyed? Let alone that it will play a role in changing expectations, as race relations laws have?

  24. I too was very sad Lynne when David Laws felt he had to resign on Saturday night, I know lot of people have commented on this and it does raise a lot of questions about what the definition of a partner is. The boundaries are fuzzy and if as is reported these two men fell in love after a period of time sharing the house it begs the question of when do you consider a friend to become a partner? Whatever the answer to this question, and it is for others to decide this for David, to be forced ‘out’ in the way he was and the pain it has caused both his lover and his parents is unforgivable. It should not make any difference to us as parents if our children are gay but it still does unfortunately in some cases. I really hope they can resolve this in a way where everyone feels comfortable with the outcome.

  25. Excellent piece here

    David Laws’s life goal was to cast people out of work

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/may/31/david-laws-cuts-agenda

    The last paragraph sums up my feelings on this

    He would have been a Tory, were it not for repugnance at section 28 social Conservatism. I regret the manner of his fall, but not the departure of one who expressed little sympathy for the lives of others being damaged by a too harsh interpretation of economic necessity.

  26. Nice side step Lynne.

    David Laws’ untimely and sad departure from the cabinet demonstrates how very far we still have to go for our politicians to regain integrity.

    Deceitful expense claims.

    Whatever David’s sexuality he knowingly made false expense.

    And lets not forget, before he went he tried to run mealy mouth excuses about the definition of a partner.

    He went when he knew for sure he had no other choice.

    Very, very unimpressive and to try and tie bullying and homophobia into the matter is little better.

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  28. The rumour is that Lynne’s flagship policy is to be ditched.

    Perhaps her name will be dissociated from it too?

  29. ODE TO A LAND WITHOUT LAWS

    Of Laws what is writ?
    The hubris of a banker
    preaching public thrift?
    What of the watchman
    o’er the nation’s treasure
    who took from the hoard
    to steal private pleasure?

    Fools may proclaim
    a Kingdom ingrate
    to waste the wits
    of this Man of State.
    Yet far better gone is he
    who took his duties light
    to fritter our wealth
    on another sodomite.

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  31. @Cheap t-shirts

    You took this long to fall for Lynne’s deathlesslines:

    David Laws’ untimely and sad departure from the cabinet demonstrates how very far we still have to go and how very right the coalition is to pursue this issue – for all our sakes.

    Quite the converse proved to be true in his case. He was suspended for a week. Would a heterosexual fiddler have received so feeble a penalty?