Friday, 13 May 2011

This Is Likely To Be The Least Popular Post I've Ever Written; Republished

Republished as Blogger lost it during their recent issues...

Sure, that title is rather presumptuous given the hatred poured out on me after that time a post of mine was quoted in the Guardian insulting Simon Hughes. That was not a fun time. But I suspect, among my fellow Lib Dems, this post will be met with hostility, defensiveness and censure.

Let me get the "Don't hate me too much" stuff out of the way first.

I do not hate David Laws. I do not, in fact, have strong feelings in either direction regarding him. Despite my reading of his 1997 election leaflet here in Folkestone and Hythe being one of my earliest political memories, he's just not been on my political radar.

And I do not think he intentionally robbed the public purse for financial gain. I do not think he is in the same league as those who flipped their homes or used their expenses for frivolous things. I am firmly of the belief most of them have got off scot-free and I find this disturbing and upsetting.

And I applaud David Laws for accepting what he did was wrong

I accept the conclusions of the Inquiry and take full responsibility for the mistakes which I have made. I apologise to my constituents and to Parliament. Each of us should be our own sternest critic, and I recognise that my attempts to keep my personal life private were in conflict with my duty as an MP to ensure that my claims were in every sense above reproach. I should have resolved this dilemma in the public interest and not in the interests of my privacy.

However, from the moment these matters became public, I have made clear that my motivation was to protect my privacy, rather than to benefit from the system of parliamentary expenses, and I am pleased that the Commissioner has upheld that view.

I have also, from the very beginning, made clear that I believed that my secrecy about my private life led me to make lower overall claims than would otherwise be the case, and this has been confirmed by the Parliamentary Commissioner and by the Committee. The taxpayer gained, rather than lost out, from my desire for secrecy, though I fully accept that this is not an adequate reason for breaking the rules.

This last year has been a difficult one, and I am grateful to family, friends, constituents and colleagues for their support and understanding.


I am deeply disturbed by the defence many, not Laws himself I hasten to add, are making for Laws' behaviour and against his punishment. The defence stinks of special pleading and is very unbecoming.

1) attempting to hide your sexuality is not a get-out of jail free card. I'm sorry, I know I can be heartless about closeted men in power, but it's not acceptable to think that one can bend the rules to hide some personal secret. I don't care if it'd upset his family to find out the truth about him. That's their failing. There are rules that need to be followed and using his sexuality to suggest they shouldn't have been followed is an insult both to him and to gay men in general. He made a bad decision, he has accepted he made a bad decision. Move on, and stop trying to drag his sexuality into it.

2) just because others were not punished doesn't mean you shouldn't be. Some are aghast that David Laws is being punished whilst worse offenders got away with it. I too am aghast; aghast they got away with it. We should be campaigning to get them properly punished not for leniency on David Laws to ensure some sort of bizarre fairness.

I understand the urge to defend someone who, according to all reports I've heard, is a lovely, charming man. I'm sure he is a good person, I've no reason to believe otherwise. But he made a mistake, and he is, with great dignity I must say, making up for it. This is the situation as it stands, please STOP bemoaning this fact as if it's a travesty of justice.

Every time someone, through a great love for David Laws personally, stands up and declares how awful and wrong the decision to suspend him is, they serve only to remind the public of the "private club" nature of politics and of the selective defence for someone based on your personal feelings rather than what is right and what is wrong. If you remember during the expenses scandal many Labour blogs were full of this sort of stuff "But they are such a lovely person, I'm sure they only flipped their home because....". We aren't interested in excuses. A person in such a position must be beyond reproach OR prepared to take the consequences.

I hope David Laws returns to front bench politics, I believe he'd be an asset to our Government and our country. But I also hope he and others learn from his mistake.

Don't hate me too much...

If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist


Paul Brownsey said...

1. "But he made a mistake"

No, he didn't. Making a mistake is when you're following a recipe and misread grams for ounces. He didn't make a mistake. He acted wrongly. They're different. Saying that wrongdoers merely 'made a mistake' trivialises their offence, comparing it to the aforesaid misreading of a recipe.

2. "attempting to hide your sexuality is not a get-out of jail free card."

There's a dimension to this you don't mention and which makes the secrecy worse. If Laws was scared about his sexuality becoming known, then if a constituent had brought a gay-related matter to him for help, would he have given the constituent full assistance? It is not unreasonable to suppose he might have been less than assiduous in the matter for fear that someone might think he was a bit too interested in a gay case, and hey, he was unmarried, so... In sum, being secretive about his sexuality might have held him back from giving proper assistance in such a case.

Jae Kay said...

Both equally valid points. I was purposely trying to be diplomatic due to the sensitive nature of the subject among some of my friends. Merely suggesting David Laws was anything other than completely innocent was, and is, taboo to them. I wanted to get my point of view across to them in a way that didn't make them rise up in "torch and pitchforky" anger against me and in a way that gets them to consider another point of view.

So I totally agree with you.