Laws may deserve sympathy but he still has to go….
Two distinct camps are quickly emerging over the question of David Laws’ fate. On the one side there are those who see the question as cut-and-dried; he has clearly done wrong and must go. The other side says that Law’s actions were understandable even defensible. I have a bit of sympathy with both sides but ultimately, no matter how human and understandable his actions were it does not logically follow that he is therefore entitled to keep his position. Although I do believe he did this out of no desire for financial gain (what need would he have for it after all) he took a conscious and willing decision that his privacy mattered more than both the taxpayers money and the personal probity of his office which is ultimately unacceptable for somebody in his position and must lead to the end of his Cabinet career and ultimately, if the Coalition has its way on recall, his submission to the verdict of his own electorate.
Something needs to be said about the Liberal Democrat Party which, unlike Laws personally, deserves to be politically crucified for the fact that now; almost magically, people within it seem to have found some spine when it comes to attacking the media witch-hunt on expenses. Makes all the difference when it is one of your own doesn’t it? Nick Clegg did everything he could to profit from the expenses scandal and therefore it is a fitting judgement on him that Laws be forced from his office. Liberal Democrats were quick to jump on Labour ‘scandals’ without fully examining the facts or regard for the people involved, they can have no complaint now if the opposition reciprocates in kind.
Ultimately, Laws fate should be sealed that although his actions are on some level understandable they are not sufficiently so. Being gay and afraid is not a defence against anything nor is it acceptable to make somebodies sexuality a special circumstance. Ironically, this is the very essence of discrimination and the complete opposite of equality. If it is then where does this stop? If Law’s had killed somebody to keep his secret would it be right that he avoids any kind of punishment because of this? Of course it would not, of course he hasn’t committed such a serious offence but the guiding principle is the same; were this a heterosexual MP keeping their lover quiet there would be no hesitation in calling for him/her to go and so it must be for a homosexual one; this is what equality means, equal treatment; not special favours.
Furthermore, Mr Laws is now leading the charge of the Coalition’s ‘austerity drive’; a position in which he no longer has any moral credibility or authority. Every time there is an announcement of spending cuts (and consequentially attacks on peoples livelihoods and living) this is the story people will remember and, justly, people will ask if this man has any right to impose spending cuts on us when he exploited the system to pay for his own privacy. If ‘new politics’ keeps Laws in his job it will be exposed for the sham it is; no matter how understandable the actions of Laws, he must go.