Honour, obligation and doing the right thing

So David Laws resigns and our coalition wobbles a bit – but not much. We’ll soon get over it.

One of the things that so frustrated us about our politicians was their apparent lack of concern for what used to be appropriate behaviour and an inherent ability to carry on regardless of what we, their employers, thought. Laws was allegedly claiming £950 a month for eight years and has now agreed to pay back around £40000 in misappropriated expenses. And quite right. The guy is an ex-VP at merchant banker JP Morgan and, although I don’t know anything about his personal life, he is reportedly a millionaire. So, from a financial standpoint, paying back that money will take him no more time or worry than it takes to write the cheque. The issue hinges on the fact that the money he was claiming has gone to his partner, which breaks parliamentary rules. He has rationalised it by saying that he was trying to balance the stigma of being gay with working in public office but, with the Prince of Darkness resplendent in the ranks of Labour, that really doesn’t wash. He wasn’t in Government when he started trousering the money, was he?

I’m pleased he has resigned because he was caught with his hand in the cookie jar and has done the only honourable thing. He knew he was acting inappropriately when he was taking the money but, in pre-coalition days, the consequences of sorting that part out may well have seemed less traumatic than ‘coming out’ as homosexual. And, of course, that’s the crux of it, isn’t it? What the heck should it matter if his partner is a guy?

He’s apparently a good bloke and is liked in his constituency. I wish him well and expect to see him come to prominence again. Bottom line is; if you hold public office you have to maintain minimal standards and he was right to go – but his private life should be private and he shouldn’t have been compromised into misappropriating expenses because of the stigma attached to it in the first place. Maybe honesty across several fronts, uncomfortable as that might sometimes be, is the right policy after all.


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