And so it’s taken just the 3 weeks for the first scandal to hit the new Government following the resignation tonight of David Laws the Chief Secretary of the Treasury. He’s been caught fiddling more than £40,000 in expenses claiming for rent from the tax-payers’ purse paid to his long-term live-in lover James Lundie, who he claims is not really his partner because they have separate bank accounts. Ah somebody should presumably tell all those married people with personal accounts that their marriages are annulled then. This guy is, er was, one of the ‘stars’ of the Lib-Dems and clearly a clever bloke having been tasked by Cameron with leading the fight on reducing Ministerial overspending to help the new coalition Government meet its budget reduction targets. It’s reasonable to assume that he understands finance and fiscal propriety and yet most of today we were being asked to believe that this guy wasn’t breaking the clear Parliamentary rules about claiming expenses from spouses, family members and partners. Yeh right. And not only has he been knowingly doing this for years, this is the Minister who over the last week or so has been telling the country how to act with more fiscal responsibility. How on earth do these people sleep at night?
Been caught with their snouts in the trough is hardly a surprise these days but what is a continuing surprise is just how many of the relatively small number of front line Liberal-Democrat MP’s have been found to be hiding a career-threatening ‘secret’. So David Laws has been exposed as a homosexual as well as an expenses cheat. Why did he feel it necessary to hide his sexuality – some 25 years after Chris Smith announced with some pride that he was an MP and gay? Is there still a stigma – what’s worse keeping it hidden to not lose a few votes from the homophobes out there, or being exposed as a closet homosexual and losing all credibility as an politician for being less than honest and deceitful? And he’s not alone; Simon Hughes had to stand down from the battle for the leadership of the party when he was exposed as a bisexual. This after winning a bitterly contested bi-election in Bermondsey against the openly gay Labour candidate Peter Tatchell after positioning himself as the public’s ‘straight’ choice. Who can also forget the abortive leadership challenge of Mark Oaten after he was caught being entertained by a rent boy. He didn’t mention that interest in his prospectus. Then there was the historical precedence created by the Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe back in the 60’s who kept his homosexual tendencies under raps for years because of its illegality then but whose relationship with the openly-gay Norman Scott was about to be exposed led to a bungled plot to have him murdered. Thorpe’s name was cleared but his reputation was ruined along with his career.
And it’s not just closet homosexuality which has been the only ‘secret problem’ for the Lib-Dems. Leader Paddy Ashdown earned the nickname Paddy Pantsdown for his affairs behind his wife’s back whilst in office. And yet another Leader, Charles Kennedy had to stand down once it became no longer possible for him to conceal his problem drinking.
It’s not the flaws or sexual preferences that bother me; it’s the deceit and hypocrisy. Jeez the consensus coming out of Westminster village this morning is that Laws is the victim of a witch-hunt or more shockingly a political assassination by the Telegraph for exposing him only once he’s been appointed a Cabinet Minister. Didn’t he after all have a right to keep his private life just that – private. Yes he does. But nobody’s bothered about his sexuality – it’s his corruptness – cheating the taxpayer and hiding his sexuality not because he wants privacy but because it would have exposed his lover/partner and thus his little scam. He may be brilliant and a huge loss to the Government and he may well be distraught at his family finding out find out about his sexuality in this unfortunate way, but all I can feel is tough and good riddance. I’m sure all the parties are full of people with feet of clay but the Lib-Dems albeit a minor party could start a frigging brick factory. Does anybody out there have any faith at all in our politicians and political system any longer?