Toby Blair? / David Laws and James Lundie
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It appears (despite the original heading of this post simply being 'Toby Blair?') that some communicants (and therefore, undoubtedly, readers) are unable to grasp the irony of the juxtaposition of this Telegraph headline with His Grace's perfunctory comment upon an utterly insignifcant typo.
As if His Grace usually concerns himself with such trivia.
Only a few days ago, after an outstanding performance at the Dispatch Box, David Laws was being tipped as a future prime minister. Only a few weeks ago, Nick Clegg was playing his holier-than-thou and whiter-than-white cards in the leaders' debates: the Liberal Democrats, he averred, were not tarnished with expenses sleaze 'like the main parties'.
And now we have this revelation.
Let Cranmer be clear: this is not an issue of Mr Laws' sexuality but of his financial probity. It is not a question of his right to a private life but a question mark over the public's confidence in his financial judgement.
David Laws is effectively the UK's chief accountant. It appears that he has been paying rent to his partner of nine years, amounting to a sum of £40,000. He insists that he has not personally benefited financially from the arrangement: indeed, it would seem that the taxpayer has made quite a saving. But if Mr Laws had been claiming welfare benefits whilst living with his partner, it would have amounted to theft. While he may not personally have benefited from the arrangement, his common-law civil parter most certainly has. And Mr Laws has ensured this. By assisting his partner to buy another house, he entered into a financial arrangement which, on paper, may be of no benefit to Mr Laws but which, in reality, benbefits them both.
His Grace simply wishes to be consistent on this.
If this were a Labour minister, ConservativeHome and Iain Dale would be baying for blood. As it is, the former is simply recommending that we await the verdict of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and the latter is actually supporting Mr Laws, for whom he has considerable compassion and understanding (as he has for James Lundie).
But one should not let compassion, coalition or co-sexuality affiliation cloud the central issue.
Just as it would be quite wrong for David Laws to be dismissed over The Telegraph's revelation of Mr Laws' sexuality, so equally is it wrong that he should be pitied, understood and remain in his position because of his sexuality. For an accountant to enter into the arrangement he did is a display of poor financial judgement.
In the words of Lord Sugar, regretfully, for that reason alone, David, you're fired.