Saturday, May 29, 2010

Toby Blair? / David Laws and James Lundie

Perhaps this is the sort of sloppy journalism and careless error one might expect when a once-great journal of political discourse descends to little more than a sleazy tabloid.

No further comment required...


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.


Anonymous graham wood said...

YG Why your closing words "no further comment required" - since you have raised the issue in the expectation of comment?

Also, why is the DT's report described as "sloppy journalism" & etc? Is not the diversion of £40,000 of taxpayer's money to a fraudulent end of public interest?

Regardless of how effective or otherwise David Laws is as a minister, regardless that he is paying the money back, for all the spin about ‘new politics’ and the coalition setting aside many differences in the ‘national interest’, the public purse has been used to underwrite David Laws’ self interest?
This is evidence the political class is still 'at it', at our expense.

Irrespective of the ‘human’ angle to this story, this was snout in the trough behaviour and a clear abuse commited by an independently wealthy man.
Your indignation is entirely misplaced. Would you rather this further evidence of ministerial corruption did not see the light of day?

29 May 2010 at 10:21  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Graham Wood is spot on the money, Your Grace. The irony that a man who has abused taxpayers money to favour his little friend has been put in charge of "rescuing government finances" cannot be ignored.

The sleaze is in the Cabinet, not the newspaper. I thought Dave "transparent government" Cameron was supposed to be eradicating sleaze...

Word verification "rente" - as in seeker?

29 May 2010 at 10:30  
Blogger Scrigg said...

Is a typo somehow supposed to vindicate the queer fella? I think not.

29 May 2010 at 10:46  
Blogger Scrigg said...

Hiding a rent boy for 9 years and robbing the public of £40K for it is not very decent. Since when was it ok to use public money to conceal your LEGAL hide-the-sausage games?

29 May 2010 at 10:54  
Blogger Preacher said...

One hopes that this is a typo & not Blairs up to now unknown brother Toby, or maybe it's another attempt to re-invent himself, the guy's a Chameleon you know!. As for the other report, same old, same old, let's see how cast iron Dave handles it, better than 'Lisbon' I hope.

29 May 2010 at 10:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I'll be buggered.

Our nation has grown used to being dealt a shit end of the stick.

I am sure everyones faith in politics has been restored now.

verification (whiglyb) sounds like the coalition to me.

29 May 2010 at 11:15  
Anonymous graham wood said...

YG I owe you only a half apology, as from the above posts I have only just noticed that your comment applied to the 'Toby' typo, which I had missed.
Even so, in the normal course of things one would expect your comment to naturally relate to the DT's headline to which the eye is drawn and which is prominent.
Clearly your greater concern was for 'Toby'.
An odd priority perhaps, for the relatively minor matter of the typo in comparison with the far more serious issue in the national news ?
Therefore only half an apology seems right!

29 May 2010 at 11:23  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Graham Wood,

Do you have no sense of irony?

Perhaps it was too subtle.

Is a typo the sort of issue with which His Grace concerns himself?

29 May 2010 at 11:34  
Blogger Scrigg said...

After reading around a bit on this, I will say that things are starting to come together somewhat. On Thursday, David Laws was to have been on BBC Question Time; suddenly he withdrew and the Govt refused to put anyone else in his place, as long as Alastair Campbell was still on the panel. Watch BBC QT again and watch Campbell smirking as Dimbleby makes his announcement at the start of the programme about the government refusing to provide anyone for the programme – watch Campbell’s face as he produces the framed picture of Laws at the end of the programme.

It seems obvious to me that there was a campaign for Laws head. However, in saying this, Laws is doing a fine job, but unfortunately the bottom line is this: He broke the rules on expenses, and as many of us who’ve ever messed up tax returns or parked in the wrong place know – ignorance or mis-understanding of the relevant laws is no excuse.

His sexuality is irrelevant – if the guy’s good at his job I don’t care whether he prefers the company of fish to humans – but if he’s broken the rules then the relevant sanctions have to be applied and the consequences handled.

29 May 2010 at 11:43  
Anonymous graham wood said...

YG In reply: Yes, I have a sense of irony and of humour also.

Yes it was all rather too subtle for me - how were posters to discern your 'hidden message'.
I think you should acknowledge your ambiguity could be open to misinterpretation?

Re typo. I took your comment at face value, and naturally linked it with the bigger story.

I may be long in the tooth, but I'm definitely not Bletchly Park material. The half apology remains!

29 May 2010 at 11:47  
Blogger Scrigg said...

David Laws says: “We are not civil partners, we do not have joint bank accounts, we do not have wills, and we have never told any other person about our relationship.”

Try that bullshit with the housing benefit mafia and see how far you get - whether homosexual or hetrosexual.

29 May 2010 at 12:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scrigg, I believe, has summed this up correctly.

The urgent question to the HoC had Laws wiping the floor with Labour. He reduced the opposition to terrified silence.

Dimblebiased and his leftie media cronies will not have liked that.

While the country's accountant should be scrupulous, why did Darling survive after his fraudlent "flipping"? Dimbleby was silent on the issue, as I recall.

Perhaps it's time for Dimbleby to find pastures new.

There is something seriously wrong with the system.

29 May 2010 at 13:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah subtle, you had me there for a moment cranny.

Laws financial probity?

Really, you lower the tone, must we go into such detail.

The question is has a Law been broken and if so, where does it hurt and who will kiss it better.

29 May 2010 at 13:47  
Anonymous len said...

Well it didn`t take long for that skeleton to fall out of the cupboard did it?
So it looks like sleaze is here to stay.

29 May 2010 at 14:07  
Blogger English Viking said...

'...this is not an issue of Mr Laws' sexuality...'

Why not? The fact that he is a thief is obvious from the the letters MP after his name. The fact that he is a Rear-Admiral is not immediately apparent, but now we know he should be removed from Government.

I am so very, very tired of being told what to do by gay-boys.

29 May 2010 at 14:21  
Blogger John R said...

So much for Clegg's position on the whole expenses scandal. I rmeber his finger pointing as he positioned himself and his party as whiter than white, able to walk on water and generally far removed from the dirty habits of the other two.

Looks like his little piggies have their snouts just as deeply in the trough as all the others.

Let's see if he has the balls to fire Laws. If he was a Tory I'd bet CallMeDave would have had him out of the door by now.

29 May 2010 at 15:33  
Anonymous martin sewell said...


I have written this morning on Conservative Home that the Law is not as clear cut as you suggest and that far from being harsh on those some might consider "living together" or "partners", the ordinary man/woman in the street seems to get a more generous call than some are giving to David Laws.

Can I invite you to take a look and see the matter argued at some length with specifics drawn from my own professional experience in similar matters.

29 May 2010 at 15:46  
Anonymous martin sewell said...

Incidentally, if Laws has to go why did we allow Mandelson back?

29 May 2010 at 15:49  
Anonymous len said...

If nothing else this 'omission'by Mr Laws shows a gross error of Judgement surely anyone in the public eye (especially in the light of the recent carry on`s in Government)could not hope to escape detection?
One of the signs that we are living in the end times is that everything that is hidden will be revealed. When the Lord returns he will "…bring to light the hidden things of darkness… [and] make manifest the counsels of the hearts..." (1Cor. 4:5) The consequence of lifting this dark shroud of secrecy, which for centuries has gone unchecked, is that every thing that can be shaken will be shaken, at every level—political, financial, religious and social. Haggai 2:6-7

29 May 2010 at 16:21  
Blogger Scrigg said...

@martin Sewell

When I had my divorce through I moved back in with my ageing mother, and I had to pay rent. I was unemployed at the time but could not claim a penny towards help with rent and council tax.

The fact of the matter is perfectly clear, if you live as a partner and do not declare it while claiming benefits, then they come down on you like a ton of KY jelly.

29 May 2010 at 16:27  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

I don't think Laws should resign or be sacked. It's time a line was draw under this expenses scandal and the whole political machine moved forward and got to grips with the real issues that beset this Country. There has been enough of a feeding frenzy in the media to last a life time. We should just get over it.

29 May 2010 at 16:31  
Blogger AncientBriton said...

I said my piece here:

29 May 2010 at 16:39  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Graham Wood at 11.47 - a man is measured by the fullness of his apology, as he is measured by the quality of 'his word'.

It behoves us all to remember the old school-room adage: read every question three times before attempting an answer!

To avoid the taint of smugness I'll admit to occasionally falling foul of the self-same error. However, I try not to be quite so mealy-mouthed when it comes to offering my apologies.

29 May 2010 at 16:45  
Blogger Scrigg said...


The point is that we all want to get over it but they wont let us - they continue to trough their way through public money.

I have read your piece and I am still not convinced that this is a grey area. The elephant in the room is the fact that he admits the whole thing. In your piece you describe single mums having multiple relationships and allowing stop-over boyfriends, but Laws situation is that he was the stop-over boyfriend paying rent. So was he paying for sex or was he paying rent because he was living there? If he was living there then what was the relationship? It sounds like he was a tad more than a stop-over boyfriend, and if he wasn't anything more than that then it all gets even more sordid.

29 May 2010 at 16:46  
Anonymous not a machine said...

Being as his lover is also a spin advisor for the lib dems , doesnt seem to make it any less of an error .

Nice work if you can get it.

29 May 2010 at 16:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@not a machine

Indeed, James (Iam either a rent boy or a partner) Lundie has his own blog: Election 2010

29 May 2010 at 17:04  
Anonymous graham wood said...

Ancient Briton paints Mr Laws as a poor unfortunate victim at the mercy of "wolves" baying for blood.

Nothing could be further from the truth.
To the contrary it is we as British taxpayers, and especially those at the bottom of the heap, who are the real victims.
Justified criticism of Mr Laws has nothing to do with his sexuality - but rather his theft from the public purse.
If similar acts of theft were done by us would we not now, rightly, be facing arrest and charged by the police?
The facts are:
"The flat was owned by Mr Lundie, who was also registered as living at the property.
He sold it for a profit of £193,000 in 2007.
Mr Laws' partner then bought another house nearby for £510,000.
The MP then began claiming to rent the "second bedroom" in this property and his claims increased to £920 a month.
Mr Lundie also lived at the property.
Mr Laws, a millionaire former City banker, has his MAIN HOME in his Yeovil constituency.
"At no point did I consider myself to be in breach of the rules which in 2009 defined partner as 'one of a couple... who, although not married to each other or civil partners, are living together and treat each other as spouses'," he insisted."
And the reason he should not be sacked immediately and prosecuted for fraud is?

29 May 2010 at 17:19  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Graham Wood at 17.19 - whilst hopefully demonstrating a non 'mealy-mouthed' response: I applaud your post!

29 May 2010 at 17:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

your grace, said my stuff on my own blog

29 May 2010 at 17:34  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Why expect moral standards from politicians ? Surely we can accept them as venal fraudsters ? Making a pile in The City or in oil trading seems to encourage devious behaviour and deceit.

Surely this kind of larceny and deceitful behaviour for self-advantage is key in political life. The main thing is to ignore their laws, their pompous speeches and seek to circumvent them.

The human condition is such that lifting stones reveals all sorts of life and it is best to recognise that politicians lead by example.

29 May 2010 at 17:56  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Why expect moral standards from politicians ? Surely we can accept them as venal fraudsters ? Making a pile in The City or in oil trading seems to encourage devious behaviour and deceit.

Surely this kind of larceny and deceitful behaviour for self-advantage is key in political life. The main thing is to ignore their laws, their pompous speeches and seek to circumvent them.

The human condition is such that lifting stones reveals all sorts of life and it is best to recognise that politicians lead by example.

29 May 2010 at 17:57  
Blogger English Viking said...


Your posts are so good I read them twice.

29 May 2010 at 18:34  
Blogger Scrigg said...

Your Grace.

He is quitting before they fire him. It will be all over the Sunday Papers.

Gosh, I love the smell of KY Jelly in the morning!

29 May 2010 at 18:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Poor Iain Dale and all the other poofs couldn't save him Your Grace.

29 May 2010 at 18:51  
Anonymous graham wood said...

Oswin. Without a trace of any 'mealy-mouth' I thank you for your comments.

29 May 2010 at 19:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

His replacement will need to reANALyse his proposed ARSEterity measures, I believe he intended to give it us good and hard.

29 May 2010 at 20:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done, Cranny, you brought him down.
Now get Clegg.

29 May 2010 at 22:29  
Blogger AncientBriton said...

Graham, because "theft" and "fraud" are serious accusations for others to consider. If he is guilty of either he will be judged accordingly and pay the price if found guilty.

30 May 2010 at 08:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cock sure I won't be taken for a sucker again.

30 May 2010 at 09:53  

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