This could have been better for David Laws. The punishment imposed by the standards committee is at the worse end of expectations, at least among Lib Dems. One government figure told me he will not be returning as a minister “anytime soon”.
But, particularly in this case, it is important to define terms. If you start from the premise that the didn’t do anything seriously wrong and should be reappointed immediately, this is a terrible conclusion to the investigation. Read more
Political historians will be raking over May’s coalition talks for many years to come to establish an ever deeper level of detail and nuance.
We already know a fair amount about the talks that took place between a Lib Dem team of negotiators and their counterparts from the Tory and Labour parties. Yet there are still various interpretations of how the discussions played out.
This morning I watched David Laws and Lord Adonis give their subtly different versions of events five months after they occurred. Read more
Esquire magazine is this month tipping five coalition MPs as future cabinet ministers as part of a piece naming 20 future high-fliers in Westminster.
In the spring of 2008, just as the drip-drip of revelations about MPs’ expenses was starting to gather momentum, I was despatched to write a magazine feature article for the Weekend FT about Britain’s politicians: were they paid too much for the job they did?
Seeking to write a balanced piece, I made sure that I interviewed at least one MP who exemplified public service; someone who had stepped down from a highly-paid City job to take a relatively low salary at the Liberal Democrats – the party which would never (as it then seemed) take power. His name was David Laws.
I spent a Friday in Laws’ constituency of Yeovil, watching him deal with constituents’ complaints in a diligent and attentive manner. Afterwards we had a pint in a local pub; I told him I could never understand why anyone would want to be an MP, with people trawling through your private life. His answer was non-committal. He struck me – much as he has since – as polite, slightly prim, self-contained and highly intelligent.
When the Telegraph revelations were published a year ago I was quietly relieved that Laws was unscathed.
Fast-foward two years and Laws is the first casualty of the Lib-Con coalition, as ft.com reports tonight. His position as chief secretary to the Treasury had become untenable after he said he would repay £40,000 of expenses claimed for rent paid to his boyfriend; since 2006 MPs were not allowed to lease accommodation from their partners. Read more