David Laws interviewed in the FT

This weekend’s Financial Times magazine featured (registration required) a lengthy interview with Liberal Democrat MP for Yeovil, David Laws, by the paper’s political editor, George Parker.

David is extremely open about his personal life in the interview, talking about the effect of what he calls the “triple bashing” he underwent (having his previously-much-guarded personal life exposed by The Daily Telegraph during the course of an expenses story for which he later received a Commons suspension, as well as losing his newly-found Cabinet career).

Here’s a sample:

Laws looks back on the 44 years before May 28 2010 as if it was another life: “Your relationship with everybody – family and friends – develops on the basis of not being open,” he says. “It becomes more and more difficult over time to be open because you end up having to unravel a whole series of lies or dishonesty or half-truths about your personal life over a very, very long period of time.”

This accumulated personal agony was etched on his face as Laws made his ministerial resignation speech at the Treasury last May. “It has felt like quite a battering on my private life and on the expenses issue,” he says. “Dealing with those two issues and losing a job in cabinet has been a sort of triple bashing. I think it will take a bit of time to feel fully restored after that.”

Laws’s demise was especially painful politically, given that he gave up a millionaire’s lifestyle working in the City to join the Liberal Democrats, an apparently curious career choice given that the third party was seen as a refuge for eccentric lefties that had last tasted real power in the 1930s.

Laws was central to the project to realign the Lib Dems to the right and was part of the negotiating team that agreed the coalition with the Conservatives after last year’s hung parliament. His reward was a job in the Treasury, overseeing the rebuilding of Britain’s tattered public finances. “You wait 80 years for a government to come along…” His voice trails off.

Elsewhere in the paper was this snippet of seemingly good news:

Mr Laws’ appetite for politics is coming back and he has been bolstered by the news that the Metropolitan Police have returned his expenses claims back to 2004 to the Commons authorities, suggesting they have found no evidence of criminal conduct. The police declined to comment.

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  • I am no fan of Laws’ politics, but plainly his case was not a resignation matter. An apology was in order, sure, but his case was rather more witch-hunt than accountability.

    It is worth noting here that Laws is not alone, and I make no party-political point here. Peter Mandelson’s resignation was nonsense too.

    There is much to debate with Laws, but we should debate his politics and his world-view and not a life that he had every right to keep private.

  • Duncan, Rich, his case was serious enough that he was suspended from parliament for seven days. Indeed if you look at the list of MPs suspended in recent times it is clear that his was at the more serious end of the scale, not being for breach of protocol or matter of principle.

    It was right that he resigned.

  • Of course he had to resign, he was dishonest. He claimed expenses and lied to do so. If he is allowed back into cabinet in this term it will be just plain wrong. After everything that happened with MP’s expenses Parliament needs to send a clear mesaage that no dishonesty will be tolerated, whatever the reason.

  • Someone can be hounded out unfairly for their sexuality *and* have dishonestly claimed above and beyond protecting their privacy….

  • A brief glance at his election material and the way he particularly focused on his integrity during the expenses scandal and all my sympathy disappeared. Whatever the rights and wrongs of his claims, knowing his situation, he didn’t have to lie to the electorate and claim to be purer than pure. He could simply have focused on other things.

  • I agree with the first two posters, but I don’t think he should come back – primarily for political reasons.

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