David Laws: should I stay as an MP?

Last night David Laws issues the following statement to the local media in his constituency (source):

The last few days have been the toughest of my life, and I would like to thank all those friends, family and local residents who have sent me messages of support.

It has been a very emotional experience to find so many people willing to stand by me at this difficult time.

My problems have been caused by my unwillingness to be open about my sexuality, and not by any intention to exploit the MPs expenses system.

James Lundie and I were aware that we could have been far better off financially if I had been willing to be open about our relationship – but I was not.

I grew up at a time when homosexuality had only just been legalised, and when most people still thought it was wrong or shameful.

I decided, therefore, to keep my sexuality secret, and the further time went on the more difficult it seemed to be to tell the truth.

When the rules changed in 2006 to prevent MPs from renting from partners, I should probably have changed our arrangements. I could have done so without any financial cost, but getting a mortgage and buying a house together would have meant revealing our relationship – which I was not prepared to do.

James never used the parliamentary entitlement to travel for partners, and he is not covered by the parliamentary pension scheme or any financial entitlement that would result from formal recognition of “partnership”. That is why I thought it would be all right for him to be treated as just a friend, when actually we were much more than that.

I have paid a high price for trying to keep my sexuality a secret. Losing your privacy, your Cabinet job, and your perceived integrity within 48 hours isn’t very easy.

But I accept that I should have been more open, and should have set a better example as a public figure.

I will now need to take a few days to recover from the events of the last week, and I then intend to get back to my work as local MP. There are many people with far greater problems than I have, and they are entitled to expect me to get on with the job which I am paid to do.

I love my job as local MP, and it is the greatest job and responsibility which I will ever have. Over the weeks ahead I will want to understand whether I still have the confidence of my constituents, without which it would be difficult to continue my work.

I am, once again, grateful to the thousands of people who have written, e-mailed and phoned us with kind comments over the last few days.

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76 Comments

  • Bill Kristol-Balls 1st Jun '10 - 11:12am

    I’m not on Twitter but could someone start up #saveDLaws4thenation

  • David Laws has done nothing wrong. He MUST stay. The country needs him & so does Yeovil.

  • Of course David Laws should continue as an MP. I am disgusted by the Daily Telegraph and the fact that they took it upon themselves to “out” somebody. Bloody right-wing media.

  • The right wing media (and their fans) want to sustain an attitude that causes homosexual people who want to be useful to the world to hide their orientation, as well as the right to call it a shame on them when they do exactly that. They cannot have it both ways.

  • He should definitely continue as an MP and although I was disappointed by misuse the expenses I can fully understand his reasons behind it which are more honest then the other MPs reasons for a far greater flouting of the rules.

  • Someone in Yeovil get round there to make sure he doesnt resign as an MP.

  • How much should David Laws repay? assuming of course that his landlord declared the rental income to the Inland Revenue and subsequently paid tax on it.

    Or does that tax income bonus go towards reducing our budget deficit?

  • David Benge 1st Jun '10 - 11:35am

    I do not live in the Yeovil area but I would like to offer a message of support to David Laws – I have been very impressed by David as a shadow spokesman and further impressed by his early promise as a cabinet minister.

    I believe the whole saga has been a shameful slur on a good man. It is such an easy target to make stories about expenses claim sound worse than they actually are. Using statements such as “channelling £40,000 to his secret lover” sound terrible and are enough for some people to make up their mind. Please take faith that many people are more considered and realise that your motivation was not for financial gain but to protect your privacy and that in doing so you actually claimed less than you would have otherwise been entitled to.

    I wish you and your close friends and family well and hope in the long run you will all be stronger as a result.

    I hope you do get a chance to be in the cabinet again at some point soon.
    (I did not vote for the lib dems)

  • David Laws should be highly encouraged to stay on as an MP and consider a comeback to do whathe was “put on earth” (as Gideon said). Just have a look at the survey in the Sun today and article by Tom Newton Dunn.
    Don’t let them get you down David! Worse things happen at sea..

  • I’m relieved to hear that you’re staying in politics; it would have been a tragedy to lose someone with as much to offer government as you have over an error of judgement of this kind. I hope that the dust settles in your personal life quickly, bringing change for the better, and that in due course you’ll be back in the cabinet.

  • Someone needs to make sure that man doesn’t punish himself too much. It’s great that he’s taken drastic steps to apologise, and hwhile I’d love him to return soon, I also think it’s important he takes his own time to think over these events and find happines in himself. I haven’t heard a bad review of his work nor abilities, it’s just his self-confidence he needs to work on. This scandal will have changed the way a few of those in his constituency feel it’s true, but I’m sure that many people will be proud of his efforts and glad they have such a humanist MP. Don’t beat yourself up, David, please.

  • David Laws must stay in politics. If he doesn’t, that will be a victory for the right-wing media and their North American puppet-masters. David Laws has suffered terribly at the hands of these scoundrels for the crime of getting in the way of the US military-industrial-petrochemical complex and its billionaire friends. Others – such as the two Kennedy brothers and Dr David Kelly – paid with their lives. Time to fight back, I say.

    BTW, I see the the “Daily Mail” this morning is fulminating at the fact that 172 civil servants are paid more than the Prime Minister. How many newspaper editors are paid more tahn any civil servant?

  • I emailed David Laws yesterday asking him to stay in politics and to accept the offer of a return to government once this episode is behind him, and he has been cleared.

    However, I do think it was right that he resign, and it is right that he is investigated. I just hope this will not lead to his downfall, as he is exactly the kind of man and politician our parliament desperately needs.

  • Jane Desforges 1st Jun '10 - 12:18pm

    I believe David is an honourable man and should stay on as MP, it would be a dreadful loss if he were to resign.

  • Chris Mills 1st Jun '10 - 12:25pm

    Of course he should stay on as an MP, without question. His private live has been made public in a way that is shameful. I understand he potentially has fallen foul of the rules on parliamentary expenses. In all fairness David as he himself stated could have claimed a lot more without even drawing attention to himself.

    His predecessor at Yeovil also had a private life issue that became public. He was one of the best leaders this party has had.

    Everyone has lapses of judgement. We are, after all, only human.

    Th right wing press don’t understand this and expect MPs to be whiter than white, or they are considered to have their noses in the trough. The fact is, as Stephen Fry has said, many journalists are some of the most corrupt people on this earth.

  • We can’t afford to lose someone as talented as David. He was put on earth to be a Senior Treasury minister, and probably much more. Will those in Yeovil please give give him all the support he needs to get through this rough patch. I hope he will regain tranquility in his private life, and to see him back on that front bench where he belongs, before too long.

  • We should just bear in mind that Mr Laws offered not a penny piece back until the Telegraph, disgusting as they are, exposed his crime. Had it not been exposed the amount of £40,000 would have just got higher and higher and higher. Is that what you all wanted?

  • I’m a little confused.

    I have used £40,000 of taxpayers money=”we need people of his integrity and ability.” That doesn’t seem to equate.

    Or is this just an I love David Laws rant that I’ve wandered into.

  • J Wilson,

    Sorry to ruin a good piece of trolling, but David Laws didn’t receive anything to which he was not entitled.

  • Malcolm Todd 1st Jun '10 - 12:44pm

    J Wilson, you’re also wrong to say “Had it not been exposed the amount of £40,000 would have just got higher and higher and higher.” Laws ceased paying rent to his partner in 2009, as the Torygraph’s original story makes clear.

  • David Allen 1st Jun '10 - 12:44pm

    David Laws should stay as an MP. He made a mistake, and he was right to resign from the Cabinet. However, a career shouldn’t be ended by an error of judgment which didn’t result in personal gain.

  • I’m not a member of the Liberal Party.. I have no bias here. I feel terrible sorry for David Laws – he is easily the most talented man fo the job of Chief Secretary. His abilities are proven.

    He should be re-instated immediately. The economic situation this country has found itself in is very grim indeed – I liken the situation to being at War. When at war you can’t afford to not have the best people in command.

    Mr Laws, suck it up and get back to work – we need you.

  • I hope David Laws stays, but if he really feel the need, he could do a “David Davis”, step down and stand as a candidate.

  • David Allen 1st Jun '10 - 1:30pm

    What, spend public money to try to prove – well what, exactly? That when you’ve made a mistake, you should then ask the general public to go the extra mile, and vote for you unnecessarily all over again?

    Politicians should put people first, not themselves first. Ironically I suspect Laws does understand that, but an awful lot of Lib Dems don’t.

  • David should definately stay as MP for Yeovil. He has been an excellent constituency MP and the media should stop their campaign to put details of MPs private lives in the public domain and to justify this as in the public interest. Just because someone is an MP does not give us, the public, the right to an intimate knowledge of his or her private moments. This voyeurism should stop. It is too late for David, but, hey, we just don’t care whether our MP is straight or gay. But if he has a loving relationship, I, for one, am very happy for him.

  • gwenhwyfaer 1st Jun '10 - 1:33pm

    Dear David Laws,

    Course you should. Don’t be daft.

    Regards
    Gwenhwyfaer

  • I really hope he doesn’t resign as MP..
    it’s enough of a loss not having him in the government, losing him to politics entirely would be a shame for our country

  • I am a Conservative member myself but I am really disgusted at how David Laws has been treated by the right-wing press. He was genuinely my favourite Cabinet minister and it was obvious that he had the knowledge and the expertise to do what needs to be done. To see his career in tatters because of something as frankly trivial as this makes me lose hope in our country’s politics.

  • keenasmustard 1st Jun '10 - 2:29pm

    David Laws should stay in politics he was entitled to claim accomodation allowance.
    The taxpayer has not been fleeced or lost any money, he is the only one that has been hardmed by his own mistake.

    People make mistakes. He should be allowed to move on and hopefully back on into the Cabinet.
    He was the best person for the job and still is.

  • David Allen, well, that would give his constituents the opportunity to tell if they still have truston him – and him the opportunity to measure his confidence. And of course, if the recall legislation will be passed, we should be prepared that the same will happen more often.

    But personally I don’t think he would need to step down.

  • You can show your support for David Laws on facebook:
    http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=111686365542325&v=wall&ref=ts

    His office is aware of this group – currently at 670 members!!!

  • Sorry a much better link: http://www.facebook.com/#isupportlaws

  • Andrew Wimble 1st Jun '10 - 3:23pm

    It seems that everything David did was motivated by a desire to keep his sexuality private, not by financial reward. This lack of openness in an MP is to be regretted, but I do not think it is grounds for resignation, either as a Minister or an MP. All people have a right to privacy, even MPs, and I think it is unfortunate that the current expenses rules effectlvey force MPs to publically declare their sexual relationships. This applies to Hetrosexual relationships as well. Who somebody choses to sleep with is their own concern and should not be a matter of public record.

  • Roger Roberts 1st Jun '10 - 4:19pm

    Looked yesterday at a TV replay of the statement by David Laws in the Commons re the £6 billion cuts. He was 100% effective (very different from his Tory counterpart in the Lords !!). Not only should he remain an M.P., but the government needs his ability again very soon in the Cabinet.

  • Caroline F. 1st Jun '10 - 5:09pm

    I am a Conservative supporter and would like to lend my support to David Laws. I sincerely hope he receives the support he needs from his Yeovil constituency to encourage him to continue as their MP and to step back into government to help the coalition government tackles this terrible deficit. David Laws is a good man who made an error of judgement. It would be an easy option to walk away now, rather than find the courage to continue as an MP and an active member of the government. However, he seems to be a strong character and I trust he will throw his energy into building up the trust of his constituents and the nation, facing up to his own personal difficulties and putting the interests of the nation first.

  • David Allen 1st Jun '10 - 5:40pm

    “I find it slightly odd that a social liberal in this day and age was so committed to remaining in the closet.

    I am not condemning it, I guess I cant know what it must be like, but it strikes me as strange. Like he was ashamed of it. It hardly bolsters the liberal cause if the politicians most committed to the ideology keep their own affairs secret rather than being open and honest about them.”

    That’s all very well in theory, but if your elderly relatives would be horrified to find out, then in the closet is where you might very well be desperate to stay. The “liberal cause” does not always come first!

  • Sex is a redherring – no-one cares that he is gay, except other gay people.

    This is about integrety, honesty and openness – all things that he claimed to stand for. The LibDems campaigned the election for cleaned up politics so they can’t complain when their words come back to haunt them. We had enough of Labour telling us to do one thing while they did something else.

    Nick Clegg stated Laws has questions to answer – not least the fact that he extended his own mortgage to help his “partner” purchase a property in which he then rented a room. Anyone think it would be ok for me to rent a room in my brothers house and claim housing benefit? I think not.

  • Diane

    What he did wrong is barely on the scale of those Tory and Labour MP’s who were out to get the most out of the system because they felt entitled to it – and many of then were re-elected. So, it’s a big media story but obviously not so with constituents at any rate.

    He’s a good man. There are obviously mitigating circumstances here, and he would be a loss to his constituents and to parliament if he stood down.

  • I hope David Laws makes a quick return to government and remains an MP. It would be the courageous thing to do. Which of us hasn’t made errors of judgement, we need to grow up and accept people as imperfect. He seems to have a great talent and to deserve respect and support for what he is going through.

  • When the last Tory Government was kicked out of office there were cries of sleaze ringing from the rooftops. There had been all sorts of wrong-doing and corruption, and perceived corruption, and they were punished dramatically. Labour came to power and many many Tories lost their seats. Quite right too.

    The last Labour Government is also tarred with plenty of sleaze, corruption, perceived or otherwise, and plenty of wrong-doing, not least an illegal war that they sent ill-equipped troops to go and die in. As for the economy…

    Liberal-Democrats have chiefly escaped these sorts of criticisms because they have not in the living memory of most of us held any sort of Office of State. Following this last election a major change happened, I for one think it was a really good thing, potentially, and Liberal-Democrats got major positions in the Offices of State. It cannot come as a surprise when the public shout sleaze when within such a short space of time this, once in the wilderness, party finds one of the new stars falling on his sword for financial wrong-doing. Other senior Liberal-Democrats are showing a bit of wobbliness too. Plus. Why have we not heard a few calming words from Mr Clegg, the Leader, the Deputy Prime Minister? He’s probably either too annoyed or too embarrassed, or perhaps both in equal measure.

    It’s clear that I disagree with many or even most of you, mainly I believe because you feel a sympathy for David Laws that was never felt for Tory or Labour MPs who sinned, some more, but also some a lot less than he. One thing that I think we could agree however, is that The Telegraph newspaper should be re-classified as a red-top paper, for it has become nothing more than a rag these days.

  • JohnM

    You totally miss the point.
    Laws made out that he was whiter than white, yet he knowingly broke the rules, scale is not relevant except to taxpayers worrying about their meagre incomes while a millionaire uses taxpayer allowances to cover his tracks.

    Benefit cheats, such as in the example I gave earlier, are rightly prosecuted regardless of why they did wrong, so why should Laws be treated diferently? Maybe you, and others, think he should be treated less harshly BECAUSE he is gay?

    The LibDems campaigned for Recall – perhaps Laws would like to show his integrety by causing a by-election to test how much his constituents have faith in him? If he gets re-elected and cleared by the Parliamentary Standards Commisioner he could re-enter Parliament with a clean sheet – like the Tory and Labour MPs you refer to that their constituents re-elected after their deeds had been made public and examined.

    Judge not others unless you’re prepared to be judged yourself.

  • I don’t think Mr Laws should quit as an MP and have much sympathy with his predicament about wanting to keep his sexuality out of the public domain. However, as a party member, I find it hard to reconcile a millionaire bothering to make the claim for rent at all, then showing such relish for a spending cuts regime which is likely to impact on many of those considerably worse off financially than himself.

  • I posted “Please stay” but was told that my comment was “a bit too short” so I’m posting a longer one. Yes, definitely, please stay.

  • Keith McBurney 2nd Jun '10 - 12:14am

    David Laws,

    1. The question remains why did you take £40,000 pounds from the public purse which you did not need?

    2. Your constituents will mind the cost of a by-election, but what if the PSC should take a different view? Bearing in mind the human condition, how high or low do you think the public in general would wish the bar of office to be?

    3. I hope you are able to assist Danny and George informally: too little and too much is not enough; enough is enough.

    4. Take heart, this too will pass though it will seem endless for a while and difficult to accept you will be the better for it. Meanwhile enjoy enabling your constituents to help each other and so you and yours in their society.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 2nd Jun '10 - 8:52am

    My first reaction was “Yes”, but actually I think it has to depend what the Commissioner finds.

    Of course, if the Commissioner were to find that it was reasonable to consider that Lundie was not Laws’s partner, there is no problem at all.

    Other than that, I think the key question is whether the rent paid – and the other additional costs claimed – were in fact justifiable for the accommodation. If so, then it was at worst a technical breach of the rules which didn’t result in additional cost to the taxpayer to the benefit of Laws or his partner – though it would still leave a question mark over his judgment.

    If not, then I think it would be quite a serious matter, and he really would need to consider his position as an MP.

  • I think Laws resignation either as MP or minister is total insanity given the circumstances of the case, but insanity has long since been the main driving force in anything to do with MPs expenses.They were invented under Thatcher, weren’t they? Got an awful lot to answer for. MPs are people. Few of the MPs concerned were doing anything except taking what was offered to them, and it is still fundamentally up to them whether they arrange their affairs to claim little or a lot. It had more to do with luck which MPs happened to make claims which retrospectively turned out to be acceptable and which did not.

    MPs should not be subject to recall. There is an election every 5 years anyway. In just about every constituency in the country more people voted for someone else than for the winner. How can there ever be less than a majority to have a new election even if the incumbent is guaranteed to win? Any mid term election will not be about the particular MP, but about how well the government is doing. This always happens.

  • @ Minnie … do you listen to Frank Turner by any chance?

  • He hasn’t just lost his ‘perceived’ integrity! Uh, WHAT integrity?!
    He’s stopped at nothing, this Brain The Size Of Westminster, in his convoluted manipulation of his expense returns and mortgage, his voters, nine years of local media, ‘David’s Diary’ columns pretending to be a single man living in Somerset when in fact he’s neither, every single one of his parliamentary colleagues, friends, and family (if we are to believe what he’s saying NOW).

  • I DON’T think he should resign his constituency seat as well as his cabinet position, though.
    I think it IS a real blow to the coalition Government, this loss of economic talent (which he employs even for the PR of his private life!).
    But he brought shame upon himself by standing for re-election without fixing his now-accounting-anomoly, despite change in both rules and address since last time, and, alas, this would have shamed the new Govt. too.

  • Regarding his ongoing tenure of the Yeovil seat to remain an MP: I don’t see how this can even be questioned, under the circumstances – both of reasons he’s given for his deception of his electors (i.e. not believing they’d elect him if they knew he was gay and lived in London) AND the fact that he won an Election, only a month ago today, by around a 20% lead on the (Conservative) runner up and has the parliamentary mandate of over 50% of voters.

  • I’m told my last post above does not make clear what I meant.
    I was agreeing with the last paragraph of Danny’s post above mine.
    I too don’t see the need to legislate for recall of MPs between Parliaments – unless misdemeanour has been uncovered so criminal, so politicallly harmful, or unworkably incompetent, that both a massive constituency outcry and the Commons itself are outraged to expel them.
    As Danny writes, that IS what Elections are for.

  • Val Hibberd 13th Jun '10 - 6:17pm

    Of course David Laws should stay as an MP and the sooner he gets back to the Treasury the better for this country. What on earth are people bleating about? He has a brilliant and incisive brain (there are not too many of those around these days) and England needs a steady hand on the tiller. Who cares that he claimed rent for living in his friends house – Jacqui Smith lived in her sister’s house for years and she didn’t have the good grace to pay the £116,000.00 she embezzled from the tax payer!!!!!!!!! Just get over it and actually think whats best for this country or you’ll find yourselves back with the deceitful and discredited Labour Party for another 13 years.

  • The man is a thief – end of.

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