Saturday, 29 May 2010

Worth remembering it is Clegg who would do the firing

Amazing story from the Telegraph today on David Laws paying £40,000 to his partner, with much of the furore focussing on the fact he has been “outed” as gay.

Certainly the “revelation” of Mr Laws’ sexuality is not much of a revelation to his Yeovil constituents, many of whom thought they’d “known” about it for years.

The question will be which way the argument falls on privacy vs expenses. Paul Waugh suggested this morning that, rather like the Ecclestone F1 affair early in New Labour’s honeymoon, Cameron and Clegg should be able to ride this one out.

But it is worth remembering that during the early days of the coalition, it was stressed that the hiring and firing of Lib Dem ministers was the job of the DPM aka Nick Clegg. Will the Orange Bookers rally round?

Here is what some Westcountry politicians (past and present) have been saying this morning:

Julia Goldsworthy on Twitter:
“Judge politicians on how good they are, and allow them personal privacy. David Laws has intellect and integrity - this country needs him.”
Foreign office minister and Taunton MP Jeremy Browne on the Today programme:
"I've known David for about 15 years and can tell you categorically that this is a human story, it is not a financial story. He is a deeply private man and he has a personal wish not to have his life put up in lights.
"This is not about David being motivated by money. He gave up a very lucrative job to go into politics. He could have earned a lot more money that this.
"What it is about is him wanted to be a private person and I think he should be able to be that."
He referred to the row as "a massive distraction, motivated possibly by politics, to try and tear David down."
Hat tip Politics Home 
Lord Ashdown said:
"The central question is, what does a partnership actually mean...I don't believe you should be making a judgement about that.
"David has referred this to the parliamentary commissioner as he, as a man of integrity, would, and we must now wait for his judgement.
"His moral authority has only been damaged if what he has done is an act of wrongdoing. You and I do not know whether that is the case at the moment."
Hat tip Politics Home 
Kevin Davis, the Tory candidate in Yeovil, said:
“I actually think Mr Laws was doing a good job as Chief Secretary but I fear that he can only come to the conclusion that he must step down. I say this reluctantly because the coalition needs good people to work for it but the fact is that he has now undermined that coalition by raising again the problem of sleaze and expenses, just when we thought that matters had been cleared up and we could move on.”

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