Saturday, May 29, 2010

David Laws' Mistake and the Telegraph's Cant

Apart from Nick Clegg, David Laws has been the most visible Lib Dem member of the new coalition government. He was a key part of the negotiating team, and then moved smoothly into his alliance with George Osborne at the Treasury. He and Osborne have been starting to show how the coalition can work effectively, in the department at the very heart of government. It is no small blow to hear that the Telegraph - a natural berth for right-wing opponents of the coalition - have been able to expose an expenses scam by Laws, whereby he claimed money to rent rooms in the house owned by his male partner. For Laws, the issue is compounded by the fact that one reason he did not hitherto come clean about this was his desire to keep his homosexuality secret.

Whatever Laws' personal motivation, this is a supremely careless error from a man who is a lynchpin of the new governing agenda, and the last thing the coalition needs is the reminiscence of the expenses nightmare of the old parliament to be dragged up. I hope Laws survives intact, but the message to the Cameron government is that the media feeding frenzy is not over yet.

UPDATE: Fantastic bit of media cant in the Telegraph this morning. It piously declares that "The Daily Telegraph was not intending to disclose Mr Laws’s sexuality, but in a statement issued in response to questions from this newspaper, the minister chose to disclose this fact." And it really thought there was going to be any other consequence of its story? Having got their admission, the Telegraph is now able to make its headline "Treasury chief, his secret lover, and a £40,000 claim". Is there really much doubt as to what the paper's main intention was?

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