A report by the Standards and Privileges committee into the former Chief Secretary to the Treasury’s claims said: “Whatever his motives and subsequent behaviour, Mr Laws was guilty of a series of serious breaches of the rules over a considerable period of time”. His suspension is expected to begin on June 7.
A seven day Commons suspension for David Laws. Stern stuff. Perhaps a trifle harsh (why did the Wintertons and Jacqui Smiths of this world not get the same treatment?) The committee notes that his behaviour since May 2010 has been exemplary. And the Commissioner makes clear that there was no personal gain or desire for personal gain. David Laws would have been £30,000 better off if he had played by the rules, apparently. “There was therefore no loss to the taxpayer from the breach in rules.”
But a suspension is serious stuff. David Laws will never be in the cabinet again (unless the coalition lasts for more than five years, which is highly unlikely). Even Peter Mandelson, oft quoted as a paralell, didn’t get suspended or even have to apologise to the House of Commons. David Laws is a very nice man – a very clever man. He tried to be too clever, some might say. I’m sure he will continue to make a great contribution to politics. But this was a very serious error of judgment. I accept, as the Commissioner has done, David Laws’ explanation that he did not seek personal gain but wanted to keep his private life private. However, I think David Laws has been, ultimately, a little too precious. I accept that he has elderly parents who he wanted to protect. But doing that at the expense of breaking the rules is unacceptable. And I suspect that his parents have been more upset by the furore over broken rules than any revelations about their son’s sexuality.
Let’s face it. Occasionally in life we all have to man up or woman up. Tragically for David Laws, he made an error of judgment and has paid for it through a year of, no doubt, hell and this suspension. I am sure he will emerge stronger and tougher as a result. I wish him very well. I am sure he can play a great role in the party or in the government as an adviser or junior minister. But I just can’t see him coming back to the cabinet.Tweet