King's Evangelical Divinity School

29 May 2010

David Laws Resigns

Tonight the Coalition government's Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Lib-Dem MP David Laws, who in recent weeks has arguably proved himself to be a competent finance minister, has resigned after revelations that he claimed expenses while living with his gay partner. Ironically, it appears he would have been perfectly entitled to claim these expenses had he declared his relationship with his partner beforehand. But for years Laws sought to keep his sexuality secret. The knives have been out for Laws, not least because his government job is to identify and implement government spending cuts, making it all the more difficult to remain in office to complete that task while there were questions concerning his own claims for publicly-funded expenses. It doesn't help that his party (the Lib-Dems) frequently take the high moral ground and project themselves as whiter than white on the issue of sleaze.

But what struck me especially concerning this issue was the response of some towards Laws' desire over many years, as an immensely private individual, to keep his sexuality a secret. It seems while today's culture encourages and indeed demands people promote and celebrate their sexuality, nonetheless liberal elites and gay rights organisations will simply not tolerate gay people who seek to keep their sexuality private. The Guardian newspaper tonight reports:
Laws also came under pressure to resign from gay equality campaigners. Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, writing in today's Observer, says: "Pious political parties (that is, all of them) whisper privately that there are more gay MPs than the public imagines. But how can anyone 'represent' a community of interest if they're entirely unable ever to admit that they belong to it? Some of us hope for a Britain where one day Westminster is grownup enough to select and promote politicians from all sorts of backgrounds."
Clearly, today's intolerant "tolerance" doesn't just extend to silencing anyone who even midly questions alternative lifestyles, but even anyone within those very communities who chooses not to actively promote,  celebrate or wear their sexuality on their sleeve, regardless of whether or not they want to. It seems it's OK, indeed expected, to highlight gay talent, but woe betide a gay person who wishes to be known for their talent rather than their sexuality. With friends like that, who needs enemies?

UPDATE:

Glued to the news channels (it's either that or Eurovision), and it is striking how some of the commentators express the view that Laws' biggest error was not so much his expenses claims as his attempts to keep his sexuality private.

2 comments:

Daniel said...

What concerns me is the comment your new PM made about him in the BBC article I read. I quote:

"You are a good and honourable man. I am sure that, throughout, you have been motivated by wanting to protect your privacy rather than anything else. He is not only exceptionally abled, but a principled man."

Vince Cable Business Secretary Cable honours 'personal' decision

"Your decision to resign from the government demonstrates the importance you attach to your integrity."

Is this a picture of your new gov't? What is the world are they talking about, and who are they talking about? The man is a thief, and a liar who lives a double life for years, and he is called "honourable," "man of integrity," "a principled man." You've joined the ranks of our present US gov't. Too bad, we expected more from Britain.

Calvin L. Smith said...

Yes, well, sorry to disappoint. Our expenses scandal over the last couple of years demonstrates we're far from squeaky clean.

Vince Cable's involvement here is interesting though. It appears he was one of the Lib-Dems who pushed for the resignation because he felt David Laws' position was untenable.