Saturday, 29 May 2010

Laws Gone

Iain Dale and others are reporting that David Laws has gone. One thing: if true, it is important to establish the precise reason for his 'resignation' (sacking by Cameron). Having said that, it is also important to establish what were not the reasons too. For instance, certainly not the reason would be the one David Blackburn has just supposed in a uncharacteristically shoddy and pretty wrongheaded piece for him:
According to Con Home and several other sources, Laws has resigned. This is hugely regrettable as Laws is a star performer and I feel he has been the victim of a media gay-hunt that belongs to a bygone era. The sums of money involved are slight in comparison to some, and there are arguments that other ministers should resign for having committed similar or worse offences and for having shown markedly less contrition. But it is refreshing that a minister would resign over a personal transgression with haste and dignity.
This is wrong on so many levels, it's hard to know where to begin. First, Laws has had little or no chance to demonstrate he was a 'star performer'. He was starting to look promising and seemed to be grasping the wisdom of the Tory policy on the debt and structural deficit. Well done for that, but stardom it hardly warrants. Second, to 'feel' that he was the 'victim' of some mythical 'media gay hunt' is arrant nonsense. His sexuality had nothing to do with it, aside from the fact that he was clearly embarrassed about it and this provided him with a motive for being so incautious with his expenses and then concealing this potentially damaging fact from his new boss. There was and is no 'media gay hunt'. Outrage about his public/private hypocrisy, yes - bigotry and prejudice, no. That is in Blackburn's imagination and, I think, was uttered because of some kind of personal disappointment rather than any genuine understanding of the sequence and significance of events [like I have, lol]. Again, I've got to say that I find that surprising from this writer.

Third, and most significantly, Blackburn makes some sort of point about the relative scale of previous incidences of irregular expenses arrangements with a frankly childish 'they didn't so why does he?' argument. Well, if he thinks that that false equivalence will wash with anyone then he hasn't understood idea-one of what's been going on here. Cameron stood on a ticket of cleaning up parliament and being tough with his ministers if they step out of line in principle. The amounts involved (and 40k seems like a lot to me) are not important. The way the money was channeled is. Laws bent the rules in a deeply suspicious way, far more even, if we are to entertain Blackburn's relativist argument for a moment, than your average trougher who simply took advantage of those rules but did so by the book, i.e. without adding their own, personal interpretation that advantaged them, or, indeed, a loved one, even more.

As to his mention of 'other ministers', who, I wonder, does he mean? Cameron? Labour ministers? Cameron can hardly fire Labour ministers who've already lost their jobs, for heaven's sake, so what on earth does he mean? Your guess is as good as mine. Suffice to say, it's the most muddled-up post of his I think I've ever read.

So much for the Blackburn gay witch-hunt theory. The real reason why Laws had to go is because Cameron is keeping his word. He has always understood the scale of anger at the expenses scandal. He also realised that Laws could not be talking about painful cuts in public spending one second and defending his own venality another. That's called an 'untenable position'.

In other words, the only thing Laws' sacking has demonstrated to me is not that he is dignified - I'm sure he is - but that David Cameron really does mean what he has says and that, dear readers, is the really 'refreshing' thing about this new government and about this incident.

But what follows is crucial. A sound, imaginative replacement must be found. Blackburn says, alarmingly, that it might be the lunatic Huhne. That would be a disaster not just for this government but for the entire country and Cameron must intervene to stop it instantly.

The only man with the gravity and intellect for a job like CST in a time of economic trauma and dislocation is John Redwood. Whether the Prime Minister likes it or not, Redwood is the right man for the needs of this country at this parlous point in its history.

What the Libdems want simply doesn't matter.


Well, they've got it badly wrong and given Danny Alexander the job according to ConHome. That is a disastrous decision and it will come back to haunt this coalition. You cannot compromise on the economy for the sake of the coalition and certainly not with someone as wet behind the ears, untested and lightweight as 37 year-old Alexander (yes, I know, he's been bigged up over the past few weeks because of the negotiations. Big deal).

Too many Tories are going to be too pissed off too quickly with any more appointments like this one. This may even be the one that tips them over. I think this is the first real sign that this coaltion cannot and will not last long. For one thing, unlike the corrupt Labourists, as amply demonstrated by Brown, Conservatives do not believe in the idea of clinging on to power at any price. The coalition could soon be toast.

Quite frankly, after the promotion of another Libdem lightweight to a cabinet role for which he is most certainly not qualified, especially at such a crucial moment for the British economy, I'm not sure how I feel about that prospect yet. Maybe, after all, it wouldn't be such a bad thing.

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