Friday, 20 May 2011

Liberals New Politics In Practice

More than a year ago, the Liberals attempted to take the moral high ground over the MP's Expenses scandal. Within just 17 days as a senior Minister - Chief Secretary to the Treasury - Liberal MP, David Laws was forced to resign his position in the Government having been found out to be fiddling his expenses.
He had been found to be paying rent to his partner, with whom he was living in London, which is not allowed. At the time, he claimed that he had been led into this situation, because he did not want to bring attention to the fact that he was in a homosexual relationship.

He was, of course, entitled to make the choice not to disclose that element of his private life. Though in the past, the Liberals have shown no reluctance to attack their opponents in elections for their homsosexuality, as happened against Peter Tatchell in Bermondsey. However, at the time this excuse seemed to ring rather hollow. David Laws is a millionaire. If he did not want to draw attention to his homosexual relationship then his choice was quite clear; do not make a claim for rent that might be challenged. At a time when the Liberal-Tory Government is carrying through attacks on some of the worst off people in society in relation to Housing and other Benefits, it is rather hypocritical of such MP's, to argue that they made false claims, by making false statements, in order to protect their personal relations. Doing that to avoid disclosure of co-habitation, if you are claiming Housing Benefit, for example, would get you, not a slap over the wrist, as Mr. Laws has received, but would mean you getting locked up in gaol!

Yet, the BBC report that the investigation, by the Standards Commissioner, of Laws has concluded that,

"I have no evidence that Mr Laws made his claims with the intention of benefiting himself or his partner in conscious breach of the rules. But the sums of money involved were substantial... Some of them continued over a number of years."

He accepted that Laws actions had been designed to avoid disclosure of his relationship. Really? Is he having a larf? Okay so Laws paid back the £50,000 he had recieved. He can well afford to pay back money he had no right to in the first place. People accused of Benefit fraud are given no such opportunity as a way out of their situation, even if they could afford to do so.

But, in addition to the fact that Laws could have avoided the problem in the first palce by not claiming for Rent, the report also found him guilty of not just one, but six breaches. Other breaches included:

"He was also found to have wrongly claimed some £2,000 for building work and £2,248 for telephone bills. The rent claimed on Mr Lundie's property was also found to be £200 to £300 higher a month than the market rate."

So what does that have to do with keeping his relationship secret????

But, no doubt in a Government of Millionaires with close links to all kinds of spivs, speculators and tax dodgers, there will be no problem in Laws finding a place back within it, before too long.

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