7 September 2012

Laws' return is old politics

The return of David Laws to ministerial office is a bad move by Nick Clegg and the Lib Dem leadership.  It is a triumph of hope over political reality and demonstrates (sadly once again) the naive political judgement of Clegg.

Here's just some of the images posted on the web over the last few days on the issue:

Whatever the merits of Laws (and his reasons for not telling the truth about his expenses) - he is severely damaged goods.  His return to government is just another reminder that the Lib Dems say one thing in opposition and do the opposite in government. 

It also demostrates that all the hopes that were invested in Clegg in the spring of 2010 that he was a new kind of politician with a new way of doing things were simply wishful thinking.

It's not as if Laws undoubted talents couldn't have been used in an unpaid way - as DPM Clegg surely has powers to appoint almost anyone he wants as an unpaid 'enforcer'.  There has been no explanation of why he had to come back on to the ministerial payrole to do the job - or what his job actually involves outside of the Education ministry.

If this is Clegg's answer to the increasing number of open critics within the party then he is in more trouble than he and his team cares to admit. 


  1. Dan, don't we believe in rehabilitation of offenders? I thought it was one of the principles we held dearest.

    David has taken his punishment and acknowledged his mistakes. He clearly has the skill (if not always the opinions we like) to do the job he's doing.

    It might not be popular, and I know our people who've gone on radio phone ins have had a really hard time about it, but in this instance, I think we have to say "screw you" to the unholy alliance of right wing tabloids and Labour sympathisers and just power on through.

    Yes, it gives us a presentational problem - but we have to show that we don't believe in writing people off because they do something wrong once, especially when it was motivated by a desire to protect his family rather than for personal gain. He could have claimed twice as much legitimately, of course, had he been honest about his relationship from the start. To lump him in with expenses cheats like the duck islanders etc is not fair.

  2. Thanks for your comment Caron - but I don't agree. If you are trying to govern in a new way - you can't afford the constant reminders of the old expense scandals - however unfair that is on Laws.

    And anyway - there is no reason to bring Laws back on the payroll - he could be providing the strategic overview (or whatever he is supposed to do with the DPM) for free as unpaid PPS or head of staff or chair of FPC or whatever.