Saturday, 29 May 2010

2 Why I'm not joining the Lawsgate mob...

Firstly, let's get this straight.
No party, my own included, has the right to criticize David Laws for expenses. Between Duck Houses, Moats and Bath Plugs and Porn all 3 of the major Westminster parties have put themselves to shame on expenses. Countless times. 
Before any of the smaller parties think they can muscle in on this - European Expenses haven't been much better, frankly. I'm looking at you, Nigel Farage.
So let's get off our high horses of partisan bias for a second and have a look at what this actually is. 

David Laws, firstly, could actually have claimed a whole heap more legitimately if he'd declared his partnership. He didn't. He could also have claimed a whole heap more if he'd decided to live in a nice plush flat in central London. He didn't. To be honest, finding accommodation at the price he did is a bargain. Trust me - I live here.

The next interesting thing in this case is that people seem to find it outrageous that his landlord was also his partner. I'm sorry, but so the fuck what!? Whether I love a guy or not, he's still got a business to run, and thus I should be paying my rent regardless. There's this ridiculous assumption that because they were gay they must have moved in together and loved it all up and settled down watching Graham Norton every night on the sofa. Er, welcome to 2010 - that is not how "the gays" live. It's perfectly acceptable for somebody to be living with a partner without having joint ownership or paying joint rent. 
Laws was paying for goods and services rendered. I.e. a place to live. 

This is perfectly fine under parliamentary rules. His relationship with the Landlord, frankly, should have nothing to do with it. 

So let's put this in simple terms for those of you who're still not understanding:
David Laws rents a room and pays his landlord as he should. 
David Laws and his landlord have a warm tingly fuzzy feeling for each other, and so they make themselves an item.
David Laws and his landlord do not buy a new house together, but they decide effectively to share the rent. So David pays his share to his landlord, who also pays his own share... to himself. 
Still following? Good. It's not a difficult concept.

Laws' landlord now moves to a different place. Laws continues to pay his share, but now, seeing as he's the only one living there, he pays the whole amount (to his landlord, yes, that's right). 
Mr Laws probably realised at some point that there might be some questions raised at this perfectly legitimate arrangement and thus changed the arrangement in good faith so that he was no longer paying his landlord rent which he was perfectly entitled to do.

The hype here is not the money as such. It's the fact that his landlord was his partner. 
Perhaps it's time for some people to catch up with the world. There's nothing wrong with that. 
They didn't have a shared bank account or any such arrangement, so it's not like Laws and his partner were living it up on parliamentary expenses. Anyone who's not done their research and is instead getting fuelled up on the anti-Laws hype, frankly needs gagging.

So, as a relatively sane person, able to put aside my own party bias for the 30 seconds needed to assess the situation, I won't be calling for David Laws' head. Neither should you, frankly. 

What's more, I'd like to see somebody trying to justify the need to put a moat on expenses.

Sadly, all of this media hype has caused David to come out in a way that I'd assume isn't terribly dignified. He clearly felt he was unable to be openly gay here, and that is something we should all be ashamed of. 

Should he be resigning? I think not.


Ani :). said...

Well, I have been convinced out of my apathy.

Anonymous said...

My take on this was from a slightly different angle (, but you also make a very good point about the restrictive definition of "partner" that institutions tend to use these days. Just because I'm sleeping with someone (or even I love someone) does not mean I have/wish to have joint finances with them.

elmyra (Sorry, would authenticate but OpenID isn't playing ball.)