This is what David Laws (ex. Chief Secretary to the Treasury) wrote on his website on 21 May 2010:
“My first decision in the Treasury – axing my chauffeur driven black Jaguar car, to save £110,000 per year. How could I justify this spending when there is so much to cut?”
Mr. Laws second decision was to resign from office.
He resigned, not because he realised that he needed to correct his expenses claims to meet the standards he had set above, but because he was exposed by the ‘Daily Telegraph’.
There is absolutely nobody who comes out of this affair with credit. David Laws admits that he has to clear up the expenses issue with the Parliamentary Commissioner.
Question: He was shadow education for the Lib-Dems. He probably never expected to become a senior member of the Coalition. Why, when offered the Chief Secretary position, did he not come clean with Nick Clegg thus giving the deputy PM chance to deal with the matter?
Question: He admits, now he has been caught, that there are questions to be answered. He alone is responsible for this situation. Why are the Lib-Dems rushing around saying nice things about him? Is it one rule for them and another for opposition members?
Question: Mr. Laws job was to find £6bn of savings. He has proposed nothing to help members of Enterprise Britain. Is his loss that important?
Question: This is the new politics of political correctness. Enterprise Britain is being squeezed until it hurts. Why did neither the PM, the deputy PM or the Chancellor stand up and reiterate that what is important is that the Coalition sets new standards. Mr Laws resignation speech was human, honest and realistic. What was needed was for the leaders to show leadership. What did we get? “He’s a jolly nice chap who has impressed everybody in the last 18 days.”
Every day, of every week, of every month, of every year, members of Enterprise Britain get battered by the Inland Revenue, the VAT man, the banks, the rating officers, the Councils and the rest.
Mr Laws gets pats on the back and heaps of praise. It’s a funny old world.
The Prime Minister has had a difficult week. The election of Graham Brady as Chairman of the 1922 Committee is a clear indication of the concerns over the Coalition that Right Wing Conservatives have. The rebellion over the proposed changes (they won’t happen) to CGT show a worrying lack of political sensitivity. Alistair Campbell would never have allowed Tony Blair to make such a mistake. Equally Bernard Ingham would have protected Mrs. Thatcher from such situations.
Dave also faces problems with Conservative MPs who have been passed over for office in favour of Lib-Dems. Why was Danny Alexander not replaced by a Conservative? Better still why was David Laws not replaced by one of several Conservatives well equipped to do the job?
All of the above will be forgotten as the focus turns to the budget statement in three week’s time.
Every single piece of evidence to-date suggests there will be nothing – repeat nothing – for Enterprise Britain.
This has been a bad week for politics.