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“David Laws defrauds d system=mistake (7 days off work); benefit cheats defrauds d system=crime (prison).” Can I cry now?

Back off Labourites who are too stupid to look at the world through glasses made not of a rose tinted persuasion. The quote in the title is a tweet I saw retweeted this afternoon by another Labourite and my heart sank faster than when Jet from Gladiators told me see was a Middlesbrough fan (true story).

First of all ‘d system’ what is all that about? There is a thing called the English language and I personally don’t like to bastardise it too much in the written medium (although my broadcast style is different). It is not even like she was running out of characters (ooh she just tweeted me attacking Laws again – its like she’s physic that I’m blogging about her – that or she just did a twitter search for David Laws – either or) anyway as usual I’m digressing.

The fact of the matter is David Laws did something wrong. Yes. However what is also true is that the only person out of pocket in this situation is David Laws. The taxpayer paid him £56k which he was not entitled to – yet had he been open about his private life he would have been entitled to around £90k over the same period. This my friends (and dissenters) is what they call a fact. Now using my world class mathematical abilities I can work out that 90 is a higher number than 56. Therefore he claimed less (I’ll put that in bold and italics to really underline my point) than what he was in fact entitled to.

We are all entitled to a private life. I think we can all agree on that – can’t we?. He decided for whatever reason that he wanted to keep his personal life private and that in turn has led to this mess. Was he foolish? Without a shadow of a doubt? Did he do wrong? Yes he did. Was he immoral or do this for financial gain? No he did not.

David Laws is a good man. I’ve never met him but everyone with whom I speak who has says the same. The people of Yeovil have rallied around him and if there was an election tomorrow then I genuinely believe that despite the culling of Lib Dems that Laws would be returned to serve that constituency again.

The sooner Laws can return to front line politics the better – not solely for the Lib Dems – but also for the people of this country. I have little doubt that Laws is one of the very smartest men in parliament and having him out of the cabinet is a disservice to the nation at large. He can recover from this mistake and he will. My main bone on contention is with certain tribalists that want him hung drawn and quartered. If we were going to send people to jail for taking too little money then we’d all have a real problem on our hands.

Some good further reading on this comes from Caron’s Musings and Nick Thornsby amongst others.

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