Sunday, 30 May 2010

Just Got Fooled Again

"Meet the new boss, same as the old boss" - The Who, Won't Get Fooled Again.

And so it was, just nineteen days into the new politics, that the Cleggeron Coalition suffered its first casualty. David Laws has had to resign as Chief Secretary to the Treasury because he claimed £40,000 expenses for rent that he paid to his lover. The Daily Telegraph (The Daily Mail but for people with bigger hands and larger houses) outed David as a cheating politician and as a homosexual.

David's excuse for his basking in the taxpayer's unwilling largesse was that he wanted to keep his private life private. His sexuality was unknown to all but a very few select friends, one of whom he paid £900 a month in rent.

And there's the problem. David's resignation from the Cabinet isn't, as some would have it, a victory for homophobes. It's a personal and self-inflicted disaster. David is a multi-millionaire who claimed an extra £900 a month to give to his partner towards an apartment which he already owned outright. But he's done the decent thing, he's resigned and has paid back the 40 grand. Because he's rich, he can do that, see.

This was the man about to wield a considerable axe to the finances of the country, breaking up public services and sending thousands into unemployment as he did so. For that same person to be able to STEAL from the taxpayers, some of whom will soon be signing on, is morally reprehensible.

In the same week where a Malawian gay couple were sentenced to 14 years in separate prisons (a sentence now thankfully quashed), accusations of homophobia ring pretty hollow. This was greed, pure and simple.

The promise of a new politics from the Cleggerons was always empty rhetoric. The coalition, already wobbling behind closed doors and gritted teeth, is now visibly damaged. I'll give it six months. A damn sight less than either you or I would have got had we taken 40 grand from the public's purse.

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