It is depressing beyond belief that a man with David Laws’ talent has been driven out of public life. His breaking of the rule on expenses was motivated not by venality but by a desire to keep his personal life private.
It was hard not to well up on reading these line from Laws’ statement last night, "I've been involved in a relationship with James Lundie since around 2001 - about two years after first moving in with him. Our relationship has been unknown to both family and friends throughout that time.” Those who want to rush to judgment should think about that: imagine feeling you had to keep your personal life private from your family and friends.
In terms of the coalition, Laws was vital to it. He was the one Liberal Democrat who didn’t just accept the need for cuts but was prepared to make them. Given the scale of the fiscal challenge, we need an incredibly competent Chief Secretary. We have just lost one. The other person in the government who could do the job—Phillip Hammond—can’t because he is a Tory and the role is reserved for a Lib Dem. With the best will in the world, it is hard to imagine that Danny Alexander will be able to do the job with the ability that Laws was doing it.