A personal tragedy for David Laws – but what does it say about us?

I am not going to write much this morning – partly because it has already been covered by many people more eloquent than I. Partly because last night I was out in town and am feeling a little delicate this morning.

Anyone who has followed David Laws personal tragedy unfolding in their newspapers and on their TV screens cannot help but to have been saddened at the downfall of an honourable man who was trying against all odds to protect his privacy. This is not like the expenses scandal that captivated us last year – Laws did not make money through the claiming of rent, he lost it. Had he been honest about the relationship he was in he could have claimed more without any questions being asked. This is a rare occassion where an MP breaking the rules actually increased value for money.

That he broke the rules looks only too clear. So soon after the formation of the coalition and with the expenses scandal still clear in the minds of the press and public David Laws had little choice to stand down – that he did it in such a timely manner and with candour and humility was of great personal credit to him and should ensure his smooth transition back to cabinet status in the not too distant future.

The real question we all have to grapple with is why he felt he had to hide his sexuality at all. As a straight, white man working in the charity sector I honestly believed that we as a society had moved on, surely being gay is no longer an impediment to anything anymore – personal or private? This whole episode suggests otherwise. News reports this morning suggests his close family are practising Roman Catholics, with all the connotations this confers. You only had to listen to The Big Questions on BBC1 this morning to know that the liberal gay friendly world that exists within my immediate sphere does not neccessy expand across the rest of the country, let alone the world.

So farewell to David Laws, for now at least, I wish him luck and happiness in a world that has changed dramatically for him in the last few days. I hope he and his partner’s relationship flourish and his friends and family continue to be there for him. For the rest of us it is time to look again at how liberal we really are and redouble our efforts against any group or individual that continue to promote homophobia and bigotry in our society.

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One comment

  1. A great article, Boris; I couldn’t agree more.

    That a talented individual felt the need to hide his sexuality from everyone – even his family – shows that we have a long way to go in creating the sort of liberal and open society that many of us want.

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