Laws: the crucial conversation.

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cleggchop.jpgAt the selection meetings I've been to, the questions are usually asked: are you bankrupt or otherwise disbarred from being a candidate? And is there anything in your private life which could embarrass the party if disclosed?

Leaving the first one aside - bankers who retire at 28 to get into politics are probably not bankrupt - I assume the Lib Dems asked David Laws this question at his first selection.

The same question also needs to be re-asked with even more urgency on entering government. The press are after all much more interested in the financial (and sexual) affairs of Ministers than of humble opposition spokespeople.

I can't imagine Nick Clegg didn't have this conversation with David Laws and every other soon-to-be Lib Dem Minister in early May. It would have been staggeringly remiss not to have done so, and Clegg's a shrewd enough politician to know what's required.

It's a fairly safe assumption that Nick Clegg already knew about Laws' boyfriend at the start of this month, and that he (rightly) concluded that Laws not being frank about his sexuality would put him at risk of being outed, but that such a story would be a one-day wonder only of interest to the homophobic right.

Presumably, though, Laws cannot have told Clegg about the financial arrangement, and his idea that it wasn't against the rules because he and his partner didn't share a social life or a bank account. 

It's not even very bright for someone supposedly so clever. If you're using expenses to pay your partner's mortgage in an explicit breach of the rules, you might have expected to get away with it even five years ago. But Laws knew the Telegraph had everything it needed to take him down, and presumably still didn't think he should be honest with his boss.

If my speculation's right about roughly what questions were asked and what answers were given, Clegg would have had every right to be furious over this weekend just passed.

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This page was published on May 30, 2010 10:28 AM.

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