Saturday, June 05, 2010

David Laws

Inevitably, David Laws has been in the news a great deal.  Apparently, he paid £40000 of tax-payers' money to his partner, and it's against the rules.  Laws and his partner are gay, and he didn't want to 'blow his cover' by not claiming the rent back.  Hmm.  It came as no surprise that some politicians and media types immediately saw this as another sign of homophobia.  (Nonsense: if his partner had been female it would still have been against the rules, it would still have been theft and he would still have had to resign. )  It's no surprise that large parts of the chatterati think a completely different set of rules apply to homosexuals; they need to learn it isn't so.  Gays (at least some of them - see below) don't want the same rights as everyone else - they want more.  In particular, it seems, Laws didn't want his devout Catholic parents to know he was gay.  I'd guess they suspected!  But even if not, going into public life is not the way to keep anything secret.  Can you imagine what the uproar would have been if Laws had been - say - Evangelical?  And didn't want his devout Catholic parents to know?  And had pocketed £40000 to keep it from them?

What was a bit more of a surprise was that some of the gay community agreed, and said so (see here for an example).  They were shamed that Laws tried to use his sexuality to explain away his theft: rightly so. 

But what's truly appalling about this is that both Cameron and Clegg are reported as describing Laws as a man of 'complete integrity'.  Integrity means 'an integrated whole' - WYSIWIG (what you see is what you get).  It also means honest, moral, not deceitful.  'Uprightness, honesty, purity' (Chambers).  A man who's lying to his family about a fundamental part of his life is not 'an integrated whole'; he's not upright.  And a man who takes money he's not entitled to in order to keep that deceit going isn't 'upright, honest, pure'. 

But apparently Cameron and Clegg think otherwise.  So - if they're going to act with integrity - didn't we ought to ask what it is they mean by it?

Joan Bakewell
Dame Joan Bakewell is a 77  year-old journalist, former lover of Harold Pinter, once described as 'the thinking man's crumpet' and the lady who once told Lloyd-Jones that his views were old-fashioned.  She was also a vocal opponent of Mary Whitehouse, whose Christian convictions led her to head up a 'clean up tv' campaign in the sixties.  The Mail online reports:

     For decades the late Mrs Whitehouse was the self-appointed moral watchdog of Britain. She saw  television as the vanguard of the so-called 'permissive society' of the Sixties, bringing violence, sex and bad language into the living rooms of the nation.
    The puritanical campaigner warned of the de-sensitising effect of showing violence and gratuitous sex, saying it would create a more violent and sexualised society.
    But Dame Joan was part of the 1960s generation who thought the old guard were foolish prudes.

But now, in 'an astonishing u-turn' Dame Joan hates to admit it but now thinks Whitehouse was right.  Of course she was: and only time and eternity will show how many other things Christians have been right on.

And finally:

Fergie was drunk when she offered to sell access to Prince Andrew, she confessed in 'that interview' with Opray.  Oh, that's OK then - except that it isn't, surely?  Why should being guilty of two sins (mistakes, indiscretions, errors of judgement - whatever you want to call them) carry less disapproval than being guilty of just one?

The thought seems to be: well, you're not responsible for your behaviour when you're drunk.  Sorry - but yes, you are.  And you're responsible for getting drunk in the first place.

Do I sound a bit priggish today?  Sorry.  But...


Young Mr. Brown said...

Good point about Messers. Cameron and Clegg, and their words of praise for Mr. Laws.

I've not managed to find the reference to "complete integrity", but Nick Clegg did speak of David Laws' "great personal integrity," and David Cameron (in his letter accepting his resignation) "You are a good and honourable man. I am sure that, throughout, you have been motivated by wanting to protect your privacy rather than anything else. Your decision to resign from the government demonstrates the importance you attach to your integrity."

There is something in the old adage "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all," but if Messers. Cameron and Clegg really believe what they said, they have very odd ideas of what constitutes integrity. And if they don't believe it, . . . .

These fulsome tributes can only bring politicians into further disrepute.

Gary Benfold said...

Thank you Mr Brown. 'Complete integrity' was a summary/paraphrase on my part - hope that doesn't indicate a lack of integrity.

But on quite another subject, I see your profile says something about 'marmalade sandwiches' being the bringing together of some things that might not appear to fit. Pray tell - what DO you do with marmalade if you don't put it on bread?

Young Mr. Brown said...

I think that sophisticated people tend to put it on toast.