I’d like to start this off with two questions:
1) Do you believe in second chances?
2) Do you think David Laws should return to Government?
If your answer is different to 1 & 2 then congratulations, you are more than likely a Labour member.
You are also wrong.
Let’s start with the the infuriating lie that he is a fraud. By definition, in criminal law, the term refers to “an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual”.
The report itself confirms this was not the case – indeed, it even admits that, should he have declared his partner, he could have claimed a substantial amount more.
A man who claimed less than he was entitled would not, in any job, be fired – equating him with an unemployed person who over-claims (and, if using the £40k figure as so many do, you cannot be ignorant to use the term ‘accidental’) makes a mockery of your own intelligence.
The factors in each case make them incomparable.
This is not to say he did no wrong. He broke rules and was rightly punished for it. Much like those who were guilty of a criminal offence and were jailed. Unlike the many MPs who were simply asked to repay money – some of them not insubstantial amounts.
And if you are unable to look past that, think on this – how long exactly should a person be punished for something they did? It has been two years since he resigned, referred himself to the commissioner, repaid the money & served out his suspension. Should he be treated differently to others solely because he’s an MP? Or just because he’s not our MP?
I don’t expect many people to change their minds, but I felt I needed to briefly outline my reasons for thinking the above before moving on to the next point:
His return to Government would be a good thing for Labour.
As shadow education minister, his stance on academies was very similar to that of Labour’s; he’s for clamping down on tax avoidance & looking to help those on lower incomes; nor is he a man who wants to privatise the NHS (I have just reread his chapter in ‘The Orange Book’ in its entirety before typing this sentence).
The Conservative party like him as they think he’s a Conservative; the Lib Dems let them as they know he’s not (his voting records on civil liberties, taxation & in general prove this).
I am a fan of people who are pragmatic, who judge an idea based on merit, not by which colour rosette the person speaking happens to favour. If Labour are serious in their many offers to ‘work with’ the Government on certain issues, I genuinely think he would be the most receptive to good ideas; you only need to watch pre-govt education debates to see agreements between him and Ed Balls are conceivable.
And, if that doesn’t work for you, let’s look at the tried-and-tested tribal route: Labour can spout the words ‘expenses cheat’ in public and benefit from the poll boost whilst having someone more sympathetic to a less right-wing Tory agenda in a position of power.
It’s a situation where Labour really can’t lose.