Saturday 29 May 2010

The UK: My thoughts are with David Laws

One revelation and a story
I have just read with sadness the resignation of David Laws the coalition Secretary to the Treasury on the matter of claiming expenses for accommodation on the premises of his partner.
The unfortunate consequence is that Mr. Laws has inadvertently been outed as gay in a long-term relationship with the man purported to have been his landlord.
There are many angles of looking at this story but the one that most draws my sympathy is that Mr. Laws who is just a month older than I am had settled into the convenience of being in the closet as a single man in public office without any of his close relations knowing of this secret affair – however, it is all now exposed and ones thoughts are prayers are with all concerned.
An ambiguous rule of life
Obviously the commons rules about claiming accommodation expenses require that claimants do not do so when with partners, relations or business associates.
Technically, if Mr. Laws had not declared his residence in plush Kensington to the West of London people might have said there are a quid pro quo scenario developing leaving a Member of Parliament open to influence, his claiming expenses however has lead to this rather human tragedy of sorts from which I do hope he does recover well.
The nation has lost a smart and possibly very able minister to scandals and the plural is deliberate – the scandal that prevents people from being confident of acceptance as gay if they should so choose to declare that fact, the scandal of claiming expenses whilst living with one’s partner even though there is no legal or common law basic for same-sex relationships in the UK except where a civil partnership has been entered into and the scandal of newspapers that have no compunction in exposing anything that would help sell their copy.
The Daily Telegraph has averred that it had no intention of outing Mr. Laws but there is no way that story would have made any news without that consequence as part of its sensational import and interest.
Politicians are not saints
I do not believe that our politicians should be subject to the kinds of moral standards we should expect of the clergy, they are not saints, they are people like you and I who have offered to serve our country in whatever capacity they have been elected and selected to serve.
This would obviously not encourage capable and competent but seemingly flawed people to enter politics for the fear of being mauled by the rabid dogs of the press pretending to be cuddly kittens.
It reminds me of the resignation of Lord John Browne from the chairmanship of BP when in trying to conceal the matter of his sexuality he perjured himself and was vilified for perjury despite the more personal issue at stake.
Acceptance is not a given, even in the West
There is no doubt that even though the middle-classes in the general sense might have the liberality of accepting and tolerating homosexuality, those with influence and in authority, politics or even international sports are not that at ease with revealing who they truly are – it leaves them prone to blackmail and possibly ignominy – the saddest case of those consequences of declaring ones sexuality can only have one looking at how that revelation lead to Justin Fashanu’s suicide in an abandoned garage in East London.
The fear of rejection looms large, more so the threat of homophobia which has not been eradicated even from Western societies and the misfortune that might accompany being disowned by loved and trusted ones – it is not an easy life and our humanity is the poorer for how difference stops people from being the best they could ever be by first being truly themselves.
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