There is a YouGov poll on David Law’s resignation in the Sun this morning. Overall 72% of respondents thought that Laws was right to resign, and 34% said he should also resign as a Member of Parliament. However asked if he should eventually be able to return to the cabinet, 52% of respondents said it would be okay, including 23% who would be happy for him to return within 12 months. Asked how much damage the resignation would do to the coalition, 7% expected it to do long-term damage, 44% to cause short term damage but no long term harm and 36% to not do any significant harm.

YouGov also asked broader questions about people’s attitudes to gay MPs. The vast majority of people said it was not an issue for them – only 5% said it was a bad thing for there to be gay ministers in the cabinet (with 13% saying it was a positive good, and most people saying they didn’t mind one way or the other). 9% of people said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who was gay (while they were small numbers across the board, Conservative voters were twice as likely to say they were less likely to vote for a gay candidate). One caveat is that these are the proportions of people who are essentially willing to admit they are prejudiced. On an online self-completed survey the effect of social desirability bias should be less than in a telephone or face-to-face poll, but nevertheless, it’s still bound to have some small effect.

167 Responses to “72% think Laws was right to resign”

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  1. ROb/Howard,

    I gave up on Belgian politics when in 2006 a lady got 237000 votes after promising to perform a service of a sexual nature to every man who voted for her…

    Brugge i n particular is very right wing…but pro- British

    Antwerp was more liberal as was the uni towan of Gent

  2. @ Éoin & Laszlo

    I think sterling will not rise unless interest rates increase to double or triple the rate of inflation.

    Such a rise would strengthen sterling but wouldn’t necessarily get rid of inflation. For that to be so, the main driver of inflation must be imports paid in a foreign currency that has risen against sterling. This is not absolutely fact – whatever the BOE said in its “letter of excuses”.

    I do not think the economy would benefit from increasing the interest rate, despite what the OECD say.

    The BCC are cautioning against interest rate rises & any further spending cuts.

    Osborne & the coalition are about to discover, in government it is not possible to please everybody even some of the time.

  3. B. Their elections are on June 13th if anyone was wondering what we were on about.

  4. Hooray – we have a VI poll from ComRes/ Indy (see new thread).

  5. @Amber

    Yes I don’t see the reason why one should increase the bank lending rate before inflation has taken off, as opposed to increasing it, coupled with credit squeeze, once inflation is rampant).

    But i understand we have more knowledgeable people than I on this list.

  6. About 50 years ago I met a woman who told me that her elder brother had worked in Libya at the time it became an independant state. She said that he had personally met all the literate nationals in the country – all seven of them.

    I believed what she said.

    Tony Blair claimed that the world was a much safer place as a consequence of his sucess in persuading the Libyans to give up their nuclear weapons programme.

    I had some doubts about that.

  7. @Laszlo 9.40
    Tito was a Croat not a Bosnian. Sorry for being pedantic but it is important in that region. His internal borders were designed to weaken the majority Serb population in Yugoslavia and these were all major flashpoints after his death. These fixes gave a generation of nationalist leaders their rallying cry.
    Most analysis of the area esp Bosnia centres on the religious divisions. Very little attention is paid to the rural/urban split that had a religious angle due to history but was also based on administrative power and wealth.
    The Ottoman Empire favoured those who converted to Islam so the richer urban population was largely Muslim and the poorer rural areas were Christian, Serb and Croat. There was deep resentment against the ruling elite from the rest that happened to divide on religious grounds. The siege of Sarajevo is seen as the Serbs attacking the Bosnian Muslims but it was also the poor rural people attacking their richer urban masters. Some of the strange local alliances during the war were more about economics than religion.
    The break up of Yugoslavia has its roots in the internal economic differences but religion was used to stir up trouble. External pressures from ,in particular, a reunited Germany exacerbated a very dangerous situation.

  8. @ Aleksandar

    You are right, I should have been more precise, he was born in Bosnia and Herzegnovi, but he was a Croat.

    Yes, this is the reason (urban-country side) why I emphasised the meeting of peasant communities.

    Yes, when I mentioned “international”, I meant the unified Germany, whose first outing (by recognising Slovenia’s independence without any recourse ignited many of the later problems).

    About the limitations of the limits of Yugoslavian nationalism, I’m sorry to say, but hopefully I’m forgiven, a certain Dzugashvili wrote a rather good article in the 1920s (I’m speaking about this particular article, and nothing about anything else about the man concerned).

  9. Hopping back to the subject of this discussion, I see from the poll that overall 72% thought Laws was right to resign, but 73% thought he had a right to keep his sexuality private.

    Given the details of the case, this seems to me a contradiction. Is anyone seriously arguing that the homosexuality stuff was simply an excuse for an expenses fiddle? I dont believe it was. The question is, has the public spent as long trying to work out the logic of what happened as I have, to whit the rule changes trapped Laws into a position where he perceived that in going along with the 73% who thought he had a right to keep his sexuality private, he had to disappoint the 72% who did not consider his solution was good enough to stay in his job.

    So was that a reasoned view that the one requirement trumped the other, or a failure to understand the details?

    Being gay will cost you a 7% vote share if youre a conservative candidate. 4% if youre labour and 2% lib. Isnt that a majority in many marginal seats? Elections are decided by the floating votes. On the other hand, having a gay representative in your cabinet seems to be a plus in all parties. Is that a case of all right so long as not in my constituency?

    50% more labour people though he should resign as an MP than either lib or con. Laughed at that, though I am pleased to see there was no majority for a resignation. After lib dems, the most tolerant group saying he should not resign as MP was the 55+. Wouldnt that be contrary to typical expectations of attitudes to homosexuality in the older groups? They also had a higher proportion who thought he should be back within 1 year.

    Thumbs up to Roger Mexico. The real problem is the expenses system itself, which is no more nor less than a fraud against the electorate designed to hide the real level of MPs pay.

  10. @ Amber Star

    I agree with you on the OECD. The reason I brought it up, because almost certainly it’s a kind of testing (the whole thing could have been toned down and it did not happen).

    With the interest rate – I think it’s more about the real interest rate differences on currencies, rather than simply interest rate versus inflation rate. But I also said that there is a dubious link between inflation and import prices.

  11. @ Danny

    “I see from the poll that overall 72% thought Laws was right to resign, but 73% thought he had a right to keep his sexuality private. Given the details of the case, this seems to me a contradiction.”

    It doesn’t necessarily have to be a contradiction. Had I been polled I would have answered the same way.

    I believe that Laws was entitled to keep his sexuality private. I see him as something of a victim of circumstance – his secrecy only cost himself money he was legitimately entitled to.

    But I also believe the letter of the law needs to be upheld when it comes to parliamentary expenses. It’s a case of putting the system before the individual to ensure the highest standards are maintained (from now on at least).

    I also believe he was right to resign for the sake of the government. Even though he appeared to be the best man for the job, the ongoing scandal would only have compromised the government and its agenda.

    I also believe he was right to resign for his own sake – he looks like a man who needs to sort some personal things out in his life right now.

    Different people can have very different reasons for coming to the same conclusion. It’s a key part of the reason why the meaning of polls can be interpreted till the cows come home.

  12. Hass,
    I agree it is a difficult call. The question was, ‘was he right to resign’ (possibly), not ‘should be have been required to resign’ (no). Looking at the question texts I am not sure how I would have answered. I might have been tempted to answer ‘dont know’, not because I dont have a complex opinion on the subject, but because it is hard to judge which was the ‘right’ course, and on what basis. One or two MPs have felt strongly enough about the expenses fiasco to challenge accusations they did wrong, but not many. The question is structured to invite polarised answers. Unless MPs collectively were prepared to make a stand on this, I suspect the simplest solution for him was to resign. All in all though, I would say it is the wrong solution. I have never been a great believer in the letter of the law. Nor is most of the population, excepting the lawyers.

    I would add that even if you believe he really was fiddling his expenses, that hardly disqualifies you for working in the treasury. More like useful experience.

  13. Danny

    “More like useful experience.”

    It’s important to learn from experience and from your mistakes.

    I recall complaining to a Procurator Fiscal that the incompetence, stupidity, and alchoholism that I had found at senior levels in both retail and the public sector everywhere I had worked was also evident among criminals whose activities I had recently brought to his attention.

    He pointed out that witout incompetent criminals he would be out of a job.

    What we need in the Treasury is reformed, formerly successful, expenses fiddlers not failed ones who have been found out.

  14. @ Pete B

    ….”I think there are reasons for not wanting ‘gay’ MPs which are sensible, and not to do with prejudice. For instance, they will not understand the importance of family and children to both ordinary voters and the nation as a whole.”

    Most gay people won’t have children but they all have parents and families – should orphans, infertile people, singletons etc etc be excluded because they haven’t had children?

    I’m struggling to see your logic.

    “For those who do not vote tribally, there are two main reasons for voting for a candidate – either they represent your views and way of life, or they are someone to look up to and respect. Neither of these would be true for a ‘gay’ MP for many people.”

    Is a gay person inherently not respectable?

    If you vote for someone because you identify with their way of life, maybe the reason that voter turnout is so low is that representation is shockingly disproportionate in that the cabinet (and to a lesser extent parliament) is almost entirely male white upper/middle class. There’s nothing wrong with being from that demographic but I take issue when it has a grip over ‘democracy’.

  15. JohnB,
    The lesson to be learnt from Laws fall is that despite the 73% of people in this poll who think an MP ought to be able to keep their sexuality private, in practice the only way to claim the expenses he would be entitled to living in a home with his partner, is to declare that partner and thus lose his privacy. As to successful fraudsters, I think he was doing pretty well to keep the relationship out of the public eye for as long as he did.

    This is the fundamental unfairness of the situation and why Laws is morally not guilty.: Had the couple openly arranged their finances they could have claimed the money and satisfied the letter of the rules. Without doing so, the only choice was not to claim the money. I was amused the other day when Kelvin Mackenzie splutered into silence on R4 in his flow of indignation over the matter when whoever it was put this point to him. It is indefencible that Laws cannot claim the money simply because he does not want to publicly declare that he is gay.

    It happens that I was discussing the affair with someone who is gay today. This guy felt Laws got what was coming to him. But then, he didnt understand the details of the case until I explained them to him.

    I find it slightly uncomfortable putting arguments about this, because we are all presupposing all sorts of things about Laws relationship. There are all sorts of partnerships. I side heavily with the 73% who say it is his business, not mine or parliaments. Does the human rights act have anything to say about privacy?

  16. laws stays, CGT goes
    CGT stays, laws goes
    that was the choice

  17. I wonder if it is even legal to ask such question about people’s attitudes to gay MPs and whether it was an issue to have them in government.

    I am not surprise that it is the much hatred and populist tabloid the Sun which is asking that… but I don’t understand why there was not an overall claim and even legacy challenge on such a poll.

    What about next time to ask if it is normal to have Jewish people in the government? Why am I 100% sure that this question would have made a big outrage and the same about gay, nobody cares?

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