Regular readers will know that we rather like Manchester. So spending the weekend there celebrating Anna’s brother’s birthday was a welcome minibreak from the Midlands, especially as the City Inn decks out every room with a spritzy iMac. A grand birthday at various Mancunian drinking dens – and a pizza place – was had, as well as coffee and cake on Sunday, when the proper business of unwrapping presents was done. Nice.
We had a better weekend than the coalition government, at any rate, since David Laws’s early resignation is a major blow: his role in the government was two-fold, providing both an effective bridge between Liberal Democrats and Conservatives, and an extremely powerful financial brain at the Treasury. Indeed, even before resigning he had been a key figure of the week: as I suggested in lieu of content, his clear relish for the job of making swingeing cuts seemed over-egged but no less genuine for that, and his robust performance was looking set to define not just the policy but the tone of the coalition’s direction of economic travel.
I was reminded of that quote from Barchester Towers: “If we look to our clergymen to be more than men, we shall probably teach ourselves to think that they are less.” It’s hard not to feel intense sympathy for Laws: his drawn and defeated appearance as he delivered his resignation statement spoke powerfully of the personal trials he must now be experiencing. It is not, however, for the taxpayer to fund the secret-keeping of a man who was a millionaire at 28. David Laws’s sexuality is rightly his private business; sadly for him, the manner in which public money is spent isn’t. The Telegraph’s not-so-hidden agenda on Capital Gains Tax notwithstanding, Liberal Democrats – Danny Alexander included – will need to be much more careful about claiming the moral high ground from now on.