It’s been highly amusing and more than a little infuriating to see Liberal Democrat after Liberal Democrat contorting themselves into ever tightening knots of sophistry in order to explain away David Laws’ misdemeanor. Most laughable is the one put forward by the ever-risible Lembit Opik that this is simply a homophobic witch-hunt; most pathetic, the old saw that “he’d done nothing wrong”.

Well, yes he had because claiming 40 grand from the taxpayer to give to his partner is explicitly against the rules set out in 2006, and since taxpayers are rightly hopping mad about the whole expenses scandal it behoves the Liberal Democrats to wake up and realise they can no longer rely on their previous image of being cleaner than the others simply because…well, because they’re Liberal Democrats.



So now we know the truth: the £6bn ‘efficiency savings’ the Tories promised before the election were calculated on the back of an envelope. It was clearly cooked up in the two weeks between the Budget and the announcement of the election, with the sole aim of giving the Tories some tactical room to attack Labour’s proposed rise in National Insurance contributions (aka ‘jobs tax’), whilst at the same time delivering a sleight of hand that would enable them to claim they were still serious about cutting the deficit without adverse consequences to ‘frontline’ public spending. Time and again during the leaders’ debates, when Gordon Brown accused the Tories of risking the recovery by cutting public expenditure this year, David Cameron responded by talking about ‘waste’ not ‘cuts’.

Well, the smoke has lifted and the lie is exposed. Whilst the Tories suggested that £1bn of savings could be found from efficiencies in government IT projects, the Treasury confirmed this week that the real figure would be £95 million – less than 10% of the figure claimed. Similarly the Tories suggested that £1bn of savings could be found by freezing civil service recruitment; the real figure will be £120 million, just over 10% of the saving claimed.