There are many who like to think that the ills the Lib Dems are suffering will, in some way, be fixed by a returning David Laws being thrust back in to the political front line. They are wrong.
Firstly, we should examine what David Laws is like.
I know people who know David, and they tell me he is extremely quit witted, he "gets it" very quickly, and is a real talent. this any be true, but as a voter, and outsider, I view David as an intellectual and bright, but not charismatic or exciting in any way shape or form. Would his return excite the electorate ? Would it er-energise the Lib Dem vote ? I very much doubt it. I think Charles Kennedy might, but not David Laws. So lets kill the myth that David Laws will somehow revive our electoral fortunes overnight.
There is, of course, the argument that having David Laws in cabinet will somehow make the coalition more than what it is, and will then given the Lib Dems credit. The truth, as we've seen, is that the more successful the coalition is in any given area, the Conservatives get the credit, and the things that the public despise are blamed on the Lib Dems. To say "We need him back" is also to say that one of our cabinet members is not up to the job. I'm sure the Tories would love to see Vince or Huhne go, after all, they are providing the only credible opposition to the Tories whilst Nick Clegg has been utterly useless in providing any liberal vision or future for the party.
But for me, the most important reason for David Laws not to return is the simple fact that he showed a total lack of judgement in what he did over claiming for a second home owned by his partner. Last year in the general election we rightly claimed that we were the party who were the cleanest on expenses, how we had called for reform and more rigour in the system whilst Gordon Brown did nothing, and we mocked the Tories for continuing to back those friends of David Cameron who had been caught with their hands in the expenses till.
How could we face the electorate if David Laws returns to cabinet ? Forget that he did it for "personal reasons to protect his private life". He is a wealthy man, he didn't need to claim second home expenses, he didn't need to claim above the market rate, and he could have claimed on his Yeovil home, not his partner's London home. There were numerous ways he could have protected his private life without having to fiddle his expenses, but he chose none of those options, which stands in stark contrast with the perception the party hierarchy has that he is an intellectual who will find solutions to the problems we face a a party, as a partner in coalition and as a country.
The public will not thank us if we bring David Laws back, they'll probably hate as more and we'll get tarnished further as a party that cannot be trusted to keep its word. What do I think will happen ? I think Nick Clegg will bring him back next year because the Tories want him back. Of course they do, it will make us look silly and they will get the benefit of any successes he may achieve in government. but whatever the Tories want, Nick Clegg gives them.
Throw a stick. Go on Nick, fetch boy, fetch !