Friday, July 11, 2008

What Davis has achieved...

...nothing at all, and the clue is in the turnout of 34%.

The proper place to discuss civil liberties was at the general election, when both parties put their different visions in their manifestos and everyone got to vote, and what's more the turnout would have been high too.

Instead Davis declared that fighting his own safe seat (after persuading his main opponents, the Lib Dems not to stand) was a referendum and that everyone would be enthused enough to debate. Well they weren't enthused.

Some will say, never mind, by-elections don't normally have high turnouts. Well, there is a very good reason by elections don't have large turnouts - and that's because the by-elections don't decide anything of importance. Only in hung parliaments do by-elections have a significant effect on who runs the country, and hence on legislation. By producing such a low turnout, the voters in H&H were saying "nothing important here to decide, I'll stay indoors". And that's the most damning judgement of all.

Actually no, I'm being unkind to David Davis. He's achieved one thing - he's ensured that the shadow cabinet member who took the most Labour scalps is exiled to the backbenches, and his replacement is a wet noodle who won't trouble us. For that, the Labour party thanks him.

3 comments:

Lee Griffin said...

"Well they weren't enthused."

That's not what was being heard on the ground. Know what the turnout is for a safe set where the result is pretty much known in advance? 19% in 1999 for Labour. So 35% is actually pretty good in that respect.

I for one will be absolutely thrilled when this insane bill gets voted out after being bumped back to the Commons by the Lords, and thanks Davis for helping to keep the issue alive. The mere fact you're here writing about it is testament to the success of the civil liberties campaign, and indeed how worried Labour are over losing everything over it!

snowflake5 said...

lee griffin - the point about the 1999 Leeds by-election was precisely that "nothing was at stake". Labour held a massive majority at the time. The by-election wouldn't have changed anything. Ergo, sensible voters didn't bother to go to the polls.

However, the "spin" that David Davis put on the H&H by-election was that "huge" issues were at stake, and that was why he triggered a special by-election. If that was really the case, then turnout would have been 60% at least. Indeed when the British electorate considers important issues to be at stake, turnout climbs above the 70 percents.

However the H&H electorate managed a 34% turnout. They were essentially saying, "sorry, nothing at stake here, nothing important to get me off my sofa and down to the polling station". And when you compare it to the 1999 Leeds "nothing-at-stake" by-election, you are conceding that indeed nothing was at stake at H&H...

P.S. the bill won't be voted out. It's the will of the elected government, and therefore it will happen.

stephen said...

I didn't agree with Davis's tactics on calling the byelection. He should have stayed as shadow home secretary and made his arguments from there. The problem with civil liberties arguments is that they appear 'theoretical' and many voters think 'it's noting do with me' but of course by the time it is something to do with them, it's too late. In that respect, the US educational system has much to commend it, in giving Americans an almost instinctual understanding of why such arguments matter.

P.S. the bill won't be voted out. It's the will of the elected government, and therefore it will happen

You think so? The government had to bribe the DUP - a party that thinks homosexuality is as evil as paedophilia - to get it through the Commons first time. Who will Brown bribe next time around? The Hitler Youth?