Thursday, June 12, 2008

The David Davis Stunt

David Davis is so concerned over what he sees as threats to the Magna Carta that he has resigned his seat to recontest it. Unfortunately he apparently hadn't heard of Magna Carta when he voted in favour of 28 day detention.

The brave man phoned Nick Clegg to make sure the LibDems (the main opposition in his constituency) wouldn't stand against him, before making his annoucement. After all it's no fun really putting your job on the line. (At the last election Davis got 47.5% of the vote, the LibDems got 36.8% of the vote and Labour 12.7% in that constituency).

I don't know what to make of Davis. He claims he is in favour of Magna Carta, but was happy to ditch it when voting in favour of 28 day detention. He is favour of Capital Punishment, where an innocent man can get hung by mistake (as has happened in the past), but is against extending detention by two weeks to 42 days (even though if the person concerned is innocent they will get compensated at eye-watering rates, which means the crown will only take the step if they are really worried). Which is worse - being detained by mistake for two extra weeks with compensation or being hung by mistake?

What a mish-mash of principles. I think what is really going on is that he had a bust-up with David Cameron. That's the only way to explain it - because if the Tories are so sure they are going to win a general election, and certain that 42 days is wrong, then why not simply wait till after the election and repeal the Act?

This action of Davis makes sense only if David Cameron has signalled to him that he has no intention of repealing 42 days. Which means Gordon Brown was right that the Tories were being hypocrites in the House last night - and inspired for quoted Conservative Home at the Conservatives.

I think Labour should not contest this election as it is clearly a private battle between Davis and Cameron. It will be fun watching Davis tilt windmills against UKIP and the Monster Raving Loony Party.

One thing is sure - Davis' career as shadow home secretary is over. Considering how many Labour scalps he's taken, the Home Secretary will be very cheerful today.


Anonymous said...

Labour not contesting this by-election will ,give a whole new meaning to chicken!

Anonymous said...

Wow, David Davis becomes one of the few politicians who threw away his career for something he believed in. He will go down in history as a decent politician, unlike so many others. He can join the ranks of Robin Cook now. And you sneer at that? Shows how little you know.

snowflake5 said...

Anonymous: "Labour not contesting this by-election will ,give a whole new meaning to chicken!"

Not at all. Oppositions always disagree with government - that's why they are called "opposition". The tradition is that oppositions say what they will change, put it in their manifesto and let EVERYONE vote on it in a general election.

In the 90's for instance, Labour disagreed with the government about increasing VAT on electricity and gas to 8%. But Labour didn't trigger an expensive by-election in a safe Labour seat in order to claim that a win in there somehow proved that the population at large agreed with them.

Instead Labour put a pledge in their manifesto to reduce VAT on domestic fuel, went to the entire electorate in the general election with this, won the election and then enacted the pledge.

The only reason Conservatives are holding a by-election on this issue over this is a) they don't believe they will win the general election and feel they must resort to desperate tactics or b) David Davis didn't believe that Cameron was going to pledge to repeal 42 days.

It's the Conservatives who are being chicken over this. If you really believe in your cause and really believe that the public will support you, put it in your manifesto and fight the general election over it. Why can't you wait till the general election? Chicken?

P.S. the reason why traditionally these disputes are resolved in general elections rather than selective by-elections is that it gives the whole electorate a chance to vote. Davis and the Conservatives are essentially dissing this historic process and claiming that the views in Davis' constituency are somehow more valid that the views in other constituencies. No they are not.

In a fair democracy everyone needs to be asked, not just a selective few. If Davis doesn't understand this, than his posturing about protecting British traditions is just so much hot air. But we knew that already, didn't we? This isn't about conscience at all, it's about hurting David Cameron.