Friday, June 13, 2008

A matter of principle?

I've a terrible confession to make - despite being a self-confessed political anorak, I simply cannot understand why David Davis has resigned as an MP?

I've never seen anything like it.

And ... surprise, surprise ... it looks like no other major Political Party will stand against him; thus clearing the way for a Sun-backed Kelvin Mackenzie to cause havoc with Davis' majority.

Maybe I'm missing something, and there really is a (as yet hidden) master-stroke of political maneuvering about to be unveiled? But, at the moment, it does just seem like madness to me.

... or do you believe he really did it as a matter of principle??


John Wallace said...

I believe he did it as a matter of principle. I really do and I applaud him for it.

He has also served his country in the TA SAS which is no mean feat and an awful lot more than the vast, vast majority of other politicians have done. Wouldn't think there were any current labour MPs who can count military service as one of their proudest moments - nor Labour councillors actually. Wonder why... White feathers come to mind.

John Wallace said...

Oh, and while we are on the subject of the current government. Thank god Ireland have saved us.

Andrew said...

If he really has taken this action on principle - then fair enough; but I remain to be convinced?

... and come on - just because an individual HASN'T undertaken military service it surely doesn't automatically follow that they're pacifists??

John Wallace agreeing with Fraser Nelson said...

The Passion of David Davis

After pumping the phones, I am now clear(er) on the great Davis mystery. To get to the bottom of what many in Westminster regard as an act of borderline lunacy, you consider a few things.

1) Weirdly, Davis means it. He’s not opposing 42 days for tactical advantage: he despises the measure in every way. “He has always been like this,” says someone who worked for Michael Howard. “When Howard wanted to introduce identity cards in 2004 we pretty much had to sedate Davis. He went bananas.” His commitment to British civil liberties is heartfelt, and he gets het up about subjects he believes in. This is rare in a Westminster where most things are done for factional advantage. This is why his behaviour seems incomprehensible to political strategists. It does not have much political strategy in it. Until this morning he was on a railroad with the Home Office as its destination. He has just derailed himself, to protest against what he sees as the biggest issue in Britain.

2) It’s more than just 42 days. Sure, 42 days is a beltway issue. Most of the public couldn’t care less, though those who are asked back the government. But Davis sees this as the final straw. Look at Britain, he will argue – CCTV cameras everywhere, local authorities spying on parents, we have become a society that pays traffic wardens more than soldiers. How did it get so bad? Our civil liberties have been slowly eroded by growing government. Each little step seems small in itself, but look at the whole. A generation went to war not just to fend off the Nazis but to defend the ancient liberties of Britain. We go to war now, to defend our way of life. Yet all the times, these liberties are being torn up by an every-increasing state and power-seeking politicians. This, not just 42 days, is what Davis is protesting against.

3) Cameron can’t control Davis. Davis has operated on a quasi-autonomous basis, with his own team. It works well for both him and Cameron. Davis lands punches, and has an outstanding record as Shadow Home Secretary. It’s not about revenge: Davis had plenty chance to detabilise Cameron over grammar schools and didn’t. So when he broke the news to Cameron yesterday evening, it was pretty much presented as fait accompli. “Cameron realised Davis’ mind was made up, and the conversation soon turned to the technicalities,” I am told. I have the feeling Cameron felt he couldn’t veto Davis even if he wanted to.

4) Cameron is furious. Without Davis, today’s headlines would be all about Brown and the bribes. His dodgy performance at his press conference would give way to several disobliging page leads. The Sundays would take up the “Westminster can be bought” line. More misery for Brown – you can write the script. Now, Davis has thrown a spanner in Cameron’s works. But Davis would argue: sometimes you have to say ‘screw the grid, and stand for what you believe in’. With such a poll lead, why not take some risks?

5) Davis isn’t risking his seat, but is risking his job. Cameron could, in theory, have left Davis’ job open for him as he fought for his seat. Instead he appointed Grieve (whom Davis would have chosen, certainly ahead of Nick Herbert) and it is not a temporary appointment. Grieve is there until the next reshuffle. Davis realises he may never again be on the front bench.

My sense is that Davis has faith that the natural gravity of Westminster will take him back to the top. Some would argue this is a monstrous vanity, but I certainly consider him the hardest hitter in a Shadow Cabinet not overflowing with talent. If you’re good enough, he reckons, you don’t need a three-year plan.

Perhaps we are so used to insincerity in Westminster that a heartfelt protest which contravenes the rules of career politicians is denounced as mad. Who in their right minds gives up a surefire path to the Home Office? Politics is about more than taking safe bets, Davis would say. And he has decided to prove it.

Andrew said...

In many ways, I would like to think Fraser Nelson is right ... just not 'wholly' convinced, but guess time will tell.

John Wallace said...

"... and come on - just because an individual HASN'T undertaken military service it surely doesn't automatically follow that they're pacifists??"


However one would normally find that those who have undertaken military service have proven that they are willing to put themselves into a position to make the ultimate sacrifice for their family, friends, community and country by being killed. Whereas the ultimate sacrifice in most politicians minds is not giving a member of the family a job!

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Ed said...

When I heard about it, I thought the chap must have had a liquid lunch. I read his statement... "I had always viewed membership of this House as a noble endeavour, not least because we and our forebears have for centuries fiercely defended the fundamental freedoms of our citizens. Or we did, up until yesterday."
Oh cripes, self important doesn't do him justice. He somehow managed to square 28 days detention with these nonsensical ancient freedoms???

Andrew said...


Agree! ... and you know what else gets me about Davis saying "our forebears have for centuries fiercely defended the fundamental freedoms of our citizens" ... he forgets to mention that he's openly in favour of capital punishment :-(

If I was a Member of Liberty (who appear to be supporting Davis' campaign localy), the subscription would already be cancelled!