Thursday, June 12, 2008

David Davis's Walk Into the Unknown

So, now that the dust has settled, what are to make of it all? The news media is in meltdown mode as they struggle to come to terms with the enormity of what David Davis has done. Instant conclusions are naturally being drawn, but many of them are very detached from reality.

I should perhaps make clear that I did not know about this decision until this morning. I am glad I didn't for several reasons. I still haven't spoken to him so what I am about to write is my take on the situation and my take only.

During my six months working for DD in 2005 Tony Blair's 90 day detention proposals I saw first hand how passionately he feels about this issue. It's not a matter of political conviction, it's almost as if it is in his DNA. He genuinely thinks that extending pre charge detention to 42 days will make the country less safe. It will give the terrorists a propaganda victory.

Up until the weekend he believed the 42 day proposal would be defeated. He hadn't reckoned on the duplicity of the DUP or the fact that so many Labour MPs would be bought off by offers of goodies for their constituency or the chairmanship of this or that committee.

Labour is spinning away that David's decision is a kind of emotional reaction to the loss. They could not be more wrong. David Davis doesn't make emotional decisions. He makes them with a military precision. He won't have done this on the spur of the moment, he will have thought about it deeply and played some war game scenarios. In the end he will have come to the conclusion that the only way to defeat the 42 day agenda is to start a massive public debate. And that's what a by election will do.

This isn't about one man's vanity. It is about the ability to sacrifice personal and public advantage for a greater cause. As he said in his statement, Sunday is the anniversary of Magna Carta. Over the last 800 years people have fought and died to protect our civil liberties. If it falls to one man to sacrifice political advantage to try to make a stand against their further erosion, then so be it.

David would have been Home Secretary in the next Conservative government. He has consistently been the party's best media performer over the last two years. He has played a major part in the revival of Conservative fortunes, and while many people have tried to drive wedges between him and David Cameron they have failed to manage it. Quite obviously, they come from a different background and have certain different priorities - so do any two politicians. But during the leadership contest they grew to respect one another greatly and a good working relationship was established. For David to sacrifice his political future in this way, effectively to be a single issue campaigner, says a lot about his moral compass.

I don't pretend that David Cameron will be pleased at today's turn of events. He would obviously have wanted to keep David on board. But he is where he is. We are where we are. How's that for being profound!? He's made an excellent appointment in Dominic Grieve, someone who regular readers know I believe should have been in the Shadow Cabinet ages ago.

The LibDems are to be commended for deciding not to stand in the by election. Labour is showing all the signs of following suit. If they do, they will be treating the issue (and voters) with contempt. The 42 day issue can now be debated fully during the by election campaign. Sure, there are 69% of people opposed to David's stance, but they oppose it with their hearts not their heads. Most of us can have sympathy with banging terrorists up for as long as it takes, but when you think about the actual consequences of doing so without charge, you slowly begin to think with your head, not your heart.

I see that well know by election Labour campaigner, Stephen McCabe MP, thinks that David is "treating Parliament and the voters with contempt". They really don't get it, do they? They don't get the fact that our there, voters are crying out for politicians who take moral stands and stand up for what they believe in, even if it is temporarily unpopular. They are fed up with politicians who are on the take, or can be corralled into a voting lobby by a government whip offering them sweeties for their pet cause. Ann Widdecombe made a courageous stand when she made her something of the night speech. She did so in the full knowledge that it could be the ruination of her political career. She did what she thought was right. And that's what David Davis is doing.

So what now? I have been inundated with emails from people offering David help for the by election, and also money. Facebook groups have already been formed in his support.

As many of you will have seen, I have been on various media outlets during the afternoon giving my views. It's been like flying blind to be honest. Dangerous but fun!

More later...


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to have to say this but there is an element of 'I told you so' running round the Ulster Tories. Unfortunately Mr Davis has been one of those people who people who used to think the Conservatives should not put up in Northern Ireland and should 'keep in with' the unionist parties. I trust he will never make that mistake again

Tony said...

As well as via facebook practical offers of help can be made via pledgebank (I don't know if James Cox has any way of delivering this to DD's campaign but I am sure they will be in touch if it is welcome)

David Anthony said...

Is the buying of votes any better than the buying of questions? Is it any different to institutionalised bribery? How can it even remotely be seen as legal practice?

Anonymous said...

If his objection is "in his DNA" as you put it, wouldn't that have shown up on his record?

Labour will not contest this seat if an independent stands on a single issue ticket in the same way as Davies is.

Like a terror victim perhaps.

I wonder if you'd be so confident if Davies faced a 7/7 survivor who supported Cameron?

Anonymous said...

Great to see. Go DD!

Richard Nabavi said...

Iain, your post makes more sense than what most commentators are saying, but it is still very hard to understand this move. When politicians resign or force a by-election, it's usually because they disagree with something their own party is doing. So if a principled Labour rebel had done this, it would have made perfect sense.

The longer-term ramifications are hard to discern. But, whatever happens, it doesn't now look as though DD is going to be the next Home Secretary.

Anonymous said...

" voters are crying out for politicians who take moral stands and stand up for what they believe in, even if it is temporarily unpopular"

Spot on.
It's wake up time for the Westminster village.

Tapestry said...

Why didn't he do this over Lisbon? The EU is behind all moves to lengthen detention periods and eliminate habeas corpus.

Why attack the fruit and not the tree?

David Anthony said...

PS// The Lib Dems should stand. Labour now have a reason not to field a candidate.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes I remember John McDonnell resigning as a GLC councillor while opposing the abololition of the GLC

important to him

but nobody cared except for the cost

indeed Labour lost one seat

watch UKIP

Anonymous said...

This truly is conviction politics. David Davis has set a standard that very few on the labour benches (if any) would be able to ascend to.

He deserves bucket loads of respect and support.

Anonymous said...

Sure, there are 69% of people opposed to David's stance, but they oppose it with their hearts not their heads.

Sorry, but this is a silly assertion. I oppose the 42 day limit, but this is just patronising.

Stephen McCabe MP, thinks that David is "treating Parliament and the voters with contempt". They really don't get it, do they?

I think he does get it. However strongly you feel, it is up to Parliament to decide these issues as happened last night. Is Davis honestly suggesting that the Commons vote last night was illegitimate? If not, he should get on with the business of opposition and not trouble his constituency for this. By-elections are for constituencies which need them, not politicians who want them.

David Lindsay said...

The Tory Leadership Election is on, I see.

One of the morally and socially conservative, Eurosceptical, Unionist remnant, or at least some as near thereto as could possibly be permitted within the Shadow Cabinet, has finally had enough (at least fifty years late, but never mind), and is quite clearly mounting a challenge.

Almost everything on Davis's entirely correct list of assaults on liberty was pioneered by the Tories' immediate previous Leader when he was Home Secretary, and it is inconceivable that the Cameroons really would repeal any of it.

The Conservative Party's refusal to fund his by-election campaign says it all, as does Cameron's stitch up of no candidates from the Lib Dems (certainly) or Labour (probably, and in that case in breach of its own Constitution) in order to deny Davis his victory.

If Labour really won't be putting up, then one of the commentariat supporters of 42 days should do so as an Independent. What are they afraid of?

There is an underlying point here. People go into politics because they believe that the State should do certain things.

When the State delivered education and health care, and ran things like railways and mines, then it felt no need to introduce ID cards, or to bang people up for six weeks without even so much as charging them, or to keep vast databases on them, or to watch them all the time. For that matter, no such needs were felt when the Police patrolled the streets on foot.

But now, having arbitrarily decided that they will not do such sensible and necessary things as delivering education and health care, or running railways and mines, or ensuring that the Police patrol the streets on foot, how are the political and administrative classes to occupy their time?

Why, by introducing ID cards, and banging people up for six weeks without even so much as charging them, and keeping vast databases on them, or watching them all the time, of course.

That, and waging pointless wars.

Colin said...

If any party is looking for the "big idea" that will resonate with the electorate in the coming 2 years, the civil liberties agenda may be it.

42 days, ID cards, CCTV, council snoopers using anti terrorist legislation to spy on people, £100 pound fines for minor traffic infringements etc. etc.

The state is out of control and yesterday was a dark, dark day. For most people politics is all about proximity and more and more citizens are being harmed and harassed by the creeping intrusion of the state.

With little or no opportunity for proper tax cuts or for serious short term reform of the public sector, any incoming government will need a distraction and giving us back our rights and liberties may well be it.

I almost feel like moving to Haltemprice, just to be able to vote for DD.

Newmania said...

I think the straightforward Conservative view would be this .
1 We are winning and this can only make it worse
2 It looks as if there is a problem at the top and the Davies Cameron duo was important.
3 It is a bit of a "flamboyant"gesture which is never good .

Having said all that he is right. Labour have behaved contemptibly and reduced Parliamentary debate to a farcical car-boot sale. He can do no more there . He is also making a stand on state control in general which badly needed an "Ils ne passeront pas" and I admire him for it.

So I wish he hadn't but now he has I am right behind him , I also agree that we have a superb replacement by the way.

Why not ? Now is as good a time as any to have the row that has been brewing up for years.Am I my own man or do I belong to them !

Anonymous said...

David Davis is VAIN. David Davis is full of self-importance. Deluded.

If you think that this pointless, weird and unintelligent move by David Davis is to do with 'honour' - then you are away with the fairies.

Cameron must be furious at this distraction. I hope Cameron keeps Davis on the back benches when he returns.

I think David Davis has behaved in a selfish, immature and irresponsible manner. if he really cared about this country he would fight Gordon Brown from a position of power. Too bad his vanity clouded his judgement.

Bye Bye David Davis ! Time to move on.

Anonymous said...

Do you call that team work?

Is David Davis more important than his own political party?

Is he more important than his own constituents?

Is David Davis a legend in his own mind?

What a plonker.

Anonymous said...

All very well Iain, but if DD's so passionate, his best hope of reversing this decision was to become Home Secretary in 2010 and then repeal the legislation, as Cameron had agreed to.

What can he hope to achieve before then? Nothing except a change of government will alter the 42 days. He'll win the by-election of course but if Labour don't field a candidate either he'll just look a fool.

His achievement has been to throw the Shadow Cabinet into disarray (it looks as iif they're split over the issue) and hand Brown a massive boost on a day he should have been reeling.

This is mad.

Alan Douglas said...

As someone who was locked up for 7 hours for "assaulting a traffic warden" - I had returned her ticket to her - I am absolutely certain that these new powers will be abused.

Think of old Walter Wolfgang heckling Straw at the labour conference, arrested under the "Prevention of Terrorism" act, think of council pen-pushers authorising surveillance of dog fowlers and school catchment area matters under RIPA.

Think of Stalin and Hitler - ahhh, you've got it !

Alan Douglas

Liam Murray said...

A couple of things Iain:

(1) As a shadow cabinet member he should have had the nous to understand how this would play, the risks associated with it etc. He may well have 'war-gamed' it but the evidence of even the first few hours is that he got it wrong. His principles are sound, his judgement (on this) found wanting..

(2) You say

"The LibDems are to be commended for deciding not to stand in the by election. Labour is showing all the signs of following suit. If they do, they will be treating the issue (and voters) with contempt"

It's not contemptuous for Davis to force the by-election but it is for Labour to let it go uncontested? That doesn't stand up Iain and needs more explanation I'm afraid. It's about David's judgement againg because clearly Labour won't contest it so one hopes he has his pitch ready for that scenario.

Anonymous said...

Labour have about 3 hours to announce they arent running a candidate. If they leave it any later than that then it will become a story in its own right - Labour bottles election.

Anonymous said...

The MSM have a narrow view of the world that is adrift from the reality faced by the people.

That is why blogging, at its best, is important. It derives its vitality from a direct connection with that reality.

It is also, at its best, immediate. Guido had the news before the BBC and well before Reuters and comments flowed, unmoderated, from the moment he posted.

Your appearances on TV showed you think BBC and Sky News are more important than the two most important blogs in the UK: this one and Guido's.

They are not. Far from it when you hear Nick Robinson yet again telling us all what we think and getting it horribly wrong.

You had an opportunity today to show what blogging can do.

But instead of thinking "today is the day my blog goes bigtime" you headed for the TV studios.

Bad decision. Very bad.

Anonymous said...

Well done David Davis, we've seen a politician truly showing qualities of conviction and courage, rather than using them as soundbites.

I oppose this evil little piece of legislation, not because I feel sorry for terrorists, but what is to stop a future government using these powers to lock up members of the Countryside Alliane, or trade unions? We've seen local council's use anti-terror legislation to spy on secondary school applicants, what's next?

The government is only pushing this Bill through to give the impression that it's tough on terrorism. What we are seeing are electric shocks being sent through a corpse to give impressions of life. Rather than getting to the root of the problem - the flaws in multiculturalism, our presence in the middle east, etc. - the government push through vile Bills like this to get good headlines in the Murdoch press.

I'm sure most sane people will applaud David Davis' actions, and wish him all the best for his campaign.

Anonymous said...

David Davis? What a loser! And soooo vain!!! Who cares what he thinks???

David Davis? What a hero. Defender of liberty and all-round tough guy. I'd give him one!!!!!!!!!!


Anonymous said...

Well said Iain. Agree with all you said and I think it's a good move by Davis and I fully support him. Well done him. Now, any news on whether any of the trough-swilling Labour rebels have the 'cohones' to actually make a similar stand as a matter of conscience? No? Didn't think so.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what to make of this, I like David Davis and I know he feels passionate about freedoms and I agree but I simply can't see the point of this stance. Surely the best thing to do is get in to Government and put things right. Instead, on the day Brown is accused of buying votes, all the spotlight is on him and Party splits. It just strikes me as selfish, it might make more people aware of the dangers but then again it still looks selfish to me.

Stu said...

The fact is, David Davis has made a stand based on his convictions in the only way he now can. He has sacrificed his likely cabinet position, and probably won’t get it back, just to stand up for his convictions. I can’t truly say I agree fully with his stance, but I am more than willing to appreciate the risk he’s taking. Labour could field a strong, local candidate with some anti-terror or police connections and have him fight saying that DD is doing the terrorists job for them - a position that many, including myself, have much sympathy for.

I think what’s more likely is that Labour will feign outrage at the posture, try and claim that it doesn’t deserve any attention, and not field any candidate against him - robbing his campaign of its legitimacy and leaving him in the lurch.

Chris Paul said...

You are quite wrong about Labour's options here Iain. This is a thoroughly unnecessary by-election and not standing would be greener, leaner and meaner than standing.

I agree with David Lindsay on this one. It is only just short of a leadership bid.

Anonymous said...

The greasy Home Office minister Tony McNulty should do the same and stand as the Labour candidate in the by-election, then we can have a battle royale over the issue.

If Labour refuse to put up a candidate that will become a story in its own right. They said the 42-day decision was what the people want, so let's see them put their money where their mouths are.

I don't agree with Davis on many issues, but on this he gets my whole-hearted support. Cameron and the rest of Conservative Party should back Davis to the hilt.

Anonymous said...

In one of the posts I read that Dave Cameron is in Cornwall. I understand that this place is a "jinx " on the conservatives. Is it not true that a takeover usually happens when the leader is out of the country. Are we seeing the cracks in the end of the begining of the Conservative Party? Is this a leadership grab on Churchillian standards? We all dream of right of centre conservative party.

Anonymous said...

He's done the right thing and this is good news for freedom, justice and liberty in this country.

Anonymous said...

I have watched, listened to and read lots on this so far this afternoon, and all the MSM is concentrating on what this means for Cameron, the Tories, etc.

For ****'s sake! A man has resigned from Parliament and caused a by-election purely on issues of vast importance. Can the media PLEASE!!! give us discussion on some actual ****ing issues, rather than who's up and who's down?

Anonymous said...

Alan Douglas said...
"Think of old Walter Wolfgang heckling Straw at the labour conference, arrested under the "Prevention of Terrorism" act ..."

He wasn't arrested for heckling. He was stopped (and held briefly while the police checked him out) because he was trying to get into the Labour Party conference without a valid pass.

That was at Brighton. You may not recall it but there was a major terrorist incident at an earlier Conservative Party conference in Brighton when terrorists attempted to assassinate Margaret Thatcher and most of the Cabinet. It is not, therefore, surprising that the Brighton police are security-conscious at these events.

Anonymous said...

Alan Douglas said...
"As someone who was locked up for 7 hours for "assaulting a traffic warden" - I had returned her ticket to her - I am absolutely certain that these new powers will be abused."

Did they arrest you under the Prevention of Terrorist Act then. If not then your comment is irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

David Davis is a TRAITOR to England who has SPAT on the face of the English people.

This SCOTTISH PUPPET traitor Davis will lose his seat to the English Democrats.


Daily Referendum said...

I started blogging about 18 months ago not sure what party to support. I'd lost faith with Labour, but being a Barnsley man the Conservatives were not an obvious choice (at the time I wasn't into politics). Since then I have become a staunch Conservative member, though still sceptical about politicians in general.

Today David Davis has given me back the faith that some politicians are in it for the people.

neil craig said...

He has a sizeable majority with Lib Dems 2nd & Labour nowhere so he will get bck in with possibly the biggest majority in the country.

Then what. Will he be invited back into the cabinet - as what - will he accept - could Cameron refuse him after such a success - could he accept him - would Davis prefer to be on the back benches pushing the sort of policies he stands for (& I think most here would prefer).

My guess is that when he wins, whatever nominal post he has, if any, it will give him a de facto veto over the bicycling policies & the ability to push economically sensible ones (like going for growth Irish by Irish style busines tax cuts).

Also the 42 day Bill is dead. The Lords will kick it back & the Commons will not pass it a 2nd time.

He has taken a courageous risk but, as Iain points out, a very well calculated one.

Nick Drew said...

DD has seized the Queen's Colour and is leading a noble charge.

It is a happy day when we have politicians capable of such bold initiatives: Davis, and Boris too, parlaying their strong personalities to advance the cause. It will bring a chill to the corrupt and dessicated NuLab soul.

Our creativity should now be focussed on what further initiatives can be mustered to defeat the wretched Lisbon Treaty

Little Black Sambo said...

Sylvie Krin, you are Glenda Slagg and I claim my £5.

Anonymous said...

"It is about the ability to sacrifice personal and public advantage for a greater cause."

Really? Then why has he ensured his only electoral challengers- the Lib Dems- stand aside? It doesn't sound particularly noble to me, cowardly grandstanding if anything.Let him slug it out with the raving loonys and BNP, that'll ensure the whole thing is the farce it deserves to be.

Anonymous said...

Fred said... said:
We all dream of right of centre conservative party.

No we don't. That is why the Tories have lost three general elections on the bounce and are now only starting to turns things round with a more centre ground focus.

Anonymous said...

So if David Davis has made a stand based on his convictions

should other MPs on other issues do the same

ie Abortion, hanging, the Euro, global warming

all important issues and Mps feel strongly about

Where does it end

no Lib no Labour candidates just UKIP and joke candidates

just see

Ninian Reid said...

The gladiator in David Davis will enter the cauldron of a by-election Coliseum with his held high. He will fight the good fight and will surely emerge as an even more credible, principled Member of Parliament than most of us know him to be. On 42 days detention though, he is quite wrong as the latest public opinion poll indicates. But he has the courage of his commendable convictions on other issues regarding public freedom that I personally can agree with and therefore I sincerely wish him well. We need more stand-up-and-be-counted politicians of his stature in England and here in Scotland where I support the highly principled SNP. I would urge his constituents of all political hues to give him their wholehearted backing. Full marks to Nick Clegg for instantly deciding not to engage his Lib Dems troops in attack mode. Such decisiveness on Mr Clegg's part will also go down well with the majority of the electorate in the long run. And who says politics are boring ? What a day it's been !

Anonymous said...

icowboy: [Labour] said the 42-day decision was what the people want, so let's see them put their money where their mouths are.

DD might want to fight the by-election on a single issue, but people won't vote on that basis.

A Tory voter who supports 42 days will still vote for DD, Labour voters who oppose 42 days still won't vote for DD.

If DD had a marginal seat this would be courageous... rather than a misguided gimmick.

Anonymous said...

Labour's best tactic is to fail to put up a candidate, but I hope they do

Paul Linford said...

Speaking purely personally, I tend to agree with Iain and John Redwood on this, that it's a self-sacrificial act on DD's part. But in terms of how most other people will see it, Davis isn't helped by his past reputation for not really being a team player.

In this sense his position may come to resemble Heseltine's betwen 1986-90 - he too maintained he had quit the Cabinet on a great issue of principle, but because of the nature of his personality and his relationship with Thatcher, the widespread suspicion was that he had staged the Westland row as part of a long-term leadership strategy.

In retrospect, of course, this explanation turned out to be the right one, which is one reason why many people will see today as the starting-gun for the third Davis leadership campaign.

p smith said...

Come on Dale, take off the goggles and ask some proper questions of your colleagues and find out the truth. If Davis' sole gripe is with Labour policy then how can an uncontested by election possibly assist his cause?

It is blindingly obvious to anyone not blinded by love for the Tory party that the reason for this move is that he does not feel that he can express his views within the shadow cabinet on this issue (and potentially other issues such as the EU) not least because Cameron has refused to commit to repealing the 42 day limit if the Tories win the next election.

That is the only logical explanation for his actions. If he did not have a difference of opinion with Cameron, then why damage the party and undermine Cameron with this manoeuvre? By resigning from the shadow cabinet that can only be read as a statement of dissatisfaction with the shadow cabinet.

If that was not his intent, then he is a moron. Either way, this is a boon for Brown in circumstances where he should be on the floor.

Sackerson said...

Standing up for a principle always does look a bit foolish. There's always reasons to go with the flow. All the more credit to Mr Davis.

Anonymous said...

Having just logged on, at 5.52, I've learnt from posters here that Cornwall is a foreign country and David Davis is Scottish - my word, some people do have their own realities, don't they?

To judge from Davis's statement, the 42day detention vote was not the sole mover for his resignation, but the last straw. And you can say some derogatory things about Davis (and I didn't vote for him in the Leadership contest), but you can never call him 'soft' on anything.

There are also some daft comments flying about re this being a leadership challenge, or putting down markers to take over when Cameron goes. For crying out loud, no-one of any sense in the Party wants a leadership contest even if DC weren't doing such a successful job, and can you imagine Davis staggering around in 10yrs time, waving his buspass and saying 'vote for me as Leader'?

I remain undecided on the wisdom of Davis's action from a Party political viewpoint, but it's one heck of a Cavalier thing to do, isn't it? And I've just heard from my MP that he's received lots of positive messages and offers to help Davis, and not one negative one.

Anonymous said...

DD said:

"And because the generic security arguments relied on will never go away—technology, development and complexity and so on, we'll next see 56 days, 70 days, 90 days."

My sentiments exactly. Work expands to fill the time available, especially where Plod is concerned.

Nevertheless, the strategic point of his personal decision is opaque. It doesn't stack up.

C'est magnifique mais ce n'est pas la guerre.

Anonymous said...

Iain, you can hardly call him campaigning on a "single issue"! Without Liberty, all the other issues are just tractor production stats or potato harvests.

DD is not just for Liberty, but Rule of Law. Without Rule of Law, Democracy is just Rule of the Mob with a legal endorsement.

Anonymous said...

That's very vain and selfish of Davis, Tory leadership should not support his by-election campaign at all. He won't achieve anything, if no one stands against him in the election, the whole thing is a joke. Even if he wins against another candidate, it won't prove anything. The opinion poll is more representative than the results from one single constituency.

If I were from his constituency, I wouldn't bothered to come out to vote. Don't waste my time, I vote things that I care, not some cherised principles of a politician.

Anonymous said...

Gerry Fenby said...
Is Davis honestly suggesting that the Commons vote last night was illegitimate?

Perhaps he is suggesting the vote ought to have been free from the alleged inducements to toe the Government line.

Perhaps he is suggesting the debate was nothing much to write home about, and mainly rests on the Government saying we should be allowed to put legally innocent people in detention for a long time. That we should trust them to be competent. That these powers will not be abused. The vast swelling of approved bodies allowed to spy on us thanks to the RIPA Act demonstrates they cannot be trusted.

If people are plotting to do us harm then there will be evidence enough to warrant an arrest and a swift charge. Otherwise, the State should not be doing this.

Anonymous 5.16PM
[Walter Wolfgang] wasn't arrested for heckling. He was stopped (and held briefly while the police checked him out) because he was trying to get into the Labour Party conference without a valid pass.

Must have been a different pensioner named Walter Wolfgang with a valid pass around his neck and already in the conference hall who was violently removed from his seat by mobhanded security for having the temerity to boo while Jack Straw was speaking. Having been ungraciously removed he was then detained while the Police checked his identity.

Ninian Reid said...
On 42 days detention though, he is quite wrong as the latest public opinion poll indicates.

If polls indicated the public would support the hanging of homosexuals would that make it right to enact such a policy?

There are principles worth defending, there are things that are intrinsically 'right'. 42 days detention is not one of them. The retention of DNA and fingerprints from innocent children and adults is not one of them.

Patrick said...

For many observers this DD move does not compute. That is in large measure because we have, after 11 years of New Labour, become sadly accustomed to machine politicians, spin and an electoral rather than a principle driven mindset.


This country is today profoundly damaged by the Orwellian creep of the state. ID cards, CCTV, 42 days, rubbish bin spies, 'shop your neighbpour' hotlines, TV licence police, a politicised and PC police force, Health and Safety killjoys, etc, etc - this is the world Blair and Brown want for us.

The most damaging thing is that these issues are not at the top of the public's grumble list.

DD is obviously just not mentally in that same orbit. Dude. I wish he was Prime Minister. He really, really wants to give us back our freedom. It's that simple.

If this move helps the public realise that we have become frogs being slowly brought to the boil by the nannying statist left and that liberty is worth much much more than the risk of a bombing then DD deserves a serious gong.

Kudos to Clegg for his support.

Kudos to Cameron for being quietly supportive and calm.

'Fuck you' to Brown and his schutzstaffel of control freak pygmies for what Britain has become.

Curmy said...

I agree with those posters who say that DD has taken leave of his senses and made a big mistake.

Anonymous said...

Nick Robinson deserves to be shot for his negative reporting on the DD story.
He's positively gloating at the possible problems for the Tories.

Tom said...

"The LibDems are to be commended for deciding not to stand in the by election. Labour is showing all the signs of following suit. If they do, they will be treating the issue (and voters) with contempt. The 42 day issue can now be debated fully during the by election campaign. Sure, there are 69% of people opposed to David's stance, but they oppose it with their hearts not their heads. Most of us can have sympathy with banging terrorists up for as long as it takes, but when you think about the actual consequences of doing so without charge, you slowly begin to think with your head, not your heart."

What tosh. There will be a General Election in 2 years.

What of Parliament?

Anonymous said...

I think this is a stroke of genius by Davis and Cameron - if it isn't , well it should have been.

If it succeeds, the Labour Party will be destroyed. and I mean they will have to splinter and become activists for the foreseeable future.

So, as I say, god help us, let it be aprt of a master plan.

Anonymous said...

Given that this issue transcends party politics, it would make sense for all the local party official and helpers, from all the paries to put aside their day to day competing political differences, and concentrate soley on getting a local 80-90% voter turnout to get the message home to the government that the average person in the street is fundamentally opposed to this momentous erosion of habeas corpus.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said re Walter;

He wasn't arrested for heckling. He was stopped (and held briefly while the police checked him out) because he was trying to get into the Labour Party conference without a valid pass.

He was man-handled for heckling from the vistors section for which he had a pass and when he tried to renter with his pass they held him under the Terrorism Act.

The principle is quite correct - these are dog-whistle policies. Create fear, sneak the dog-whistle policy in under guise of allaying fear, apply policy how you see fit.

Wasn't the Iraq war/Dash for oil created in such a way?

Weren't the NatWest 3 extradited on anti-terror-founded laws?

Who would trust this lot with a 42-day detention?

Anonymous said...

If this debate really takes off, where can it end but with discussion of 'Europe'. That's what I want, but it's not what Cameron and Co want. Davis has given Labour a hell of a chance to regain the initiative.

Anonymous said...

Please be sure to advertise how we can donate money to DD's cause.

Anonymous said...

spare us the magna carta stuff Iain.
Davis voted for 28 Days.

The Amazing Toad said...

Labour will not field a candidate.

From their standpoint, it is a very smart thing to do and I wonder if Davis
had thought of this.

This by-election could be between Nigel Farage
and David Davis. Notwithstanding Spink's voting on Wednesday, this will be a very interesting prospect. Davis Davis will be forced to explain what his fellow Tories think of the E.U Arrest Warrant which allows indefinte custody, without even the assumption of innocence. What will the Conservative government be doing about this outrageous piece of jackboot EU legislation? Let me guess.....err....nothing?

Anonymous said...

David Davis comes across very well on Channel 4 news this evening.

Tony McNulty, on the other hand, does not... I feel dirty watching him.

Prodicus said...

You write more sense, Iain, than all the rest of the hackery put together. You describe the Davis I have observed over the years.

The point is, he could not stay in a House he rightly believes has been corrupted by Brown's shameless pork-barrel methods of getting a bill through which goes directly against what the House itself should stand for: the protection of the citizen against an overmighty executive.

Davis reached a point where he could do no other. If he gets back to the House, he can rail at them all, freely, without embarrassing his Conservative colleagues.

The liars and the venal ones who compromise their principles for a bit of Brown's tawdry, tainted largesse should watch out.

Davis has put liberty above politics and country above party and in so doing has has shamed the lot of them, no matter what the cost to himself.

Astonishing and praiseworthy.

Anonymous said...


I don't disagree with the points you make, but it is too early to really judge the impact of this yet. Maybe over the next few days commentators will get beyond the DD said this, DC said that stuff and the focus may, just may, switch to the real issues in hand.

If this move is actually successful in causing a wide debate on this issue then maybe Brown will feel less like using the Parliament Act to overrule the Lords. One can but hope...

Oh yes... while I'm at it, on a general point, lots of people seem to be justifying the moves in the Commons to get it through on the basis that 69% of the population support it. Well, on that basis, 75% of people don't want a Labour government anymore, does that mean that we can look forward to mass resignations as MPs follow the will of the people...??

Anonymous said...

I find it surprising that so many people seem to think that a decision by Labour not to put up a candidate would leave DD looking foolish, it would do nothing of the sort.

What sort of message would it send if, on the issue that Gordon Brown essentially staked his premiership, the Labour party backed away from the contest?

DD is a star. Thank God for a conviction politician at last!

Anonymous said...

Having read all (63) comments I'm perplexed by the number that focus on the "political positioning" of DD's action.

Are these posters too young to remember when politicians held (or at least appeared to hold) beliefs based on their conviction of a particular political philosophy?

This man is resigning in order to force debate on the most fundamental issue of society: the role and power of the State. Not for centuries has this island experienced a State so overweening and I don't believe that hard won liberties have before been under such fierce attack and so eroded as in the past 11 years from the incompetence and deceit of an arrogant Government driven by blatant self interest in collusion with the increasingly powerful, punitive and corrupt EU political machine.

The past 11 years have seen the three major political parties realising that power resides in capturing one central position with the result that each is nothing more than a slightly different shade of the same colour as the others.

How Bl**dy wonderful that one MP has the conviction (and, I think, the political nous) to campaign on the one issue that lies at the heart of democracy.


Anonymous said...

Up until now all the analogies have been of Gordon Brown in his Fuhrerbunker waiting for the inevitable downfall.

However today was a moment when perhaps David Cameron had his own Fuhrer moment when David Davis decided to do a "Rudolf Hess" and head off on his own flight of fancy!

David Davis was a frontbench spokesman in a collective responsibility shadow cabinet, covering one of the most sensitive jobs in government.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the issue, the unconvincing response from Cameron seems to indicate it would be very difficult for him to return the frontbench after this ill-disciplined grandstanding?

As a result the Tories now end up fighting an election on the one issue where Gordon Brown is seen to be "on your side". If Labour now don't put up and support an independent who backs the 42 days "Rudolf" could have created a situation where instead of there being a by-election over the record of the government we end up with an election in judgment of the 42 days. "Rudolf" may need quite a a lot of messages of good luck as he is going to need it!

Anonymous said...

David Davis has confirmed his status today as one of the few parliamentarians in the House of Commons of true stature. David Cameron may not be happy about his decision but I have no doubt that he will literally through the "kitchen sink" behind David Davis in the by-election because it is obvious the huge respect he has for DD.

I would be very disappointed if we dont go into the General Election campaign with DD as Deputy Leader leaving William Hague to concentrate on Foreign Affairs and to prepare to work with Barack Obama's Secretary of State.

David Davis + David Cameron = the return of One Nation Toryism

Rocker said...

Not read your blog for a while but back today because you know DD and could possibly offer some insight into this bizarre decision. Although I support the govt on this issue, I have always had a lot of time for DD but can't help but think he is risking being made to look a complete idiot. Labour would be mental to play along with this stunt so I don't expect them to field a candidate but just try to ignore the whole thing as an eccentric sideshow. That leaves DD to win against the monster raving loony party and other assorted nutters.He might pull it off and use it as a platform to change public opinion on pre charge detention but I doubt it somehow.

Hugh said...

If this was planned with such military precision, how come he didn't anticipate Labour refusing to field a candidate? And what is the point of making a principled stand if the only impact is to make it slightly more likely the party responsible for the erosions of civil liberties he is concerned about remains in power?

Anonymous said...

Great post, Iain. And that war gaming would have told him that over the course of a year he's have been squeezed and suffered death by a thousand cuts. He had the courage to do what was needed.

Anonymous said...

Have commented on Dr Crippen's blog so will confine this to:

Cameron should throw the full weight of the Conservative party behind Davies. If he does not he will truly be "the heir to Blair".

Anonymous said...

This is the one issue on which Gordon Brown can claim that he has the majority of the public on his side, DD has promised to fight on civil liberties issues alone, and yet he may not stand a candidate.

If Labour does not stand then it's yet more evidence (do we need it?) that Brown is an utterly gutless and a truly pathetic figure. Must we wait another two years???

niconoclast said...

Davis is counter intuitive personified.The electorate who support the 42 days will deliver him a stinging rebuke.

Anonymous said...

I have to say Iain that I think DD was right. I have said for a long time that this country has been sleepwalking into somewhere which coud easily become a police state with the gradual erosion of the rights of the individual. He clearly believes that if the DUP and others can be bought over internment without trial, they will also be bought over ID cards and any other dubious constitutional amendment the government cares to introduce.

I think that he felt this was a way (perhaps the only way) in which he could bring this to the attention of the public in a way that he would get the media to report it with the prominence it ought to have. (Lets face it he is in no danger of losing his seat, so its not I think courageous as such, just very effective public relations).

I wouldn't think DC is necessarily opposed to it at all, other than in that it has made him have to bring in an new shadow home secretary, when I am sure he would have preferred to keep DD in post.

Lets hope we all sit up and take notice

Anonymous said...

Much as I despise Brown and desire our freedoms back and an end to the "New" Labour Government, I have to say if this is a calculated cunning move, rather than an "emotional spasm" - then it is only a clever move to undermine Cameron, not Brown.

This by-election will not help in the fight against 42 days which, Davis as MP or no Davis, will be defeated in the Lords.

There's more to it than the silly speech about fighting to defend Magna Carta, and it all smells very fishy.

Anonymous said...

prodicus - I tend to agree, but to be fair, Fraser Nelson has a useful two penn'orth over on the Speccie 'Coffee House'. I would prefer it if it were a 'Tea Shop' [more British, but you cannot have the penny and the bun..]

Anonymous said...

According to the BBC News website "The BNP...says it will not stand against Mr Davis as it agrees with his stance on terror detention."

Message for Mr Brown - When even the BNP think a law is too draconian, it's time to reassess your position.

Anonymous said...

I don't get some people but maybe I'm naive.

Are some of you seriously saying that Ministers of State such as McNulty, Blears, Kelly, Jackie Spliff, the Robot twins - in fact practically the whole cabinet - would ever, ever have the guts to actually resign from the trough on the basis of what they really believed in.

Oh, sorry, they don't believe in anything, do they?

Anonymous said...

"...It is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

Herman Goering
Nuremberg, 1946

Go for it, DD - and thanks.

Anonymous said...

"Enormity" means great evil or wickedness, not "enormousness". Presumably you are not trying to say that Davis's action was evil.

Anonymous said...

Well done, David Davis! I used to dislike you but now think you're a great bloke.

Many of us have been longing for a public debate on our sinister surveillance state almost since nulab came to power. Now, thanks to you, we are going to have one.
Thank you so much for that.

And Milband admirer, canvas, how much more boringly repetitive can you become? You've been trying to get rid of David Davis and saying,
"Bye Bye David Davis. Time to move on." for years.

Change the track, will you?

rosie said...

No wonder the country is in such a disgusting mess. That we are heading for a police state, unchallenged by any of the so-called elite.
One man stands up and shows a bit of principle and I have spent an evening watching with utter contempt as the media and politicians vie with each other to ridicule him and try to bring him down.
I realized things were bad but Michael Heseltine's remarks were vile and the attitude of many commentators, that no one should stand against DD but just leave him alone with egg on his face shows such a contempt for the whole system of democracy - it beggars belief.
Of course Labour must stand and defend its position - if they don't David Davies has completely won his entire case. The attack on our freedoms by the creeping fascists and elitists is indefensible. They can't deny it - they cannot excuse it, they cannot make a case for it.
David Davies should receive their praise in such a case not derision.
I had thought the media and politicians in this country had reached a sordid rock bottom. Until tonight. They have just managed to sink into an utter slime pit.
To your credit Mr Dale you haven't played their game. At least as citizens we now know who the enemies of our freedom are and journalists are very high on the list.

Anonymous said...

Re Walter Wolfgang Anonymous (17:16)said...

He wasn't arrested for heckling. He was stopped (and held briefly while the police checked him out) because he was trying to get into the Labour Party conference without a valid pass.

What is it about the left's compulsive desire to lie and mislead?

Wolfgang was in the hall, not trying to get in. He was ejected and then arrested for shouting 'nonsense' in the direction of Jack Straw. The valid pass you say he was not in possession of was confiscated.

By the way, I agree with the comments about Mc Numpty. Watching him on Q-time tonight, I have arrived at my own question. Why doesn't some tell hm to shut the f*** up ? What an appalling, arrogant cnut.

Anonymous said...

David Davis' actions have made me proud to be British in a way that no other politician has in a long long time.

I for one will be backing him in anyway that I can.

Anonymous said...

In possibly not standing a candidate and joining Davis's challenge to debate, are we going to see another outing for the election-cancelling 'Bottler Brown'?

That'd be right back to the start of all his troubles ... surely not a good look.

The Military Wing Of The BBC said...

I will be able to remember what I was doing when I heard this news for many years.
The hairs stood up on the back of my neck.
According to Kelvin McKenzie, Rupert Murdoch wants to finance a candidate if none of the other major parties stand.

If this were to occur, such an election would sum up all the issues facing England today: the Fox would be in the open for the first time in 30 years.

Even I would be up there. You have to believe in the opinion of the ordinary citizen against the kite flying, monopolistic flip flopping media mogul

or all is lost.

Anonymous said...

to auntie flo or old colleen from old harlow : ad hominem arguments yet again...

Anonymous said...

There are 3 million adults in the UK who regularly use cannabis - David Davis wants to take their freedom away and jail them for up to five years. That's unjust and worse than 42 days without charge.

None of these 3 million people David Davis wants to criminalise and jail should vote for him.

Anonymous said...

One: Total support for David Davis. At last, thank you God for someone in public life with some spine who won't take the shite anymore.
Two: To all buffoons on this blog whining about what DD has done--the hell with you all. Our Fathers ( and some of our Mothers also) paid their lives to create and protect the freedoms that ZaNuLab is busy wiping its backside on and you bellyache about party politics. I will be going to help in the Davis campaign (if they will have me) as well as paying money in.

Anonymous said...

A lovely post Iain - as a new blogger can I shamelessly plug my piece on the leaders thoughts on this issue (and their pyjamas)

Liz said...

Only just seen the news - I've been on a plane all day. Astonished and amazed - unbelievably brave, and utterly delightful.

Anonymous said...

I oppose 42 days, and I agree with Davis on the erosion of our freedoms. But to be frank, I think Davis is being very self-indulgent. He will end up looking a bit heroic and mostly silly, the whole thing will achieve nothing but damage the party. I like Davis, but the decision is so inexplicable that I can't help suspecting it's a leadership bid. The fact that the conservative is now looking on course to a general election victory must have made his failed leadership bid more painful. If he’s indeed doing this solely to defend civil liberties, I'd like him to come out and rule himself out for the party leadership.

Anonymous said...

Iain, the emphasis you and DD put on the morality of this must lead you to oppose all extensions which undermine Habeus Corpus and Magna Carta. You cannot cry foul and then support 28 days but not forty. It is great to see Conservatives discover the real freedom agenda but morality is not a pic-n-mix sweet shop. You're all nearly there, just go that little bit extra.

Anonymous said...

as a DD constituent and party member i am very concerned that DD is cocking things up for us. after so many years in the wilderness if he threatens cameron in any way i wont vote for him. If Mckenzie stands he will be a potent opponent.

speaking to unpolitical friends they AGREE with the 42 days and feel that as (shadow) Home sec he would have been in a powerful position to fight for freedom so whats he up to?

Anonymous said...

One-Hundred !

Anonymous said...

Anon 11.38 p.m.

"What is it about the left's compulsive desire to lie and mislead?

Wolfgang was in the hall, not trying to get in. He was ejected and then arrested for shouting 'nonsense' in the direction of Jack Straw. The valid pass you say he was not in possession of was confiscated."

Get your facts right.

Wolfgang was in the hall on a Visitor's pass (he was not a Delegate). He was ejected by the stewards for repeatedly heckling and his pass was confiscated. He was not arrested.

He was stopped by the police (not arrested) when he tried to get back into the conference hall. The police would have stopped anyone else who did not have a valid pass.

Anonymous said...

Gareth said...
"Must have been a different pensioner named Walter Wolfgang with a valid pass around his neck and already in the conference hall who was violently removed from his seat by mobhanded security for having the temerity to boo while Jack Straw was speaking. Having been ungraciously removed he was then detained while the Police checked his identity."

His Visitor's pass was valid at the time that he was ejected for heckling but it was then confiscated.

He was stopped by the police only when he tried to get back into the hall (without a valid pass) later that day.

Anonymous said...

I have always been an admirer of David Davis but I think he must have taken leave of his senses.

It would make sense if he was standing on a point of principle against a policy held by his own party but this is just a stunt.

This will backfire on him.

Anonymous said...

I am really disappointed DD has done this. If he hadn't, the big political story would be whether Brown lied when he said he had done no deals to push 42 days through Parliament. Instead, the country is asking whether one of the most senior Tories has taken leave of his senses.

I think DD has taken leave of his senses. I agree with his views, but why resign your seat because you are an opposition MP that agrees with your own party and disagrees with the government? Next we will be hearing that the Pope has resigned because he disagrees with the Archbishop of Canterbury's views of contraception.

Anonymous said...

The media seems to be under the thrall of Labour spin doctors, talking about how bad this is for the Tories.

This is nothing to do with party politics and I don't care about what it will do in the short term, he is focussing the debate the most appalling set of legislation this government has had the gall to pass.

Taxes go up and down, parties' favour waxes and wanes, but civil liberties should never be compromised.

Anonymous said...

You've misused the word enormity in your first paragraph.
It doesn't mean big, it means wicked.
Davis's decision might be a big one, or a courageous one or a foolish one.
But it isn't wicked.

Paddy Briggs said...

In taking this bizarre stand Davis is actually in denial about democracy. He might not like the new law - he's far from alone in that. And he is quite right as well that there are some threats to our freedoms in this and other actions of the Labour government. But in a parliamentary democracy we have freedom of speech and a forum, in Parliament, for debate. Then there is a vote. And that decides what will happen. To try and fight this new law in the way that he has Davis is actually bringing parliamentary democracy into disrepute. And by rather arrogantly saying that it will be the electors of his constituency who will send a message on this issue Davis makes himself look rather absurd. Quite why the good burgers of Haltemprice and Howden should be seen as representatives of public opinion on this matter I have no idea. The daft idea is unlikely to run anyway because the other major parties, understandably, look as if they won't play ball.

I met David Davis around the time of the 2005 Election and although his politics are not my politics I liked him as a man and I respect his integrity. It is rather sad that he now seems to have lost his marbles and I trust that the men in white coats are not waiting around the corner for him.