Friday, June 13, 2008

Westminster Village v The Real World

One thing in particular has struck me over the last 15 hours or so - the vast gulf between the Westminster village bubble and the real world. While political pundits and politicians have spent the time searching for weird motives behind DD's decision, the rest of the country has given a different verdict. Let's ignore the reaction on political blogs for the moment (even though it has been far more positive than from the mainstream media commentators) and look at what's been said by BBC Viewers on the Have Your Say website, or the Telegraph website, or the Mail, or the Guardian, or the Independent. Reaction on most of those sites is running 80-20 in favour of David Davis. Why? Because they see someone standing up for what he believes - a refreshing change from what they see as the political norm.

This by election could mark a watershed in British politics. It could be the first by election in living memory run outside the wet blanket of party politics. I hope all the fundraising will be done on the internet, with a maximum campaign contribution of £100 - contrast that approach with Kelvin MacKenzie's campaign which will be funded by Rupert Murdoch. A by election campaign like this doesn't need to cost huge amounts of money.

From the reaction here and from the number of emails I have had asking how people (often not Conservatives) can contribute to David's campaign I know he won't have any difficulty in raising what is needed.

So perhaps the media pundits who are perplexed this morning might like to get out of Westminster for a change and talk to some real people. But I am not holding my breath.


Anonymous said...

Mostly agreed. But -- in general rather than on this issue --I'm not convinced that people who comment on blogs, or HYS, or CiF, represent the "real world" either.

(By the way: David Davis versus my idiot of a former employer, KMac? No contest.)

Anonymous said...

I agree Iain. This morning on Today, Humprheys kept coming back to the BBC's favourite but increasingly flaky theory that this is all just another Tory bust-up and what it means for Cameron.

They just don't get it.

Richard said...

"One thing in particualr has struck me over the last 15 hours or so - the vast gulf between the Westminster village bubble and the real world."

only the last 15 hours?

Anonymous said...

The one thing that this election will prove, one way or the other, is the figure of 70% public support for an increase in detention without trial to 42 days.

I say this is a misleading figure and if David Davis produces a win, then I believe he should aim for 70% of public opinion against 42 days.

This will turn the way we rely on Government completely around when it produces figures to back up a case.

My belief is that there are many Government figures who will become worried by the day.

Anonymous said...

This is the type of post I read you for, Iain, because it has caught the mood.

I came home late last night after helping at a local by-election. My partner usually believes all politicians should be strung up on lampposts, except for our own MP, whom he has known and indeed helped for many years. (There is frequently an interesting tension in our home!).

Despite my absence he had watched Ch4 news about Davis, and had felt admiration for him and his action. Also, perhaps even more significantly, he quoted Cameron's remarks with considerable respect - despite being effectively an anarchist, he finds himself being drawn to Cameron's style of leadership and respect for his straightforward handling of this extremely unusual event.

So there you have in microcosm a reflection of your headline - a Party animal worrying about political arcana, versus a member of the real world responding positively to yesterday's events.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm perhaps Rupe, may pay off Labour's debts an-all.

The one thing Davis better hope, is that a terrorist outrage doesn't occur between now and polling day or else its Kelvin MP!!

Anonymous said...

For the first time in my living memory a politician has grown a spine and stood up firmly for something he believes in.

Anonymous said...

MacKenzie backed by the Sun
Boris by the Evening Standard

I can assure you it hits home as DD will find out to his cost

any way lets get this right

he opposes the 42 days for possible terrorists

but supports hanging

life is surely the ultimate Liberty

ask the Birmingham Six who under DD views would now be innocent but 6 foot down

Anonymous said...

For the first time in my living memory a politician has grown a spine and stood up firmly for something he believes in

what about George Galloway

or the GLC councillors againsit abolition

yes remeber them

because nobody remembers

Anonymous said...

Is this the real world?


I thought I'd been living in grim version of Second Life for the past 11 years...

Pogo said...

It looks to me that "official Westminster" is incapable of seeing further than party politics and is scrabbling round looking for ulterior motives whereas we, "the great unwashed", see a man who has finally "got it" and put our feelings of "enough is enough" into the media spotlight

Anonymous said...

Interesting, but not surprising, that the Westminster village is disdainful of someone no longer prepared to play what has become the normal political game and is prepared to put an issue of principle above career ambition. This is, no doubt, an alien concept to many MPs and journalists who will continue to try to rubbish David Davis in order to keep their cosy little club on track.

Events dear boy, events said...

What was it Iain Macleod said, "you can dream your dreams, but we have work to do"

Learn something Iain, Davis was a member of the shadow cabinet and should be a team player. He should have stayed as Cameron asked him to do.

What good is this going to do the Tory cause? Answer. It helps Brown out of a hole!

Anonymous said...

Please Please Please, Iain, find out where to 'send the cheques' to, so that we, the Daley Fraternity, can help bankroll this campaign.

It may be a hopeless cause, trying to 'turn the tide' on all this illiberal nonsense, but with the way this country is going a futile gesture is better than cursing when our liberties are lost.

Anonymous said...

This is yesterday's news. If you want the Tories to win the next general election then keep focused on the real issues. David Davis doesn't matter anymore.

Who cares? His weirdo resignation will not change anything - and I'm not convinced his aim is true.

Move on!

PS> Iain, are you going to praise Diane Abbott for her amazing speech on the 42 issue? Probably not. But you should.

Newmania said...

Iain....lots of people who comment on web sites are loons even more insulated from reality than those at Westminster.
It does not do the slightest good to pretend that DD`s motives were not mixed when they so obviously are. I would accept this , accept that it is a slight set back for Cameron and approach it thus .

True - David Davies has been frustrated and this is an unwise course of action.
True - A couple of bombs and the enitre country will be saying lock anyone up who looks at me funny and leave them there. This is a matter of judgement , not principle.

The judgement made by Labour was political not principled .The manner of forcing it through was contemptible and this is part of a pattern of state encroachment which must be resisted somewhere.
No matter how we got here now is the time to make a stand against the state. This must be sperated form the balanced message of the Conservative Party .

Anonymous said...

Oh yes we used to say that about Tony Benn

if he had resigned and fought an election demanding ban the bomb
everyone would have said well done ??

65% opposed his ideas
and 65% oppose DD view on civil liberties

Anonymous said...

Go on then Iain, tell us how we can contribute to David's campaign.

Anonymous said...

I am quite shocked by how universally the BBC and Sky reporting was so anti Davis yesterday talking of splits in the Tory party etc.

I normally expect a bit more neutral and balanced reporting from Sky but it did seem that thay had all swallowed the same line and reading the Times and FT this morning they seem to be all singing from the same hymn sheet.

Message to the MSM - the people (your readers) want a debate and please would you mind ever so much joining in rather than spewing out the nonsensical 'Davis and Cameron are split story?

Anonymous said...

Presumably his spine is attached to his head, which is planted where?

Fred Harrison said...

I couldn't agree more. The cynical calculations of benefit and political advantage to be seen among political insiders and much of the media are a disgrace. It really could be a watershed event -- for traditional liberalism and against cynicism.

Anonymous said...

It's funny, isn't it? Not many people cared when politicians made reasonable arguments on whether 42 days is necessary. But when you sensationalise it, bring out the Magna Carta, "our ancient freedoms", "the police state", and RESIGN, people think you're an hero!

People have fell in love with the romance of "A principled politician" and the noble cause of "defending our freedoms". I'm with "Westminister Village" on this one. Their access to politicians means they know better than you and me.

From the BBC website:

Asked why he had taken the step when it appeared to be against the wishes of his party leader, David Cameron, Mr Davis told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We're a party not a regiment and we're in politics hopefully, and virtually in all cases, for reasons of principle."

Barely an attempt to dispel the rumour of internal squabble at the Tory leadership, what a team player. Instead he uses it as a opportunity to bolster his "principled politician" image.

I hope people will see through his self-promoting "principled politician" drivel. It must be painful for Davis to see David Cameron doing so well as the party leader. He's been all out in opposing 42 days, the defeat in commons must be too hard for his huge ego. Loose cannon, good riddance.

Anonymous said...

69% IN FAVOUR. 24% OPPOSED. You should read the polls more.

Anonymous said...

Why should people pay money for a bogus campaign? This is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Iain, never make the mistake that HYS represents any sort of mainstream sensible opinion.

And as for elections outside politics... did you forget Dr Richard Taylor, Wyre Forest MP from the Health Concern Party?

Or even Martin Bell?

Richard Edwards said...

Could have put it better myself.

Although the parallel is not exact Davis is like Charles de Gaulle appealing over the careerist politicians to the people for support. And with every passing week Westminster looks more and more like the Fourth Republic. Decadent, failing, corrupt and self-obsessed.

Citoyens aux barricades!

Letters From A Tory said...

The polarisation of opinion is fascinating to watch. This might yet prove to be an incredibly interesting by-election, despite Brown bottling it again.

Anonymous said...


Problem is......he might lose.


Anonymous said...

I think the support for the stand on principle is such a different thing in politics, so unpredictable, that people could be behind him for his principled stand, which perhaps is obscuring the vote and the 42 day issue.

As to George Galloway, could anyone ever take him seriously after appearing on big brother? How many respect parties does he have??

Anonymous said...

Arent the tories contributing to his campaign....

O wait a minute......

Says a lot about their principles.

scott redding said...

I like the Fourth Republic analogy. The movie poster for "Saturday Night Fever" had the tagline: "where do you go when the music stops?" The key thing is what happens after the by-election. Davis needs to create a mechanism for keeping the debate going (a speaking tour of the 100 most Labour marginals?) to harness whatever public support/Facebook groups spring up during the by-election campaign. David Cameron is missing a trick by standing back from the campaign so far, and insisting that Grieve will remain Shadow Home Secretary after a Davis re-election. Issues like the environment and civil liberties are what will draw Lib Dem voters towards the Tories. As for public opinion supporting 42 days, well, you either accept that, and go softly softly (Cameron), or you try and create a politics that moves public opinion your way (a perhaps Quixotic effort by Davis).

strapworld said...


I do hope The Sun backs the detestable Kelvin McKenzie. I hope the people just show The Sun that THEY and their Australian, cum American, owner does NOT run this country.

ITS THE SUN THAT DIDN'T DO IT is a headline I would love to see!

Perhaps Mr davis should run a poster with the face of kelvin McKenzie in a lightbulb- with the slogan. "If this man wins will the last one out of this constituency turn off the lights!"

Would Murdoch like to be in a police cell for 28 or 42 days? I doubt it!

Patrick said...

Some politicians are only in the game for their own grandstanding (Blair would be my archetype for that).

Some seek power to make a change they really believe in (Reagan).

Most are a bit of both but let the system corrupt their early ideals.

In the long run this will be good for Cameron. He's on the right side of the argument about the effect that a big state has on society and on the economy. Today I think he's potentially on the wrong side about the effect a big state has on freedom. If DD's move makes it harder for all politicians to increase the malign grip of the state then he has done his duty.

Tory Dipper said...

Why not just get Michael Ashcroft to stump up the wonga?

OscarIndia said...

People who comment on news articles on line are not representative of "the real world". And, regardless, the fact is that this stunningly self-obsessed decision has the potential to undo months of hard work both by the party in Westminster and grassroots activists encouraged by steady, positive momentum whih DD has just brought to a shuddering halt.

Anonymous said...

Iain, if you think that the sort of people that leave comments on political websites are representative of the public, then you're going more than a wee bit dotty!

Unfortunately, DD has decided to go on an ill-thought out ego-trip. This will only set back the cause of our party, and those of us who genuinely want to protect our liberties. That can be done by sensible argument, and, most of all, by convincing the public that we can be a serious and responible government.

A senior cabinet member having a hissy fit and forcing a vanity by-election really doesn't help anyone.

Anonymous said...

Have just watched Kelvin on Sky News, He was bloody impressive, who knows he could do it.

Anonymous said...

Right-on, DD.

Brown is a coward.

Anonymous said...

The big story, unemployment just to remind you, has been forgotten and what about these deaths in Afghanistan. Can we have some sense of proportion please?
freedom to prosper

Anonymous said...

Mike Rouse: "For the first time in my living memory a politician has grown a spine and stood up firmly for something he believes in."

Robin Cook

Little Black Sambo said...

Quite a few anonymous trolls posting. That's always a good sign.

Chris Paul said...

Have you been reading what the pundits and the people have been saying for 12 hoiurs over at Coffee House?

Chris Paul said...

Brown hasn't bottled this by-election. Labour are a poor third in this seat on less than 13%. Lib-Con have 84%. Mackenzie gives Davis his platform and means that the debate happens. Far better for everyone, including Labour and Davis, than a traditional party political by-election.

If it's a stunt, let it be a right old circus of a stunt.

Anonymous said...

David Davis was for an English Parliament until he was gagged by "I have a lot of Scottish blood in my veins"Cameron. I would like to see him reaffirm his position on an English Parliament. I can't afford a hundred quid but I will donate to his Campaign fund if he comes out for England.
I'm sure Cameron sees him as just another "sour little England" with perceived greivances.

Anonymous said...

I cant wair for Brown, Harman and Blears to be running around yorkshire surrounde3d by page 3 girls supporting Kelvin the idiot.!!!

Anonymous said...

Before his resignation, people actually debate about civil liberties and national security here. Now all they talk about is David Davis and his spine. And he hopes to stimulate a public debate about 42 days uh?? His by election might turn out to be mini referendum on "principled politics" more than anything.

Newmania said...

Brown hasn't bottled this by-election. Labour are a poor third in this seat on less than 13%.

You think people can`t count ? We will know what people think whatever the seats demographics.
He has bottled it again and the commentariat , as so often ,are way behind the race.

What a coward , what an invetebrate bottom feeding miserable excuse for a man. A Conservative would have stood up and been counted.

The Remittance Man said...

Considering the massive amount of free publicity he's going to get from Blogistanis I suspect he's well ahead already.

The Remittance Man said...

btw, BJ, I'll agree that Bloggers and blog commenters probably aren't a representative sample of the population at large. But compared them to the even more isolated residents of the Westminster aquarium.

Then ask yourself which tribe is more likely to be closer to the general population? The Blogistanis or The Goldfish?

Anonymous said...

We should be tough on terror. There is no automatic cause for a left winger to be weak on terror Look at Stlain who kicked Hitlers buttocks back to Berlin bunker.

We need to be tough on terror and stop this evil threat of islamic anzis who want to destory us and all our civlization.
You are on the side of the BNP and the vile Sinfful Fein on this cause.

Anonymous said...

If the barmy army crawl out of the woodwork - very likely, I think - now that really will be a disaster.

And it's the oppressive, petty bureaucracy and interference in their lives that people really hate, not the security measures. Big distinction.

Anonymous said...

Stlain showed the left can be tougher on terror than the right Look at Stalin great victory over Hitler in WW2. When he saved us from evil NAZIs.
The BNP, the UKIP and the tories are now weaker on national security than us. We are the protectors of the country. Never forget that.

Anonymous said...

Sorry bj disagree with you.

I've never commented on blogs before but I do now because of Mr Davis. I never realised how thick the thin edge of the wedge actually is !

My 'real world' is job, wife, kids, mortgage, taxpaying and long suffering Hammer support. I find myself agreeing with the reason for Mr Davis resignation.

I've posted comments on the BBC, written to my MP, contacted my Ward Councillor and GLA Assembly Member to let people know how I feel.

I've never been politically active or a member of a political party or even donated money to them or candidates. But I will donate campaign money to Mr Davis.

Why? Because I'm a Londoner, born here, live here and work here and if anyone knows the price of freedom and why we should maintain it, Londoners know.

Anonymous said...

You're so right about this. As a humble member of the real world, I've read/listened to a lot of the commentary, even from commentators I greatly respect, with utter amazement. They just don't seem to be on the same planet. Most of my acquaintance don't read blogs or online newspapers, they buy a mainstream newspaper every day and listen to the radio/television news. Over a couple of days when I've had occasion to talk to rather a lot of people, I haven't yet come across one who doesn't salute David Davis for taking his stand, nor anyone who thinks that alleged Conservative party bustups are anything but a figment of media imagination.

Anonymous said...

Right, where do we send the money - chop! chop!

The tide of snooping oppression and paternal collectivism won't turn themselves back.

A pound for Davis is a pound for freedom!

Anonymous said...

right, that's it. I've never blogged before and am very shy. i live in the real world and I'M DRIVEN BY THIS TO MAKE MY FEELINGS KNOWN.

42 days is not long enough.


Anonymous said...

This is the best fun I ve had in years thank you DD

its a real joy

serious politician V every looney

hope we have the ones with the fancy dress constumes

especially on a 30% turnout


Anonymous said...

Iain, you're absolutely correct. I was incredulous when I heard Nick Robinson's take on events after DD's resignation. There is indeed a huge gulf between the Westminster Village and the outside world. MP's and the lobby journalists genuinely don't get it.

Davis' resignation has not only been a slap across the face of us politicos...a call to arms if you like, but more significantly, it has the potential of reaching out and bringing in the disenchanted and cynical. There is a real opportunity to creating a broad based alliance that goes wider than just Conservatives.

Anonymous said...

Oh come off it Iain.

You exist to give voice to the Westminster Bubble. You ARE the Westminster Bubble. You are a POLITICAL GOSSIP. Everyone who reads your blog is a nerd; or a civil servant; or a Parliamentary researcher; or works for the BBC; or some variation on that theme.

Then suddenly you pirouette on a dime and come over all populist, telling us the Westminster Village doesn't understand the real world.

What is it going to be? Are you a politico or a populist? You can't be both. Pot and Kettle, Iain.

In any case I suggest that in the real world, people wouldn't bat an eyelid if the government started banging up Muslim subversives for 42 days, or 420 days, as Kelvin Mackenzie eloquently put it.

Rebel Saint said...

Never commentted on a political blog before. So in that sense DD's done something!

Reading all this stuff, the thing that comes across to me is how many people seem to claim to know DD's "real" motives. Maybe I'm being over simplistic but is it not even remotely possible that DD simply means what he says?

I too am absolutely frustrated with the feeling of complete impotence that current "democracy" seems to have endendered. DD is at least giving us a feeling of vicarious Viagra!

Can we not simply let the thing run it's course. Let DD simply make his campaign, let the other candidate(s) make theirs and then let the people decide who they want to vote for. Why all the need for this second guessing everyone's motives and gameplans etc. I am no political officiado but I am not completely stupid. I can see when we are being hoodwinked (eg, GB's 10p bribe, his bribery for the 42 day vote).

Will the press just report the facts and stop trying to imbue everything with their understanding of the motives.

I have never given any finances to any political organisation before. I will certainly donate to DD's fund.

Anonymous said...

Sorry this comment is a bit late - I live and work in the real world - but when I can I listen to James OBrien on LBC in the mid morning. I heard his introduction from about 10.00, apparently very anti DD, then I heard later that practically everybody who phoned in was expressing strong support for a very principled politician. This could be a tectonic-shifting-plates moment.

Anonymous said...

I think it is good the real world is going to debate these issues. Having read all the comments, let's make sure that there is an honest and open debate as to how an increasingly complex society operates with, dare I say it, an "evolving" social technology known as the law:

1. Perhaps we should complain that all bar three clauses of Magna Carta have been repealed. Important clauses they may be including habeas corpus, but it shows that the law evolves.

2. Should we have a public debate on DNA testing and CCTV. I wonder what the opinion polls show the of the public view of these aspects of "surveillance society"?

3. How many public servants extra would need to be recruited to properly interpret the trillions of pieces of data a proper survelliance society would require to be checked by that ultimate pattern recogniton machine - the human brain? Is the sheer cost probably our greatest safeguard to any surveillance society?

4. Why doesn't anyone mention the great constitutional charters such as the Beveridge Report and the original NHS Act. They are equally important to the lives of people as the ones that excite constitutional lawyers. Too often we have a classical liberal interpretation of what our rights are in these debates? A person whose neural network of associations doesn't flicker with excitement when I mention this clearly should recognise there are lots of interpretations in this debate on rights.

5. Over the last 8 centuries should we suspicious that for 5 of them at least it was a royal family that tended to resist most of those rights that David Davis is clearly fighting for. In view of the invocation of charters dating back to 1215 and the need to protect our longstanding rights, should we assess our loyalty to such a royal family by their overall track record?

6. Is the current view on on the role of Rupert Murdoch consistent with how some people viewed him circa 1992. Presumably David Davis will have no problems when the Sun reports that a psychic is claiming that King John is actually backing him similar to the Stalin backs Neil Kinnock story of that earlier period.

7. No doubt in one of David Davis' early "midlothian" speeches of the campaign, in calling for a Labour challenge, he will announce that Mrs Thatcher was completely wrong not to have allowed Conservative candidates to have run against Ken Livingstone in the 4 GLC by-elections of 1984? Or maybe he will claim they were just political stunts?

8. In conclusion to all the above, perhaps one can say that many people's views evolve as much as the law does. Thank you to Darwin for showing how remarkably inconsistent we all are and how politics operates to a "fitness landscape" as much as mindless biological processes do?

Unknown said...

I completely agree with Iain here. Im left wing in political outlook and havent been a political activist for years but i would certainly contribute to the DD campaign. In general i find his opinions to be right wing nuttery but the issue he's fighting on here is too big for party bias.

Maybe he could be the first in Britain to get into some Obama style internet campaign funding, relying on small donations from a more plugged in public. Hopefully anyway as i cant see the usual establishment sources funding him.

Anonymous said...

Hear Hear! I for one would follow DD over the trenches.

Anonymous said...

MacKenzie lives round the corner from me - apparently he's bottled it. Next time I bump into him I'll ask him

All this snooping stuff is politic-philosophy (as opposed to operational) and we haven't seen the like of it since the cold war. Young people have somebody to have faith in - and hence feel politics has a future.

Anonymous said...

Rupert Murdoch and Lord Ashcroft ... Sorry, what's the difference?