Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Future of David Davis

Paul Goodman has written a superb analysis of the motives which drive David Davis, and what the future holds for him. Read it HERE. What a superb addition to the ConservativeHome team Paul has been. He is one of the few must-read columnists around on Tory politics.

"As for David Davis, dear boy...well, what can I say? Too many speeches, on too
many subjects. Too many interventions. He's an ex-leadership contender, and a
senior colleague. If he wants to come back, he really should be keeping his
powder dry. It won't do at all." Those words, or others rather like them, tend
to emerge from Conservative MPs these days when the subject of Davis comes up
(at least, from those reasonably well-disposed to him; those less well-disposed
are more hostile, and express themselves in terms ranging from contempt to

I declare an interest. I'm a friend of Davis, voted for him twice as leader, and had a hand in his 2005 leadership campaign, of which the full story is yet to be told. I like him, respect him, admire him, and am exasperated by him (the last two attitudes tend to battle for primacy). I would say that he was badly-advised to quit the Commons and the front bench to fight a quixotic by-election if he'd taken any advice other than his own. He'd have made a forceful Home Secretary, and his talents are a loss to the Government. At the same time, he's a lone wolf and perennial outsider, the temperamental opposite to smooth, insidery David Cameron.

It's a statement of the obvious to say that he's spiky rather than fluffy. His method of argument is rather pugnacious as well as highly rational, and there's a touch of the lecture hall as well as the battlefield about it.

Instead, it's worth grasping that there isn't a game. Davis isn't trying to execute a master plan that would return him to the Conservative front bench and deliver him a Government car and red box. I say this not so much on the basis of conversations with "sources close to David Davis", but because the facts suggest it. Davis was a Whip, knows the system, and understands that waging backbench campaigns - or shooting his mouth off, whichever way you want to look at it - won't further endear him to the Prime Minister, who decided long ago that Davis was trouble, had his view confirmed by that by-election, and tends to stick to his judgements of people
once he's made them.

There should be a place in the Commons for dissenters, heretics, bomb throwers, the awkward squad. Davis loves Parliament, and has written a book about it. He also likes running backbench campaigns. His first major one, a push during the late '80s to scrap the Dock Labour Scheme, was successful, so it would be wise not to write all his present ones off. And what's the world come to, after all, if an MP can't campaign for causes he believes in? If in doing so Davis is held to have joined the great gallery of
British eccentrics, fades into obscurity or (worse) becomes a celebrity, so be
it. Parliament should be about more than simply minding your manners.

That's just an extract. The whole article is HERE.


Anonymous said...

Davis has an ego the size of the Grand Canyon. His by-election stunt, only dwarfed since then by Farage's aerial stunt nearer the polling day of the last GE and as effective in negative terms, was executed when Cameron shadow cabinet had to be concentrating on firing at Brown and Co. It was huge distraction then. It is a pity Davis is like a lonely alley cat growling loud every now and then looking at the shadows. It is pity that he would have been perhas the only Cabinet minister who had had background in Science as he studied biological sciences at Warwick University. Like Farage, he is convinced about his own invincibility and leadership, and that means like Farage he will be lurking in the shadows, sans influence, know for loud and bad mouthing and little else.

Anonymous said...

Hi Iain

This is not connected with this thread. Please could you do a report by visiting Scotland ( the Holyrood election is in May 2011, and many say this is an importnat election for all the parties, and particularly SNP , Labour and Libdems), Ireland , as it is hit by cuts, and possibly Brussels?

Brian said...

Would the Tories have got a majority with him as leader? Discuss.
Would he have allowed a Lisbon Treaty referendum?

The Purpleline said...

I was pleasantly surprised to see Shami Chakrabarty wearing copious amounts of bright Red lippy on QT.

Maybe rumours have some basis?

neil craig said...

Not only should there be a place in Parliament for dissenters there should be a place in the Conservative party, if it wants to have a future.

Compare & contrast the Republicans in the US whjere the Taxed emough Alredy movement has been able to support Republicans, in a situation where primaries allow the people a choice in there leaders with Britain where if you want to be a Tory you simply have no ption but to work for more EU power & to break every promise that the people should have a referendum.

The result in America was that the Republicans won by including TEA partyists while in Britain the Tories seized defeat from the jaws of victory by rejecting UKIP's offer to stand down if the referendum promise was kept.

The Coalition is bound to lose popularity over the next few years - does anybody not expect that at the next EU election UKIP will be the largest UK party?

Cameron has made mistake after mistake which is why ge is now dependent on the LDs. Clearly Cameron & Davis will never ahain serve in the same cabinet & both parties are happy with that. I assume Davis wishes to be there to pick up the pieces when it all falls apart & that does seem like the most useful thing he can do for the party.

Tapestry said...

Davis was disloyal to IDS and did much to railroad his leadership. Who cares what happens to him. He occasionally pulls off a stunt, but is just another disloyal media minded politician without values, with a desperate need for attention.

Why Iain Dale finds this attractive is a good question? Probably you should pay more attention to your negative feelings, Iain, and less of those that admire. He's a dead end.

Michael Heaver said...

David Davis is very interesting, I'd have loved to have seen what the state of play would have been now if he'd become Leader.

Anonymous said...

Davis had a chance to be the new Willie Whitelaw and serve his country. Instead he chose to serve himself.
Davis has plummeted in my estimation. Zero judgement.

I struggle to count the same number of mistakes as Mr Craig.
The conservatives won as many seats as they have ever done in living memory and labour suffered their biggest loss. Tories did pretty well in the face of a biased electoral system and a stream of scare tactics. All against a background of contempt for politics and the totally alien leaders debates.

The coalition are totally reforming benefits and education and indeed the health service.
They are faced with a defence budget in a hopeless mess and overcommitted to the tune of £38 billion.

They are enacting the biggest series of spending cuts since Denis Healey and the IMF as part of clearing up a humungus mess by Labour.

Mistakes Mr Craig? Your definition of mistakes is clearly on a whole different level to mine.

Lady Finchley said...

Unfortunately for you, Neil, the Party has moved on and it ain't never going back. The dinosaurs and Euro-bores will slowly die off - already they are all pissing in the wind. Still, mavericks like David Davis always make life interesting.

neil craig said...

Trevorsden is difficult to take seriously saying "Tories did pretty well in the face of a biased electoral system" of an electoral system which they have clung to for decades precisely because it is biased towards both them & their Labour pals & which gave them over 40% of the seats on over 30% of the vote.

Before the election I said that Cameron's 3 major mistakes were - climbing on the catastrophic warming bandwagon just as the wheels were coming off; ignoring the economy for years to concentratedon "detoxifying the brand"; refusing UKIP's offer to stand down if they promised a referendum (again).

I have seen no reason to change my opinion that if he had got even 1 of those 3 right the Tories would have had a majority.

Lady F a recent Conservativehome poll showed 49% saying they wanted to immediately quit the EU. A remarkable result when you consider how many members & voters have been deliberately driven out of the party. The extinction of the "dinosaurs" seems exagerated. Indeed your remark shows exactly how ir is the Tory leadership who prefers dying off to evolution.

Unsworth said...

I admire his spirit, he has a certain charm too. But he seems always to struggle to put his views into a coherent (and clear) logical position. Maybe it is that he spreads himself too widely, maybe it is that he has no obvious direction of travel.

Osama the Nazarene said...

"Five Days in May" BBC's Saturday Play about the negotiations to form the coalition gov. Very interesting but why did they make Brown sound like Charles Kennedy. It was very confusing though still well worth listening to.

Lady Finchley said...

Neil, Conservative Home is full of old school dinosaurs and young fogeys - so your point cuts no ice with me. It is not representative of the new Conservative Party - just a lot of Eurobores and God-botherers - yawn.

Nicholas said...

Davis stands head and shoulders above Cameron in my opinion. He was one of the few politicians ready to stand up for principle no matter if it damages his career as a lackey of the front bench.

Davis had a chance to be the new Willie Whitelaw and serve his country. Instead he chose to serve himself.

Thank God he isn't Willie Whitelaw! I'm glad he made a stand; he has principles, unlike David "cast iron guarantee" Cameron. I know who stands highest in my estimation.

Anonymous said...

How quickly they forget.

To remind everyone, Labour was pushing through draconian detention without trial legislation and phoney Dave wasn't putting up much of a fight. Actions speak louder than words, and we can all now see now just how worthless his 'word' is.

DD made a very brave, bold stand. He wasn't being disloyal. He RISKED a future on the front bench to bring to the public's attention the serious loss of liberty that Labour wished to inflict upon us.

Had he not done so, civil liberties would not have been so firmly on the election agenda for the opposition parties.

We have DD to thank for that.

neil craig said...

Well Lady F what evidence would you produce for your opposite view that free market anti-Market Conservatives are a small & declining minority among Conservative supporters (let alone among those who would vote Conservative if they actually supported free marketism & keeping cast iron pledges?

I will grant that they are a declining minority in Cameron's Cabinet - indeed that is my point.