The David Davis resignation: what it means

by Stephen Tall on June 12, 2008

Lib Dem Voice yesterday highlighted the contrast between David Davis’s passionate opposition to Labour’s attempts to bang up citizens for six weeks without telling them why, and the rather more lacklustre opposition of the Tory leadership:

I don’t doubt for one second the integrity of David Davis, the Tories’ shadow home secretary, in opposing Labour’s draconian 42 days proposal. He is one of many Tories who have shown themselves to understand the importance of defending hard-won freedoms. But what if Mr Davis weren’t to be the Tories’ home secretary? What then? Would his successor stick to his guns? That the question can legitimately be asked shows how fragile is the current Tory leadership’s commitment to opposing the Government’s careless junking of individuals’ liberties.

If we needed further evidence of this, it came with today’s shock move by David Davis to resign as an MP and fight the subsequent by-election on the issue of 42 days, and Labour’s undermining of civil liberties. The official Tory line emanating from David Cameron’s office is that he fully backs Mr Davis’s stance. I don’t believe if for an instant.

Mr Davis recognised that the Tories’ influential neo-cons in the shadow cabinet, George Osborne and Michael Gove, would much rather have backed the Government over 42 days: only tactical considerations of defeating Labour in the Commons persuaded they and Mr Cameron to rally behind Mr Davis’s stand. But none of them, it seems, wanted to fight the proposal through the House of Lords, and try and defeat it again when it returns to the Commons.

Only Mr Davis felt this was an issue of principle on which the Tories must continue to stand firm. And that is why he has resigned.

With the Lib Dems backing Mr Davis in the subsequent by-election – and Labour recording just 12% of the vote at the 2005 general election – he will almost certainly return to the Commons with an overwhelming personal mandate, a hero to those Conservatives and others, including the Lib Dems, who genuinely understand the importance of civil liberties.

Will Messrs Cameron, Osborne and Gove then dare to stop him calling on the Tory party to continue to fight the 42 days proposal? Of course not.

Mr Davis will have made his point, and forced the Tory party leadership to stand by their opposition to Labour’s monstrous extension of detention without trial. But that he had to go to such lengths demonstrates how flimsy is the Tory leadership’s commitment to opposing 42 days.

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The poll incidentally is phrased wrongly….i dont want us to stand a candidate because ‘people should have the opportunity to vote Lib Dem’…i think we should stand a candidate so we have an indepedant and distinctive voice in this debate Davies has started

by Darrell on June 13, 2008 at 10:49 am. Reply #

The vile Davis is a nasty right-wing scumbag. He voted FOR 28 days, so where was his precious Magna Carta then?

He just LOVES the death penalty too, & any examination of this awful Tory’s record clearly shows he is a total hypocrite.

Still he has screwed Cameron & the Tories, so that’s OK.

by ColinW on June 13, 2008 at 11:32 am. Reply #

Laurence Boyce wrote: “I would if I knew what that was.”
OMRLP = Official Monster Raving Loony Party

by Anonymous on June 13, 2008 at 12:24 pm. Reply #

ColinW wrote: “The vile Davis is a nasty right-wing scumbag. He voted FOR 28 days, so where was his precious Magna Carta then?

He just LOVES the death penalty too, & any examination of this awful Tory’s record clearly shows he is a total hypocrite.”

He might have mend his ways. We should give people the benefit of the doubt if they say that they are prepared to stand for civil rights now, even if they weren’t in the past. 🙂

by Anonymous on June 13, 2008 at 12:28 pm. Reply #

Ah no, I always side with the unofficial party. Besides, I’m backing Kelvin now.

by Laurence Boyce on June 13, 2008 at 12:29 pm. Reply #

Anon, the obviously question arises has he changed any of those views and repented and the answer is no he hasn’t….we agree with him on one issue, yes it’s an important issue but Davis isnt standing on a single issue platform like for example, independants in Kiddiminster did or Martin Bell did…he’s standing on the platform of the Conservative Party and his own personal socially authortarian views on other issues remain in place…

by Darrell on June 13, 2008 at 12:34 pm. Reply #

Leaked letter from Cameron to Davis, apparently.

by Joe Otten on June 13, 2008 at 4:09 pm. Reply #

…by which I mean not a genuine leaked letter. (That’s what I meant by apparently.) Text doesn’t do tone of voice justice, and I wouldn’t want to drive up traffic on false pretences.

by Joe Otten on June 13, 2008 at 4:56 pm. Reply #

At last some real competition for David Davis. The Generalist Party will be contesting the by election:

by Anonymous on June 14, 2008 at 12:42 pm. Reply #

Is the Liberal Party going to stand?

by Manfarang on June 14, 2008 at 2:01 pm. Reply #

It’s a tiny, pernickety point of law but Rupert Murdoch cannot fund Kelvin McKenzie’s by-election campaign can he? As a US citizen he cannot donate more than £200 can he? This would also include donations in kind such as, perhaps, providing a column in his newspaper to Mr McKenzie to advocate the election of a particular candidate in a by-election.

If Mr McKenzie stands, could he then have to give up his column in The Sun, or at least not mention the by-election in it?

Obviously a company doing business in the UK can make donations, and Mr Murdoch is a large shareholder in such companies but wouldn’t he have to justify such a quixotic donation to the other shareholders?

by Andy H on June 14, 2008 at 2:14 pm. Reply #

Hywel Morgan asked of my comment:

“Lets be honest, the Human Rights Act… has become a beanfeast for lawyers persuing silly cases, wasting court time when there are massive delays in the system already.”

What are these silly cases – quite a lot have been thrown out at very early stages.

You seem to have answered your question to an extent, I wonder what the full cost associated with throwing out the “quite a lot” was even if they were at the very early stages. One specific case, was where Dennis Nielsen, jailed in 1983 for murdering over a dozen young men filed a complaint against the jail for refusing to let him have a homosexual magazine. Perhaps some people do not consider that silly, in hindsight I consider it an example of the catastrophic moral mess that relying solely on the law leads this country to.

However the absurdity of the Law also comes from the way it changes what would in the past have been common sense behavior. Here three examples:- “Northumbria police in early 2007 put pictures and names of 5 men who had ‘failed to appear at court’ but didn’t publish what they were wanted for as it would infringe their human rights – presumably to privacy. Now if I saw one of these men, I for one would want to assist the police to apprehend him, but would really like to know whether he was for example violent as it may affect how closely I would follow him to let the police know his whereabouts.

I rest my case.

by David Evans on June 14, 2008 at 2:55 pm. Reply #

This busines has, sadly, overshadowed the Irish vote.

But it does help explore why the proposed process has major constitutional implications.

[The following is more than a bit for anoraks:

by Tudor on June 14, 2008 at 6:01 pm. Reply #

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