13 June 2008

Breaking News: Haltemprice and Howden is near Hull

Well, OK, it is breaking news for most of us who previously had no idea where David Davis' constituency is located.

Like many people who follow the ins and outs of the Tory Party closely, I am sceptical of both the value of Davis' "resignation" and the motives behind it. Ever since Davis declined to serve in William Hague's shadow cabinet in order to chair the Public Accounts Committee, I had always regarded him as something of a selfish politician, preferring to put himself above party. On the other hand, many people I know and respect rate him highly and he came very close to leading the party in 2005.

But to make such a dramatic move without the blessing (or even agreement) of the Party leader and with no regard to the impact on the Tory revival is, without a doubt, selfish.

To those who say he has put principle above party, explain to me why he could not stay in the Shadow Cabinet and work towards becoming the next Home Secretary so that he can repeal (if necessary) the 42 day legislation. Equally, until this legislation passes the Lords, the fight is not yet over, but now Davis has cast himself out of Parliament he cannot play such an effective role in that fight. In my mind, Davis' move is more about having the Conservatives' policy on 42 days set in concrete than it is about reversing the present government.

Finally, the move is a waste of time as predictably Labour look like they will refuse to play the role of whipping boy in this by-election. Iain Dale says that they would be treating the issue and voters "with contempt" if they do not take part, but I don't see it myself. In that constituency and in the current climate Davis is clearly going to beat a Labour candidate regardless of the issue, so a by election is not exactly the most appropriate forum to test the issue. If Labour were to fight they would literally end up in a no-win situation. A real contest would be if Davis had stood as an independent and challenged a prominent Tory who is in favour of 42 days to run against him - Kelvin Mackenzie (whilst not a Tory exactly) might almost fit the bill.

It is undeniable, however, that Davis' move has captured the public mood and that among those who are not bothered with the niceties of different Tory cliques, Davis now appears noble and principled in stark contrast to the snouts in the trough approach of other politicians. The Daily Mash captures the mood nicely in an article titled: "MP DOES SOMETHING OTHER THAN BEING A DICK". No doubt this perception will be useful when he launches his next bid to be Tory leader.

PS - The Daily Mash also has the best take on the outcome of the 42 day detention legislation: "MILLIONS PLANNING £3000 'I'M A TERRORIST' SCAM"...

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