14 June 2008

The Political Twilight Zone

Mild-mannered blogger Will Patterson takes a trip up to Edinburgh for a job interview. At that moment, David Davis resigns from the House of Commons. Little does Patterson know that this event will send him on a one-way trip into... The Political Twilight Zone!

Yes, folks, I'm backing David Davis. Is his decision to resign as an MP a publicity stunt? Perhaps. Is he as mad as a ferret on acid? Probably. Is he incredibly selective on the issues where he chooses to be liberal? Yes. But does that mean he's wrong to take any sort of action in protest at the vote in the House of Commons, supporting 42-day detention? No, it does not.

Are David Davis and I strange political bedfellows? Yes, but not quite as strange as the twisted alliance of 90% of Labour MPs, Ann Widdecombe, UKIP's Bob Spink (who is in an odd posiiton considering the rest of his party have come out in favour of Davis) and the DUP, who tipped the balance in Gordon Brown's favour. Now the list of people and parties backing Davis isn't particularly comfortable either, but 1) it is being opposed by the being of pure spite that is Kelvin McKenzie (so it isn't all that bad) and 2) I agree with his stance, so I'll have to take my chances.

And incidentally, Nick Robinson refers to Davis's decision as unprecedented. It isn't. In 1985 fifteen UUP and DUP Members of Parliament quit the Commons and sought re-election in protest at the signing of the Anglo-Irish agreement, so Davis is following an example set by, among others, Peter Robinson, the DUP Leader, who supports the 42-day legislation. Or at least, voted for it. What do the DUP get for it?

Anyway, the LibDems were the first to stand aside, saying they agree with Davis. Labour aren't standing either, because they don't like what he's doing so aren't going to play. McKenzie is now the ex-Shadow Home Secretary's most credible opponent, thanks to Rupert Murdoch's money, which will be filtered through several different people and companies until it becomes legal for them to donate it to a campaign. And what of Labour's reaction? Mr Eugenides has gone through it:

JACQUI SMITH, HOME SECRETARY
Faced with a crucial decision on the safety and protection of the British public, the Conservatives have collapsed into total disarray on what is their first big policy test since they have come under greater scrutiny. David Cameron must come clean on what has really happened and why David Davis has really resigned.


Total disarray? One MP has decided to put his money where his mouth is and put his opinion to a public vote in his constituency. And why else would Davis resign and stand again, unless he thought he could win?

DAVID BLUNKETT, FORMER HOME SECRETARY
David Davis's behaviour is a pure piece of political theatre, even more bizarre than John Major resigning as leader of the Tory Party in order to stand again against his own colleagues. This is childish and immature and it is not worthy of a major political party to engage in such theatre.


But it is worthy of another major political party to try and reduce civil liberties to 'pork barrel' politics?

HAZEL BLEARS, COMMUNITIES SECRETARY
The Tories are plainly in disarray and confusion over the serious issue of national security. Behind Cameron's facade are the same old Tories fighting like ferrets in a sack. This forced by-election is a farce - and an insult to the voters in Haltemprice and Howden.


Remind me how many Labour MPs rebelled, and how many Tory MPs rebelled? Remind me how Brown needed the votes of another political party to get the idea through? And if we're talking about insulting voters, why don't we talk about setting the date for the Crewe & Nantwich By-Election while Gwyneth Dunwoody's body was still warm, picking her daughter as the candidate, and offering nothing except "The Tory guy's a toff" as an election message?

CAROLINE FLINT, HOUSING MINISTER
It clearly shows a dispute at the top of the Tory Party as to their approach to dealing with issues around countering terrorism. I think there'll be a lot of questions being asked at the Tory high command today and over the weekend about just what is going on... I think this is a waste of public money, David Davis taking this action, but that's his call and he'll have to answer for that.


Funny how Labour find largesse with public money when they want to win a vote in the Commons, but suddenly take their hands out of their pockets when their policy becomes the subject of an election campaign, isn't it?

DENIS MACSHANE, LABOUR MP
It's like something out of Italian comic opera. We all get issues where we get angry, but we don't resign over them. I hope the other parties don't dignify what is clearly a one-man stunt... I think David will be re-elected and people will see straight through this.

And in that one comment, we see precisely what is wrong with politics: it's become a machine industry, with politicians swallowing any principles they have for a wage, a generous expenses system, a title and a shot at power. This comment is an insult to the likes of the late Robin Cook, who quit as a Minister because he opposed the War in Iraq. He (and many others) were angry, and resigned in protest. Just because MacShane doesn't have the cojones to put what he believes in (what does he believe in, other than continued office for the Labour Party?) ahead of his salary, shouldn't mean that all politicians are the same.

David Davis has marked himself out as different to Denis MacShane.

And in my opinion, David Davis has marked himself out as more deserving of a place in politics than MacShane, who has made clear that he values positions more highly than principles.

5 comments:

Ted Harvey said...

... and another thing! In typical Brown style the Labour Government is dithering over whether or not to put a candidate in the David Davis by-election. In other words, we have Gordon Brown who was not elected as prime minister, who backed-off the possibility of having an early general election at a time of popularity to legitimise the Goverment he leads... and now it seems his feart or too arrogant to take on even a by-election that no reasonable person would anyway expecr his party to win even in 'normal' times.

Ed said...

You ask,"Are David Davis and I strange political bedfellows?"
How about.... no?

Anonymous Bully said...

Whatever Labour do here they come off worst. Well Done Davis!

Will said...

Ted, I can't add to that - you've put it better than I could.

Ed, don't rub salt in the wound. I've never agreed with Davis before and I've spent two hours in the bath every day since Thursday to try and wash off the stench of self-loathing brought about by the fact that I actually find myself supporting him. But, hey, as Gordon Brown's getting the DUP, Ann Widdecombe and Bob Spink onside will illustrate, sometimes you find yourself on the same side as El Diablo.

By the way, here's a general point for everyone... have people spotted the Daily Record's endorsement of the Lonny candidate, Mad Cow-Girl? I'm trying to find the words for a suitable response, but they're just not there.

boxthejack said...

As the dust settles I think you're being vindicated. The columns in today's Torygraph and Guardian have stepped away from the "He's off his heid" line to the "Er, hmm, well people seem to like it" line.