Friday, 13 June 2008

David Davis

My view on this is that David Davis has acted on principle, and whereas there was regrettable evidence of a 28 day extension in detention without charge for some terrorist suspects, this 42 days was without evidence. As Diane Abbot said, it is the spectacle of a government playing political games when liberties are at stake.

So he comes back to his ex-constituency to make a point, and he did it with notifying Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats. To me, this makes all the difference. It is no loss to the Liberal Democrats by not standing: the seat normally would not be available until a General Election anyway. However, by informing them (and Nick Clegg showing that he can take decisions, even with consulting others), the return of David Davis means he is not simply a Conservative MP any more. Obviously he is, and will take the whip, and so on, but there is an important difference that he will have come back with this joint mandate. If Labour do not oppose him, then they are just deciding not to present the alternative argument: there is talk of a newspaper based candidate, like Kelvin McKenzie. Anyway, Labour is broke.

Labour deny they have made deals, but they had set up meetings about what Northern Ireland needs, and a DUP person was apparently overheard talking about a long shopping list. Deals were done with Labour MPs, but of course deals are not deals because they are less than fully stated promises.

David Davis would have had a strong ministerial career but, indeed, Cameron cannot chop and change his cabinet - Davis out and Davis in, and what might he do next? So he has probably turned himself into one of those mavericks or personalities that sit on the back benches. He may need such a freedom to operate.

I note too that Nick Clegg seems to be finding his feet in the House of Commons, and is beginning to come on rather well. Strangely enough, he would do well to go over the river (from here) and campaign for David Davis, on a limited basis. People need explanation why the macho option is not the best one, certainly in this case. The argument that if you do nothing wrong in life then you shouldn't mind surveillance isn't good enough. We should all feel that we are in command and the government is the servant, and that we have space in which to breath fully: our liberty comes first and should only be lost under extreme emergency.

My view is this all went wrong when New Labour went for a more South East Asian model of economy and social welfare than a Scandinavian one, and full of collective obligations and exercise of power. Along with all these duties and obligations comes surveillance that you are doing what you are told, and what is expected, and we are seeing a form of state "socialism" far worse than the economic version we used to fear. Combine that model with Brown's habitual incompetence and interference in the detail and it could become frightening, if things do become ever more like Labour at the end of the seventies.

By the way: come off it. A trained agent leaves a highly classified document on a train (a folder, with that in it, on a train??), and someone hands it into the BBC (not the police - why not?), and this on the day of the desperate government vote on 42 days. These intelligence people are security mad, and trained agents do not make mistakes like that. Security people leave things as they find them habitually. So it looks deliberate or someone at the top doesn't give a toss. There is something not quite right about this latest loss of sensitive data. It does not make sense to me, that this is in the realm of an accident.

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