Thursday, June 12, 2008

David Davis: a man of principle

I think that Chicken Yoghurt summed up the 42 day detention best.
Well, at least Brown will have two constituencies of cast iron support tonight - lazy coppers and al Qaeda. He’s made the former’s jobs much easier and he’s doing the latter’s for them. Good effort.

But the most impressive and uplifting reaction has been that of David Davis, who has resigned over "this monstrosity of a law", with a barn-storming speech in which he reminds us that this Sunday is the anniversary of Magna Carta, the document in which is enshrined the concept of habeas corpus.
Mr Davis told reporters outside the House of Commons he believed his move was a "noble endeavour" to stop the erosion of British civil liberties.

The 59-year-old is one of the best known Tory MPs and his resignation came as a complete surprise in Westminster.

He told reporters outside the Commons: "I will argue in this by-election against the slow strangulation of fundamental British freedoms by this government."

Labour MP Denis MacShane said he was sure Mr Davis would win the by-election but added "I think this will be seen as a stunt" which showed the Conservatives were "utterly unfit" for government.

That is because Denis MacShane wouldn't know a principle if it came up and bit his balls off; the man is so much of a cunt that even cunts shun him.
The former Europe Minister said he thought Mr Cameron had "cut the ground from under David Davis by not pledging to repeal 42 days" if the Tories won the next election.

That the Tories have refused to do this is, frankly, fucking shocking and an indication of precisely what they intend when in government, i.e. more of the same.

David Davis is a fine man who should be praised for his stand, and returned to Parliament with a vastly increased majority.

The UK Libertarian Party have released the following.
The Libertarian Party invites David Davis to "Join Us"

The UK Libertarian Party has extended an invitation to David Davis to join them, after the Shadow Home Secretary resigned as an MP over the 42 day detention law.

The party's Director of Communications, Chris Mounsey, said, "The Libertarian Party applauds David Davis' principled stand over this deeply illiberal measure.

"The Libertarian Party is the only UK political party which prioritises freedom and civil liberties above all else.

"As such, we feel sure that Mr Davis would be right at home in the Libertarian Party and invite him to join us."

Patrick Vessey, Leader of the Libertarian Party, echoed his colleague's sentiments:

"In this day and age, with spin and political corruption so commonplace that it's taken for granted that all Members of Parliament are simply in
the job for what they can personally extract from the taxpayer, a man of rare integrity has reminded us all of the long democratic tradition in our nation.

"The Libertarian Party will not be standing against Mr Davis in the coming by-election, and will rather offer our total support to Mr Davis' campaign, whether he stands as a Conservative or Independent candidate."

Mr Vessey concluded: "Should Mr Davis find that the party of which he is currently a member does not share his grave and quite justified concerns about the continuing erosion of our precious civil liberties, he would be welcome to join the only British political party for which these issues are a matter of core principle, rather than purely the stuff of sound-bites."

Come on, David; you know you want to. And I want you to: your resignation speech is the only utterance by a politician that I have ever whole-heartedly agreed with.

UPDATE: here is the speech in full.
The name of my constituency is Haltemprice and Howden. The word Haltemprice is derived from the motto of a medieval priory, and in Old French it means "Noble Endeavour".

I had always viewed membership of this House as a noble endeavour, not least because we and our forebears have for centuries fiercely defended the fundamental freedoms of our citizens. Or we did, up until yesterday.

Up until yesterday, I took the view that what we did in the House of Commons representing our constituents was a noble endeavour because with centuries or forebears we defended the freedoms of the British people. Well we did up until yesterday.

This Sunday is the anniversary of Magna Carta—the document that guarantees that most fundamental of British freedoms—Habeus Corpus.

The right not to be imprisoned by the state without charge or reason. Yesterday this house decided to allow the state to lock up potentially innocent British citizens for up to six weeks without charge.

Now the counter terrorism bill will in all probability be rejected by the House of Lords very firmly. After all, what should they be there for if not to defend Magna Carta.

But because the impetus behind this is essentially political - not security - the government will be tempted to use the Parliament Act to over-rule the Lords. It has no democratic mandate to do this since 42 days was not in its manifesto.

Its legal basis is uncertain to say the least. But purely for political reasons, this government's going to do that. And because the generic security arguments relied on will never go away—technology, development and complexity and so on, we'll next see 56 days, 70 days, 90 days.

But in truth, 42 days is just one—perhaps the most salient example—of the insidious, surreptitious and relentless erosion of fundamental British freedoms.

And we will have shortly, the most intrusive identity card system in the world.

A CCTV camera for every 14 citiziens, a DNA database bigger than any dictatorship has, with 1000s of innocent children and a million innocent citizens on it.

We have witnessed an assault on jury trials—that balwark against bad law and its arbitrary use by the state. Short cuts with our justice system that make our system neither firm not fair.

And the creation of a database state opening up our private lives to the prying eyes of official snoopers and exposing our personal data to careless civil servants and criminal hackers.

The state has security powers to clamp down on peaceful protest and so-called hate laws that stifle legitimate debate - while those who incite violence get off Scot free.

This cannot go on, it must be stopped. And for that reason, I feel that today it's incumbent on me to take a stand.

I will be resigning my membership of the House and I intend to force a by-election in Haltemprice and Howden.

Now I'll not fight it on the government's general record—there's no point repeating Crewe and Nantwich. I won't fight it on my personal record. I am just a piece in this great chess game.

I will fight it, I will argue this by-election, against the slow strangulation of fundamental British freedoms by this government.

Now, that may mean I've made my last speech to the House—it's possible. And of course that would be a matter of deep regret to me. But at least my electorate, and the nation as a whole, would have had the opportunity to debate and consider one of the most fundamental issues of our day—the ever-intrusive power of the state into our lives, the loss of privacy, the loss of freedom and the steady attrition undermining the rule of law.

And if they do send me back here it will be with a single, simple message: that the monstrosity of a law that we passed yesterday will not stand.

Good for you! David Davis fucking rocks!

UPDATE: thanks to Rachel Joyce, who points out that Dominic Grieve has pledged that the Tories will repeal this piece of shit law. I don't suppose that they'd like to commit to taking it back down to 72 hours, would they? Rachel, who is Conservative PPC for Harrow West, has a good post up too.


Old Holborn - bitter and twisted said...

David, come on over!


Snowolf said...

Absolutely. I'd love to see him come along.

I'll see your cake and biscuits and add a bottle of (admittedly Canadian) single malt that I have and will never drink as I hate whisky.

C'mon David, you know you want to. . .

Ian_QT said...

Only thing I'd add to that is a call on the UKIP supporters (I know there are several who read) to accept that their party stands for the illiberal politics of fear, not the ideals of liberty, and to make a clean break.

pagar said...

Is there any possibility that this will remind a few others of the days when they also had principles?

At least we should be able to have a mainstream debate on civil liberties and it's good to see the Libertarian party respond so quickly.

Benj said...

Although I admit it is incredibly unlikely I would love to see him follow me into the Libertarian party.

UKIP have shown themselves for what they really are, and whilst I will continue to support their views on the EU and Nigel Farage's brilliant attempts to disrupt and inform us on proceedings within the EU, I simply cannot be a member of a party that supports the abolishment of a fundamental tenant of British law.

Anonymous said...

It's habeas corpus. Can't the fucking Beeb even get something as basic as that right?

Rachel Joyce said...

Oh come on now Mr Devil - Dominic Grieve has announced today that the Tories WILL repeal 42 days.
See the link here:

In my opinion 42 days should have been a free conscience vote. Then there wouldn't have been a chance of Brown winning for purely political reasons- the evidence for and against would have been weighed, and Magna Carta would have won out (see my blog entry on this: )

Gman said...

David Davis got my vote for Tory leader, its a shame they ended up with the other David aka Blair v 2.0

Edwin Hesselthwite said...

Ok, Let's look at this straight, despite all your flagwaving... Because Davis has totally dropped the ball.

David Davis has resigned in an extremely safe Conservative seat, one he is almost guaranteed to win back... By making this personal, he's shown that his admirable attitude to civil liberties is not mainstream frontbench opinion...

So, with all this flag waving about the glorious tradition of Magna Carta he has nonetheless undermined a significant Parliamentary tradition: MP's cannot resign. Their electorate own their asses. Under a system that runs back to the 16th century, MP's can only leave Parliament when an election comes around, or by being granted either The Stewardship Of The Chiltern Hundreds or The Stewardship of The Manor Of Northstead. In order to get either of these positions, you have to go begging to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who can permit you to leave. Boris currently holds Northstead, Tony holds Chiltern...

No one has ever pulled this stupid stunt before, because it goes against the spirit of Parliamentry tradition. So, he has to go begging to Alistair Darling to be allowed out, go begging to his own constituency party to give him the job, and then he has to have an election... This is assuming the Labour party even agree to field a candidate in this safe Tory seat.

Labour are now in the enviable position of being able to say "Bugger off, you can't resign", or "Good on you, now run against the BNP and UKIP"... This is a farce.

He's undermined his own career, undermined the impressive work he'd done on the Tory front bench, and given the ball right over to his enemies...

The man's a muppet.

Budgie said...

There will be lots of fall out over David Davies' decision. It puts Broon on the spot and many Labour MPs too, because 42 days was promoted by Labour but opposed by Tories and LibDems. It is significant that DD consulted Clegg, but not Labour.

Labour is at sixes and sevens over this - note their lack of response. It will keep civil liberties in the news for the next few weeks and Broon will get no respite. Broon is on his way out now. It might even precipitate a general election, given the terrible economy and the lies over Lisbon.

Ian_QT said...

I really hope that @budgie is right and @edwin is wrong, but I can't help but worry about what happens if Labour don't stand. I hope Davis has thought this possibility through.

ashie said...

David Davies is a cunt. I worked for him when he was a Minister. All he cares about is his Magna Carta right to behave like a cunt - especially ti underlings.

Hey look everybody it's me, me, me!


JuliaM said...

"I can't help but worry about what happens if Labour don't stand."

That's my fear too...

Edwin Hesselthwite said...

I think the technical term for this sort of farcical grandstanding is "Pulling a Claire Short".

Or would that be "Pulling and Enoch Powell" for a Tory?

Nick said...

"All he cares about is his Magna Carta right to behave like a cunt"

Pretty important principle and I think his resignation - as a matter of principle - is wonderful. In fact I have trouble thinking of a more important principle or cause worth making a stand over, regardless of parliamentary procedure. Respect to DD.

I also would like to see him join the UKLP although I think its unlikely.

Roger Thornhill said...

Imagine if he is unable to resign as MP but then leaves the Conservative Party and joins the Libertarian Party. Delicious - beating UKIP to the HoC.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

Wouldn't it be wonderful if a Labour MP resigned in protest as well? It would almost restore my faith in politicians. Diane Abbott, perhaps?

(That's a joke, by the way, I never had any ... but it would still be something to behold.)

Devil's Kitchen said...


UKIP have someone in the HoC: Bob Spink.

He voted for 42 days.


John Trenchard said...

"Oh come on now Mr Devil - Dominic Grieve has announced today that the Tories WILL repeal 42 days. "


i just heard Dominic Grieve on C4 News and when asked a direct question on repeal by John Snow, he stated that, that yes they would repeal it , IF THE EVIDENCE is there that it is not required and should be repealed.

in other words, if the police come up with "evidence" that 42 days should stay, the Tories will not repeal it.

by the way - Davis did something incredibly principled today. A rarity in our political class , and thus he should be applauded.

Anonymous said...

Trying to poach other parties' by-election candidates for the Libertarian Party, that's a bit rum isn't it?

Unless it is a ploy you're rehearsing for Henley following the spectacular start to the by-election campaign there...

John Trenchard said...

on another point - if this 42 days thing somehow gets through (via a parliament act) , then the LAST recourse that we have is the Queen herself.

if she allows it through, then i'm sorry DK , but you have some explaining to do on what the point of our monarchy is.

as opposed to a consitutional republic..

just look at the Irish - and how they managed to secure a referendum on Lisbon.

berenike said...

Who cares whether David Davis is a gentleman and scholar or a cynic/fool/arse?

Hello? Perspective?

This is about the first time there is even a SQUEAK in the media about the dismantling of the constitution of the British state begun by (he seems to think he's sincere so I can only assume he really is stupid) Blair.

Stuff parliamentary tradition. Whatever. So it's a safe seat. Hello? What was he supposed to do? Try and swap with someone for a marginal one?

At least Someone (with media interest value) has done Something. Stop bloody sniping, thank the good God (it won't hurt if He doesn't exist) and seize the opportunity with every prehensile limb at your disposal.

wonkotsane said...

Without wishing to incur the wrath of the DD fan club, can I ask where his principles were when he dropped his vehement support for an English Parliament during his party leadership campaign when he was told that his principled stance on equality for England would lose him support?

The Devils Kitchen is normally full of cynical realists, surely you must have considered the possibility that this is one massive publicity stunt by DD?

wonkotsane said...

@edwin, have you seen the results of the last election in DD's seat? He nearly lost to the Illiberal Dumbocrat.

Snowolf said...

wonkotsane, I'm not too fussed about DD's motives or past, I'm just delighted that he's highlighted the issue on a morning when the news was dominated by Wayne & Colleen's impending wedding.

It can only be a good thing.

ashie said...

"Who cares whether David Davis is a gentleman and scholar or a cynic/fool/arse?"

Well I care. In fact he is none of the above. He is a cunt. Fact.

Philip Thomas said...

As a Conservative, it is odd that one of my MPs quitting has actually excited me. Yet is has. Finally, someone at the top of the Conservative party has come out against the illiberality of this government and will fight it in the court of public opinion. It is gratifying to know that I not the only Conservative with libertarian leanings.

Philip Thomas said...

Christ, evidently the excitement has compromised my ability to write. Please treat previous errors lightly.

Roger Thornhill said...

Sorry, DK, forgot, yes, Bobs Pink. Didn't take long for some UKIP Rue-age to appear, eh. Bet Farage is fuming. I'd have withdrawn the UKIP whip.

leg-iron said...

My ghast is completely flabbered.

I never thought to see the day when a politician did something that wasn't obviously aimed at personal gain.

Whatever his motives, we ordinary plebs, the spitoons of the ruling classes, can't help but be mightily impressed.

Cat-call and deride the man if you must, accuse him of political posturing if you wish, but remember that's not what the ordinary bloke is seeing here. He's seeing one man take a stand against an overbearing state and the rest jeering at him for it.

We've seen them before in history books (remember those?). Right or wrong, doesn't matter, the underdog will get the popular support. David Davis has my support. I hope he remembers to return it when he's finished with it.

I just hope he stays honest. It seems too easy to slip into that trough these days.

Exile said...

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. There's a Nu-Labourite blogger named Luke Akehurst who is cheering on Rupert Murdoch's decision to fund a pro-detention candidate. Then there's you, writing things that socialists used to write...

I need a break.

Budgie said...

Ian_QT said..."I really hope that @budgie is right and @edwin is wrong, but I can't help but worry about what happens if Labour don't stand."

If Broon doesn't field a candidate for his own flagship policy of 42 days he will look even more of a fool than he did before. It means he cannot even back his own policy. Will that be 4 times he will have flunked an election?

FlipC said...

I note Hazel Bleughs claiming it was an ego stunt and that he thinks 'everything revolves around him'.

Now some people might say that those who think that may only do so because they themselves cannot conceive of taking a stand based on principal and that therefore any such actions taken would have to be due to why they themselves would do such a thing.

Of course I'm sure that's not the case in this instance ;-)

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