Friday, June 13, 2008

The 42DD Campaign - Principles or a Stunt

Today David Davis stunned the Westminster world by resigning on a Point of Principle. This has put the fourth estate into feeding frenzy mode as they try to work out what this means and try to understand what "Principle" means, it is a word that is normally quite alien to them. This confusion has meant that they have resorted to making up bigger and bigger stories as they try to work out what is going on in this strange new world.

Davis has really put the cat amongst the pigeons, but is it just a stunt as the Labour MP's are trying to tell us. To them it is, as most have them have deserted their principles since they were elected to power back in 1997. Since those heady days there has been a gradual drift into a world where only they know what is best for us and only they can be trusted to look after us from our cradles to our graves. They want to control us in our every move and watch us at all times in case we step out of line and threaten their cosy existence.

However Davis is a man of strong principles, he is not the standard Tory having been born to a single mother, brought up by his grandparents, his grandfather was a communist who had been disinherited by wealthy father. Brought up in some of the tougher parts of London he left school to work in Insurance and was in the Territorial Army's 21 SAS Regiment before retaking exams and going onto University (Warwick, London Business School and Harvard) He then became a senior executive in Tate and Lyle working there for 17 years. He entered Parliament in 1987.

Davis has campaigned long and hard on the 42 day detention limit and on other civil liberty issues such as ID cards. He has made many friends across political boundaries for this fight, of whom many have praised his current stand today. One worth listening to is Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty on the Radio 4 PM programme just after the 5:30 news today (The article starts about 33 mins into the programme). In this Chakrabarti describes how passionate Davis is about these issues and when asked if Davis is being led by his Head or his Heart replies that cynicism has taken over and people won't step out of line or put their necks on the line, and are driven by opinion polls rather than leading opinion. To her, Davis is a man of Principle who is prepared to put them before his own career.

To my mind this is a principled stand. Davis is a man who has looked at what is happening under Brown's Leadership and does not like what he sees.

I suspect much of the problem for Davis is that he sees that Gordon Brown will not give up and we will still have at least another two years to put up with Brown ruining this country and leading us back into the situation Britain was in the dark days of the late 70's. It is a feeling of helplessness as this country lurches from one crisis to another while Gordon turns his blind eye to what is going on and leads us further and deeper into the abyss on every front. Taking a stand is the only way he can see of at least getting the public to pay attention to what is happening to them.

Will it work? Who knows, the next 3-4 weeks will be interesting! He has at least got people thinking and this can only be good. The papers, mostly, will not be great reading for him tomorrow but if he looks at blogs, comments and public opinion his resolve may be strengthened because he seems to a have a lot of support from all walks of life.

As for David Cameron, I'm sure he will not be that happy with the events of today, but I think in the end the Conservatives will be stronger after this. They need to support Davis in his fight on this issue and show that Politicians can still have Principles and that the public can start to believe in them again. If in any degree Davis achieves this then it will be a victory for him and also a victory for the Conservatives.

For Gordon Brown it's a case of mixed blessings. It has taken the spotlight away from his hollow victory last night and his lies about not bribing his own MP's and those of other parties. But it also exposes the shallowness and lack of backbone that this Government has. Brown has as usual disappeared from sight whilst, Gollum like, he makes his decision on what to do about the by-election. I suspect he will again bottle it and not put up a candidate as they will lose humiliatingly.

Davis resigned with the following speech

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.

David Davis statement

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