Well Done David Davis
David Davis is resigning as a conservative MP to contest his own seat. The legal side of me wonders how he will do this, since resigning in the middle of a parliament is usually a matter of applying for the Chiltern Hundreds, (and thus has to have his resignation approved by Alistair Darling). Applying has in the past was expected to debar a person from being a member again, though this did not apply to the Irish Unionists who resigned en masse over agreements between the British government and the government of Ireland. He has presumably researched the issue. If any legal reader can show me how Davis has got around the technical bar on resignations I will be grateful, though I will proceed on the basis that he has, by applying for a crown sinecure, resigning from that, and standing again.
In any event, I have been deeply impressed. I am not a conservative. Yet every day, I read stories about councils, elected on a small minority of the local vote, abusing powers to extract extortionate taxes from individuals whilst refusing to do things as simple as emptying rubbish bins; I read about the police abusing more and more of their power; I read about crazy mad identity card schemes that seem set to benefit only electronic service providers to the government; I read about student union hacks disguised as a political-media class regulating more and more of life.
And then Davis, on the anniversary of the irrelevant' Magna Carta, stands up and says that just because a indeterminate but minority group within the Muslim community have given themselves over to Jew-hating and nutty death cults, liberties should not be removed from everyone else. And he puts his money where his mouth is, and resigns.
In some ways, the 42 days bill is better than the previous arrangements; judicial reviews at 28 and 35 days, enhanced disclosure and parliamentary review of the reserve power are not to be sniffed at. However, the sheer lunacy of what is going on should not be lost. We are being told by people who appear to be halfwits, most of whom have never had a proper job, that because we are not in an emergency we have to make emergency legislation; that it has to apply now, rather than being activated in any future emergency by parliament or by Privy Councillors subject to immediate parliamentary control; and that it has to be pushed through for patriotic reasons with the aid of a gang of Ulster Unionists.
This is absurd, truly absurd. It is also obvious that the House of Lords--now a jury of merit and experience--is not going to have any of it, and for the reasons given above the Daily Mail and their cohort is not going to be much impressed.
This appalling bill should have gone down. David Davis, who appears to be a Tory with authentic roots in the working class, a decent man, and who now faces the inevitable taunt of being 'unhinged' by people who can't understand what he is doing, deserves to be applauded. He has realised that politics, law and the way we lead our secular lives is nothing but gangsterism and survival if we are not prepared to risk our careers and reputations for some of the things we hold dear.
UPDATE: For those interested enough in procedure to care, the House of Commons Library has produced a neat handout on resignation here. One interesting point is that, before the Ulster Unionists, George Lansbury (over votes for women, which he was for) and Dick Taverne (over Labour party democracy) were the last to act in this fashion.
David Davis, invoking a 1623 precedent, will technically take over as Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds from one Anthony Charles Lynton Blair MP. It would be funny if Blair had to give his permission to be replaced before Davis took over the sinecure, only to resign, but that isn't the way things work. British politics; an obscure version of 'Debbie does Dynasty' to mangle my analogies.
UPDATE 2 : I have found a pleasant precis of those by-elections caused by people stepping down here, and very informative it is too if you happen to like your history, as I do.