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.

Well done.

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.


Cassilis said…
The sentiment is sound but the timing isn't.

I opposed 42 days and there were few people in a better position to give the issue prominence than the shadow home secretary. There's a risk he'll make the story about him and Cameron and Labour won't field a candidate so the election itself becomes a joke.
Martin Meenagh said…
I wonder if that is true Liam. Davis could now use this stand to show the public that he is against statism, snooping, authoriarianism and extensions of government power. If, as he probably will, he wins, most people outraged by wheelie bin regulations or car taxes or so forth will see him as someone who put themselves on the line. That this is not wholly true for 'poligeeks' and others isn't relevant since most people haven't the time or inclination to follow issues closely but do have a general cognitive sense of annoyance at the political class at the minute.
I think Davis is also now well-covered for any future security measures.

That Labour and Tory types are turning up calling him 'David Icke' or trying to sound clever by going on about Italian operas--by which I think they mean the Commedia Dell'arte, which is different and which Denis McShane probably recalls because of an old chocolate wrapper-- is just appalling. It is also the sort of behaviour that will reinforce the message that Davis is the sort of man John McCain was presented as at the height of his popularity.

I really liked the Monday Gallery picture on your blog, by the way, and will link to it, if you don't mind
David Lindsay said…
The Tory Leadership Election is on, I see.

One of the morally and socially conservative, Eurosceptical, Unionist remnant, or at least someone as near thereto as could possibly be permitted within the Shadow Cabinet, has finally had enough (at least fifty years late, but never mind), and is quite clearly mounting a challenge.

Almost everything on Davis's entirely correct list of assaults on liberty was pioneered by the Tories' immediate previous Leader when he was Home Secretary, and it is inconceivable that the Cameroons really would repeal any of it.

The Conservative Party's refusal to fund his by-election campaign says it all, as does Cameron's stitch up of no candidates from the Lib Dems (certainly) or Labour (probably, and in that case in breach of its own Constitution) in order to deny Davis his victory.

If Labour really won't be putting up, then one of the commentariat supporters of 42 days should do so as an Independent. What are they afraid of?

There is an underlying point here. People go into politics because they believe that the State should do certain things.

When the State delivered education and health care, and ran things like railways and mines, then it felt no need to introduce ID cards, or to bang people up for six weeks without even so much as charging them, or to keep vast databases on them, or to watch them all the time. For that matter, no such needs were felt when the Police patrolled the streets on foot.

But now, having arbitrarily decided that they will not do such sensible and necessary things as delivering education and health care, or running railways and mines, or ensuring that the Police patrol the streets on foot, how are the political and administrative classes to occupy their time?

Why, by introducing ID cards, and banging people up for six weeks without even so much as charging them, and keeping vast databases on them, and watching them all the time, of course.

That, and waging pointless wars.