Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sliding down the greasy pole


Like many today, not least amongst the Tories' High Command, I was scratching my head at David Davis' baffling resignation from the Commons.


After it was clear that Mr Davis wasn't the victim of some lurid tabloid expose - in his neck of the woods I guess it it would be sucking the toes of a model whilst wearing a Hull City shirt - other explanations had to be considered.


Was it really a surfeit of principle? Or simply an overweening ego that drove Davis to torpedo all of the Tories' carefully constructed plans? Trying to work out what was going on, Prince Metternich's comment on the wily French statesman Talleyrand came to mind. Talleyrand had a legendary reputation across Europe for subtle signals and crafty strategies that outfoxed his opponents. On learning of his death, Metternich asked, "What does he mean by that?"


Davis, of course, ain't no Talleyrand. He's a much less complicated populist politician. He knows there's a vociferous minority of people out there who subscribe to the Daily Mail's analysis that the country is going to Hell in a handcart, and that politicians to a man and woman are venal bloodsuckers. Striking this ultimate anti-political pose he must think that his political star is going to rise.


Me, I'm not so sure. Firstly, I'm always suspicious of politicians who wave around the 13th century Magna Carta as if it is some trump card in any 21st century debate. The 1215 document, let's not forget, was a barons' charter and never meant to espouse freedom for the masses. And throughout our history, when the need arises, balances are struck between freedom and security - internment during World War Two is a recent example.


Secondly, whilst Davis trots out a familiar list of supposed monstrosities loathed by the likes of the Liberty pressure group of well-paid lawyers, and the insufferable Henry Porter in the Observer, I don't think he's got the British people with him. Eradicate the DNA database? - which has convicted scores of murderers, paedophiles and rapists who otherwise would have got off scot-free? Rip out CCTV? It would appear that Davis is seriously out of touch if he thinks that there's a mass movement to trash the cameras which have significantly reduced crime in our town centres, especially after dark. In my ward, the cry has been for more cameras, and not fewer.


It also takes a perverse genius to resign your seat on one of the few issues at the moment where the Labour Prime Minister has a commanding lead over the opposition. Little wonder, then, that David Cameron, (subconsciously quoting Yes Minister?), damned Davis' stunt as "courageous" and "personal". What does it say about the Tories' chances at the next election, for example, when the man who was Shadow Home Secretary has so little faith in his party's chances that he can't hold on for a couple of years when he would presumably be in an ideal position to repeal the 42-day limit.


Famously, another 19th century statesman, Disraeli, remarked on becoming Prime Minister that he had, "climbed to the top of the greasy pole." Davis will of course hold onto his seat. But by his rash resignation today, he has in the long run doomed himself to a slippery exit.

13 comments:

miketually said...

The logic behind 42 days is equally applicable to virtually any period. Why not 52 days? 62 days? A year?

Once you accept that the security forces can tell when they've got the right people even if they have insufficient material to base a charge on, then it becomes obvious that only the right people are being arrested, and they can be detained for as long as it takes.

How long until we set up our own little Guantanamo for undesirables?

Usually never agree with you Nick said...

What is Davis thinking/planning?
In the upside down world of politics Labour have brought in a right wing piece of common sence.
The tories with a vested interest in bringing down Brown and more interest in that than the security of our people do the disgraceful thing and vote against the government.

I think Davis will be punished. People don't like unnecessary elections and many tory voters will be bewildered by Davis stance and could quite well shift their vote.

I rarely agree with you Nick and I am convinced in this opportunist world of politics that if Labour were in opposition and the tories had brought in this new law you would be yourself screaming about peoples freedoms getting eroded and would vote against 42 days detention. I think that you are the sort who toes lines, keeps ones nose clean and hopes to be rewarded for your obedience with promotion.

Try this link for an interesting slant on the goings on in Davis' mind.
http://www.bnp.org.uk/index.php/2008/06/david-davis-power-play/

Anonymous said...

Care to comment on the failing EV which is in your ward?

Anonymous said...

Come on Nick lets here your comment on the failing EV, Your a local ward councillor, what are you going to do to rid the rot that is failing the children?

Dame Delia Smythe said...

Yes good point bot previous anonymous's wheres an EV comment Nick or even a ETC comment afterall you were in charge of that too?
Just answer your readers!

Anonymous said...

Early indications are that Irish voters have rejected the EC treaty in their referendum. That blows Brown's and your rejection of a referendum completely out of the water.

WE WANT A REFERENDUM ON THE TREATY. Is that clear enough?

Ian White "Back Off Brussel's" said...

Yes we too want the promised referendum, call it what you will, alter the odd paragraph, but we still know its about joining the despised EU. We want a vote to leave the EU gravy train!

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes....

Permit me to enter the debate about David Davis' resignation and the reasons for it please.

I think he is right to take his concerns to the electorate of his constituency for a view by way of an election.

I am unconfortable about detention for 42 days which, as Mike Tully rightly states, is arbitrary. Why not 29 30 or 35?

I personally do not feel any more threatened than when the IRA were bombing this country. Perhaps I may have different views if I lived in London or the other major
cities. What are their views?

Turning now to the essence of David Davis' resignation. There is no question that civil liberties and individual freedom are being eroded.

David Davis is not advocating the eradication of the DNA database, but people should only enter that data base if they have committed a crime and the whole nation should not be put on the database and assumed to be criminal. We are decent, law abiding, hard working, tax paying people and it is wrong to treat us in this way as suspects to a crime.

I do not want to be put on a central database. The loss of the discs containing the personal records of 25M people, including those of my family, last November from Washington to wherever raises serious security concerns in my mind.

I am against ID cards because we do not need them to prove who we are. We didn't need them in the 1970s and 1980s when the terrorist threat was that much closer. We do not need them now. We are being lumped in with the criminal fraternity. To add insult to injury the Government are asking us to pay for them and will, I think, throw us into prison if we refuse to have them.

Yes there is a terrorist threat, but the Americans and ourselves have made it far worse by the wars in Iraq and Afganistan. Both conflicts are unwinnable. The forces are doing a magnificent job in impossible situations.

Both conflicts were conceived by politicians who have never served in the armed forces and have no conception or experience of what it is like to lead soldiers, sailors and airmen into battle, otherwise they would not have deployed our forces to these countries. The war in Iraq was brought about by false information.

Why are our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan? Why are they dying and getting horribly injured? Why is the Government ignoring and not honouring our forces for their sacrifice in our name?

Turning now to CCTV. Again David Davis is not advocating ripping out CCTV,but CCTV should not be used as a substitute for law enforcement by the police. It is an additional tool in the law enforcement armoury.

These are precisely the things David Davis is talking about.

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes....

Permit me to enter the debate about David Davis' resignation and the reasons for it please.

I think he is right to take his concerns to the electorate of his constituency for a view by way of an election.

I am unconfortable about detention for 42 days which, as Mike Tully rightly states, is arbitrary. Why not 29 30 or 35?

I personally do not feel any more threatened than when the IRA were bombing this country. Perhaps I may have different views if I lived in London or the other major
cities. What are their views?

Turning now to the essence of David Davis' resignation. There is no question that civil liberties and individual freedom are being eroded.

David Davis is not advocating the eradication of the DNA database, but people should only enter that data base if they have committed a crime and the whole nation should not be put on the database and assumed to be criminal. We are decent, law abiding, hard working, tax paying people and it is wrong to treat us in this way as suspects to a crime.

I do not want to be put on a central database. The loss of the discs containing the personal records of 25M people, including those of my family, last November from Washington to wherever raises serious security concerns in my mind.

I am against ID cards because we do not need them to prove who we are. We didn't need them in the 1970s and 1980s when the terrorist threat was that much closer. We do not need them now. We are being lumped in with the criminal fraternity. To add insult to injury the Government are asking us to pay for them and will, I think, throw us into prison if we refuse to have them.

Yes there is a terrorist threat, but the Americans and ourselves have made it far worse by the wars in Iraq and Afganistan. Both conflicts are unwinnable. The forces are doing a magnificent job in impossible situations.

Both conflicts were conceived by politicians who have never served in the armed forces and have no conception or experience of what it is like to lead soldiers, sailors and airmen into battle, otherwise they would not have deployed our forces to these countries. The war in Iraq was brought about by false information.

Why are our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan? Why are they dying and getting horribly injured? Why is the Government ignoring and not honouring our forces for their sacrifice in our name?

Turning now to CCTV. Again David Davis is not advocating ripping out CCTV,but CCTV should not be used as a substitute for law enforcement by the police. It is an additional tool in the law enforcement armoury.

These are precisely the things David Davis is talking about.

Ian White, www.no2id.co.uk said...

Well said, here here!

Anonymous said...

I know where the slippery greasy pole wants shoving!

Apparently he listens!

Darlington Councillor said...

Thanks everyone for your posts.

Firstly, Mike asks why 42 days - why not more? Are we on a slippoery slope? It's a fair point, but this is the judgement the politicians have arrived at after receiving advice from the security services and the police. Interestingly, David Davis voted in favour of 28 days detention without charge, so it would appear that our ancient liberties under Magna Carta (sic) are alive and kicking at 4 weeks but somehow disappear into oblivion at 6.

(By the way, I had to laugh at the comment that I'm the kind of person who 'toes the line'. Since 2000, I have been a Cabinet Member in Darlington, and so bound by collective cabinet responsibility. No doubt, were I to be in opposition, I could make all kinds of statements, and adopt 50 contrary positions before breakfast. That ain't the way, however, when you're in office, at a local or national level).

As for Alan - well, you're right that my brush was a little broad when I talked about David Davis' attack on CCTV and the DNA database - but then so were his original words. And I passionately disagree with him on the DNA issue, because in practical terms it would have meant that 100's of paedophiles, murderers and rapists would be walking the streets happily never having been suspects for the crimes they committed, and for which they entered the frame only because of DNA evidence collected after they were accused but not convicted of other crimes. Are you comfortable with the idea that these people should be walking free Alan - because I'm certainly not.

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes..

Certainly not.