Thursday, June 12, 2008

Davis: A prima donna act & a pointless by-election

I am glad Nick Clegg is having nothing whatsoever to do with the by-election in David Davis' seat. This is high camp politics.

David Davis wants to show everyone what a hero he is and what wonderfully liberal people those modern, caring, cuddly Tories are, so he is using taxpayers' money and the goodwill of the people in Haltemprice and Howden to do it. It's a disgrace. The Speaker of the House of Commons should send him an invoice for the publicity he will enjoy during the by-election campaign.

It's throwing the toys out of the pram to get the attention of nanny.

Yes, David has been vocal in his opposition to 42 days. But I have never sensed from him and the Tories that their approach to the threat of terror would be fundamentally different from that of Labour. Perhaps the fact that this has not been clear is the very reason why he has resigned in order to cause a "comic opera" by-election.

This is an act of petulance aimed less at Labour's terror laws and more at his party colleagues Osbourne and Gove, who opposed his anti-42 days stance until they were quelled (perhaps by the threat of smoke and grenades appropriate to Mr Davis' background).

Davis is now, I presume, duly appointed as Crown Steward and High Bailliff of the Chiltern Hundreds. How appropriately melodramatic. I'd like to see him wearing the bicorn hat and robe appropriate both to that role and the shallowness of this ludicrous act.


UPDATE 15:39: Is Davis standing as an independent in the forthcoming by-election? I haven't seen confirmation of this. I have seen some comments assuming that he must have pledged to do so, in return for Nick Clegg agreeing not to stand a LibDem candidate against him. I believe that the only logical and honourable course for Davis is to stand as an independent. Otherwise his stance makes no sense at all. The whole thing is obviously the result of deep splits in the Tory party.

UPDATE 16:12 A commenter has confirmed that Davis is standing as an independent (although I can find no confirmation elsewhere, including in the text of Davis' speech) - in which case, if true, this amounts to a major explosion in the Tory party ranks and a huge indictment of Cameron's sham attempts to promote the Tories as united, "liberal" and "modernised"...and (again, if true) I take back my derogatory remarks about Davis - but I would welcome someone pointing me to confirmation - I have not seen any yet on a media source.

Update 18:45: Over on The Spectator's Coffee House blog, David Cameron is described as "furious" about Davis' actions.
On Radio 4's PM, Dominic Grieve (the new Conservative Shadow Home Secretary) confirmed that David Davis would stand as a Conservative candidate at the forthcoming Haltemprice and Howden by-election. However, he was equivocal about the national Conservative party's backing. Responding, Eddie Mair, the interviewer, described the position of Davis as a "semi-detached" candidate for the Conservatives. Grieve said that Davis would run his own campaign and not receive national Conservative party financial backing. Grieve said that he (Grieve) and Cameron would attend the campaign to support Davis.

Update 22:47: Newsnight report the current SP for the Haltemprice and Howden by-election:
Conservatives: David Davis
LibDems: No candidate
Labour: Likely to be no candidate
BNP: Agree with Davis, so no candidate
UKIP: Won't stand if Labour won't stand
The Sun newspaper: Rumoured to be considering standing a candidate, but have said they won't
Monster Raving Loony Party: Eager and ready to stand
So, that's £80,000 of public money being spent to show how brilliant David Davis is when compared to the candidate from the Monster Raving Loony Party. You couldn't make it up.

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