Saturday, June 14, 2008

The more I think about the decision not to stand against David Davis, the worse it gets

David Cameron's strategy since he became Tory leader has been to convince us all that it is possible to be a reasonable person - concerned about the environment and civil liberties - and still vote Conservative.

You may say that this has amounted to little more than being in favour of motherhood and apple pie. But as (I think) Danny Finkelstein once pointed out, the Tories spent a decade giving every impression of being against motherhood and apple pie, so this marks considerable progress for them.

All of which presents the Liberal Democrats with a problem. We are no longer the only possible home for liberally minded, non-Labour voters.

So when David Davis takes it into his head to resign and attempt to fight a by-election on civil liberties, what do we do? Incredibly, we decide to stand aside and let him make this issue entirely his own.

No doubt David Cameron was shocked by Davis's stunt and cursed him for of it. But if anything can reconcile him to what David Davis has done, it is the thought that voters in a key Tory/Lib Dem marginal and nationally are being given the message: "If you care about civil liberties, vote Conservative."

It would be fascinating to know whom Nick Clegg consulted before taking the decision not to fight the by-election.

5 comments:

Darrell G said...

Well quite...and as I have tried to point out there in the debate and in a hope to be published LDV article there is such a fundemental differnce between the way we view and why we defend civil liberties to merit standing...incidentally what you say applies to me also in that the more I read people defending it the worst it gets because their perspectives just dont square with reality...

Shameless petition plug time;

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/daviddavis/index.html

Anonymous said...

On the bright side... Did you see this? It seems that before David Davis announced he was standing down, the Tories stood at 48%, afterwards they were on 41%. If Davis wouldn't have resigned unless the Lib Dems stood aside, maybe it could be worth of it. And many think that by the by-election people already have forgotten why Davis resigned.

Anonymous said...

"No doubt David Cameron was shocked by Davis's stunt and cursed him for of it. But if anything can reconcile him to what David Davis has done, it is the thought that voters in a key Tory/Lib Dem marginal and nationally are being given the message: "If you care about civil liberties, vote Conservative.""

Good point-very well put.

David Heigham said...

Wrong, I think.

Cameron did not whole-heartedly back David Davis on a question of principle that Cameron also had voted for. Cameron now looks like a trimmer, and he will suffer for it. Clegg gave Davis a clear run on the question of principle; and a clear warning that the LibDems look forward to beating him at the general election. That was right and will be seen to be right.

Gordon Brown has a choice of either arguing the 42 day case before the voters, or bottling out again. Whatever he does, he will be seen to be wrong.

Iain Coleman said...

It seems DD's resignation was conditional upon a clear run from the Lib Dems. So we had a straight choice: the current situation, or no by-election at all. Your preferred option, a by-election with a Lib Dem candidate, wasn't on the table so it isn't worth worrying about.

If you want to argue that it would be better not to have the by-election at all than to have it without a Lib Dem candidate, fair enough, but I would disagree with you.