Thursday, June 12, 2008

We should put up a candidate against David Davis

Those tensions in the Conservative Party have become public far more quickly than I expected.

David Davis is certainly sincere in his support for civil liberties. It is equally certain that someone like Michael Gove would much rather be supporting 42 days. Meanwhile the likes of David Cameron and George Osborne have no strong opinion on the matter: they just want to see a Conservative government elected.

David Davis's decision to resign and fight a by-election is eccentric, but the announcement that the Liberal Democrats will not be putting up a candidate is bizarre too. If Labour has any sense it will not put up a candidate either, with the result that the only uncertainty over the Haltemprice & Howden by-election will be whether it is UKIP or the BNP that comes second.

The irony is that we would probably have done David Davis more of a favour if we had stood against him. The outside possibility of a Lib Dem victory would have meant more media interest and our presence would have but pressure on Labour to stand too - and suffer inevitable humiliation.

There would also have been more chance of the by-election embarrassing the Conservatives as the press obsessed about which of his shadow cabinet colleagues were or were not supporting Davis.

Of course we agree with Davis on civil liberties, but it is not in his gift to decide what the election will be fought on. If we had stood we could have tried to make sure that it was fought on things like the way that Tory economic policy is so skewed towards benefiting the already wealthy. We have missed a chance to do it - and there may not be many more of them before the next general election.

It may be argued that if we had not agreed to stand down then Davis would not have resigned. This is probably true, but that eventually would just have left the tensions in the Tory leadership and they would have broken out in a different direction sooner or later.

Is there something more behind this? David Davis was the Thatcherite candidate in the last Tory leadership election, so it is hard to imagine that we have serious hopes of recruiting him. Are we short of money? Perhaps, but a third party has to seize opportunities when they arise.

Simon Hughes's statement - "Don't worry your pretty little heads about this - just go to Henley" (I paraphrase) - does not cast much more light on the decision.

So, while I rather admire Davis' actions, we should be doing our best to beat him at the by-election he has caused.


Anonymous said...

Or a LibDem MP could resign too...

Alasdair W said...

Yes I didn't like what Simon Hughes had to say at all. I also think we should be standing. Nick Clegg made a quick decision only talking to the local chairperson, not the candidate or given enough time to talk to local members. An election should never be thought like this. We should be revealing where the tories are weak on civil liberties. And there were more problems with Simon Hughes like comparing it with Tatton, which is an different situation.

Anonymous said...

No one answered the Lady at Question Time, what opinion poll? whose opinion? your Mothers in Law? a random Tory voter? what democracy is there in these mysterious opinion polls? This programme is a mere massaging of variou egos, given a chance to sound off.

Anonymous said...

Those who think LDs should be standing need some evidence that David would have still quit if Clegg had said no. I have not seen any evidence for thoat.

dreamingspire said...

Yes, you should be putting up a candidate. As someone not politically active at the level of you and yours, I'm disturbed at the wimpishness of LD leadership at the moment.
David Davis was brilliant last Sunday on BBC Politics Show, with his non-stop put-down of the very superficial John Sopel. The only way that LDs can rescue this for the party is by supporting at arms length a candidate who will put forward Liberal views as well as DD will put forward his views (in other words, LD supporters to fund a good candidate standing as an Independent). But I can say that easily as I don't have the wealth to back it...