David Davis Resigns


by Leon
12th June, 2008 at 1:12 pm    

David Davis has resigned as an MP to provoke a by election, he says that this is to fight the seat with regard to the vote yesterday on 42 days.

Shadow home secretary David Davis has resigned as an MP. He is to force a by-election in his Haltemprice and Howden constituency which he will fight on the issue of the new 42-day terror detention limit.

Mr Davis told reporters outside the House of Commons he believed his move was a “noble endeavour” to stop the erosion of British civil liberties.

Update: Paul Linford and Nick Robinson think David Cameron has found himself in dangerous water over this. Rachel North is impressed by David Davis’ stance while Unity is less so. Hopi has some media management advice for the government. Iain Dale thinks the dust has settled and Luke wants the gloves to come off.


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  1. zaffer — on 12th June, 2008 at 1:32 pm  

    bloody hell. Either:
    a) Labour have some serious dirt on him
    b) The tory’s are completely ruthless and are using him to topple the government
    c) DD is trying to weaken DC and will make another bid for leadership
    d) Torys are positioning themselves with the Lib Dem’s

  2. Refresh — on 12th June, 2008 at 1:37 pm  

    These are truly scary times!

    A byelection at a time when the Prime Minister is most desperate. With London already lost to the Tories. A byelection presumably about principles which will be turned into a byelection about muslims.

    It will be ugly and carries the risk of transforming Britain into an intolerant society pioneered elsewhere by the likes of Pym Fortuyn.

  3. Gurpreet — on 12th June, 2008 at 1:38 pm  

    This is dangerous territory now…

  4. Tom — on 12th June, 2008 at 1:46 pm  

    Looking at the 2005 election in the seat, the Tory/LD vote combined is something like 84%, and given the slide in Labour support since then it’s quite possible he’ll win an absolutely thumping majority. And then what? He’ll have proved to the Conservatives it’s possible to win elections standing to the left of Labour on civil liberties. Balls of steel, but you can see the political arithmetic there.

    It’s also the first time in a while I can recall a mainstream politician from the two main parties deliberately kicking the Sun up the arse, and that’s got to be welcome, too.

  5. zaffer — on 12th June, 2008 at 1:52 pm  

    Conservative website is down!

  6. Gurpreet — on 12th June, 2008 at 1:56 pm  

    “Conservative website is down!”

    LOL…the conspiracy continues eh!;)

  7. northerner — on 12th June, 2008 at 1:56 pm  

    I commend the guy if he’s standing to fight for civil liberties. Never thought I would say that under the Brown government it would be the Tories who would stand up for our rights! Never thought it would be a Tory who would give up his seat (seriously risky strategy)and fight on those precious words-principles, integrity and civil liberties. Labour has reached a seriously new low….

  8. douglas clark — on 12th June, 2008 at 1:56 pm  

    I agree with Tom, the right of Conservative vote in his seat is tiny. And, assuming the Tories don’t stand against him, I think he’ll walk it. But it’s a brave move, all the same.

  9. Sid — on 12th June, 2008 at 2:02 pm  

    Interesting times, eh.

  10. Leon — on 12th June, 2008 at 2:03 pm  

    Indeed.

  11. Dan — on 12th June, 2008 at 2:04 pm  

    Tony Benn said yesterday he never thought he’d see the day the Magna Carta was repealed. I think I’m more shocked than he that I’ve seen the day David fucking Davis of all people has done something good.

    What would be more amusing, though of course it won’t happen, would be if the entire opposition parties threatened to resign their seats. It’s not like they’re going to lose them to Labour, anyway. Would Brown be able to withstand the pressure to call a general election?

  12. Tom Griffin — on 12th June, 2008 at 2:10 pm  

    It looks like Cameron has bottled it under the influence of Michael Gove and Co.

    Davis is right, but a lot of people will be out to isolate him.

    I see George Pascoe-Watson has described him as a ‘fundamentalist’ on Sky.

  13. justforfun — on 12th June, 2008 at 2:13 pm  

    Sweepstake on the percentage that DD will get of the votes caste. Winner to the nearest %

    I’ll start the list :-


    justforfun goes for 94%

    justforfun

    PS what prize should we award?

  14. Sunny — on 12th June, 2008 at 2:24 pm  

    Great move! Well done DD!

  15. Sid — on 12th June, 2008 at 2:26 pm  

    I like DD because underneath that big girls blouse is a massive pulsating knob.

  16. Ed — on 12th June, 2008 at 2:27 pm  

    I’m quite impressed.

  17. northerner — on 12th June, 2008 at 2:30 pm  

    what’s the prize tho? I will say his majority will be 92%!!

    Do you think Gordon B will go out campaigning and make an appearance in the constituency? I’m skint so I’ll bet a fiver he won’t make an apperance!!!

  18. northerner — on 12th June, 2008 at 2:31 pm  

    what’s the prize tho? I will say his majority will be 92%!!

    Do you think Gordon B will go out campaigning and make an appearance in the constituency? I’m skint so I’ll bet a fiver he won’t make an appearance!!!

  19. douglas clark — on 12th June, 2008 at 2:42 pm  

    I only saw a snippet but I think the Lib Dems have said they’re not standing a candidate against him. As Sid said, strange times indeed….

    JustforFun – on a lower turnout 85%!

  20. justforfun — on 12th June, 2008 at 2:45 pm  

    I see ‘dithering’ is not confined to GB alone. Its not difficult – choose a number between 0 and 100 (but not 92 or 94 or 85).

    justforfun

  21. justforfun — on 12th June, 2008 at 2:47 pm  

    I realise those who predicted a Ken victory might not be feeling confident in their internal political barometer – now is your chance to redeem yourself.

    justforfun

  22. Sid — on 12th June, 2008 at 2:54 pm  

    80% for what it’s worth.

    I can’t believe I’m living in times when a homophobic Tory is to the left of the Labour Party.

  23. Morgoth — on 12th June, 2008 at 3:06 pm  

    It must be a cold day in Sheol as I agree fully with DD, Sunny and Sid on the 42-day issue.

  24. douglas clark — on 12th June, 2008 at 3:08 pm  

    I wonder at the reasoning behind this. Anybody see a strategy through all of this? Is Davies trying to put some backbone into Labour rebels, so that when it gets torn to shreds in the Lords and is brought back to the Commons, they and a few more would stand up against it?

    Dunno.

    I’m beginning to think it might be a ploy to force a general election if Brown was daft enough to make it a vote of confidence, on it’s return.

    He’d have been better seeing this as much a matter of concience as the HFE Bill.

  25. Don — on 12th June, 2008 at 3:10 pm  

    Cautiously impressed. Is it possible Labour will choose not to put up a candidate? If they do oppose him, I’ll take a wild guess at 87%

  26. Leon — on 12th June, 2008 at 3:14 pm  

    As this story is evolving I’ll be updating the main post, if anybody finds anything worth adding please don’t hesitate to flag up in the comments.

    Some questions for you all:

    How will this affect David Cameron’s leadership?

    Will this stop 42 days bill being forced through by the Parliament Act (assuming the Lords through this back to the HoC)?

    As an extension of the above will this move damage Brown/Labour?

    Is this a gamble and will it pay off for David Davis?

    Seeing as the LibDems aren’t contesting, should Labour put up a candidate against him or not?

    What should the Labour response be (can dithering Brown even react against this before polling day!?)?

  27. justforfun — on 12th June, 2008 at 3:17 pm  

    Doug – I wonder at the reasoning behind this. Anybody see a strategy through all of this?

    I haven’t a clue . People will be doing the number crunching / game play scenarios as we speak. We will soon see if Political Science is a science or just put your finger in the air and guess.

    If Labour don’t stand – then my 94% will be looking good – or then perhaps its will be looking bad if people decide to vote for Rumbold’s lot (or others), who fancy their chances of 2 years as an MP + pension.

    Sid – I see you expect alot of vote rigging by Labour. :-)

    Justforfun

  28. sonia — on 12th June, 2008 at 3:23 pm  

    ooh what drama! the man has got a strategy, its to get us all talking and saying shit, what is the world coming to, and make gordy look even more foolish. the party must be loving this..

  29. justforfun — on 12th June, 2008 at 3:33 pm  

    ‘How will this affect David Cameron’s leadership?’
    - not much. But if his bicycle goes under a bus….

    Will this stop 42 days bill being forced through by the Parliament Act (assuming the Lords through this back to the HoC)? . No – this governement is a government that has a self belief that it is ‘principled’ and is right – so the Parliment Act is its birthright to use as it sees fit.

    As an extension of the above will this move damage Brown/Labour?

    Is this a gamble and will it pay off for David Davis?

    Don’t know – but we will find out if the public (or at least DD’ constituency) are overwhelmingly in favour of 42 days – or if its all spin and Murdoch. If so then perhaps my 94% was a rash choice.

    Seeing as the LibDems aren’t contesting, should Labour put up a candidate against him or not?

    What should the Labour response be (can dithering Brown even react against this before polling day!?)?

    - start a war somewhere far away – asap. Or catch DD when he is out taking a walk in the woods.

    justforfun

  30. Hermes123 — on 12th June, 2008 at 3:36 pm  

    This is just fabulous! DD will be campaigning not just on the 42 day issue, but the whole heap of Labour policies that are taking our basic freedoms away. It will be seen as a mini-referendum and Gordy will be creaming his pants (to borrow a phrase from Sunny). I might just vote Tory because of this principled stand.

  31. douglas clark — on 12th June, 2008 at 3:48 pm  

    Leon:

    Cameron is apparently going up to the constituency to speak on the same platforms. So neutral impact, I think.

    No. If the vote is simply a re-run, then the numbers are unchanged, assuming Davis is re-elected, as I think we all think he will. But, if the election isn’t a damp squib, Davis should have gotten enormous national publicity for his stand. Which might force more Labour folk to vote against the Government. This is the big question for me, would that be the outcome?

    It can’t help but damage Brown / Labour, if Davis manages to put some backbone into the electorate.

    Small gamble yes. Good bet longer term.

    They’d be seen, or portrayed or whatever as running away from a fight. That rarely looks good.

    No, I don’t think he can. I think this is the beginning of the end for him. He’s lost Party unity by pushing too far to the right.

  32. Nyrone — on 12th June, 2008 at 3:53 pm  

    A few months ago, I hated David Davis as much as the next person..and now, I find myself having immense respect for him and his brave stand to protect the British people against the erosion of our civil liberties…Politics really is a funny old thing.

    BTW, To the people that doubt his sincerity on the 42-days issue, I suggest you try and catch-up on the debate at the commons yesterday..I was watching it live and DD just tore the whole thing to shreds. I remember thinking that either a) He absolutely believed in the principles and had been doing his homework for months or b) He was the most polished performer-politician I had seen for a while..

    and don’t get me started on that Idiot Keith Vaz…what a pompous wanker!

  33. Kulvinder — on 12th June, 2008 at 4:08 pm  

    Gobsmacked doesn’t do justice. I’d taken it as given that there was no MP left with the personal conviction to put their career on the line like this. Even if i disagreed with him id applaud him making a stand on principle; the fact that i completely agree with him makes me admire him even more. I sincerely hope that not only is he elected back into the commons but that he increases his majority.

    I have to say the Tories are a far more electable prospect than New Labour at the moment; although i don’t see eye to eye with them on every issue they are by far the lesser of two evils.

  34. Kulvinder — on 12th June, 2008 at 4:25 pm  

    How will this affect David Cameron’s leadership?

    I don’t think it’ll affect his leadership per se, it’ll certainly make the tories more popular. Its really a win win situation for them, even if DD does lose the fact hes making a principled stand against the erosion of liberty will reflect well on the tories as a whole

    Will this stop 42 days bill being forced through by the Parliament Act (assuming the Lords through this back to the HoC)?

    No, New Labour nailed their colours to the mast. They have to be seen to be standing firm, if they don’t all they were doing was playing politics with our freedoms. Its a lose-lose situation for them

    As an extension of the above will this move damage Brown/Labour?

    Yup, all they can counter with is the thing everyone hates the most: Fear mongering. They’ll have to come out and say DD doesn’t care about national security, or that theres lots of terrorist attacks that are imminent. The point is everyone has already balanced up those issues and disagreed with the extention limit.

    Is this a gamble and will it pay off for David Davis?

    Almost certainly yes

    Seeing as the LibDems aren’t contesting, should Labour put up a candidate against him or not?

    They could avoid contesting it and claim that the issue was far too serious to play politics with etc, but it would be a ridiculous thing to claim. Contesting an election on a fundamental issue as liberty is an inherent part of democracy. If labour don’t put up a candidate they’re tacitly admitting the people are against them.

    If they do put up a candidate he/she’ll be hammered (its a lose-lose situation for them…)

    I do somewhat pity whoever does stand against DD, as it’ll be incredibly difficult to recover their political career after they lose.

    What should the Labour response be (can dithering Brown even react against this before polling day!?)?

    I doubt they saw this one coming, im guessing they’ll just try to ignore it.

  35. AsifB — on 12th June, 2008 at 5:13 pm  

    Justforfrun is right. After 1 May, I’m not up to making election predictions.

    I don’t understand though why Cameron should be distancing himself from DD – surely a tory standing in a tory seat in anti-labour times with Lib-dem support on a simple issue – is a no-brainer?

    Isn’t there a danger for Cameron that with any result, good bad or unlikley (The lovechild of Martin Bell and Tony Benn competes against him) making Davies’s stand seem principled, he will look timid/scared of Murdoch’s pollsters .. If Cameron voted against 42 days with Davies, he loses nothing by simply endorsing Davies decision to stand on this, single, specific and signficant issue?

  36. tim — on 12th June, 2008 at 6:14 pm  

    how does Davis think he’ll be in a stronger position as a backbencher to oppose 42 Days (he supported 28 Days, so we can forget all the Magna Carta bollocks he’s spouting) than as Shadow Home Secretary?

    He’s a victim of his own ego, but wait till the Lib Dems start to realise what Clegg’s done.

  37. MaidMarian — on 12th June, 2008 at 6:43 pm  

    I’m sorry, I just can not believe that anyone has been suckered by this! He is doing it simply because he is confident he will win on the coat-tails of anti-Brown sentiment. If the government was not popular he would not even think of a stunt like this.

    How easy it is for the talkboards to be consumed by one issue. Excuse me, I’m going to look at freedom champion Davis’ voting record on gay rights, trade unions and the ECHR.

  38. marvin — on 12th June, 2008 at 7:17 pm  

    MaidMarian, if this is all a ‘stunt’ then what’s the point in it?

    The Tories are well ahead in the polls, as I’m sure you’re aware.

    Like I’ve said elsewhere, I can’t believe the audacity of people who are denouncing Davis who has made a personal decision, with little logical immediate gain for the already ahead Tories, and yet Gordon Brown and the whip have acted DISGRACEFULLY by bribing votes in their favour.

  39. tim — on 12th June, 2008 at 7:21 pm  

    Maid Marian,
    Look at hanging while you’re at it.

  40. Inders — on 12th June, 2008 at 7:35 pm  

    I’d like to take this opportunity to really thank Keith Vaz for his moral conviction.

  41. Kulvinder — on 12th June, 2008 at 8:04 pm  

    Excuse me, I’m going to look at freedom champion Davis’ voting record on gay rights, trade unions and the ECHR.

    Noone here (or elsewhere, from what i’ve read, for that matter) has proclaimed him a latter day Spartacus. We’re all more than aware of his voting record on other matters, we’re more than aware he is in a safe seat, we’re more than aware he is a politician and as such has carefully calculated the risk. We criticise David Davis when he deserves criticism, we applaud him when doesn’t.

    Given a realpolitik choice i will pragamatically choose the lesser of two evils. To put your own point back to you in another way; the egalitarian attitude of the Labour party 10 years ago with respect to gay relationships cannot and should not be used to sway a discussion on detention without charge.

  42. Rumbold — on 12th June, 2008 at 8:10 pm  

    Well done David Davis.

  43. Cloned_Poster — on 12th June, 2008 at 8:24 pm  

    DD has done a service to politics by his stand. But the corruption machine that is Brown and Cameroon will eat him alive in the next few days, RIP, I am afraid that he might take a walk in woods over the next few days.

  44. Unitalian — on 12th June, 2008 at 8:55 pm  

    If he was really principalled surely he would stand as a “pro-freedom independent”.

    But this is clearly just a stunt – most voters (and more Tory voters) support 42 days. So what will this serve?

  45. Bert Rustle — on 12th June, 2008 at 9:51 pm  

    Churchillian, as in Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World .

    How many other British MPs have the conviction of their belief and the political ambition to follow him?

  46. shariq — on 12th June, 2008 at 10:12 pm  

    Props to David Davis.

    Also, props to Nick Clegg for not being opportunist and deciding against fielding a candidate.

    My question – How many other politicians could possibly follow suit?

  47. Tory Dipper — on 12th June, 2008 at 11:39 pm  

    Now that we’ve got the Team Bruiser campaign site up and running, I think we’ll be able to wipe the smiles off your faces. Lock up everyone who doesn’t believe in freedom, that’s what I say.

  48. davebones — on 13th June, 2008 at 3:11 am  

    Is it me? I am clueless as to what resigning his seat will do for civil liberties.

  49. Unitalian — on 13th June, 2008 at 7:03 am  

    Kelvin MacKenzie may stand. Heh-heh.

  50. Jabez Bunting — on 13th June, 2008 at 8:21 am  

    Am I the only one who cannot fathom David Davis’ decision regardless of whether I agree with him on the issue of 42 days or not?

    Surely he’s be better off fighting the civil liberties issues from his position in the official opposition?

    Most importantly, doesn’t his decision trigger an otherwise needless by-election? On this basis, I cannot see why public funds should be used to administer the election; nor can I see how anyone can justify the disruption to the educational and community life of East Yorkshire as schools, village and church halls are paid for, hired and used as polling stations.

    Perhaps the real issue in this by-election is should Council Tax payers’ money (no doubt from “hard working families”) to fund a personal political stunt?

  51. Unitalian — on 13th June, 2008 at 10:16 am  

    My laugh out loud moment of the morning:

    Former editor of the Sun newspaper Kelvin MacKenzie said he could stand, backed by Rupert Murdoch, if Labour did not field a candidate.

    He told the BBC earlier there were two reasons for running: “One is that the Sun is very, very hostile to David Davis because of his 28-day stand, and the Sun has always been up for 42 days, or perhaps even 420 days, frankly.”

  52. Sid — on 13th June, 2008 at 10:41 am  

    Imagine the outroar if a Muslim tycoon paid some hack to stand in an election on the ticket of reducing the individual rights of the British people. I bet my mortgage you wouldn’t be laughing so loud then.

  53. Unitalian — on 13th June, 2008 at 10:55 am  

    Sorry to buck the consensus (being “just stupid”) but I don’t agree that it reduces the individual rights of the British people, any more than existing powers, as Garry Hindle pointed out in the Guardian.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jun/11/terrorism.civilliberties

    That’s why I’m laughing, and please spare me the racist smear. It’s beneath you.

  54. Sid — on 13th June, 2008 at 11:03 am  

    How can it be a smear, no one here knows who you are from Adam, especially not me. Rather, t’s a hypothetical illustration, and is quite valid.

  55. zaffer — on 13th June, 2008 at 11:31 am  

    The BNP support Davis. So it’ll be a two horse race between Crazy Davis and Kelvin ‘or perhaps even 420 days’ MacKenzie.

  56. Unitalian — on 13th June, 2008 at 11:34 am  

    Sid, you assumed I wasn’t a Muslim, so you must have some ideas about me (though why Muslims would NOT support this sensible piece of legislation is beyond me). Anyway, therefore you were smearing me doubly: by making assumptions about my race, and by inferring I was a racist, ie if it was a Muslim I wouldn’t be laughing.

    But no worries, we white Anglo Saxon males can handle it. ;-)

  57. Sid — on 13th June, 2008 at 11:39 am  

    oh dear, that’s a lot of hoops you made yourself jump through with absolutely no prompting from me. I used Muslim for purposes of illustration, I could have used Inuit or Nepali Southasian. It’s immaterial. The point stands: if it were any other tycoon, other than the hidebound’s favourite: Rupert Murdoch, who was funding a hack to fight an election based on the curtailing of individual freedoms of Britons, I doubt you would find it so funny.

    though why Muslims would NOT support this sensible piece of legislation is beyond me

    However, *that* is a racist statement. What makes you think Mulsims are refusing to support this piece of legislation. How have you assumed this and why do you think Muslims specifically are aginst this as a bloc?

  58. Unitalian — on 13th June, 2008 at 12:07 pm  

    Not at all – YOU’RE the one who used the example of a Muslim tycoon, the inference being that this would be outlandish. My assumption is that all sensible citizens regardless of their religious affiliation would support this, so no YOU are being racist! Yah-boo etc.

  59. Sid — on 13th June, 2008 at 12:14 pm  

    Would you be happier if it were a Nepali tycoon? And would that be racist of me to posit that? Like fuck it would.

    Any explanation forthcoming from you on that extraordinary assumption you’ve just made, that Muslims are against this legislation, en bloc? You just played the race card but it’s quite clear who is being racist in this exchange, donchathink?

  60. Unitalian — on 13th June, 2008 at 12:16 pm  

    Yes, you – which is why you’re getting so flamey.

  61. Sid — on 13th June, 2008 at 12:20 pm  

    So no explanations about the Muslims and this legislation claim then? How not surprising.

    I can see why someone who thinks this legislation is being refused by Muslims as a bloc (Racist) should assume why *I* was being racist by suggesting a Muslim alternative to Rupert Murdoch.

  62. Unitalian — on 13th June, 2008 at 12:30 pm  

    Ok, you have walked into this one, haven’t you.

    @51. My initial comment makes no mention of race.
    @52. You say that if a Muslim tycoon supported a reduction in the individual rights of British people I wouldn’t be laughing.
    @53. I say please spare the racism
    @54. You say how can I be racist when I don’t know what you are.
    @56. I point out that you clearly made an assumption about my race (and racism) by saying that if a Muslim supported this then I wouldn’t find it funny. Furthermore, there is a clear implication in the “hypothetical” example you use that this would be an unlikely turn of events, the inference being that Muslims would be against the legislation, an assumption which I challenge as they are no different from any other citizens.
    @57. Clutching at straws, you try to use your racism as proof of mine.

    Well, sory, it won’t wash.

  63. Sid — on 13th June, 2008 at 12:36 pm  

    @56. I point out that you clearly made an assumption about my race (and racism) by saying that if a Muslim supported this then I wouldn’t find it funny. Furthermore, there is a clear implication that this would be highly unlikely, the default position being that Muslims would be against it, an assumption which I challenge as clearly they are no different from any other citizens.

    Fundamental flaw alert.
    Please explain how by suggesting if a Muslim were in place of Rupert Murdoch is in any way an assumption of your race or religion.

    And please do not try and pass off “the default position being that Muslims would be against it” as my position when it is clearly one that you made yourself.

    After calling me a racist you are now attempting to project your racism as my default position. This is getting more and more hilarious.

    So please, stop projecting and explain to us why you think Muslims are against this legislation en bloc.

  64. Unitalian — on 13th June, 2008 at 12:39 pm  

    “Imagine the outroar if a Muslim tycoon paid some hack to stand in an election on the ticket of reducing the individual rights of the British people. I bet my mortgage you wouldn’t be laughing so loud then.”

    If you can’t see that you’re making assumptions about my race then you’re blind. You play the race card, all else follows.

  65. Unitalian — on 13th June, 2008 at 12:41 pm  

    And as I’ve repeatedly stated – I DON’T believe Muslims as a bloc are against the legislation. I was challenging your assumption that they were, but presumably you can’t see, or won’t see, that either.

  66. Kulvinder — on 13th June, 2008 at 1:38 pm  

    I don’t understand the point Garry Hindle is trying to make. Saying the legislation as it was didn’t offer people enough protection is fine, saying the concessions attached to the extention ‘is better’ is absurd. The 28 day legislation should have been amended; making a quid pro quo argument – that safe guards are written into a greater period of detention is lunacy. I’m sure the government could argue that a period of 365 days dentention was needed with a daily judicial review, that wouldn’t make it any more appealing to me.

    One further point discussion on the word ‘rights’ can be misleading as some people use it in a general sense whilst others apply it properly to the law (an entitlement). Whilst it is true that everyone is still entitled to due process, our entitlement – our right – to be released after a shorter period of time HAS been taken away.

  67. Kulvinder — on 13th June, 2008 at 1:44 pm  

    Most importantly, doesn’t his decision trigger an otherwise needless by-election? On this basis, I cannot see why public funds should be used to administer the election; nor can I see how anyone can justify the disruption to the educational and community life of East Yorkshire as schools, village and church halls are paid for, hired and used as polling stations

    Theres no such thing as a ‘needless’ election to the house of commons. Every MP has the privilege to resign and force an election if they wish.

  68. Unitalian — on 13th June, 2008 at 2:14 pm  

    Kulvinder. What a relief it is to get back to the substance of the discussion.

    I take your point about Garry’s article, although at the end of the day I guess it comes down to a judgement about what is the appropriate length of time to detain someone who may be a threat to national security. In 1971 of course they thought the answer was: indefinitely

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Demetrius

    which I think helps put this in context. Given the fact that such measures are now unthinkable, although the threat to individual loss of life is arguably no less great, says much about our development as an increasingly liberal, rather than illiberal – society.

  69. Kulvinder — on 13th June, 2008 at 3:04 pm  

    I’d say such measures are very much thinkable, not least because torture is now apparently redefined as ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’.

    Obviously that applies more to the US than the UK – though the tacit acceptance of such practices by allowing transportation via our facilities here and abroad is troubling to say the least.

  70. Unitalian — on 13th June, 2008 at 3:21 pm  

    Well, I was referring only to the UK. And the British government did campaign to get British citizens released.

  71. marvin — on 13th June, 2008 at 5:00 pm  

    It does make me chuckle; the thought that a politician resigns in agreement with their party leader.

    Of course, it’s an apparent agreement. Who knows what’s said behind closed doors?

  72. icelus — on 14th June, 2008 at 12:22 am  

    What amazes me is some of you support detention for 42 days (6 weeks) without charge. They don’t have enough legitimate evidence to charge someone (what are they working with then? inadmissible evidence obtained under torture in “friendly” nations? hearsay? a hunch?) yet they can keep you in prison for 6 weeks.

    How is it that memories are so short? Most of us (surely?) grew up or lived through the “troubles” when they really were bombing and shooting, not on one occasion three years ago, plus one farcical plot they “exposed”, and then “many more occasions” too tedious to bore us with the details of. We grew up knowing what it was really like to be terrorised.

    Now we’re in a phony war where its not really clear if the government is doing anything of use. They were certainly clueless enough about the ones that through. I don’t remember their success rate being so high with the IRA, and we’re told those days it was all “much easier” hence the need for new laws. So its got more difficult, they’ve got much much better, and they still need more powers? There’s a simpler explanation that has nothing to do with terrorists.

    Some of you appear to have forgotten that the price of freedom is always blood. Our forefathers were willing to pay it. Truly, if we’re reduced to cowering before make-believe terrorists to the extent we’d rather give up the only freedoms that mean anything, then we deserve everything we will surely get.

    David Davis is surely a bad man, with unconscionable views on a wide range of subjects. On the other hand, he is right about this, and he’s shown the guts to stand up for his beliefs that Labour MPs can only dream of. We take it as read they’re all “silently” against this stuff (certainly most Labour voters seem to justify voting for their lapdog politicians on these grounds) but where’s the courage to take a stand?

    His point is simple: people support these measures apparently, but where’s the debate? Are people really supportive of this idiocy? This is the only card he has to play to force the press agenda and bring the debate to the people. He should be applauded (for this, though for little else as far as one can tell).

  73. marvin — on 14th June, 2008 at 12:50 am  

    icelus,

    I do not support the 42 days, but I feel I have to address a few points.

    we’re reduced to cowering before make-believe terrorists

    This undermines your argument, patently there are real terrorists, 7th July, and numerous plots to mass murder.

    David Davis is surely a bad man

    Unlike you, who hold the moral and intellectual high ground on everything, and thus can easily pass judgement on others.

    but where’s the courage to take a stand?

    Exactly. No Labour MP’s took a stand (as in resignation). Or Liberal Democrats or Conservatives. Except for David Davis.

    However your last paragraph baffles me. You now applaud DD?!

  74. icelus — on 14th June, 2008 at 1:13 am  

    Regarding my points about the terrorist threat, there are two parts:

    Firstly, if there are all these real terrorists trying to storm their way into Fortress Britannia, how is it that none of them have succeeded since 7/7? 7th July is one incident. Would 42 day detention have helped on the 7th July? What evidence do we have for these numerous other plots? The one major one they claim to have foiled wasn’t going anywhere. The analysis of their strategy, materiel and cluelessness has been done to death elsewhere. There’s no evidence that the government has any handle on any real terrorists, as opposed to angry kids exchanging e-mails. If there are all these real, serious terrorists out there, how come they aren’t succeeding? They weren’t anything like this successful with the IRA, which by all accounts was an easier target. The inescapable conclusion is that the magnitude of the threat is being massively exaggerated.

    Secondly, even if 42 day detention made us safer from terrorists, and the terrorists were bombing us every few weeks or every few months (which is what a terror campaign is like, as we all remember), we’d still have to make the choice of what price in blood our freedoms are worth. The government would have us believe at the moment that any measure, however crazy, however unlikely to save lives, however much it restricts our freedoms, is worth it. We are trading hand over fist the real freedoms our ancestors won with real blood. We should be ashamed.

    Regarding David Davis: I find many of his views abhorrent. Therefore, I would say David Davis is a bad man. I make no claim to be non-judgemental; indeed, isn’t it the responsibility of the electorate to judge its politicians? More, I base my judgement on his actions as an MP (which seem to play the least part in any judgements we are encouraged to make these days, but are the only meaningful criteria).

    I think I expressed myself clearly regarding his stance. I can admire both his courage and his principles in this matter without providing a blank slate endorsement for him. I think it is wrong to criticise a good act simply because of many bad ones that preceded it, as some on this forum seem to be doing. So yes, I applaud him for reminding us that there is still some principle in British politics.

  75. Unitalian — on 14th June, 2008 at 10:20 am  

    I DO support 42 days, which I think, based on the remarks by senior police officers involved in anti-terror work, is a reasonable time period: as the situation evolves so too do the complexity of the terrorist plots (or should we call them “militants”? Funny that they’re militants in Israel and Iraq but terrorists here. Anyway, I digress).

    As I have pointed out before, all this hoo-ha about it being the longest period without charge is disingenuous: almost everywhere else in Europe they have a system whereby they can hold you without the equivalent of a “charge” for years. It seems to me, that given the numerous plots – 7/7, 21/7, the Atlantic Aircraft plot, the Tiger Tiger attempt, the Ministry of Sound plot, to name but a few – plus the 2000 or so individuals under investigation, 42 days out of someone’s life if they do prove to be innocent is worth the life of you, me, or any other of the innocents who are so easily forgotten in our armchair pontificating. What of their rights, I wonder, but then I am shouted down and told it is not the point – well actually, if it isn’t, what is?

    I lived through the IRA bombings, coming rather too close to a number (I can’t be sure, but believe I also alighted the tube train at Kings Cross that our 7/7 friend got on to).

    You will recall that internment was used at one point in NI, with its indefinite period of detention. It didn’t work, but 42 days is a far softer form. And frankly Jihadis are a far tougher enemy – they are not organised, they are not fighting for land, they are prepared to kill themselves. These are not, on the whole, people who can be taken in to government, given concessions – and nor should they be. They have NO legitimate grievance within the UK. They are on the whole neither stupid nor poor. Iraq, Palestine, and the rest are convenient excuses, but the truth is they are fighting for an idea – to which we either resist or surrender. In the circumstances 42 days does not seem an unreasonable price to pay – a position with which my forebears who fought and died fighting for this country I am confident would agree.

  76. icelus — on 14th June, 2008 at 11:06 am  

    @Unitalian

    Forgive me, but I don’t think you’re examining your assumptions critically enough.

    You say Jihadis are a tougher enemy, but if so, how can it be that the government has stopped every attack (unless you count the spectacularly inept attempt on Glasgow Airport?) Were the security forces just not really trying with the IRA? What does it mean for Jihadis to be a tougher enemy, if we can already hold all of them at bay with no major incidents for 3 years? Perhaps we should teach the secret to the security forces of Russia, Israel, Pakistan and Sri Lanka?

    Secondly you seem to buy into the idea that any loss of personal freedom is justified if it saves lives. This is in direct contrast to the basis we’re told we fight wars on, where any loss of life is justified if it saves freedom. Certainly its hard to see what our ancestors thought they were fighting for it wasn’t to preserve the historic state and rights of Britain. At some point we have to show some courage and say, “It is worth the risk of dying to preserve my freedoms.”

    This idea that 42 days is the price of evading al-Qaeda rule is farcical. We have one of the world’s most powerful armies. There is virtually no support for a radical Islamic agenda in the country. There have been no successful attacks on us for three years. Where are the invading armies, poised to sweep us aside unless we start putting people in prison for six weeks without charge? This doesn’t survive even cursory analysis.

    You should consider the effects of internment; it wasn’t just how long they held them for that was ineffective, it was that it polarised the community. Many of the people the government interned were innocent. It appears the only major threat vector is radical elements of the British Muslim population; the recruiters for al-Qaeda must be thrilled at the idea that innocent, moderate Muslims who would otherwise have had no interest in their message, will potentially spend weeks in gaol and come out wanting revenge.

    The truth is we’re giving away our freedoms one step at a time, on measures which would be ineffective in combating a real threat, but will doubtless be devastatingly effective against the imaginary threat the Labour party has conjured up.

  77. Kulvinder — on 14th June, 2008 at 3:03 pm  

    As I have pointed out before, all this hoo-ha about it being the longest period without charge is disingenuous: almost everywhere else in Europe they have a system whereby they can hold you without the equivalent of a “charge” for years.

    Erm no they can’t. Procedural Comparisons of our Common law system with those of Civil systems in Europe are meaningless unless you give very specific context.

    As a comparison i remember reading a comment on another forum around the time the suspects in the Meredith Kercher murder were ‘detained for up to a year’ that there wasn’t any fuss over that period of detention. Such a comparison is idiotic; in England they’d have been remanded in custody. The commenter was making simplistic comparisons at face value. Similarly during the McCann saga the word ‘arguido’ was taken completely out of Portuguese legal context and interpreted as we would the word ‘suspect’. The reality is Portuguese jurisprudence functions on a completely different framework to ours, and the word arguido has no comparison in our legal system.

    We already have the longest period of detention with respect to terrorist cases of any country in the western world; we even show poorly when complex comparisons are made with the rest of Europe.

    The point about Germany and France detaining people without trial was first raised by Ian Blair. He was trying to sell the idea that ‘they already detain people for a long time’. In actual fact they don’t. Whilst people can be held for up to four years in pre-trial detention in France, the nearest comparison to our legal system would be holding them in remand for that period of time.

    Simplistic comparisons between a Common law system and and an inquisitorial Civil law system regarding long periods of detention with judicial oversight during an investigation will always skew the results and show the Common law system to be lacking. The Civil law framework is geared from the OUTSET to function in that manner, their philosophy of law is FOUNDED on that.

    You may as well start complaining that their legal systems don’t allow for complete dichotomy with respect to interpretation of factual evidence as our adversarial system allows.

    You’re comparing apples with oranges; the amusing thing is even if you tie down the range of variables as much as possible, ie detention specific to terrorism, detention before formal trial proceedings have begun (however you wish to define that), we STILL come out with a far far far longer period of detention compared to the rest of Europe despite their entire judicial systems being set up for and having safe guards in place for that kind of investigative process.

  78. Sid — on 14th June, 2008 at 5:21 pm  

    good to see you back Kulverhampton :)

  79. KB Player — on 14th June, 2008 at 5:56 pm  

    I listened to Feedback on Radio 4 today and they were having a hard time doing the BBC balance thing of getting anyone to speak against Davis. People rang full of praise for someone bringing principle back into politics, making something of an issue rather than taking part in the usual personalities punch and judy show. There was a sense of drama and interest about something that actually mattered. The power of the state over the individual is fundamental in politics. It was disgusting to see this principle used as a PR stunt by Brown and as something that could be bargained away by various MPs.

  80. Unitalian — on 14th June, 2008 at 6:11 pm  

    Apples and pears indeed:

    “Comparisons with foreign jurisdictions are regularly rolled out, but as often as not they are looking at apples and pears. The assertions are often simplistic, selective and at times plain wrong. In this country, a suspect must be produced before a court within 48 hours of arrest. Whatever the fate of the Government’s 42-day proposal, this will not change. To suggest, as some do, that what is being proposed amounts to internment or the suspension of habeus corpus is extraordinary and misleading.

    The police have been accused of exaggerating the terrorist threat, supposedly for political purposes. The fact that this is untrue doesn’t matter – it creates a perception that resonates with some in the Muslim communities. In fact, the sheer weight of convictions and guilty pleas in terrorist cases has actually opened the door to a more useful discussion than was previously possible with those who were sceptical about the scale of terrorism in the UK. Will extending pre-charge detention put that at risk? My experience is that, as long as police actions are explained as soon as possible and result in convictions in due course, they receive the overwhelming support of all communities. I firmly believe the risk to community relations is overplayed.

    When I was asked, in 2005, by the home affairs select committee how many terrorists I had been obliged to let go through lack of time to investigate, I inwardly despaired. It was the wrong question. We should look forward, not back. The fact that we have been able to convict more than 60 terrorists in the last year or so is irrelevant.

    The better question would have been: “Is it likely that there will come a time when the present 28-day limit is insufficient?” The answer would have been, “undoubtedly”. That is why we should legislate now, and not in panic in an emergency.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2008/06/03/do0301.xml

    Your comparison with remand is misleading. There is an utter difference between the processes, and under the Inquisitorial system the investigation continues apace over the period of “remand” you refer to.

    BTW, were you opposed to 28 days too? 14? Is there any period of detention that you would agree to, or would you rather the terrorists walk free to kill and maim rather than inconvenience the odd individual from time to time?

  81. icelus — on 14th June, 2008 at 6:50 pm  

    @Unitalian [2]

    Your remarks make it sound as if you are involved with the security services. It is completely understandable that as a member of the forces charged with keeping us safe, you might feel that these measures are justified if they help you succeed.

    But our safety from terrorists is not the only concern in our society. There is also the matter of our safety from the great power of the state. No-one wants the terrorists to succeed, but neither should preventing terrorist successes become an excuse for giving up our rights and ushering in a police state, no matter how well meaning at first.

    And that is why some of us would answer to your last point: “Yes, I’m prepared to risk some terrorists walking around free until we have real evidence on them, to keep the freedom from state oppression we currently enjoy.”

  82. icelus — on 14th June, 2008 at 6:59 pm  

    @Unitalian [2]

    Oops I misread this (missed the quotation marks). You can read my reply as a reply to your source, sorry!

  83. douglas clark — on 14th June, 2008 at 8:39 pm  

    Unitalian,

    What utter and complete drivel.

    The police have been accused of exaggerating the terrorist threat, supposedly for political purposes.

    No they have not. They have been accused of exaggerating the case for Police purposes. Let us be quite clear about this.

    The only true function of any bureaucracy is to expand itself. It is not, frankly beholden to anything other than itself. For obvious reasons of self aggrandisement and lucrative senior positions.

    Which is why we are, where we are, with the boys in blue. They have a rachet on terror, one that politicians, cannot apparently break, and one which citizens must.

    The Catch22 that the Security Services hold, is that any failure, can be blamed elsewhere, and not back at them.

    Can you see the problem? Failure to catch a potential terrorist is not their failure. It is always our failure for not giving them sufficient powers. So do nothing in a preventative role, then blame the public for not being tough enough. This is a self fulfilling loop, I think. The failure in the loop is obviously the word ‘preventative’. But they don’t do that, do they?

    Terry Pratchett wrote about this. In an ideal Police State we’d all sit around a table with our hands above the table, and then we’d go to bed.

    There are better ways, other than buying into 1984, I suspect.

  84. Kulvinder — on 15th June, 2008 at 1:03 am  

    Could you rephrase #80? im afraid i didn’t follow the point you were making (i assume you’re not Peter Clarke); id be incredibly interested to know what comparisons he was talking about. Liberty (amongst others) consulted lawyers and legal scholars within those judicial systems; Clarke disagrees with their assertions but doesn’t elaborate why…

    I have to say though i found this bit utterly hilarious

    In fact, the sheer weight of convictions and guilty pleas in terrorist cases has actually opened the door to a more useful discussion than was previously possible with those who were sceptical about the scale of terrorism in the UK.

    The UK police terrorism arrest statistics (excluding Northern Ireland) from 11 September 2001 – 31 March 2007 show 1228 arrests were made:
    1165 arrests under the Terrorism Act 2000

    669 released without charge

    Of those charged:
    41 Terrorism Act convictions to date

    link, interesting figures considering the debate is centred around the investigative process.

    To answer you specific questions

    were you opposed to 28 days too?

    yes

    14?

    yes

    Is there any period of detention that you would agree to,

    I would agree to all people having the same rights under the law, as such i would release those arrested under terrorism offences after the same period of maximum time i released everyone else.

    What i do not like is the fact the government initiates powerful legislation that closes off data encryption ‘loopholes’ but uses that very argument to erode the rights of everyone. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act part iii was explicitly written to make it an offence not to hand over an encryption key.

    It is quite ludicrous to suggest that anyone in possession of an encryption key but with no desire to hand it over would be swayed by a months or three months detention as opposed to 72 hours. It is equally ludicrous to suggest that the time required to decrypt the data (assuming its possible) can be determined by an arbitary political decision – especially as publicly available cryptography continously develops.

    If the police have someone they suspect of having encrypted terrorist material they have the legislation to charge them and remand them in custody. They have a law the deals with that specific problem.

    or would you rather the terrorists walk free to kill and maim rather than inconvenience the odd individual from time to time?

    This should be beneath you.

  85. icelus — on 15th June, 2008 at 2:28 am  

    This is just sparring; citing unreliable sources back and forth at one another.

    I find the arguments on my side of the debate mostly as unconvincing as I find those of Unitalian. More than that, we’re all just repeating ourselves, making little or no attempt to have a dialogue, except on the most irrelevant trivia.

    What difference does it make what the French or the Dutch do about terrorism? I thought we were discussing the matter of our freedoms, not the freedoms of other nations. If you told me tomorrow the Spanish are locking people up for the evil eye, that wouldn’t make me want to emulate them; if you told me they’d abolished prisons, I wouldn’t want to emulate them then either.

    What difference does it make what “senior figures” say? What absolves you of thinking things through for yourselves? Politicians are drawn from our ranks. They are by no means the best and brightest. This is equally true of civil servants. More importantly, all of these figures have perspectives and interests warped by their day to day lives and the internal politics of their situations.

    Nor are rules of thumb convincing, least of all when they cast entities like the police in off-the-peg roles. The notion that the police are trying to expand because “that’s what bureaucracy does” is a dangerous simplification. It isn’t necessary to resort to seaweed and weather legs to analyse the processes at work around us.

    If you aren’t prepared to think, why bother? Or is this exercise in impotent one-up-manship what passes for serious debate? You wouldn’t think that the two rival positions are “we are a nation in desperate crisis, besieged by terrorists” and “we are a nation in desperate crisis, besieged by our government.”

    You’d think both sides would be more interested in understanding the situation, and trying to come up with alternatives, rather than this exhibition match atmosphere. It makes it very hard to believe in the sincerity of the various authors.

  86. Unitalian — on 15th June, 2008 at 7:37 am  

    My last point Kulvinder was THE point – it’s all very well to get exercised about the finer points of the law from our cosy corners of the blogosphere, but it’s people’s lives we’re talking about.

    Your position re detention is valid, but in my view wrong-headed – your principals of legal purity bearing little relation to the reality on the ground. What the hell are the security services supposed to do if they strongly suspect someone is about to walk on to a bus with a suicide vest but don’t have enough evidence at that point to stand up in court – just let them? Would you shrug I wonder and say, well, that was the law, or join the chorus of disapproval?

    Your figures re convictions etc IMHO expose your ignorance about the process of detection and conviction – frankly I don’t think it’s a bad rate at all. You will notice that half of those arrested were convicted of some offence. If the rate was any higher, I would begin to get worried. We don’t live in a police state, you know ;-)

  87. Unitalian — on 15th June, 2008 at 7:46 am  

    Icelus – I would refer you to my response at 87. As it happens, I don’t believe we are a nation besieged by terrorists, but I do believe we have a serious problem that we need to address realistically – the 42 days seems to strike a balance between public security and individual liberty.

    Three months as originally proposed I believe would be too close to internment and could be abused and cause understandable tensions. Forty-two days, from what I understand, would give the police as it presently stands time to address the complexity of the issue.

    The international comparisons serve the purpose of illustrating that this is not the “unique evil” that some commentators would have us believe. As I said, I’m sure my forebears who fought for our country would agree, not least because during that time, almost all German nationals and many British fascists were interned for the duration – another precedent that I believe places this move – with all its legal safeguards – in the appropriate context.

  88. douglas clark — on 15th June, 2008 at 9:46 am  

    icelus.

    Please read up on bureaucracies before you dismiss it out of hand. I’d respectfully suggest you try Googling ‘Parkinsons Law’ for a straightforward enough introduction to the phenomenon.

  89. Cover Drive — on 15th June, 2008 at 10:03 am  

    Unitalian

    I agree the terrorist threat to this country is not diminishing and it would be very naive to think that the threat is too insignificant. The UK has a long established jihadist community that has supported terrorism in other countries. The only difference now is that instead of exporting terrorism overseas attacks are just as likely to be aimed at the UK homeland as well as targets abroad.

    I appreciate your view about 42 days being necessary to prevent potential terrorist attacks but don’t you think this is being used as some sort of political football by Gordon Brown? How about using intercept evidence instead of extending the period of detention without trial? There have been instances of the anti-terror laws being misused on completely innocent people (e.g. climate change protestors at Heathrow Airport, snoop on parents to check whether a child lived within a school’s catchment area). And aren’t we in danger of alienating a certain section of society that we need to engage with in order to defeat terrorism?

    I’m also less than convinced David Davis resigned simply on a matter of principle. We all know he lost out to Cameron in the leadership contest. He reminds me too much of Michael Heseltine – Thatcher’s main adversary. Remember how he resigned from the cabinet only to challenge Thatcher later? It will be an interesting by-election if David Davis does face a challenger considering 42 days has widespread public support.

  90. Kulvinder — on 15th June, 2008 at 12:18 pm  

    What the hell are the security services supposed to do if they strongly suspect someone is about to walk on to a bus with a suicide vest but don’t have enough evidence at that point to stand up in court – just let them?

    Obviously they should let them go, the example makes no sense if the police have no evidence of a crime having been committed or a crime about to be committed the CPS have no power to charge you. The terror extension limits make no difference to that whatsoever.

    Your figures re convictions etc IMHO expose your ignorance about the process of detection and conviction – frankly I don’t think it’s a bad rate at all. You will notice that half of those arrested were convicted of some offence.

    Er no. There have been 1228 terrorism related arrests, 41 convictions under the terrorism act 183 convictions under other legislation.

  91. Unitalian — on 15th June, 2008 at 4:34 pm  

    Kulvinder, but around half were charged. So they were acquited, but again, I would say that sounds like a reasonable rate to me.

    I do not understand your last point – you are saying that if the police suspect someone is about to carry out a terrorist act but do not at that point have enough evidence for it to stand up in court, they should let them go ahead?

    If that is the case, then as much as I admire your intellectual purity, I have no interest in continuing this discussion.

  92. Unitalian — on 15th June, 2008 at 4:49 pm  

    Cover Drive, it would not surprise me if Gordon was using this to act tough. It would not surprise me if David was politicking. I just happen to think 42 days is a wise and balanced position to take in the circumstances, as I have set out above.

    My beginning and ending point is the person – I accept that inncocent people may on occasion suffer a limited degree of incarceration as a result of this legislation, but equally I believe lives may be saved.

    People – us, the nobodies who face death or disability, trauma or disfigurement – matter. We seem to have developed a culture where everything is relative – a culture in which someones hurt feelings matter as much as a child losing a parent. Well, I am sorry, but I do not agree.

    I do not doubt that this legislation may be abused, or that there is the danger that it could be used by rabble rousers to whip up further disaffection among those looking for an excuse to be disaffected, but we do not live in a perfect world – indeed, only God is perfect, is She not?

  93. Kulvinder — on 15th June, 2008 at 7:18 pm  

    I do not understand your last point – you are saying that if the police suspect someone is about to carry out a terrorist act but do not at that point have enough evidence for it to stand up in court, they should let them go ahead?

    I’m bemused you think anything else would happen; the courts don’t allow people to be locked up just because the police have a hunch. They need evidence in order to prosecute.

  94. Unitalian — on 16th June, 2008 at 6:53 am  

    Mutual incomprehension, then.

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