James Graham pulls no punches


by Sunny
18th June, 2008 at 4:07 pm    

Here’s his view on David Davis:

The question is, what should us liberal-minded folk do? We didn’t pick this fight or choose Davis to be our champion, but can we really afford to sit back and watch? I’ve lost count of the number of blog posts and facebook groups I’ve skimmed past denouncing Davis for being a hypocrite on the issue of civil liberties. That may be so, but what is more hypocritical? A hang ‘em, flog ‘em politician standing up for fundamental civil liberties or a smart arse who claims to care about the drip-drip erosion of our rights while sitting on the fence because the one person taking a stand doesn’t pass a “purity” test.

I’m very attracted to this view. But I think in order to bring over the lefties in general, something else will be required James. Though, I do share your concern too.


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Filed in: Civil liberties,Net Campaigns,Party politics






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  1. Bishop Hill — on 18th June, 2008 at 4:43 pm  

    Did you see Guy Aitchison on Our Kingdom? He says that the Basher campaign has to look at the Conservatives’ record on civil liberties too. A good point IMHO.

  2. Refresh — on 18th June, 2008 at 4:52 pm  

    Sunny, not putting up a candidate to oppose Davis obviously does not mean New Labour isn’t interested in the outcome. They will become extremely desparate to make sure the by-election is seen as a farce.

    I view this as a rather cowardly form of campaigning in a by-election they dare not fight.

    Bishop Hill, I agree Guy Aitchison makes a good point – and seeing Davis win will block off the Tories going down that path again (for the forseeable future).

  3. BenSix — on 18th June, 2008 at 4:57 pm  

    Every time that I feel support rising inside me, I stumble upon something like this:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/education/1564983/David-Davis-pledges-immigration-cuts.html

    It’s a tricky one…and yet we need to take it beyond that.

    Respectfully,

    Ben

  4. sonia — on 18th June, 2008 at 5:34 pm  

    what exactly is david davis promising anyway? nothing as far as i can see. Is he promising to stand firm every single time the Party wants him to vote some other way than he would like to? And if so- it doesn’t matter shit if it is David Davis that does this, it matters that everyone holds this principle.

    I think some of you are really confused and dont know what it is you think he is making a stand about

  5. douglas clark — on 18th June, 2008 at 5:52 pm  

    I think we’ve got to embrace him as a single issue candidate who is standing up for stuff most folk here see as right. Frankly I do not see any other way forward that doesn’t marginalise us.

  6. Praguetory — on 18th June, 2008 at 6:12 pm  

    James Graham is a Lib Dem I can respect. I hope to travel up to H&H with other Lib Dems in his camp.

  7. Leon — on 18th June, 2008 at 7:14 pm  

    Frankly I do not see any other way forward that doesn’t marginalise us.

    Since when have we any real influence to lose here?

  8. douglas clark — on 18th June, 2008 at 8:35 pm  

    Leon.

    Since when have we any real influence to lose here?

    Point. But we ought to be trying to build something. Least, that’s what I think…

  9. Owen Blacker — on 18th June, 2008 at 9:07 pm  

    I just engaged in a very similar conversation on a left-wing mailing list, where someone was suggesting running a far-left candidate against Davis.

    I consider myself “an unreconstructed, old-fashioned socialist”, for what it’s worth and here’s what I posted, verbatim:

    Personally, I don’t think we should split the civil liberties vote. Whilst David Davies is a Tory, he’s not a bad one, as Tories go. Having worked with him at NO2ID, he’s a good bloke and very strong on civil liberties and surveillance state stuff.

    If we know anyone who wants to run against him as a “surveil everyone for the sake of preventing terrorism” candidate, they should be encouraged. Muddying the waters on who civil libertarians should vote for doesn’t strike me as all that helpful.

    I should disclaim that I don’t speak for NO2ID on this issue. And I *really* don’t like Conservative economic policies — nor New Labour’s, for that matter; suffice to say I’m not a fan of Milton Friedman — but this is a by-election being fought on one issue and on that issue I agree with Davis. To the extent that, were I not in a new job, I would take time off to knock on doors for the guy.

    Of course, it’d help if he were running against some form of opposition, but Gordon is evidently too much of a damn coward to do so…

  10. Leon — on 18th June, 2008 at 10:20 pm  

    But we ought to be trying to build something. Least, that’s what I think…

    And you’re advocating supporting DD, is that how you hope to build your liberal utopia? Riding the coat tales of a Tory?

  11. douglas clark — on 18th June, 2008 at 10:42 pm  

    Leon,

    And you’re advocating supporting DD, is that how you hope to build your liberal utopia? Riding the coat tales of a Tory?

    Not exactly.

    I’m saying what Rachel North is saying, and it is a view I have been forced to come around to.

    For those that don’t know what she’s saying, or what any one of a number of other folk are saying, see here:

    http://www.liberalconspiracy.org/2008/06/18/will-new-statesman-run-a-candidate-against-davis/#comment-13522

    It starts around post 7. Just after post six where your frankly kind explanation all of these years ago about html finally fell apart.

    A highlight for those that can’t be bothered with links, talking about politicians generally:

    THAT is the whole point.

    If DD does well, they will think, hmm, must make civil liberties noises and do civil liberties things – the public want it and are interested in it.

    Super unsullied civil liberal candidates being offered up are missing the point. The media and politicians don’t consider them ‘one of us’. DD is one of them. That’s why they are all fascinated. He’s much more of a threat because until Thursday he was doing what they were doing, playing their game, and all of a sudden he’s gone off piste, and he’s getting massive support, and bringing in all sorts from Shami to Porter to Helena Kennedy to local conservatives and lib dems and pissed off labour lefties and centrists and ….

    ….do you see why this is a one-off, important, BIG game?

    That’s what Rachel says, and I hope no-one here asks me who Rachel is.

    What annoys me about this Leon is that DD has sat on our turf. I have argued consistently that we should support him on 42 days, we should support him on NOTOID and certainly no to universal DNA.

    The opposition to DD think all of these things are hunky dory.

    “Ah, Mr Leon, we are the new DNA collection agency, please spit here, no, no not on us…”

    That is where the authorotiarians, right or left are taking us. It is a mind set far beyond whether DD is a Tory or not. On this issue he is bang on the money.

    Anyway, that’s what I think. I see a schism coming.

    Leon, you might see this as ott, but I’d wish you’d wake up to the real challenge, which is a police state.

    Look, it was you that explained to me about building coalitions, reaching out, all that stuff. On my CV is nearly kicking my telly in when Margaret Thatcher said, “Look, there is no society”.

  12. Leon — on 18th June, 2008 at 11:01 pm  

    Leon, you might see this as ott, but I’d wish you’d wake up to the real challenge, which is a police state.

    The real challenge is persuading people that that is as relevant to them as rising food and oil prices.

  13. douglas clark — on 18th June, 2008 at 11:31 pm  

    Leon,

    The real challenge is persuading people that that is as relevant to them as rising food and oil prices.

    Agreed!

    That is why I want to give you a Chinese Burn over your refusal to see David Davies point as at least half way releveant to the debate. It is relevant. It is right.

    Leon, I frankly think you are nearer the levers of power than you think you are….

  14. MaidMarian — on 19th June, 2008 at 10:14 am  

    Sunny – Perhaps a side point here but…

    It there a possibility that there is a risk that joining the Davis bandwagon will look desperate and like a marriage of convenience because it would be exactly that? That there is nothing more to add?

    This is just starting to look like the politics of the single issue and, dare I say it, self-indulgence. If I had written on here a month ago that Davis was wonderful I would have been immediately pointed to his record on Iraq and told he was beyond the pail. Now, records on Iraq are, it would seem secondary to another issue. Single issue politics at its worst.

    Politics is not about nailing colours do-or-die to a single issue mast. I do not view Davis as needing to pass a ‘purity test’ as the article suggests. I view him has holding deeply unpleasent, reactionary and regressive authoritarian-right values alongside a doveish approach to some (selected) civil liberties, possibly for some not all. All of this is judged on his long record in active politics.

    Politics is about balance, not self-indulgence. Looking at some of the comments about Davis, I just wonder if there is a level of brazen self-indulgence that esentially means some people on here will never be happy with their politicians. Some of that comment has skated very close to effectively complaining about how the voters let you down. MPs and Councillors are not there to legislate personal prejudices and quite candidly some just need to get a grip.

    This idea that politicians are intrinsically dishonest and incompetent used to be the preserve of the Far Right but now it has become common currency – and it’s very dangerous because in the long-run it lays the way for the populist ‘anti-politician’. Indeed, how much of Davis’ support stems from the image he has cultivated of being an ‘anti-politician’?

    It’s just an easy, lazy, pious cynicism, a kind of faux-worldliness. Government is a complex thing with tensions and dilemmas running through it. Government should not be at the whim of talkboards.

    To assert that I am a, ‘smart arse who claims to care about the drip-drip erosion of our rights while sitting on the fence,’ simply because I do not see 42 days as an all-consuming issue is to dumb this down inexcusibly.

  15. Letters From A Tory — on 19th June, 2008 at 10:17 am  

    David Davis has given civil liberties more press in the last 10 days than any pressure group has managed in years.

    Supporters of civil liberties would be foolish to ignore this opportunity as party boundaries are irrelevant.

    http://lettersfromatory.wordpress.com

  16. MaidMarian — on 19th June, 2008 at 10:56 am  

    Letters from a tory (15) –

    Has he actually given civil liberties per se the press or has he given 42 days specifically the press?

    One of the sad things about the climate created around Davis is that there will not be proper scrutiny of what he actually means by freedom and liberty.

    Party boundaries may well be irrelevant here, I quite agree. But that does not make Davis politics irrelevant – far from it. Personally I simply can not put my shoulder to the wheel for someone who a week ago was a card carrying hanger and flogger and gay-basher. Party boundaries are indeed irrelevant, but Davis’ views on 42 days do not outweigh everything else to my mind.

    Simply regarding this as a chance for some extra media profile for the civil liberties groups is very short-sighted and ineed is tribalism akin to the partizan political boundaries you decry.

  17. douglas clark — on 19th June, 2008 at 11:25 am  

    MaidMarian,

    You do know that in the middle of all this he turned up at Iain Dales civil partnership? And allegedly had a tear in his eye?

    If we back him, it will be on the narrow basis that state intrusion and rules have gone too far. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Where LFAT is right is that David Davies has raised the profile of this issue far beyond what we, on the Liberal Left, have managed to achieve in years.

  18. Owen Blacker — on 19th June, 2008 at 11:28 am  

    Has he actually given civil liberties per se the press or has he given 42 days specifically the press?

    Civil liberties more generally. He is, as I’ve rightly been reminded elsewhere, not terribly in favour of liberties such as the right to organised labour unions, but he is very strongly opposed to ID cards, having threatened the confidence of the business community in his party by threatening to tear up the National Identity Scheme contracts once they gain office — a pretty damn big step for a neoliberal party of economic conservatives.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating supporting the Tory party more generally. But I think in this by-election those of us on the Liberal Left should be supporting this man on the Libertarian Right.

  19. MaidMarian — on 19th June, 2008 at 11:44 am  

    douglas clark/Owen Blacker –

    I don’t disagree with you. I really don’t.

    But to my mind putting your shoulder to the Davis wheel means that everything he says and does on all the issues you have disregarded is (let’s use the jargon) in your name. That was the argument on Iraq votes wasn’t it?

    You may well place 42 days above all else. I simply can not. If I want to oppose 42 days, it will not be at the altar of voting for a reactionary condervative. I will leave it to you whether that makes me a, ’smart arse who claims to care about the drip-drip erosion of our rights while sitting on the fence.’

  20. douglas clark — on 19th June, 2008 at 12:36 pm  

    MaidMarian,

    I’d hoped I’d made it clear, here (or in what I now like to think of as ‘the other place’ – Liberal Conspiracy) that I do not agree with David Davies on anything other than the arguement against an intrusive state. If he is willing to put his parliamentary career at risk for that principle, and that alone, then fine, I’ll back him.

    If he thought, or heaven forfend you thought, that backing that means I’d joined the hang ‘em flog ‘em brigade, it’d give me pause for thought.

    I suspect neither you nor he are that naive.

    His prospectus for this by election is a little wider than just 42 days. It includes no to ID, and no to the DNA databases too. These are all things I think profoundly alter the relationship of the role of the state and the citizen. There is not another major political figure that is making sufficient noise on these issues.

    Anyway, that’s what I think.

    And I certainly didn’t call you a:

    ’smart arse who claims to care about the drip-drip erosion of our rights while sitting on the fence.’

  21. Leon — on 19th June, 2008 at 1:08 pm  

    And allegedly had a tear in his eye?

    And who told you that? Iain Dale, Tory and former Chief of Staff for DD…

  22. douglas clark — on 19th June, 2008 at 1:11 pm  

    Leon,

    Which is what the ‘allegedly’ was all about :-)

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