Today has been a wonderful day of parliamentary theatre and the blogsphere has lapped it all up with well over 1,000 posts on politicalbetting.com. The decision of David Davis to resign his seat and fight a by-election on the issue of holding suspects for forty-two days without charge has split the Tory activist base.
I've listened to Davis's statement and you can here. Some have hailed it in such glowing terms I expected near Churchillian oratory. It's not like that but it says some important things.
I respect David Davis and understand his concerns about the growth of the State and its intrusion into our lives - as a liberal, I've stood opposed to it for years and so have my party.
The problem is - the party of which David Davis is a member hasn't. The damascene conversion of some Tories to the principle of civil liberties has to be seen in the context of the actions of the Thatcher/Major Governments.
GCHQ Union ban
abolition of elected local authorities
progressive centralisation of powers in Westminster and Whitehall
All of which, presumably, were supported by David Davis and now apparently he is the champion of civil liberties. To be honest, if the Conservatives in the 1980s had had the technology available to Labour in the 2000s they would have set up a DNA database and would doubtless have used all the surveillance technology available in the name of "security" and "protecting the public".
As I argued last night, we can surround ourselves with "security" in the mistaken belief we will be safe or we can live our lives and accept the risk. I travel on the Tube most days - I accept the risk. It is those for whom the gated community is home and those who are convinced that crime is pervasive who are seduced by the sirens of the authoritarians.
Well done, David Davis, on "coming out" as a liberal. Why not take the next step and join a party of liberals, the Liberal Democrats and leave a party of authoritarians who talk like liberals when they see electoral advantage ?