Friday, 11 July 2008

The Davis Dilemma

To no-one's surprise, David Davis was swept back to the House of Commons as Conservative MP for Haltemprice & Howden winning nearly 72% of the vote. A ringing endorsement ? Well, up to a point.

Of course, Davis took no risks. Once Nick Clegg had agreed not to contest the seat, Davis was more or less assured of being returned. Labour didn't fall into the trap and also bowed out leaving Davis alone with a local organisation and local recognition aided by numbers of motivated activists. As for his opponents, most had neither supporters nor deliverers on the ground and no time to set anything up. In such an environment, Davis was always going to win. Indeed, some might argue that with a turnout of less than 35% and 28% voting for other candidates, it's far from a ringing endorsement.

Indeed, had Davis faced a sole opponent like Kelvin McKenzie, a no-nonsense opponent with some name recognition, it might have been nearer 65-35 or even 60-40.

But this is to deny Davis his due. He has brought the issue of the role of Government and individual civil liberties into the forefront (or at least it would be the forefront if the nosediving economy wasn't most people's main concern). As a liberal, I applaud Davis's stance over the 42-day detention proposal but there's so much more to civil liberties than that. The erosion of our freedoms which began arguably with the Prevention of Terrorism Act in 1973 and the use of surveillance via CCTV cameras in more recent times needs to be checked.

Are we perhaps seeing the next schism or fault-line in politics, between the authoritarians and the liberals ? We'll see. The direction taken by the Labour Party if and when it goes into Opposition will be informative.

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