16 June 2008

David Davis

*Update* Derek Wall informs me that the following quoted comment is...

actually from Aled Dilwyn Fisherand not Derek Wall as stated - apologies and all that.

Derek Wall sums up very well what David Davis really stands for:-
Who is the real David Davis? He is a member of the Tory hard right-wing, and holds some pretty atrocious political views, which makes me feel uneasy whenever I see him praised by genuine civil libertarians.

David Davis is, amongst other things:

* For the death penalty;
* Very strongly for the Iraq War;
* Against equal rights for LGBT people;
* Against the ban on hunting.

Interestingly, he has apparently “never voted” on parliamentary transparency – strange, given that Davis repeatedly made the point that he felt the ’sanctity’ of parliament had been defiled by Labour’s dodgy dealings with various groups to buy the 42 days vote. Marr countered by noting that parliament has always been the scene of dodgy dealing, which begs the question of why this particular issue at this particular time has led to this particular reaction from this particular Tory frontbencher.

Most significantly, Davis backed 28 days detention, and even admitted that and stood by it in the interview today. Apparently, banging people up without charge for 4 weeks is fine; 6 weeks, and its time for a principled resignation on the issue of, erm, banging people up without trial for too long.
The truth is David Davis (like most Tories) only pays lip service to civil liberty issues. The reason for this is that, like a lot of the supposed libertarians on the internet, he is under the misapprehension that only ''negative liberty' is important. He does not understand or probably even care about how inequality erodes liberty. Which is why the Tories and other supposed libertarians continue to support the most illiberal measures.

The guiding principle has to be that civil liberties end where significant harm is caused to others (especially where it is against their will). That smokers harm others in enclosed spaces is beyond scientific doubt - which is why the smoking ban is correct. Just as the purchase of dangerous goods does not justify the production of dangerous goods, or the willingness of workers to work for companies that take undue risks with their safety does not justify scrapping health and safety rules - people reluctantly tolerating smoky environments does not justify the damage to their health or unpleasantness they suffer.

It is never easy to draw the line on these issues but 42 days detention seems clearly to be more about some perverse political logic to win votes rather than about protecting our safety.


  1. I am afraid to correct you, I put this on my blog but it is from Aled Fisher...Aled used to be my researcher and is now General Secretary elect of the LSE students union.


  2. Not sure you are right that DD "only pays lip service" on habeas corpus. On that, I think he is genuinely passionate. But, as you say, there are many other civil liberty issues that are just as important where he is on the wrong side of the argument.

    In any case, his by-election stunt really only makes any kind of sense if seen as essentially a (somewhat reckless) positioning exercise within the Tory party.

    I have written on this at http://peezedtee.blogspot.com/2008/06/haltemprice-home-of-liberty.html and
    http://peezedtee.blogspot.com/2008/06/david-davis-man-of-principle.html .

  3. PZT: I think DD is positioning within the Tories - that is how to understand all this. To be fair to him, yes, he is making people think about the issues - but he is not credible when he has voted for 28 days detention, supported expanding CCTV and DNA databases. Apart from all that, Davis does not care one jot for the people who lose their freedoms due to lack of wealth and opportunities.