Thursday, 19 June 2008

Who would have thought a week ago...?

A week has passed since David Davis shocked the Westminster village, and wrongsided many of the commentariat and his fellow politicians, by his brave and principled decision to take the fight for civil liberties to the people. Writing on Conservative Home’s Platform, he outlines why, "Our British freedoms are precious - far more precious than the career of any single politician."

How appropriate that this by-election is being fought in a constituency so close to Hull and including some of its western suburbs. Some words from the sleeve of Hague’s book, “William Wilberforce”, a Hull MP who: "achieved the rare feat of placing principle above politics, mankind above party and results above ambition."

Who would have thought a week ago that ...
  • a leading Frontbencher would risk his career - 201 years after Wilberforce’s victory in achieving the abolition of slavery - to launch the first salvo for freedom from the illiberal, authoritarian state that Labour has fomented?
  • Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg would have announced he was not fielding a candidate against Mr Davis, signalling to Lib Dem voters to vote Davis?
  • an Ipsos-MORI poll in The Independent would have shown rapidly declining support for 42 days and a shift in public opinion to provide major backing for David Davis?
  • the Westminster village and the know-it-all commentariat would get it so wrong and backpedal, realising that David Davis has hit a chord with the public?
  • even the biggest and fiercest dog on the block, Kelvin 'Gotcha' MacKenzie, would announce that he would stand in the Haltemprice & Howden by-election, but then chicken out when he recognised that the public was backing Mr Davis?
  • Labour MPs such as Bob Marshall-Andrews (Medway) and Ian Gibson (Norwich, North) would announce that they would campaign for Mr Davis in the by-election?
  • Liberal activist Sunny Hundal (editor of leftie blog Pickled Politics) would blog that, "given that New Labour wants to extend anti-terrorism legislation until every brown person in the country is locked up until proven innocent ... it makes more sense for brown and black people, who will overwhelmingly face the brunt of this police-state legislation, to vote Conservative"?
  • Gordon Brown wouldn't even have the guts to put up a candidate in a parliamentary by-election?

The political landscape has changed in many ways in the last week, but it just proves that putting principle above party politics in the fight for civil liberties is the right thing to do. This is the mark of a true statesman.

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