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TL;DR, but read it anyway...

So, who'd have thought? Actually interesting things happening in politics. For once I was glad the TV in the office is on News 24. I was genuinely shocked - as everyone else seemed to be - when David Davis resigned as Shadow Home Secretary to force a by-election as a sort of referendum on civil liberties. Admiration for a Tory, it feels wrong. But watch his speech.

It's an ego-trip, apparently, and he's always been a loose cannon. It's part of a power play between him and Cameron. He's not taking a real risk, because he's in a safe seat, especially with the Lib Dems having promised not to stand against him, and he'll probably get straight back in to the Shadow Cabinet. It's a waste of taxpayers' money. It makes a mockery of our political system to force by-elections and run them on single issues. It's contradictory to the fact that he voted for 28 days, and to his views on the Human Rights Act, the death penalty and Europe. He screwed over the Lib Dems by promising he'd run on the 42 days issue, then widening it to civil liberties in general.

Most of these things are probably true to some extent. And yet, I still admire what he did. Or rather, I like the results of his actions, despite his possible motivations.

He's the first politician to resign on a point of principle since Robin Cook over Iraq. The surprise of his announcement and the constant debating about What It All Means have successfully kept the civil liberties debate in the news, despite the surely coincidental breaking news about the latest security leak. And the by-election will mean it continues to have a high profile for at least a month.

This gives us a chance to convince the 60% of the UK who currently support the 42 days amendment (according to some dodgily worded polls) that they're wrong. It sounds arrogant as hell to say it, but they are wrong, and I do believe that if people understood it properly, they'd realise that. I think they're already realising that. According to The Spectator (yes, I know) 95% of the response the BBC has had from the public on Davis has been positive. I haven't braved Have Your Say myself to see if that's accurate - Comment Is Free is bad enough tonight.

Labour can't come out of this looking good no matter what they do. (If the Conservatives come out looking bad too, hey, bonus.) If they fight the by-election, they'll lose badly. If they don't, it'll look like Brown's chickening out of an election again, and it won't add any legitimacy to yesterday's DUP-sponsored win.

Most importantly, it's already had one of its allegedly intended effects - the replacement Shadow Home Secretary's first act was to pledge that the Conservatives will repeal the 42-days law if it's passed.

As far as I can see, that leaves the bill pretty much dead in the water - it was already going to be kicked back and forward between the Lords and the Commons, and with all this attention on it I don't think they'd dare to try and force it through with the Parliament Act just now. And even if they did, it'd get repealed in 2010. Assuming the Conservatives keep their promise.

I hope the people who ARE concerned about civil liberties can take this chance - the best one we've had in a long time - to convince others that yeah, this is a big deal, actually. And the fact that the debate's even getting into the pages of the Sun can only help us with that.

In related HappyNews from the US Supreme Court blog(!): "In a stunning blow to the Bush Administration in its war-on-terrorism policies, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreign nationals held at Guantanamo Bay have a right to pursue habeas challenges to their detention." Hurray! This doesn't quite mean that Gitmo prisoners have more habeus corpus rights than UK citizens, but we're getting there.


I was thinking about all the possible motivations and probable outcomes for Davies' resignation, and my Fandom Brain That Won't Shut Up went "Ooh, Slytherin!" somewhat approvingly. So.

Conservatives - Slytherin
Labour - Gryffindor
Lib Dems - Ravenclaw
Greens - Hufflepuff

OBVIOUSLY, NuLab are all the worst sides of Gryffindor - the arrogance, the conviction you're right and that the rules don't apply to you. But Proper Labour Principles would be pretty Gryffindor, I think.

Also, a real life unicorn has evolved! For serious!



I'm sure dermfitz will be particularly pleased about this.

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Comments

( 25 comments — Comment )
bunnyk
Jun. 13th, 2008 07:11 am (UTC)
Yay to the unicorn :-D *squee*
pickwick
Jun. 13th, 2008 09:18 am (UTC)
I know!!
luckykaa
Jun. 13th, 2008 08:29 am (UTC)
As far as convincing others that they're wrong, you really need to deal with this attitude (from the BBC's liveBlog)

"May we extend the period to 42 days, improve control orders and officially approve water boarding and all other non-deadly forms of torture. Terrorists give up their human rights when they breach the rules of conventional warfare. If someone can give me a valid reason as to why terrorists deserve the same rights as those they kill, I may change my views" - Jack Richards, Dartford, Kent

Because personally, when there are so many things wrong with an argument I have no idea where to start.
pickwick
Jun. 13th, 2008 09:19 am (UTC)
I know, I did see that one! Idiots. I don't suppose "because they're human too" would cut any ice with him.
(Deleted comment)
pickwick
Jun. 13th, 2008 09:25 am (UTC)
Hmm, yes - I hadn't been thinking about it so much from that point of view. And I see what you mean about it looking like you're giving him your approval in general, too. So, bad for the Lib Dems, I guess. I've seen a few people worrying about a Lib Dem/ Tory coalition after the next election or whatever. (For what it's worth, the Scottish Lib Dems absolutely ruled out working with the Tories, and stuck to it.)

I...think I've been kind of forgetting how bad a Tory landslide/ Tory government could be. I convinced myself it was sort of a good thing because it would inspire Scotland to go independent, and didn't think too much about the rest of you. Jeez. The Dorries as Health Secretary is a scary thought indeed. (Mind you, so is Ruth Kelly as Education Secretary :S)
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
andrewducker
Jun. 13th, 2008 11:44 am (UTC)
Fortunately, it looks like Labour also won't be opposing. Which will just leave Davis fighting either himself, or someone looking for publicity...
pickwick
Jun. 13th, 2008 12:45 pm (UTC)
Conservatives V BNP V Monster Raving Loonies, heh.
(Deleted comment)
andrewducker
Jun. 13th, 2008 02:14 pm (UTC)
That'd be a "both" then :->
(Deleted comment)
pickwick
Jun. 13th, 2008 09:28 am (UTC)
My MP is Sarwar, I think, who allegedly got a promise that his son could succeed him in exchange for his vote. I should get in touch to complain, but I don't think he cares, really.

Yes, I've got a lot more respect for the Lords after seeing a few of their debates, and I'm hoping they can sort this out. And also that other Labour MPs are either encouraged or shamed into changing their vote.
(Deleted comment)
pickwick
Jun. 13th, 2008 11:01 am (UTC)
Aw, see, that sounds great. I occasionally see Sarwar around town in his Jag :S
luckykaa
Jun. 13th, 2008 10:26 am (UTC)
Uhm... How do I check my MP's (David Lepper) voting record?
(Deleted comment)
luckykaa
Jun. 13th, 2008 10:39 am (UTC)
Okay, so it links to the actual votes, which is useful.

Not quite sure how the rest of it works though. Apperently he strongly support the government on terrorism but seems to always disagree with the bills.


(Deleted comment)
zotz
Jun. 13th, 2008 10:18 am (UTC)
He's the first politician to resign on a point of principle since Robin Cook over Iraq

Not true. At the very least, Nigel Griffiths resigned his post to vote against upgrading Trident.

Labour can't come out of this looking good no matter what they do.

Just point out that it's a safe seat and therefore a foregone conclusion - they'd have to be idiots to take it seriously and try to win it, even at a time when things were going well.
pickwick
Jun. 13th, 2008 11:02 am (UTC)
Heh, bugger - first one I remember, then! I did mean to go and check that.

I agree they shouldn't try and win it, but not standing will give the opposition more ammo, that's all.
zotz
Jun. 13th, 2008 11:28 am (UTC)
I think standing would give them more.

An unnamed senior Tory is quoted today as saying "David cannot come back in a bigger position. He can only come back as even more self-righteous, but will he be more morally pure with a majority of 1500 over the Monster Raving Loony Party?"

Now that's clearly a worst-case, but given that him winning his own safe seat against a government in trouble is like shooting the proverbial fish in a barrel, how can he extract a significant victory from this? I don't really see it. It won't look good for the government, certainly, but I don't really see it looking much worse than it would anyway.
pickwick
Jun. 13th, 2008 12:44 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes, it won't look great for him either. And I'm all in favour of the Tories not looking good! I just think it's quite clever in that Labour won't look *good* whichever way they decide, just varying possible degrees of bad.
marcella_riddle
Jun. 13th, 2008 11:29 pm (UTC)
The world has obviously gone barmy when you're starting to sympathise with conservatives.
( 25 comments — Comment )

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