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So who was right?

Nick Robinson | 14:24 UK time, Friday, 11 July 2008

When David Davis shocked Westminster by resigning his seat I reported the fury within Team Cameron which led them to describe his decision as "personal" - meaning taken without consultation with his leader or other colleagues - and "courageous" - which I translated as political code for "mad".

David DavisI predicted that whatever happened it would damage the Tories since the man who was defeated for the Tory leadership would be able to claim his own electoral mandate and thus have an independent status on the backbenches if he won his by-election.

Never before have my predictions provoked such anger or such a flurry of complaints. I was accused both of mis-representing David Cameron's real views and of under-estimating the public's support for David Davis.

In short I was told repeatedly that I was prisoner of the Westminster village who "just didn't get it". So, on the morning after the by-election night before what's my verdict now?

I'm sorry to disappoint my critics - or perhaps confirm them in their view - but I've not changed my mind. Except, that is, on one point. I did under-estimate the extent to which the act of resigning on an issue of principle would elevate David Davis in the eyes of many in this profoundly anti-political age. The turnout and majority he got, in what turned out to be a non-election, was a reflection of the high status he has in his constituency.

David Davis and David CameronHowever, I hold to the view that, whether he means to be or not, he will be a destabilising presence for David Cameron whether he stays on the backbenches or is eventually given another job.

The last time I faced such flak for a prediction was a long time ago - when Clare Short attacked Tony Blair's spindoctors as "men in the dark" when Labour were still in opposition. When Blair and Short cobbled together a statement saying they agreed with each other I described them as "like a married couple" who'd stayed together for the sake of the children or, in this case, the Labour Party.

The problem, I continued with my over-extended metaphor, was that if you invited them for dinner they'd end up having a row and throwing the crockery at each other.

This prediction led Peter Mandelson to try to have me sacked. For years afterwards as Short sat, apparently comfortably, in Blair's Cabinet I worried that I'd got it wrong. Then, along came the Iraq war...

Perhaps the diplomatic thing to say to minimise the risk of triggering yet more complaints is, as Deng Xiaioping once famously remarked when asked for his view of the French Revolution, "It's too early to tell".

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    One thing David Davis has shown is that he has cross party friends like Junior Milliband and Tony Ben.

    He is clearly a very principalled man. In the case of 42 days maybe he just let his emotions get the better of him. In the face of such obvious Government bribes and deals - I know I would.

    Clearly the public also admire David Davis.

    Thus I say......... lets make David Davis the next Speaker of the Commons.

    Would provide a neat solution for Cameron and give a principalled man like Davis a real challenge and role.

  • Comment number 2.


    I wonder you bothered to pen this article, it says absolutely nothing, you are just kicking your prediction into the long grass in the hope "events " eventually prove you right.
    Must be a slow day.

  • Comment number 3.

    David Davis has shown that he is not capable of thinking through his position fully. His resignation was never going to achieve what he wants. With a safe seat he was never going to be seriously challenged and so he has proven nothing, except that he is a lower grade politician who should not be trusted with with high office.

  • Comment number 4.

    You've said it all...we may not know for a long time.

    What's the difference between this and the power struggles and egos at the top of a blue chip company?

    It's human nature to compete for power (despite Ed Balls attempts to award prizes to all the losers)

    Competition creates edge and makes people work harder - one of the many benefits of capitalism and democracy.

  • Comment number 5.

    Wow you are stretching your defence of position here Nick.

    even if it is like Blair/Short how long did it take for the crockery to fly and lets face it she was right to throw crockery at the man for starting an illegal war.

  • Comment number 6.

    Nick,

    Speaking as one of those who posted that you were misunderstanding the views of the wider country and too focussed on the ‘Westminster Village,’ may I respond.(Actually, village is too general a word. Hothouse is more like it.)

    The by-election was lost before voting began, when the government party did not offer the electorate a Labour candidate to vote for.

    This is regarded as cowardice by everyone I have spoken to, from across the spectrum of political support. The man in the pub may not have a developed political understanding, but he can tell when someone has ‘bottled it.’ Gordon Brown is now regarded as the arch ‘Bottler.’ He ran away from a general election, he ran away from a fair vote on the Constitution, he ran away from a fair vote on 42 days, and he ran away from David Davies.

    Couple that with Labour’s failure to select a candidate in Glasgow, surely one of their safest seats, means they seem dazed and confused, and running scared to boot.

    Given Labour’s dreadful standing in the country, they should have run, even if they lost. They might have got some credibility back.

  • Comment number 7.

    David Davis has to be commended for his stance. He has sacrificed his political career to stand up for the British people. The support for the Tories has increased, partly I believe due to David Davis showing there are some politicians who care. Cameron is benefiting as no Labour or Liberal MP are looking to protect our rights.

    I admired the courage of Clare Short and Robin Cook over Iraq. With the debacle over the expenses vote last week MP's have to stand up and be counted and just because there are differing opinions over certain issues within the parties, does not mean there is a damaging split. It is simply healthy debate which is good for the country. Toeing the party line is not democracy.

    Locking people up for 42 days will not prevent terrorists trying to blow people up. It would not have stopped 7/7 from happening.

    The way things are going how long will it be before this type of blog is censored? Is it already?

  • Comment number 8.

    The Brits love a Maverick.

    That’s what you didn’t predict.


  • Comment number 9.

    #2 Megapoliticaljunkie wrote that Nick is just trying to kick his prediction into the long grass.

    Actually there were ten predictions, five of which have come to naught. Five could come to something.

    All depends on what David does next. Not Davis, Cameron. He can either embrace Davis and his personal mandate, or try and ignore it.

    My view is that it would be a profound mistake to ignore it. Davis needs to be inside the tent, directing his force outward, rather than outside, where it could go anywhere.

    Cameron may not like where Davis steers, but it is where the country want him to go.

  • Comment number 10.

    David Davis has shown himself as too 'passionate' to be overall leader.

    He is just another high quality member of the opposition - albiet with a particular reputation for freedom issues.

    While labour are stuck with forth raters in all top jobs, and no better candidates to replace them; the tories have a whole raft of potential big hitters/statesmen ready and waiting to take on the awful challenge that the nulabour disaster will bequith them.

    Browns 'cukoo' instict of destroying all potential threats has left him as captain of a ship with out a single good crewman. His scorched earth policy against tallent in NuLabour is only equaled by his scorched earth policy to spite this country following his disasterous time in charge.

    David Cameron, William Hague, David Davis, and IDS are just a few of the first raters, all of whom are growing in experience daily, who we can look forward to leading the country back to where NuLabour have dragged it down from.

  • Comment number 11.

    I am not sure that the approval of the Tory party was very high on the Davis agenda but it does raise an interesting thought.

    If Labour back benchers had cared more about their principles and less about the party, there might not have been a by election at all.

    If Davis succeeds in making his case to the public, possible electoral consequences might succeed where principle has failed persuade wavering Labour backbenchers when the bill returns to the Commons.

  • Comment number 12.

    The election was a farce because DD is a farce.

    What would be interesting in the coming months is, the fight that DD will be giving DC for the leadership.

    Watch this space!

  • Comment number 13.

    As I stated in Nicks DD resignation Blog the one thing that DD has acheived by his action if nothing else, is banish thoughts of Tory slease of the old pre1997 days from the minds of the electorate, and laid that charge firmly at the doors of the labour party

  • Comment number 14.

    I saw Tony McNulty pop a jibe at Davis saying he reminded McNulty of Homer Simpson. Seems to me that makes McNulty the equivalent of Chief Wiggum. Where was New Labour - not too chicken to take us to war on a lie but too chicken to fight an election. Whatever Nick says will originate on the inside of Westminster village and beyond the real world. Davis, however his by election is painted, has shown that he has the moxy to stand up for what he believes and that the widespread public support he received shows there are still people outside politics that care passionately about these issues but are not being satisfactorily represented by their own constituency MPs. Good for Davis. Nick, get out of that rarified atmosphere more often, it will poison you in the end.

  • Comment number 15.

    I'm glad you 'fessed up to underestimating the public welcome for this move - but in your defence you were not the only one.

    Indeed, had Cameron's people not made the same mistake, they would have been a little more welcoming of the move, perhaps made it clear Davis's job was being held open for him (I suspect Dominic Grieve would have accepted the job on a temporary basis, because he seems equally committed to the issues), and would look les "bounced" by Davis.

    The only people I know who think (a) it was a waste of money and (b) Labour really were not being cowardly in dodging the whole contest are signed up members of the most loyalist parts of the Labour Party.

    There was one other big error of judgement which seems to have been forgotten - was that of the Sun and Kelvin MacKenzie. I actually regret the fact they didn't go through with their hairbrained idea to intervene directly in UK politics, rather than snipe from the edges. In a real contest, David Davis would have had a real chance to put the press in their place. But whoever made such an appalling error of judgement must be delighted it has disappeared from the memory as fast as it has.

  • Comment number 16.

    At 2:47pm on 11 Jul 2008, jonathan_cook wrote:

    Excellent thought Jonathan, he is quality in terms of principles and would be streets ahead of the current incumbent.

    Dear Nick, John Wayne said "Never aplogise...", he might have added, "Move on and do not re-visit past failures"

    You were totally silly to write this blog, move on, you are only pointing out your own failings as a journalist which has the faintest whiff of an "ego thing". People like you have to come to a decision concerning how you want to be seen, a "man of principle" like David Davis who will throw the dice or, a jobbing journalist getting paid a salary.

    Your view of Davis seen through the prism of the media Zeitgeist was no different from any other "media hack" because the story lacked the black and white drama that sells papers and advertising unlike "Nazi Sex Party...Mosley, FF1" de dah...

    Best advice, move on and forget it, bringing it up again merely makes us question whether you are worth a fart reading/listening to in the first place and, having sown the seeds of doubt yourself... don't bitch sunshine.

  • Comment number 17.

    Dear Nick,

    Why are you so sure about your views on David Davis?

    Do you consider him a calculating and ambitious man or do you consider him a man of principle?

    Would you have taken this view of Churchill had you been around in the 1930's?

    Our freedoms allow you to comment and allow us to question you which is all that really matters. Have you ever considered that perhaps pride should never get in the way of freedom? You will never look well upon David Davis but isn't it important how people look upon you? Just a thought.

    RC Robjohn

  • Comment number 18.

    although no major party stood against him and still a fairly typical turnout, one must wonder whether labour and libdem would lose deposits in a general election, after all it would seem their voters were happy enough to vote for someone else yesterday.

    Still I would have thought we would have heard more about the greens coming 2nd in a by election, still small but one wonders what share of vote they may get in a general election?

  • Comment number 19.

    The quotation "Too early to tell" is usually attributed to Zhou Enlai (during his meeting with Richard Nixon), not Deng Xiaoping.

  • Comment number 20.

    @12

    Are you a betting man onlywayup?
    i'd wager a crisp british tenner that Harriot Harmful challenges GB before DD challenges DC

  • Comment number 21.

    9 uglyjohn so not only do you think that you know all Labours faults your now telling Cameron what to do. on both counts you couln't be more wrong.

  • Comment number 22.

    You STILL don't get it.

    What a lot of us said is that it is irrelveant whether or not this will cause political damage to the tories. What IS relevant here is that all of us in this country, including yourself, are under threat from new labour attacks on civil liberties. Discussion of these kinds of issues would be much more interesting and useful to the future of the country than yet more dull party political analysis.

  • Comment number 23.

    Nick, I thought a bit of balance is required.

    Labour should have put forward a candidate. The fact they were going to lose or their arguments against Davis are irrelevant.

    There are Labour supporters in that constituency, and Gordon Brown has stated that the "majority" of UK citizens want 42 days. So why did he not give them the chance? He had what he considered a popular policy, so why did he not try and at least reduce the majority? That would have given Labour a huge boost.

    Not putting forward a candidate in my mind is an insult to the Labour voters of that constituency, regardless of their reasons.

    And Davis is not stupid enough to try and derail Cameron. That would only cause division at a time when the Conservatives must stayed united.

    A couple of years into a Tory Government is a different matter however.......

  • Comment number 24.

    Not sure whether you'll let me quote Andrew Rawnsley, but I think this sums things up rather well for me

    (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jun/15/daviddavis.conservatives%29:

    "That David Davis is several marbles short of the full bag is certainly the consensus view at Westminster. Tory and Labour MPs are united with each other and with most journalists in thinking that he is mad.

    The public, though, appears to be responding in a strikingly different way. So far, we have only rough and ready indicators from radio phone-ins, websites and the like. But public opinion there has been heavily admiring of David Davis.

    More than one member of the shadow cabinet who thinks David Davis is crazy has also told me that they have had emails and calls lauding him as a man of great principle taking a heroic stand.

    This, I think, is something for the political class to ponder and ponder hard. So ingrained with cynicism is Westminster about itself that it can only see David Davis as a lunatic for sacrificing his career on the altar of his beliefs. The politicians need to ask themselves why so many of the public seem to regard David Davis as the only sane man in the asylum."

  • Comment number 25.

    on this topic i dont understand how people can say David Davis is shown to be principled and Brown shown to be a 'bottler'. Brown looked like losing this bill from a long time ago, and yet persevered with it. David Davis called a byelection he couldnt lose, which wasted public money, and invoked magna carta when he voted for 28 days when it was party policy! where is the principle exactly!?

  • Comment number 26.

    13 pot kettle So you really think that was worth £120,00. all that fuss and you think that wipes out all the Tory slease of the pre 1997 days well Buddy the british people wont fall for that one if thats what the clown was trying to achieve.
    You were right about the nothing else.

  • Comment number 27.

    Can't believe #10 described the upper ranks of the Tory party as 'first raters'. Who honestly thinks IDS or William Hague are anything more than failed nonentities? Cameron is basically Blair lite - and no-one north of the Home Counties is remotely fooled by his smarmy attempts to pretend his party isn't stuffed with right wing nutcases with a dislike for anyone poor or foreign (including the Scots as far as I can make out).

    Not that Labour are much better. But let's not pretend that the Tories are the answer folks.....

    As for David Davis - for all his faults, at least he's got the courage to stand up for what he believes in, regardless of the personal cost.

  • Comment number 28.

    It is good to hear that the complaints and praise expressed here do get through to the author.

    Mr. Robinson is wise to continue to argue his view, but would be foolish not to take the criticism as a learning point. The complaints should not be seen as a one off, but the zenith which drove many viewers, myself included, to express their opinion for the first time with such vigour.

  • Comment number 29.

    A predictable small minded response to the election result from 'I never get anything wrong' Nick. Sad!

  • Comment number 30.

    You've fundementally misunderstood the nature of the criticism.

    What people found frustrating was your continual focus on the Westminster view of politics - the personalities and the plots. Most people (thought not myself) find this a real turn-off.

    David Davis being a nuisance (he will be no more) to Cameron will only matter if it changes the way people vote. No one seriously thinks the Tories have become less united because of this. Provided Cameron can look vaguely competent in the face of the Government's current woes he will win and Davis will be irrelevant. Frankly my dear most people don't give a damn about personality clashes in either party provided they do the business. Disunity and open warfare is a different matter.

    The actual issue for most people was that Davis appeared to stand up for a principle - and whether or not you agreed with it he has undoubtedly caused his career damage as a result. I'm sure vanity was involved but there must have been some belief too.

    It is becoming increasingly clear to me you have no real role. You either report speculation and gossip obtained from obviously biased but unnamed sources or you travel to events that discuss matters on which I doubt you are properly qualified to comment e.g. G8. It has been clear on TV appearances you have that your grasp of some policy areas e.g. pensions, is very weak. When you are broadcasting to millions a little knowledge is definitely dangerous.

    You are dependent on the politicians for any stories you pick up and therefore can never be properly objective or critical.

  • Comment number 31.

    #10 "David Cameron, William Hague, David Davis, and IDS are just a few of the first raters, all of whom are growing in experience daily"

    William Hague who lost to Blair. IDS, a complete liability who was kicked out two years into the job. David Cameron, experienced? what experience exactly? well apart from the obvious 'experiences' as a member of the bulligdon, which no doubt gave him a great insight into the social and economic concerns of the country.

    were you being ironic?

    i dread to think where that motley crew would drag us. firstly, capital punishment (davis). secondly, pointless, populist, probably illegal homophobic legislation (davis, hague, IDS?). thirdly, Cameron would drag us in around three directions, not mentioning his party. would he choose to be a liberal conservative (by-election in scotland), conservative to the core of my being (telegraph), or his current compassionate conservatism?

  • Comment number 32.

    Here are Nick's statements

    1) It will pit the Tories against the paper whose support they most want to win - The Sun

    The Sun bottled it - and now surely won't back a loser i.e Labour

    2) David Davis might lose the by-election, robbing the Tories of a talented politician

    No he did not.

    3) Davis may win big, emphasising his status as a potential rival for David Cameron

    He won as well as he could - but nothing has appeared suggesting he could be a rival. Your statement is in two parts but the second part does not necessarily follow from the first.


    4) The by-election may be a damp squib in which no major party runs and is seen by many as a waste of tax payers' money

    So far commentaries have been positive. Very few comments about the cost.


    5) David Davis wins and gets back into the shadow cabinet where no-one knows what he'll do next and is therefore a divisive force

    No indication of getting back in cabinet.

    6) David Davis stays on the backbenches and becomes a focus of discontent with David Cameron and a divisive force

    The opposite to 5: again you have made one statement in two parts and tried to link the two together - have you ever heard of a non-sequitur?

    7) The Conservative Party is forced to have the divisive debate between libertarianism and authoritarianism

    No indication that they are going to have this debate, much less that it will be divisive.


    8) The Conservatives are diverted from their strategy of focusing on schools, welfare and family policies

    No - still doing it - witness DC speech in Glasgow - which I nbotice the BBV virtually ignored.


    9) David Cameron does not look in control of his top team

    Seems to be still in control - emphasisied by MEP expenses for instance.

    10) For the first time in months Gordon Brown is helped to avoid dreadful headlines which today would have read ("I did no deal, honest")

    Yes - For about 12 hours he avoided them - mind you he put his foot (or rather his mouth) back in it by having an 8-course meal while discussing food poverty.

  • Comment number 33.

    Typical of your low brow commentary, the quote about the French Revolution was made by Zhou Enlai not Deng Xiaoping.

  • Comment number 34.

    One of the most important things about being in office is being able to rely on your cabinet to behave rationally. I know that there have been many occasions in the past when this has not been the case. But if were David Cameron I would think very very carefully before offering anything to Davis. Vainglorious or just plain vain, he has always struck me as a man who likes the particular sound of his own voice promoting his particular politics. He isn't a team player. He never will be. And as for the suggestion he should be speaker... I think we have had enough controversy with that for now, thank you.

  • Comment number 35.

    '...as Deng Xiaioping once famously remarked when asked for his view of the French Revolution, "It's too early to tell".'

    I think you'll find it was Zhou Enlai who 'famously' made this remark.

    But why break the habit of a lifetime and bother to check facts?

  • Comment number 36.

    I do not want the 42 day legislation but one thing this has confirmed to me is a rule change or two on by-elections.

    When an MP resigns he should not be allowed to stand in the by-election he has caused.

    The second would be that when an MP changes party that would also cause a by-election.

    David Davis is someone who i have a lot of time for and found him worth listening to.It would be a shame if this stops him of progressing further but that is the choice he has made and he has to live with it.



  • Comment number 37.

    Nick

    You might be right when that the respectable turn out and result will give Davis an 'independent status' on the backbenches - whatever that means - but I'm not sure why that would translate to him being a destabilising influence for Cameron.

    I guess it depends if he decides to help Brown and Labour out of the hole they are in by using his new found status to damage Cameron and, therefore, the Conservatives. Why would he to do that ?

    I was surprised that you under- estimated the positive response of the public to a politician taking a stand on principle. Completely predictable,I thought. Not the act of principle by a politician, but the positive public reaction to it.

    The very fact that the decision looked politically damaging to him and his party was the reason the public saw it as an act of principle. Very telling that the same perceived anti self-interest consequence was the reason he was the labelled 'mad' by politicians and uncritcally reported by political commentators with .

    Very interesting also that when presented on the same issue with, on the one hand, Labour and other politicians who were 'persuaded' to vote against their consciences and, on the other, a guy who gave up his job for acting on his that it should be the latter who gets hammered in the media.

    Then, when Labour fails to contest the by-election, it is Davis who is attacked for it then being "meanignless" - not Labour for ducking the opportunity to promote their policies on what they constantly tell us is an issue of crucial importance.

    Public and politicians - different values, I guess. I'm only surprised the MPs who voted to make expenses more transparent aren't being called mad.

  • Comment number 38.

    Re #1 jonathan_cook

    Excellent idea if he'll do it.

    Someone is going to have the clean up the mess soon after the mess the current incumbent leaves office and Davis would be an very good choice.

    Sadly, Martin the muppet won't stand down before the general election to preserve his own snout in the trough (he, like Brown, could have set an example and voted with the Noes) and NuLabour from another Glasgow by-election where the SNP are in 2nd place but if he's ever to get a seat in the Lords he'll go then while his "friends" can name him in their resignation "honours" list.

  • Comment number 39.

    I honestly can't understand how people can view this sham of a bi-election as anything but an utter waste of time. I would be first in the queue to lend my support to any genuine attempt to shake up our current ineffectual political system but this was sadly about little more than Mr Davis’ ego.

    Good on Labour for having nothing to do with this farce!

  • Comment number 40.

    @26

    Er...when did anyone vote for you to be spokesman for the British People.

    You clearly havent understood what happened here. Regardless of whether you thought it was right or not people in their droves have called newspapers and phone ins stating that they see DD as the most principled politician of recent times.

    You need to get out more and speak to some real people instead of tirading at us tories in here, then perhaps you will be in a betteer position to speak for the brithish people.

  • Comment number 41.

    I agree with your thoughts. What David Cameron should now do is to give Davis a Life Peerage so that he can debate the 42 days bill in the House of Lords where it can be defeated. Then they can have a real byelection in Haltemprice and everyboy would be happy.

  • Comment number 42.

    Again, Nick refuses to see the big picture, where we the British public can see the Labour spin machine falling off its wheels. Seriously Nick why do you have a strong bias for Labour? DD stood up for civil liberties that Labour are constantly chipping away, I just cant understand why someone like yourself Nick is so oblivious to the truth or hear the cries of the public. You need to get out of the Westminister bubble and report real politics from the ordinary Joe Public.

  • Comment number 43.

    Just to wind a few up in here I thought I would let you know I just through about £3.50 of sanwiches in the bin,
    I'll do the rest of my weekly allowance later

  • Comment number 44.

    I had to laugh.

    Tony McNulty's attempt at a sneering put-down of Davis just made him look like a pompous arse. Sad but true.

    The election did turn into a slight non-event because of the lack of a Labour candidate to really go against. But even then Davis won the argument becasue now it is widely perceived that Labour have run away form the argument.

    And becasue Davis has played well with the wider electorate, Cameron would be foolish not to use his skills to put the boot into the government somehow, not wasting him on the back benches.

    End result: Davis looks good, the Tories don't come out too badly but look slightly timorous at not supporting him more fully. And the government don't look good at all.

    Disclaimer: I have no strong party affiliation, so don't have any real axe to grind with any of the major parties.

  • Comment number 45.

    Re #40 Pot_Kettle

    Well said, but it isn't just you Tories who greatly respect Davis' actions and we certainly still diagree with him on many other issues.

    Clegg was 100% right in not fielding a candidate to allow decisive testing of Davis' stand while Brown showed pure cowardice at the idea of facing the electorate.

    If NuLabour had fielded a candidate who was able to retain the 6,104 votes they got in 2005 Brown would have proved his ideas had at least some support amongst "real" people. As it was, in the words of a Tory I dislike greatly, he was "frit".

  • Comment number 46.

    Forget being diplomatic Nick, it really is to early to tell. In some ways, this has only just begun.

    While single issue politics is inherently dangerous, there is a big issue here that goes well beyond 42 days. It is no less than the increasing perception that the rights and freedoms of the British people are being stripped away by the government they elected to office. The word 'eroded' has been used a lot in the argument but it can no longer be called erosion. It is beginning to look like a flood. E mail monitoring, wire tapping, lack of judicial oversight, lack of proper regulation, anonymous testimony, access to trial by jury, mandatory sentencing maybe all of them trickles of dissent but the accumulative effect is greater than the sum of it's parts.

    If the perception that the nanny state has given way to a control freak administration, public opinion will turn decisively. In the changed circumstances, the 42 day bill could be lost when it returns to the Commons and that will be seen by many as an important turning point and those who see Davis as an object of fun may wll end up laughing on the other side of their egg spattered faces.

  • Comment number 47.

    Re-post (the first one mysteriously "dissapeared"...

    Nick,

    Your aknowledgement of criticism is admirable, however your refusal to accept that the majority of us plebs believe differently to yourself smacks of the superiority-complex and vainity that is seen, and oft complained about, within the Westminster Village. Perhaps you should be the politician and not the commentator for all of your belittling of the common man.

    For what it's worth, if, and it is a big if, the populous see DD's actions as those of a politician of principals, rather than one who is merely self-serving, then he has done some good for the political establishment, demonstrating that not every politician is only doing the job for a free shopping spree and a London pad. If only he could now make a stand for the perks that he is re-entitled to...

  • Comment number 48.

    Has anyone seen David Davis's view on CCTV? According to the campaign leaflet I received, he thinks that it is an invasion of privacy, and that therefore we need more cameras, taking higher quality images.

    I sent him an email asking for clarification, but he and his office didn't reply, so I didn't vote. He probably knew Mad-Cow Girl wasn't going to win, so why commit yourself on such an important issue for the sake of one vote?

    Principled, my eye!

  • Comment number 49.

    Given that the case for 42 days is far from proven and that the police are going to pay more attention to knife crime particularly in London it seems to me that a principle is surely at stake here.

    It seems to me that the Political class has at least one champion of long held liberties in this country. David Davis should be applauded for his stand against this erosion of long standing and hard won liberties and not denigrated by the Labour supporting media.

    The reality of the situation will be 42 days will become the norm in all Police work not just anti terrorism cases........ one should never forget two things....... quick laws are normally bad laws and creeping reductions in liberty are very hard to turn back. stevebloggie

  • Comment number 50.

    One or two comments here about the Tory front bench "lacking experience".

    Erm, I recall similar arguments being made about the Labour front bench when they were in opposition.

    Just because someone is experienced at something, it does not necessarily mean that they are good at it!

    Tony Blair was relatively inexperienced, and like him or not, he dealt with the role of PM quite well, despite some of his policies.

  • Comment number 51.

    Well! Part time politician, part time SAS. Man of principle, natural leader, Right Honourable, Tory shock trooper. Could he lead the way forward in restoring faith in politics? I hope so!

  • Comment number 52.

    Nick, I know that you and your leftie chums at the BBC love running destabilised Tory stories, but how about you predicting who might destabilise Labour. You know, just to pretend to bring a little balance into your reporting.

  • Comment number 53.

    "..- and "courageous" - which I translated as political code for "mad"


    Indeed you did. And I took issue with you for that idiotic remark, but found that when I tried to put it in a comment here, the words:

    "Nick Robinson accuses David Davis of being mad..."

    resulted in my comment being rejected at moderation. Now that you have agreed that you did mean this, I wonder if this comment will similarly be rejected...?

  • Comment number 54.

    40 pot kettle so its OK for you to speak for many people but its not for me, for every one that thought he was a hero two didn't. your attitude once again is typicaly Tory, you can speak on everyones behalf but no one else's opinion counts. Dont worry about the people I meet they come from all walks of life and are free as we all are to voice their opinions with out someone accusing them of trying to speak for the country.
    DD even if I thought he was principled which I dont I think you have forgotten Robin Cook haven't you?

  • Comment number 55.


    Nick I am a great admirer of yours and I think you rare get it wrong but about your commment

    "as Deng Xiaioping once famously remarked when asked for his view of the French Revolution, 'It's too early to tell'. "


    Surely not.

    Was it not "Zhou Enlai".



    Marquet

  • Comment number 56.

    #50

    a fair comment about experience. sometimes a lack of experience can in fact be a good thing. however to claim experience when lacking experience, is clearly false.

  • Comment number 57.

    54. grandantidote

    Your slipping you forgot Clare Short

    Thats 2:1 to you

  • Comment number 58.

    I was totally with you Nick, until you mentioned Clare Short. Clare Who? I remember back in the days before the Iraq invasion about how it was SO important that Blair keep Short in the cabinet rather than out, and how damaging she could be to his government. In the end she had no impact. Backbench snipers never live up to the hype because eventually they get told to shut up and sit down. Cameron is riding a wave and the whole incident confirms to the PCP what a lucky escape they had from electing a loose cannon who might have blown their election chances with some populist antic that misfired. So Cameron will allow him his moment in the sun, then ignore him.

  • Comment number 59.

    Ben Bradshaw speaking on Radio 4's Any Questions recently pointed out that Davies is a passionate homophobe who voted to continue the imprisonment of gay people, opposed equality in the armed services, opposed equal rights in employment and civil matters, and refused to vote in favour of civil partnerships. He is NOT in favour of civil liberties - only a small raft of issues dear to the heart of the hard right. How such a self-declared bigot who, inter alia, supports the right of religious people to withold equal treatment from gays (in adoption agencies, and as wedding registrars) can be regarded as 'courageous' defeats me.
    Matters are made worse by reporter Robinson's characteristic BBC assumption that gay rights' issues are marginal - so these points are neglected.

  • Comment number 60.

    Aren't people missing the point rather?

    What Davis has managed to do is distance himself from Tony Cameron - who is a disaster waiting to happen - and position himself to take over when the Conservatives rediscover Conservatism.

    And he's done it without burning any boats, and with his personal standing with the public pretty well intact - perhaps even a bit improved.

    Not quite as futile an exercise as some are making out.

    Destabilising Cameron? Perhaps as a side-effect, but that fellow's walking a pretty shaky tightrope already, and will fall off sooner or later of his own accord.

  • Comment number 61.

    If David Davis now has a popular mandate and broad public support could circumstance be envisaged where he challenges Cameron at some stage for the leadership of the Conservative Party? Perhaps after the next election

  • Comment number 62.

    #32 has you well and truly skewered on your own predictions.

    Meanwhile, let's consider the response of the pompous Nick McNulty. The best he can come up with is crude abuse by describing David Davies as "Homer Simpson"; this from a man whose occupation before entering parliament was that of principal lecturer in organisational behaviour at north London Poly, sorry University of North London. David Davis runs rings around this sad apologist for the Gordon Brown terror.

  • Comment number 63.

    It may be that David Davis’ resignation indicated internal division within the Conservative party, but I don’t think it hurts them at all. With all parties now advocating economically liberal policies the old left-right dividing line does not have much relevance. The new divide is along the liberal-authoritarian line and it is advantageous for the Conservatives to appear to stand for individual liberty.

    The Liberal Democrats in particular will suffer. Following the Lisbon treaty deceit one of their few remaining appeals to the electorate was their support for liberty. But when the LibDems talk about liberty they give the impression of going through the motions where as David Davis appears to speak from conviction. His stock with the public is certainly in the ascendancy.

  • Comment number 64.

    Nick

    Re your implication that you got it right re Short and Blair - albeit they delayed their split by pausing for the intervention of several years and a war.

    Reminds me of this broken watch I've got. It is at the right time twice a day.

  • Comment number 65.

    Really not worried about the party politics. Much more interested about the issue.

    DD risked something for an issue and the public seemed to love it.

    Does this scare anyone

    http://www.californiacriminallawyerblog.com/2008/04/dna_tests_may_offer_deper_exam.html

  • Comment number 66.

  • Comment number 67.

    DC was very interesting on Test Match Special at lunchtime today. He also made a big thing about politics being a team game and not just about individuals. Jonathan Agnew compared DD to Andrew Flintoff - i.e someone you'd want to bring back into the team. However, DC pointed out that as talented as these people may be they can't just walk back into the team at the expense of other talented individuals

    He also spoke about making sure that DD had something to do when he came back to Parliament, although not in the shadow cabinet.

    It doesn't seem that there is too much of a schism between them, although I got the impression that DC would have rather it hadn't happened.

  • Comment number 68.

    Whilst in the mode of sticking one's neck out and making predictions, my guess is that. following their first success at 'hitting the radar', the real winners of this contest will be the English Democrats. Just a gut feeling that this may be the beginning of a trend....

  • Comment number 69.

    Q- So who was right?

    A - both and so far right that they would seem dangerously right wing to Genghis Khan!

    There will always be something deeply repellent to every fair minded person in the heart of every Tory; otherwise they would cease being Tories.

    DD was just silly and that is the kindest thing I can think to say about him. DC has a fractious party of opportunists - he knows that any actual policy statements will fracture the party. Mention Europe in any Conservative club bar and see what I mean. The same thing would also happen in the other conservative party's club (The Labour Club).

    All our politicians are too scared to do anything and to have any real policies. 42 days was not a real policy it was a virility test for Gordon. DD knew that, just as we all did. It is just a pity that DD wasted so much public money proving nothing. ID cards have such a small chance of actually working that again it is just a waste of money.

  • Comment number 70.

    Nick your political antenna has broken down it seems.On the scale of political significance this by-election scarcely even registers.The outcome of the Glasgow by-election will by comparison be an epochal moment in UK politics.You see the public has allready concluded this government can do no right,and therefore the conservatives can do no wrong.Any 'bad' news for the tories from now on will simply not be registered by the public.Any bad news (and there will be little good news) for the government wil always be magnified in the voters mind as proof that the government are hopeless and must be got rid of.They have decided they want to kick this government out and that means accepting a conservative government.Nothing will change that narrative in th e next 2 years.

  • Comment number 71.

    Dear Nick,
    Of course the Tory front bench were furious when D.D. resigned. It was a politicaly destructive move.

    But look at the outcome!
    Davis got 17,113 votes, over 70% of the vote.
    The Greens in the shape of Shan Oaks only received 1758 votes, that's less than 8%.

    So where did all the anti conservative vote go? True Labour and the Lib-Dem's didnt stand, but surely all their supporters didn't stay at home? The only logical candidate for these people to support (among all the dross), are the Green's.

    So nearly all the 34% that did come out to vote supported the conservatives, and said "up your's" to the Green Party, and to Labour and to Nicky Clegg.

    Make one think.

  • Comment number 72.

    Once again Nick Robinson shows his true colours. Why cannot he see that every time he writes editorial it has a left wing bias. So David Davis made a point, if politicians however right or wrong just went along with their party or leader's policy, politics would be all the more poorer. What David Davis has done has not damaged the tories in any shape or form, it has possibly strengthened them!

  • Comment number 73.

    It is sad that Mandelsohn tried to get you sacked but heart warming to know that he didn't succeed.

    I watched newsnight yesterday with the interview of Ingrid Betancourt, and was very moved at her description of the BBC Radio. Perhaps I was mistaken, but I also could see from her eyes that Emily Maitland ( the anchor ) felt similarly.

    The day the government, of any colour, is able to bully journalism is the day we cease to be free.

  • Comment number 74.

    Nick, It seems that you still don't 'get it'.

    Try talking to real people.

  • Comment number 75.

    I think this latest posting by Nick is, to be frank, a bit up itself - rather too 'oh what a clever boy our Nick is!'
    I think Nick IS a clever boy (and an excellent lobby correspondent) but a bit less pressure on the you-read-it-here-first pedal would be welcome from an organisation like the Beeb.
    Ultimately, I read Nick's postings at the time, and they did have quite a tinge of the 'of course he's mad' about DD's resignation....personally I doubt if Davis was born yesterday, but at the same time I doubt if he did this for all the dreary reasons trotted out by the Establishment - bonkers, vain, self-important, naive etc etc.
    Others who were www.notbornyesterday.org can continue laughing at that Establishment. Oldbutnofool

  • Comment number 76.

    I believe ,in common with the majority of opinion ,that David Davis acted out of principle in resigning his seat and attempting to raise the issue of civil liberties to a new level.Why else would he take the decision he did ?Some other possibilities -
    1)The Labour view trumpeted by Gordon Brown and his cabinet - it was a scam which turned into a farce.This is not really an arguement. (In fact the absense of substance in this position seems to suggest they accept the DD version !)
    2)His position on civil liberties is firmer than the rest of the Tory party and he is seeking to sway their policies should/when they are in government believing that he can exercise greater influence as a relatively independant back bencher. Note the change in public opinion on the issue of 42 days only brought about by a debate re-ignited by him.Also as the ID card project proceeds the wider aspects of his campaign continue to bolster his views.Then lost records and their security will undoubtedly rumble on.He can now give full weight to his position free of any restraints due to his being in the shadow cabinet.
    3)He believes he is outwith the inner circle of the shadow cabinet and his chances of personal advancement are limited - so why not pursue his cause celebre as there is nothing to lose given that should David Cameron become prime minister ,the latter's position will be impregnable for several years.
    4)In the eyes of the electorate he will be seen to establish himself as a man of high principle - opinion probably now supports this.Would it not strenghten his position in the Tory party and increase his ability to influence policy on all fronts ?
    5)Ambition - he sees his route to the leadership can only eventually be achieved by distancing himself from David Cameron,if not from his policies.
    Well maybe some of these aspects will kick in from time to time and could give credence to Nick Robinson's opinion that David Davis will be a de-stabilising factor for David Cameron.
    My view is that DC should engage closely with DD over the next two years to ensure he is within the 'tent'.Given the Tory tendancy to select an inverse proportion of front bench spokesmen from a narrow social base it can only be an advantage for them that DDs standing with the electorate is turned into a positive and not dissipated into party in-fighting.Whilst clearly re-appointment to the shadow cabinet is off the agenda close consideration should be given to his being offered a cabinet post in a Tory administration.

  • Comment number 77.

    David Davis did this to provoke a debate 'about civil liberties'.

    I did'nt notice much of a debate taking place duirng this by-election.

    Although the 'magic' number 42 (days) did provoke me for the first time ever, into into writing to an MEP to ask why European citizens human rights were of lesser value than American citizens.

    Americans have to be charged within two days of being held by the authorities.

    In Europe, it could be virtually anything from five days (Sapin) to 'forever' (Italy).

    I don't see much point in the EU project if it cannot produce common values on such basic human rights.

    Anyway, Davis returns to the HoC as a notional 'independent Conservative'.

    As I a very keen on independents in politics, then this is a step forward.

  • Comment number 78.

    Are there not two factors here messed together?

    You are saying that David Davis is not flavour of the month with the Tory High Command. That may be true in terms of him picking up a top cabinet position. But would he have been re-shuffled anyway in the longer run? Kelvin M. alleged he had been already "frozen out" by David Cameron and he worked at the Sun and knows Rupert Murdoch so he can't be wrong. DD probably has not damaged the Tories because their appeal broadened and created the possibility of people switching. That may only be a short term factor in fairness. DD accepted damage to his own prospects. I don't see Cameron sweating it over DD, or vice a versa. If DD ends up being perceived as Portillo was with Major as an "assassin" that never strikes then he would lose credibility anyway.

    The second factor is the 42 days. Many people are outraged that 42 days was won with dodgy deals. So seeing somebody charge the barricades, even if in a moment of madness, was likely to win popular support. You could sympathise. If those dodgy deals are exposed the Tories (and I am NOT one) will probably reap some credits. I don't see McNulty enjoying his "Homer" moment for that long.

    By the way any thoughts on the fact that if I have it straight people were 67% in favour of 42 days before the vote but there was no bounce for Brown in the polls. It went the other way I think. Now the percentages have changed more against 42 days. I usually believe the polls but I personally am dubious about 67%.

  • Comment number 79.

    I wonder how close a comparison it would be reasonable to draw between Davis's situation and that of Enoch Powell. Powell was of course a very complicated man, but in essence he left the government because he didn't agree with the strength of its opposition to Europe (ie he thought it wasn't strong enough, as Davis apparently thinks Cameron isn't strong enough on the various issues he espouses). However, he was a popular figure in parts of the country, and he is even credited by some for Heath's surprise victory in 1970, as 'labour' voters fell for his populist right-wing rhetoric, especially on immigration. He was often said to be a 'principled' politician, to the extent that he left the Tories for the Ulster Unionists; after many years he almost got around to rejoining the Tories, but when Thatcher got the boot he decided not to.

    The main features that are similar are Powell/Davis's visceral dislike of Europe, and their apparent conviction that they were 'men of the people' speaking for England. Hence Powells 'Rivers of Blood speach, and their willingness to go to the backbenches to argue their case in the conviction that 'England' would follow.

    If there is any validity in this comparison, it doesn't bode well for Davis. Powell remained active until he was struck down by Parkinsons, but he was increasingly a lone voice talking to himself. Perhaps if Cameron rescues him in a year or two Davis might come back, but I rather think not.

    (With apologies to the historians on here for my butchery of the complexity of Powell's story, and to those youngsters who have never heard of him).

  • Comment number 80.

    I'm sure that many people, like me, wondered why David Davis would force a by-election focused on a narrow area of politics.

    Didn't seem very "British". Single focus politics don't gain much support here. After all, MPs stand and support the framework of a party's "manifesto", don't they? (Not totally true, but there have only been a few Independent MPs elected over the years.)

    Well, maybe we've got it wrong. If a party produces a 30 page manifesto and gets elected, it often points to an obscure paragraph to claim "electoral support" for a policy that was so far away from the real issues that nobody within the electorate thought it would ever make sense to implement it.

    Davis was clearly incensed about the "42 days" issue. So should we all be. If you can't quite get the evidence within 28 days (which is a very long time) and still couldn't get it after the 42nd day, what comes next?

    In other words, where do you draw the line?

    Davis believes that there should be a protection of the rights of the innocent. Who can seriously argue with that?

    I'm not aware of his thinking or his views of the proven-guilty. I would accept that those found guilty of heinous crimes should be subject to a far more rigorous regime than we currently expect. For goodness sake, we have a government minister saying that meals in prison should be made more attractive. While those who survived a couple of world wars can barely live.

    Brown will no doubt pass some fatuous comments (possibly laws or regulations) to try and combat knife crimes. More words. More regulations. Get real. Get some folk down there on the street, authorised to break up the hooligans. There are well trained karate people (that means they understand the discipline that should accompany any use of force). Don't forget that in NYC, the authorities turned a blind eye to people who came together to threaten the thugs on their subway.

    You beat up or rape an old lady? You get hurt while you're caught? So what?

    Human Rights implies that we all have a right to life. Seems fair enough. But if you deprive someone else of their right, what punishment do you get? Pretty little. Is there any scale on which the points can be tallied, so good things done get plus points and bad things done get minuses, and eventually you run out of societal tolerance?

    I'd be very happy to have the UN designate an island where anyone convicted of murder could be sent, equiped with tools, seeds, water etc. No deprivation of life. Just positioned with others and struggling to
    create a life in recompense for the harm they created themselves.

    Not what DD would have said, I'm sure.

    Just a gut reaction to the way we run society today.

    You want and can afford to have 8 kids. Great. You want others (including OAPs) to support you. No thanks.

    You want us to believe that you are "bad" because we didn't stop you being brought up in a bad way. Get real. Look back a few generations. Being poor was not an excuse for harming others. God knows, much of social morality was driven from the base of the poorest part of the population. I have absolutely no sympathy for rich kids who do appalling things. In the past, that may have been tolerated, but whoever you are, from whatever background, if you don't act right, you don't deserve to be treated as everyone else is treated.

    Get that through and there would be a huge improvement in the way people react to education and general societal concerns.


    Just find it hard to imagine that we need the SAS on the streets of London more than we need them in Basra.

    But, if that's what it takes, just do it.

  • Comment number 81.

    So David Cameron doesn't want DD in his Shadow Cabinet. Perhaps it will be that DD doesn't want DC in HIS Shadow Cabinet!

  • Comment number 82.

    77. JohnConstable

    Not to mention the lopsided" extradition agreement that Blair agreed to but Bush could not get passed the senate. UK citizens rights were signed away by Blair anyhow.

    This treaty designed to extradite terrorist gets used to take away bankers accused of fraud.

    A prime example how giving law enforcement officers too much power turns out.

    Utterly outrageous.

    Interesting to see what the old socialists make of that.

    Agree on independents

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5171266.stm


    .

  • Comment number 83.

    It was Chou En Lai - not Deng

    regards

  • Comment number 84.

    #80 fairlyopenmind :

    "In other words, where do you draw the line?"

    Well, answer your own question. Where do you draw the line??

    The proposed legislation allows for the possibility that someone could be detained before charge for up to 42 days, but with strong protections against arbitrary imprisonment (a judge to agree every 7 days, agreement of the independent overseer (currently the Liberal Lord Carlyle), and the DoPP amongst others).

    Davis would have us believe that that is draconian. But he himself accepted the possibility that more than 28 days would be needed, as did Liberty; they want to use the Civil Contingencies Act to meet that eventuality. But how long could someone be held under that legislation? -56 days perhaps? or are there any limits at all? And the protections are certainly not as strong.

    On this, Davis is not acting on principle. He voted for 28 days, and accepts the possible need for longer. What he is arguing in this area is practicality, not principle.

  • Comment number 85.

    Jimbrant

    DD didn’t just stand on 42 days.

    Add the following to the list:

    ID Cards
    DNA data base (contains details of innocent children)
    CCTV (1 camera for every 14 people)
    Attacks on the jury system
    Official snoopers – like bin cameras
    Clamp downs on peaceful protest
    Phone taps by councils and quangos
    Over zealous law enforcement

    Its the whole package people don’t like.

    Whether you like the man or not he has struck a chord.

    You realy should read that article on where we are going with DNA

    http://www.californiacriminallawyerblog.com/2008/04/dna_tests_may_offer_deper_exam.html

  • Comment number 86.

    Previous posting of mine are very clearly in support of DD and the stance he took. He needs to continue this now he is back. Not just 42 days, but all the growth in surveillance, erosion of privacy, and political interference in our everyday lives, very eaisly we could have all thoughts moderated.

    I support what DC is doing in his post as Leader of the Opposition.

    I did not support DD in his bid to be leader and and would not should ever he be in that position again. This does not mean write him off as he has a lot to offer and he should be in the shadow cabinet. What position? He would be good as we used to say "Without Portfolio" and be used by Cameron to develop various aspects and take on Labour and Liberal, as he is the best street fighter the Conservatives have, maybe other than Ken Clarke.

    So welcome back DD

  • Comment number 87.

    #85 CarrotsneedaQUANGO2:

    "You realy should read that article on where we are going with DNA"

    I did, when you pointed to it on the previous blog.

    I'm not frightened by science. If it works, and is done properly, I don't see the problem. As I said last time, if my daughter is raped or killed I want the criminal found, wheter he has a previous record or not. And of course DNA would protect me fom wrongful arrest if I hadn't done anything.

    My view on CCTV is similar, and almost everybody agrees according to polls. Both DNA and CCTV help to catch criminals - thought the former is pparently more useful than the latter.

    The rest of your list is, IMO, largely over-reaction fanned by the usual media suspects. And there was no 'attack' on the jury system, any more than the use of anonymous witnesses in exceptional circumstances is an attack on our freedoms.

  • Comment number 88.

    #84

    Sad thing is that, if you are in a police state, you don't need to draw the line. You just hold on to people until they are incapable of doing anything physical (although you can't be sure they would be unable to influence others).

    Fact is that we assume there should be limits - which were fairly short for many centuries. 28 days is a heck of a long time already.

    Let's accept that technology and the more complicated world we live in could possibly justify 28 days. That's already an arbitrary number. A month of someone's life. (A child born, a parent dead, a house lost, etc.)

    Pushing past it, with no charge, leads into Kafka land. You weren't quite there on day 28... almost made it on day 42... what will be the next extension? Back to 90 days?

    Any involvement of Parliament to "justify" a continued extension of a holding period would be a nonsense. No details could be provided, for fear of prejudicing a future court appearance, so no reasoned acceptance could be gained. (Rather Politburo approach don't you think?)

    I have some doubts about the European Court's view on the proposed legislation. That will only be tested once a case has been brought.

    Frankly, I'd prefer to adopt a position a little like the French, where there could be a charge related to "suspicion of terrorist acts", accompanied by the ability to continue questioning a suspect. And find a way to make electronic interceptence/ surveillance information acceptable in court, where necessary and under judicial review.

    At least the suspect would be able to know what he was charged with and build a defence, even if we had to gain the right to continue to question the suspect as evidence was being pursued. (Which I find quite reasonable under any circumstances of potential criminal activity, as long as full recordings are made and legal representation is available.)

    For goodness sake, we have people living here, given assylum and then preaching hatred against us or our culture, who we can't get rid of because their own "rights" could be breached if sent back to countries where they were already branded as criminals.

    It's getting out of hand.

    This from someone who has voted Lib/Lab/Tory/Independent depending on the national or local electoral circumstances.

    But still believing that core liberties should not be given away on a whim.

  • Comment number 89.

    Why is it so many keep repeating the mantra the Iraq war was an illegal war.

    Under that definition all the wars the UK have fought have been illegal since the second world war - the war in Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, the Gulf War, The Falklands and Suez, all illegal.

    Please tell me of a legal war, I'm all ears...

  • Comment number 90.

    The point was, and still is, that a lot of people in this country wanted and still want a serious debate on the erosion of civil liberties.

    The media wasn't interested in that, much more fun to stir the pot of dissent within the Westminster Tory ranks by rubbishing David Davis' attempts to create a national debate and characterise it as the first crack of a Tory fissure.

    It makes one begin to suspect that the media doesn't want to allow a debate about liberty and privacy as it may have unforeseen negative consequences for them. Perhaps this was one of the motivations behind all the spoiling tactics that were deployed or mooted.

  • Comment number 91.

    Can't wait for a posting to get through moderation.

    But just wonder where statesman Brown now stands, when the UN has turned down his grand-stand move to have UN sanctions against Zimbabwe.

    Anyone who has ever been in a business environment knows that the delivery is much, much, harder than the promotional froth.

    I've been on both sides of the delivery/froth equation. Brown has never been in business where money has to be earned, not simply taken from the long-suffering.

    It would be interesting to know just how many of the government and opposition have spent real time in the real world of wealth creation, rather than the tax-payer supported environment.

    Time for a quick survey, Nick?

  • Comment number 92.

    Nick Robinson is a twerp. Get rid of him.

  • Comment number 93.

    Just look at the news today about councils and their selling of data and you'll understand the kind of thing that david davis was on about.

    It was central government that forced councils into selling people's personal data back in 2002.

    So, the councils are abusing the powers that they've been given by labour (eg using anti-terrorism legislation to spy on people for littering etc), but that's compounded by the mind-blowing stupidity of central government who are also forcing councils to break the data protection laws.

    It's the general approach of labour which people are so annoyed about; total incompetence with data, compounded by forcing through legislation which itself is illegal under various human rights and other data protection laws.

    For a lot of these things, the laws themselves are illegal (as the Lords often point out), most of these things can be challenged in European/International courts because a lot of them violate so many basic overriding/superceding human/protective rights.

    We're very lucky with our current Information Commissioner; he's always been relatively independent and reasonable. After years of being hampered by labour constantly refusing to give him the powers to do his job he's now finally been given enough media spotlight to be able to push things through that he needs to be able to do his job. Listen to what he says because it all makes sense and is perfectly reasonable/right.

  • Comment number 94.

    While we're at it, someone in Labour had better reel McNulty in. Arrogant television appearances do not go down well.

    How about a debate with him and DD together?

    Maybe he is taking lessons from Seb Coe.

    My argument is that if the police have sufficient evidence to arrest someone, why does it then require a further 42 days before charging them?

  • Comment number 95.

    I think Nick's analysis is basically correct, but a bit too strong.

    I don't think David Davis would be a destabilising force, just a much-needed strong back bench voice.

    David Cameron's not as weak (or as stupid/arrogant) as Brown, and I can't see anyone ever becoming as weak as Brown to be honest, so I don't think a strong tory backbench team would ever be a really bad/damaging thing; it'll be healthy for democracy.

    Unlike Brown, Cameron will listen to reason/logic; he might end up with a different opinion to someone, but he will at least listen to the arguments and consider them, and is willing to change his mind if he thinks he was originally wrong.

    Compare that to Brown who refuses to ever listen to anyone unless his own job is in imminent threat, and who just uses dogma without ever using logic/reason.

    I'd like to see a more balanced view from the BBC about this. Constantly saying that Davis is mad but never bothering to talk about labour's policies or the fact they didn't even bother to debate those policies or field a candidate is not a good thing.

  • Comment number 96.

    "It's human nature to compete for power (despite Ed Balls attempts to award prizes to all the losers)"

    Really?

    Ed Balls is renowned for stupidities, but I must have missed this particular one.

  • Comment number 97.

    I still think Davis has only achieved a farce of a by-election and a weakened position in which to fight his version of the "freedom" cause he has fought it for.
    Meantime the debate on the bill he resigned over goes on in the Lords, and the amended bill is unlikely to progress until later in the year.
    Is he a hero, a drama queen or a fool?
    As a listener of news and current affairs programmes, rather than a reader or a watcher, I go by the apparent conviction and the timbre of the voice.
    The drama of the resignation excited the media and convinced many people of Davis's sincerity.
    I remain unconvinced. In my opinion, if he really meant what he said, he would have recinded his resignation, remained as shadow Home Secretary, thus fought his cause from a far stronger position and avoided this inglorious and wasteful by-election. He has made one step forward, but two steps backward.
    Although the Davis "pawn" has not been knocked off the board, it is now in a worse position strategically. Any party or single cause really needs a champion who thinks out the consequences of every action and all possibilities before he makes his move. "Fools rush in... "

  • Comment number 98.

    Well... what an awfully long way of saying you were wrong Nick...

    Could have just put, "whoops, sorry everyone..." I'm sure David Davis would have accepted the apology.

  • Comment number 99.

    Nick, I agree with the others that you've got too close to the Westminster machine. Its not just you of course, other so-called politicical commentators have fallen into the trap. Instead or reporting your own opinion, you regurgitate Westminster propaganda.

    SOCA, RIPA, and all the other anti-terror or serious crime laws that have been passed, have been passed without any political commentator informing the public on just how much liberty they will lose as a result.

    David Davies stood up and made a stand. He made the public aware that there isn't a case for 42 day detention and (as they have done with several other bills in the past) the government is pushing it through against all advice. For that he should be commended.

    Wake up Nick: the public want balanced, unbiased, informed commentary from their news correspondents. Not Westminster propaganda packaged and promoted as some soap opera.

  • Comment number 100.

    Anonymity in Criminal Proceedings (The Right to know and face your accusers)

    Master Sun Tzu, in a time before Christ stated “ O divine art of secrecy through you we learn to be invisible, through you inaudible and hence we can hold the enemies fate in our hands”

    Notwithstanding, the disjointed and confused state our Criminal Justice system is in through endless legislation, we have undoubtedly become “Tough on Crime” but appear to have spent little or no time, with the notable exception of the Building Schools for the Future programme, tackling the various “Causes of Crime”.

    The clamour to simultaneously broaden anonymity for witnesses, whilst Society has developed a macabre obsession, fuelled by elements of the written and broadcast press, to promote the victims of crime is disturbing. There is good reason why we had reached, after 1200 years, the complex legal framework we had in 1997. Inherent within the system was the public prosecution in the name of the Head of State not the victim.

    Removing anonymity is one step away from issuing juries with brown paper bags to wear, professional witnesses replacing inarticulate or unwilling accusers and remote Prosecutions by the Monday club at the Chelmsford County Hotel. Special Measures should be used sparingly in extremis especially when the Crown’s case rests solely or largely on the testimony of a witness and nothing else. We have Special Measures and necessary but often over used Public Interest Immunity and witness protection.

    We must always separate the Crime however heinous from the legal principle. Many great intellectuals and jurists over the ages, of all persuasions, have developed our incomparable legal system without the aid of Daily Mail columnists or focus groups. According to Edward Teller “Secrecy once accepted becomes an addiction”.

    Government need to provide the funds and a central Information Exchange. The funds need to be dispersed pro rata to the Primary Schools in the Boroughs corresponding to the origins of the current under 20s prison estate. We have, unfortunately, to accept this generation is lost, until they grow out of crime and therefore focus on preventing the next generation {see Graham and Bowling Home Office Study number 145 for the factors why most of those who grow into crime do so}.

    This is no time for Gladstonian Liberals, Doctrinal Communists or Right Wing Reactionaries. A new progressive consensus from the Youth Offending Team, Social Workers, Housing and the Voluntary Sector is needed to address each areas particular problems and each child’s unique situation and then provide various degrees of loco parentis.

    The judiciary must decide the sentence and if that means prison for those who brandish and or use knives then this is a necessary mark of failure for all of us. Having previously practised at the Criminal Bar for 3 years the Judges do get it right 97% of the time. We need an end to the social life sentences passed by some elements of the community that prevent people moving on after punishment and assist the younger children in making the choice to follow a life of crime. There are “too many runaway trains that people can’t get off”.

 

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