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A divisive Davis?

Nick Robinson | 10:20 UK time, Friday, 13 June 2008

The BBC has been inundated with calls, texts, e-mails and blog comments praising David Davis' decision yesterday and some have questioned why I have suggested it may be a nightmare for the Conservative Party.

So here are ten reasons:

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

David Davis and David Cameron2) David Davis might lose the by-election, robbing the Tories of a talented politician

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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")


Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    So in fact Mr Robinson, you cant really justify your comments. Scraping the barrel I think.

  • Comment number 2.

    On the other hand, it is a lose/lose situation for Gordon Brown since:

    i) if labour don't put up a candidate they are afraid to defend 42 days; and
    ii) if they do put up a candidate they will lose heavily

    It is said that the sitting labour candidate is against 42 days, so this is one reason labour may not put forward a candidate.

  • Comment number 3.

    None of those ten reasons hold any water with the public at large. Indeed 2/3 and 5/6 are mutually contradictory and 10 is going to be outweighed by the constant debate over 42 days that will ensure.

    The interesting thing is that the media seems to be operating in a bubble of its own on this issue, so opposed to what Davis has done to the extent of one of its members announcing he will stand to defend the 42 day limit.

    Perhaps this is the first sign of public revolt against the mass media. People are so fed up of being spun (or lied) to that they literally do not believe what the mass media's interpretation any more.

  • Comment number 4.

    Well as for number 7, this is a debate that is sorely needed across the whole country.

    We USED to be a country in which "your home was your castle" We USED to live in a country in which we were always presumed innocent until proved guilty. we USED to live in a country where the Government was a public servant who could ask for your personal details, but you were free to say, none of your business! We live in a country where your identity belongs to you, but not for much longer. We live in a country where, if you wish, you can avoid answering to the government "servants" altogether, but not for much longer.

    David's campaign is NOT only about 42 days, that is the straw that broke the camel's back. It is about the FUNDAMENTAL balance of power in the relationship between citizen and state. This is a relationship that labour have slowly been reversing, without a peep of protest from the media. Now that someone has been brave enough to stand up and say NO! The media are attacking him, INSTEAD of reporting the issues at stake.

    Do we want the Government to be the public servant? OR do we want to be servants to the state?

    That is the issue central in this debate. I support libertarianism 100% That is what FREEDOM means.

  • Comment number 5.

    'Events, dear boy, events.'


    Perhaps we would rather be amused than bored, however dire the Brownian fumblings that are the grim reality.

    Well Boris got the voters out.

    Davis won't go far wrong with this end-of the-pier show and the storm is unlikely to overturn the teacup.

  • Comment number 6.

    Nick mate, who are you trying to kid?

    Along with all your little media chums you have been taken completely by suprise by David David's decision.

    Instead ofcollectively chuking your teddies out the pram and petulantly lashing out at both him and the Conservatives why not do the decent thing and congratulate him on catching you all out.

    This sort of thing doesn't happen every day after all.

  • Comment number 7.


    Who decides what the public feel is important, the commentariat? Politicians? Newspapers?

    To paraphrase Clinton. It's the public, stupid!

    It will pit the Tories against the Sun, and your point is what? Supine grovelling to the mighty Temple of Murdoch and Kingmaker Murdoch.

    That alone is an insult to the British people. British politics and principle are more important than what Murdoch thinks.

    Davis might lose. Heaven forbid that a point of principle might be unpopular. Principles have a habit of doing that, that's what they are. Principles are always worth debating over, they generate that level of passion long missing from politics.

    Davis might win big and it sents a clear message to the government on the issue of the database state! Cameron would be delighted to have him back, point proved and Labour given another bloody nose.

    Nick, just where are you getting this Davis v Cameron thing from, which HQ I wonder?

    The database state is part of Conservative policy, they have no ambition for ID Cards and will repeal 42 days. How does that divert from other policies.

    As for a debate of libertarianism v authoritarism, it's moot. Conservatives are small government, persona freedom and responsibility to the core. How does that create a debate?

    Finally, every media outlet has tried the 'split' explanation. This is a personal decision so what can you do to stop it? If this is a principle so powerful, you can't.

    Perhaps may I remind you that the greatest ever Parlimentarian crossed the floor several times in his career.

    We need more MPs of principle because it's been a principle free zone for years.

    As for the election being a damp squib, I doubt it, there are hundreds of activists pledging support and money. The interest of the newspaper media means this is a real contest, a real debate and you will see the attitude of the electorate to being watched, snooped on, logged and recorded at their every turn.

    I do not understand why the BBC are trying to suck all the oxygen out of this. When it is reported, the BBC seems to be continually looking for an influential editorial standpoint disconnected from the reality.

    My advise, go back to reporting the facts, leave the opinion to those that form it; then report that.

    Let the public speak !

  • Comment number 8.

    Some of those could as easily be positives.

    A quick rephrase of a few:

    2. David Davis may lose, saving the Tories from an arrogant liability of an MP

    3. David Davis may win big, giving Cameron a Champion in his corner to wheel out at the appropriate times (historically, leaders have their champions)

    4. Nobody is interested and the whole thing thankfully fizzles out.

    5. David Davis gets back into the cabinet where everyone at last knows what he stands for - even if he is only one issue

    9. Cameron is a strong enough leader to allow his top team to have convictions.

    As for the rest I would argue that Cameron has already put his party at odds with the Sun over this issue - he voted against the 42 days. And to be honest, the great British public doesn't really care what Murdock thinks - it is only politicians that are that stupid.

    And if you look over the last few months, if you count up the headlines, the Tories seem far more interested with the First Lords woes than they are with really focusing on other subjects.

  • Comment number 9.

    Well Nick, you hit the nail on the head with your Top Ten of why DD should not have skewred the tories to his "gesture" (sic).

    What concerns me, is the precident it sets. Are we going to have by-election after by-election every time an MP disagrees with a major vote? DD is abusing Parliment and our democracy by what he has done. It breathtaking arrogance by a man who thinks he is bigger than his leader and bigger than parliment. I hope the other parties do not stand and the elctorate ignore the vote. He may then realise its not help from the elctorate he needs.

  • Comment number 10.

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

    Yeah, who'd want an actual debate in politics?

  • Comment number 11.

    NewLabour will have to now argue their position to the electorate not the nise members of the DUP and Ann Widdecombe.

    Here is a quote:

    "for Labour to be saved by Ukip, Ann Widdecombe and the DUP was a humiliation. It was a personal shaming of Gordon Brown, who forced his unwilling MPs to pass a bad law born of crude political miscalculation..."

    This does not come from UKIP or the Daily Telegraph; it is Polly Toynbee writing in the Guardian.

    NewLabour supporters accept that Brown has scored an horrendous own goal while David Davis has just stood up for democracy.

    We are watching history here and Gordon Brown will be obliged to answer the question, byelection or no.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.


    When a man is stuck in a hole he should stop digging.

    When a journalist is trumpeting the Government's line and is stuck playing the party political aspect ... put the wretched trumpet away.

    We're more than happy to discuss the possible party political aspects but you are becoming relentless.

    It truly is not the story the common man sees. The country is cheering and you are ignoring us. You even started this blog by admitting the BBC are inundated with support for DD. So what is it that we see that you can't ?

    Please, read the comments, listen to the calls. Not everything is an internal spat in a political party. The common man is shouting "ENOUGH !" to Westminster and following DD. That one aspect, at a time when Politicians are reviled as self serving hypocrites, must be worth considering by you.

    Put your trumpet down ... and step away.

  • Comment number 14.

    to 3 varstariner - thank you very much for representing the "public at large".

    D Davis in my opinion has done this for personal gain. You could see it in his face he was thinking - "this is my time!".

    Even if he is doing it on principle (doubtful) then he is wasting taxpayers money.

    ps I am a Conservative voter who supports 42 days.

  • Comment number 15.

    Hi Nick

    Reference your point 10 above.

    I think the two events are inextricably linked and if headlines are as you suggest - and yours is - then this is what the media have chosen to make them. I wonder if it is simply the case that joining up events requires joined-up thinking.

  • Comment number 16.

    Hmmm....a few why it might not be so good for Gordon:

    Davis get more of the issues about the erosion of liberty into the public domain and fuels the feeling that the Govt wants a nanny state.

    Davis hammers a Labour opponent. GB electorally toxic again.

    Gordon dithers, again, about whether to fight or flight.

    Labour rebels on this issue follow suit and resign their seats to distance themselves from a failing Govt. They win easily as independents.

    Labour ministers appear to turn an obviously principled action, however foolish, to party political advantage immediately...grubby.

    As the issues emerge on 42 days (like the fact that the power already existed in extremis) the public are horrified at the way GB played fast and loose with it in a public auction for votes.

    The Tories are actually seen as being prepared to stick by something that is not immediately popular and argue their case. Rather than say reverse your entire tax policy in the face of a few opinion polls

  • Comment number 17.


    Its the blogs wot done it.

    People don't need the mass media to find out what others are saying/thinking.

    They can read, first hand, for themselves.

    Vested interests and the usual suspects have behaved exactly as you would expect.

    Everyone else (anonymous and generall blob commenters etc) - from them I haven't seen a word said against what Davis has done. On the contrary, there seems to be massive and active support.

    Kelvin McKenzie is clearly doing all he can to have zero credibilty (he doesn't want to stand, but he said on 'this week' that he always does what murcoch tells him to do -obedience to another person is not a great feature for an MP).

    So Davis is on for unopposed campaigning, and a clear win.

    At this point the conservatives will create a new post "shadow minister for citizens freedom and rights" - and challenge labour to give him someone to shadow.

    The rest of Camerons cabinet can continue as is - Davis will have a new additional post, all his own.

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    The point is that you should also be giving us 10 reasons why this all might be a dream for the Conservative party.

    Try to apply your cynical analysis of politicians to yourself and see how wrong-footed and desperate this listing makes you appear.

  • Comment number 20.

    Yes, Nick. On the other hand it might just turn out to be Labour's worst nightmare:

    1. The public gives unprecedented support to Davis (this has already happened as you point out).

    2. Other MPs see it is possible for an MP to act with integrity.

    3. Large numbers of Tory MPs throw their weight behind Davis' campaign to protect personal freedoms.

    4. Large numbers of ordinary people decide they will vote for these MPs the first chance they get.

    5. Brown calls an election and Labour are destroyed at the polls.

    6. The Tories are returned to power for another 15 years.

    7. The first thing they do is pass a law making it impossible for the likes of Brown to attack personal freedoms in this way ever again.

    8. The second thing they do is scrap plans for ID cards,

    9. The third thing they do is scrap plans for DNA databases containing the details of millions of innocent people.

    10. Brown's "legacy": He is the man who tried to destroy the personal freedoms of the British people - but failed.

    I know which scenario I'm betting on!!

  • Comment number 21.

    The fact that the sisterhood those awful women Blears (this morning) and now Harperson spouting off about vanity and doing everything to downgrade what is a very bold and honest gesture shows again just what Nu lab really are all about. If these two are so certain 42 days are right then they should resign their own seats and fight DD in his own seat. They won't of course because they know they would loose heavily as DD has more right and moral courage in his little finger compared to these two put together.
    DD considers they won the argument (even amongst Labour MP's) but the other side bought the votes. Even the press thinks so as they laughed as the denials from Brown. Most of us know so as well. Is this what our democracy has now been reduced to under this government?
    With the failure of Brown and Co to give us a referendum on the EU, DD's constituency voters are now in a similar position as the Irish in the EU referendum. A small number of people can strike out on behalf of the vast majority for liberty and freedom for all or fall under the tyranny of a state that only wishes to suppress and ignore opposition views and monitor the people like no other before it. The nothing to hide nothing to fear argument already has been proved wrong by this and other governments in the past. The newspaper you read or the support is also irrelevant if as this affects us all. The only division here (despite what Nu lab would have us believe) is between the rights and freedoms of the people evolved over hundreds of years and the boundaries of this government which see to think they have the right to tear up these hard one traditions. We all require protection but it’s a balance and we also should not be doing the terrorists job for them.
    Kind Regards
    Baron Von Ripwinkle De Parkbench

  • Comment number 22.

    #4 purpleDogzzz "I support libertarianism 100% That is what FREEDOM means."

    I think your position is much too simplistic. You seem to realise that either extreme position (complete licence set against totalitarian control) is undesirable, and that the issue is where you strike the balance between the two. Central to that judgement is how much weight you give to the freedoms of the majority as against the freedoms of the minority to indulge in activities such as crime. The greater the weight you put on each side of that equation must inevitably reduce the freedom available to the other. Unfortunately you seem to be interested in looking at only one side of the issue.

    It used to be the Conservatives who were big on the protection of the majority from the criminal minority. It is odd how that seems to have changed now that they are not the party normally in power. Looking at the issues raised by Davis, I still fail to see the point of principle involved in extending the period of detention without charge from 4 to 6 weeks, especially with the greater protections proposed; like most people (I think) I find CCTV cameras to be a reassuring development, not a threat; I see the success of the DNA database in bringing criminals to justice many years after they thought they had got away with it something to be welcomed; and I fail to see the threat posed by having a single card to prove my identity, rather than the pack I now have to carry round with me.

    Perhaps when I was 18 I might have been on your side in all of this, and my views are conditioned by the fact that I am approaching my three score years and ten. Perhaps not.

  • Comment number 23.

    The Sun always used to be a Conservative tabloid. When Tony Blair was elected it became a Labour tabloid.

    I stopped reading it after that.

  • Comment number 24.

    Sorry but Nick has got this spot on. This morning there is not ONE upside for David Cameron or the Tories - all the talk is about splits/turmoil etc etc. Thsi will carry on.

    The only way for this legislation to be amended(repealed) is for the Tories to be elected. Cameron had Brown on the canvass - Davis has allowed him to get up.

    All this proves why the Tories were right to elect Cameron rather than this grandstanding politician with suspect judgement who has just shown how utterly self indulgent he really is when putting his own vanity against the interests of the Team.

  • Comment number 25.

    As one who did raise issues with your statements of yesterday, I welcome the fact that you acknowledge you were on the wrong side of the issue in terms of the how the public are seeing things.

    Most of your 10 points are based on supposition rather than any evidence.

    Where is your posting examining why Labour are refusing the put up a candidate? The LibDem position is clear - Labour are the ones who are looking as if they don't believe in their own policies.

    Even-handed examination is what is needed.


  • Comment number 26.

    Where are the 10 reasons this might be a nightmare for Brown.

    Start with:

    1. Davis wins and it completely undermines Brown's "the public are asking for it" argument

    2. Labour don't put up a candidate and are accused of bottling it, again

    3. Labour do put up a candidate who loses his deposit

    4. the 30 odd Labour rebels find themselves forced to support Davis

  • Comment number 27.


    Most of your ten points are good ones, but an approach based solely on calculation completely misses the point here.

    On grounds of simple political calculation, I agree that David Davis' decision might not seem wise.

    But his point, surely, is that the time has come where someone needs to put principle BEFORE calculation.

    For a politician to act on principle, without regard to the practical cost of doing so, is immensely refreshing. That is why Davis is striking a chord with the public - even those who don't agree with him on the specific issue of 42 days.

    Principles before calculation - there's an idea!

  • Comment number 28.

    This goes far beyond party politics and what is best for the Conservative party. Mr Davis has brought the issue into the open and away from what now seems an inherently corrupt Parliament. I'm not so naive to think that horse-trading does not go on, but for our Prime Minister to resort to bribing the Northern Irish MP's, then DENY it is enough for me. He must think we are stupid.

    As for whether Mr Davis will achieve his goals, I refer you to your own 'Have Your Say' board. The discussion about the 42 day law consisted of 79 pages before the debate was closed. The discussion about the effect of Mr Davies resignation is currently at 209 pages in less than 24 hours!! He has already achieved his main goal, to get us talking about it.

    I have spent the past 3 years working in Bulgaria, Italy, Spain and Mexico and from what I have seen there has made me thankful to hail from a country that values democracy (or at least used to).

    If this were a football match, the opposition fans would be chanting 'Are you Zimbabwe in disguise?'.

  • Comment number 29.

    Re Nick's point 4: so the Tories are not a "major party?" on your political rpad-map?

    Or have I missed the fact that Davis is going to stand as an Independent - in which case some of Nick's other points make no sense...

  • Comment number 30.

    I can't believe that nobody understands David Camerons use of the phrase 'A very couragous decision' His decision nothing to do with the party. It was very clear to me that he was using it in the Sir Humphrey appleby 'Yes minister' sense. He was disowning davis. A leadership challange is afoot I think.

  • Comment number 31.

    Mr Robinson not one of the 10 reasons you list is convincing.

    Stop regurgitating Labour propaganda and give us real analysis . You started quite well as BBC's political editor but your coverage has steadily deteriorated and you are no longer credible as an objective reporter.

    There is no doubt that David Davies' move is bold and daring and that David Cameron would have preferred keeping him in the Shadow Cabinet. However claiming that this will harm Cameron is just not credible.

    It is Brown who is holed below the waterline by this. His great revival based on a hollow victory secured on dubious political trading is now stillborn and the Civil Liberties agenda will continue to remain on the front pages.

    Let us look at your 10 reasons:

    1. The Sun may be anti Davies but they are certainly not anti Cameron. And once the by- election is over they will fall in line particularly if DD wins big.

    2. Look at HYS and the Blogs! And he is running virtually unopposed: DD is not going to lose.

    3. DD and DC are not at odds on this matter - see DD's excellent piece in today's Telegraph. He was a "big beast" before with his own views: so no change there. Trying to paint this a clash between the 2 Davids is not credible.

    4. Unlikely to be a damp squib. Kelvin McKenzie running and the media will make sure that does not happen. Maybe the BBC will play the Labour game and try to play it down but luckily there's SKY and the others.

    5. see 3. above.

    6. 7. 8. and 9. same as 3. and 5. above. In fact six of your reasons are variations of the same idea: that DD is in a fight with Cameron for the soul of the Conservative party.
    DD is not challenging Cameron . There's a desperate attempt by some in the media to paint a clash between them. It makes for a good story but on available evidence wholly without substance.

    10. We can rely on Gordon Brown to continue to dig himself in his whole. And Davies has just handed him a shovel so that he can dig deeper.

  • Comment number 32.

    lease, read the comments, listen to the calls. Not everything is an internal spat in a political party. The common man is shouting "ENOUGH !" to Westminster and following DD. That one aspect, at a time when Politicians are reviled as self serving hypocrites, must be worth considering by you.

    This affair is just a continuation of the "petrol strike" campaign kicked off by William Hague and fuelled by the media. The "Real England" theme is a phoney that's hijacking the real underlying trend of practicality and sociability that I called months before the polls picked up. Reality isn't always what you think it is, and your friends aren't always who you think they are.

    The sober and nuanced issues surrounding the 42 day policy have been hijacked by vested interests. The gesture politics of the usual suspects, and the dumb and chummy vote catching opposition are getting in the way. This is deliberate because is rubbishes proper policy development and robs the government of a result, and whips up a wave of emotionalism that people can cynically ride into power.

    Gordon Brown stands for purpose, society, and building for the long term. I challenge anyone to say this is not in tune with the aspirations of the common man, business, and politics. Fiddling in the dirt and arguing amongst ourselves is what drives people like Frank Whittle, the inventor of the jet engine, away from Britain, and creates ghetto communities with no hope. The City and Tories hate Gordon Brown just as they hated Stephenson, one of the founders of the industrial revolution.

    You believe in Britain? Brown is Britain.
  • Comment number 33.

    Nick, your reasons are either weak, mutually exclusive, and more pertinent to backroom government/media mutual masturbation than the impact Davis's action may have on the popular debate.

    As for 10, I agree, but I must point out it makes no difference at all in moral or popular terms.

    We've been inundated with stories of morally repugnant New Labour sleaze since 2003, and one more New-Labour-Sleazes-Its-Way-Out-Of-Blahblahblah would be much less significant than the current exploration of how New Labour has systematically chipped away at the rights and freedoms that make Britain special.

    Team Davis.

  • Comment number 34.

    Triffid100 - hear hear!!!

    You only need to go to Have Your Say to see how much admiration and support David Davis has from the vast majority of the public (or at least BBC News website readers), that we believe this is a genuine principled stand that does Davis nothing but credit, and (for many) gives credit to the Conservative Party just by association with him.

    I have never seen news reporting so out of step with public opinion. Still, I suppose a blog is generally an opinion piece, so Nick Robinson has every right to give his reading of the situation - and the opening sentence is a tacit admission that he realises most of the public disagree with that reading.

  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 36.

    I agree with purpleDogzzz, comment 4. I wouldn't go so far as to say I support libertarianism 100%, but I do think we need a serious libertarian v authoritarian debate in this country, and for a rebalancing back from the authoritarian, "Nanny State" end of the spectrum. I can't believe that a majority of Britons support the current imbalance.

    I also think that the electorate need to be reminded that this is definitively NOT a left/right issue. Could you please reference the Political Compass (search on Wikipedia and elsewhere), Nick? I see this is a very useful model and, at the very least, food for thought.

    There are other "elephants in the corner" we should be debating as a country, like immigration policy and our relationship with/membership of the EU, but I think this is by far the most important current issue for us and for our children.

  • Comment number 37.

    This post explains exactly why you command so little respect, Nick.

    You have given us the impact upon the soap opera which is Westminster and completely ignored the issue at hand, namely one man's stand for the rights and liberties of the country.

    I don't vote Tory - in fact I can't ever envisage a scenario when I ever would - but David Davis' stance is wholly admirable and as such is worthy of analysis on its own without recourse to the continual and easily produced incestuous Westminster gossipmongery which has now replaced actual journalism. You ain't no John Cole, that's for sure.

  • Comment number 38.

    If this has demonstrated anything to me it is this. The media are another puppet of the hidden hand that dictates an agenda that we have been following for a very long time. The government and opposition are also puppets of this agenda. When someone has the courage to stand up to this agenda, they are savaged by the other puppets. When the left wing AND right wing media unite attack a man who made a very very popular point of principle which is a point of principle that directly attacks that hidden agenda. That shows a collusion in the support of a hidden agenda.

    The agenda does not involve moving us forward as free peoples. As Gordon Brown has often spoken of a new world order. Any reference I have found that mentions what the new world order is, who it is made up of, what it's goals are are ALL heading for a global dictatorship with a cashless society and a microchipped population. A world in which people are the owned servants of the elite and that is according to the people who make up this elite themselves. They admit to each other what their goals are. These have been extensively documented.

    This hyper-class is made up of the people that own the independent media that own and set the editorial line for their news stations and newspapers. This elite sit on the boards of the largest corporations and in the think-tanks that advice (dictate the agenda to) governments and they own the oil companies and the weapons companies and they are making a fortune from the wars and the divisions in society that are created by the lies spread from their media. They are conditioning the populous all the time to accept and manifest a false reality. They are conditioning people to permanently live in stress and fear. They report alarmism and terror and hate from every angle and then implore us to vote for their chosen puppet to keep us safe from impending disaster.

    This is why there is a massive schism happening right now. There IS a growing divide between those of us waking up from this totalitarian nightmare and understanding that we are a manifestation of infinite consciousness experiencing an illusion, and those trapped in the conditioning, helplessly crying for the protection of the elite terrorists and there are many people who appear to be in the middle who are still in the process of waking up. Recognising the depths of evil that threaten to ensnare us as microchipped slaves, but not fully yet recognising what to do about it with their conditioned reflex being to fight. That is what the elite would love and are preparing for. There have been orders issued to police forces in this country to prepare for civil war. That is why Traffic wardens have been re-designated to become civil enforcement officers. To take over the policing role when the police are tasked with a military front line role with the army in a fight for our country against the civilian population.

    Fighting is NOT the answer. Libertarianism is. Freedom is. Peaceful non-compliance is the answer. As Ghandi taught us.

  • Comment number 39.

    I read The Sun, amongst other news sources, because over the last 10 years it has been a very good weather vane to understand which direction the government will jump.

    An honourable debate between The Sun and David Davis will bring the issues out in the open. This by-election does not have to be war between The Sun and Tories.

    The issues at stake have been obscured by Save-Gordon-Politics versus Kill-Gordon-Politics. The public need to hear the issues.

    42 days is just one of our civil liberties the government are stamping on. Although cost of living, schools, hospitals and defence are all important issues, we can't ignore loss of liberty just because it doesn't hit us in the pocket or immediately make our lives worse.

    Clearly David Davis has taken the spotlight off of the governments appalling record, that must cause Cameron a headache, but in 3 weeks time, Gordon will blunder back into the storm which we have to hope will rid this country of him.

    Oddly - in conclusion - David Davis, right or wrong, his actions have prompted me to re-join the Conservatives as a member this morning. I haven't voted since 1997. I want to see the end of this government. Conviction is good. Real debate is better than Save-Gordon-Politics. Cynical removal of civil liberties is easier for Gordon than fixing genuine issues like schools and hospitals etc. I'd like to see a genuine reforming goverment in place with a positive agenda.

  • Comment number 40.

    Just a tangential point. Davis has been described as making a stand on principle by some. I just wonder if 'he' had been 'she' instead (Davina?) whether the tone of the debate would be on the lines of "hormonal hysterical woman, over reacting as usual, having a hissy fit".
    That would have been an interesting situation to see where the media bias arose.

  • Comment number 41.

    I notice that at no stage have you addressed the actual issue.

    All you do is waffle on about marginal advantage/disadvantage - who's up, who's down.

    You have no vision, you have forgotten what politics is supposed to be about.

    A cynic - a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

    One final thought - if ministers and commentators think an election is a "stunt", or "a waste of taxpayers money" or "irresponsible", then they really have lost touch and should get out more.

  • Comment number 42.

    I remember when it was conventional wisdom to believe an Englishman's home was his castle.

    Under Labour, it is where an Englishman has to fill-in incredibly intrusive forms justifying his existence to a corrupt government or face a massive fine.

  • Comment number 43.

    Nick - you say yourself that the BBC have been inundated with calls praising David Davis action. Yet your blog does not provide any analysis of why this should be - given that the Government insist the majority of the public is in favour of 42 days.

    You do however continue to give considerable space to the idea that Davis's actions will damage the Tory party and Cameron's political standing.

    Perhaps outside of Westminster the protection of civil liberties is seen as of greater importance than party politics.

    Lets have some analysis of why press and public opinion seems at odds.

  • Comment number 44.

    Nick Robinson's comments are so totally one-sided: quite clearly anti-Tory and pro-Labour. This is not balanced reporting - it is also totally counter to public opinion: does he not understand that people are tired of having their liberty eroded by this cosy Labour-BBC alliance, with its strangehold on democracy?

  • Comment number 45.

    I can't argue with your logic Nick. I suppose I am sanguine because I don't vote Tory.

    But I do respect the stand of David Davis as I believe that the 42 days is symptomatic of the creeping McCarthyism that is being set free. Harness public fears for short term political gains. The 42 days is cynical nonsense.

    In the US, known to be soft on terrorists with Guantanamo etc., they charge after 8 days. Are people running about with their underwear on their heads because of the threat of complex long running cases? Are they five times more efficient? Are we five times safer?


    There may be damage to the Tories but it will make some re-think their opinions on the Tories. That won't include me but the respect has gone up.

    The other point nobody is making is that because of the McCarthyite atmosphere 60-70% of the public are for 42 days.

    But the reason that this page will be 60-70% against it I believe is because these are more politically active people. That is a problem for Labour at the next election.

    If you look at Labour membership desertion, funding issues and investigations, decline of party activists then Labour may have won on 42 days but their future looks bleaker than the Tories. Even Labour supporters seem resigned to a blood bath at the next election.

    So 42 days is a pyrhic victory - it was not needed, it may not make it into legislation, it may be another one of those 10p factors that dooms Labour at the next election.

    McNulty may not be at Westminster much longer if the SNP win big in 2010.

    A changing world.

  • Comment number 46.

    Tony McNulty, (Home office Minister) has the unfortunate task of defending totalitarianism, (sorry, protecting UK Citizens) and the introduction of the ID Card and it's inherent problems. IE not being able to detect bald people, or brown eyed people or guitar players (being all af these, I know I'm in trouble already)

    I am sorry I said totalitarianism, because we live in free democracy. I know this is true because according to McNulty:

    "We are not knocking down doors at four in the morning with people booted and suited in riot gear. Most of the removals occur around half-five, half-six, seven in the morning."

    Phew, I am so relieved!!! . I am so glad he cleared that one up, We live in free democracy because our detainees are carted off to be detained without trial, later in the morning than detainees in genuine fascist states. I feel safer already.

    No that is not a joke, he REALLY said it. And with a straight face too.

  • Comment number 47.

    If the Tories were in power they would of implemented the 42 day ruling ... fact.

  • Comment number 48.

    Speaking of ID cards, be aware of how much of a Ball Ache they will be to get one of these infernal Items? and YES THEY WILL BE COMPULSARY!!! Even under Current government plans, they aim to start the VOLUNTARY introduction in 2007 and have them become compulsary in 2013.

    You will have to pay AT LEAST £30.00, but be sure that you are on benefits or a pension first and you do not want it to be a passport. If not the cost will be AT LEAST £97.00

    Then be prepared to travel to a registration center to be fingerprinted (all fingers and thumbs) have both retinas scanned and have your photograph taken. All at your expense.

    If you are a family of 5, that's over £700.oo for the day including travel and food. (If you live any distance from the registration office)

    Once you have done that you can hand in your ID forms, properly filled in or face a fine.

    The National Identity Register will contain the following information that has to be provided:

    1. Name
    2. Other previous names or aliases;
    3. Date and place of birth and, if the person has died, the date of death;
    4. Address
    5. Previous addresses in the United Kingdom and elsewhere;
    6. Times of residency at different places in the United Kingdom or elsewhere;
    7. Current residential status;
    8. Residential statuses previously held;
    9. Information about numbers allocated to the applicant for identification purposes and about the documents to which they relate;
    10. Information about occasions on which recorded information in the Register has been provided to any person;
    11. Information recorded in the Register on request.
    12. Photograph
    13. Fingerprints
    14. “Other” biometrics (iris recognition);
    15. Signature
    16. Nationality;
    17. Entitlement to remain in the United Kingdom; and
    18. Where entitlement derives from a grant of leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, the terms and conditions of that leave.
    19. National Identity Registration Number;
    20. The number of any ID card that has been issued;
    21. National Insurance number;
    22. The number of any relevant immigration document;
    23. The number of any United Kingdom passport (within the meaning of the Immigration Act 1971 (c. 77)) that has been issued; (If you have ever had a passport issued to you that has been lost or stolen and you do not have that passport's number any more, you are screwed)
    24. The number of any passport issued by or on behalf of the authorities of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom or by or on behalf of an international organisation;
    25. The number of any document that can be used (in some or all circumstances) instead of a passport;
    26. The number of any identity card issued by the authorities of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom;
    27. Any reference number allocated by the Secretary of State in connection with an application made for permission to enter or to remain in the United Kingdom;
    28. The number of any work permit (within the meaning of the Immigration Act 1971);
    29. Any driver number connected to a driving licence;
    30. The number of any designated document which is held by the applicant that is a document the number of which does not fall within any of the preceding sub-paragraphs; ???
    31. The date of expiry or period of validity of a document the number of which is recorded by virtue of this paragraph. ???
    32. The date of every application for registration; ???
    33. The date of every application for a modification of the contents of his entry; ???
    34. The date of every application confirming the contents of his entry (with or without changes); ???
    35. The reason for any omission from the information recorded in his entry;
    36. Particulars (in addition to its number) of every ID card issued;
    37. Whether each such card is in force and, if not, why not;
    38. Particulars of every person who has countersigned an application for an ID card or a designated document; ??? What particulars?
    39. Particulars of every notification given by the applicant for the purposes of regulations under section 13(1) (lost, stolen and damaged ID cards etc.);
    40. Particulars of every requirement by the Secretary of State for the individual to surrender an ID card issued to the applicant.
    41. The information provided in connection with every application to be entered in the Register, for a modification of the contents of entry in the Register or for the issue of an ID card;
    42. Information provided in connection with every application confirming entry in the Register (with or without change;
    43. Particulars of the steps taken, in connection with an application mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b) or otherwise, for identifying the applicant or for verifying the information provided in connection with the application;
    44. Particulars of any other steps taken or information obtained (otherwise than in connection with an application mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b)) for ensuring that there is a complete, up-to-date and accurate entry about that individual in the Register;
    45. Particulars of every notification given by that individual for the purposes of section 12.
    46. A personal identification number to be used for facilitating the making of applications for information recorded in his entry, and for facilitating the provision of the information;
    47. A password or other code to be used for that purpose or particulars of a method of generating such a password or code;
    48. Questions and answers to be used for identifying a person seeking to make such an application or to apply for or to make a modification of that entry.
    49. Particulars of every occasion on which information contained in the individual’s entry has been provided to a person;
    50. Particulars of every person to whom such information has been provided on such an occasion;
    51. Other particulars, in relation to each such occasion, of the provision of the information.

    another version of this list here

    Can you confidently provide all this info? or is this an administrative nightmare for you?
    How will you provide the information for section (9) and (30) above? this could include and not be limited to:

    Information about numbers allocated to you for identification purposes and about the documents to which they relate; (driving licence, passport, National insurance numbercard, birth certificate, marriage licence number, NHS Number, military ID cards, Bank account numbers, old bank account numbers, credit card accounts, telephone account number, Councils tax account number, store loyalty cards, club membership numbers, Insurance certificate numbers, vehicle registration documents, etc...(These numbers indentify you to these different organisations, do they not?))

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    For sure there are risks and potential negatives in what David Davis has done. But it is not quite as bad for the Conservatives as you make out, Nick.

    Firstly, they have made it clear - it was a personal decision by Davis. Secondly, he is bound to win no matter who stands against him. Finally, although you think there is some question about the libertarian/authoritarian balance in this country, his argument is surely correct and the people will see it that way.

  • Comment number 51.

    Surely the best place to defend our civil liberties is as shadow home secretary and in all likelyhood home secretary in the not too distant future. I'm not sure what this by-election will achieve? It certainly knocks project Cameron off course, which seemed to be going so well. If I was Davis I'd be worried, the Sun will paint him (and the Tories by implication) as the terrorists' friends. Terrorism is probably the number one concern amongst the electorate, especially if, God forbid, there's another outrage. It will be very dangerous (politically) to end up on the wrong side of this debate.

  • Comment number 52.

    They often talk about politicians being out of touch with the public. To me, it seems like for once it is journalist who is out of touch. Nick Robinson's comments seem strangely biased and blinkered. It is not clear at all if this will be bad for the Torys. It could be good.. time will tell, but in the mean time, we only seem to hear a one sided review from Nick. :-(

  • Comment number 53.


    I still think you should have waited before rushing to judgement on this unusual situation.

    There is a real risk now that you will be leading coverage of this in a certain way to justify your premature reaction, rather that dispassionately and accurately reporting what is happening and analysing carefully what it means. This blog certainly makes me worried about that.

    It is absolutely imperative that in your job you are impartial AND SEEN TO BE IMPARTIAL.

    Not your finest hour, Nick.

  • Comment number 54.

    Davis's move is a rare and inspiring case of political principle. He is a giant among the current pygmies in Parliament and he is putting the unelected and unscrupulous Brown to the sword. I am certain he will be triumphant and he will serve the country well by highlighting the insidious creep of vile authoritarianism over which this unworthy and unwanted government has presided. If Brown fails to field a candidate against him it will further illustrate the man's moral and personal cowardice. He has always been scared of the ballot box but, hopefully soon, he will die a political death by it. I for one will travel in good heart to Davis's constituency to fight for our rights alongside him. Shame on this government.

  • Comment number 55.

    Everyone of the 10 points has a valid counter-argument.

    But it's "Clause 7" that is the cross-party, cross-bench, cross electorate rallying cry.

    How can an argument against authoritarianism be divisive? Unless you're part of the Establishment, 'tovarishch' and 'old bean'.

  • Comment number 56.

    Mr. Robinson, your views are usually bang on but your way off the mark here.

    This is a good move for Davis, not as he wants to be the next Tory leader but he wants to prove a point about the 42 day rule.

    I'm even thinking of voting Torys the next election now he has done this.......

  • Comment number 57.

    At 10:38 am on 13 Jun 2008, Pensfold wrote:

    ** If labour don't put up a candidate they are afraid to defend 42 days ***

    No No No. Davis has choose to resign to force a by election.

    Firstly when you resign it usually means that you then leave the stage, if that was the case then Labour should put up a candidate. But this isn't the case, the Labour Party have a manifesto, Davis is now a ONE issue Politian. Labour do not have to follow Davis's decision just because he demands it; Labour fight elections on manifesto's NOT one issue. If that were the case all 200+ Tory MPS could resign and force an election.

    Secondly Labour are not afraid, they won the argument in parliament by winning the vote, simple as that.

    In the days when Thatcher, Major and Blair were winning controversial votes by thin margins, the world went on, and those that disagreed had to swallow it, we have a parliamentary system after all.

    Davis is behaving like a fool, and it will back fire on him.

  • Comment number 58.

    Call it divisive if you want, but actions speak louder than words. Opposition only have words, but now we have imaginative action!

    Something extraordinary needed to stir things up before this country decays beyond recovery.

    How long before we get to the state Zimbabwe is in now? Not long if Labour carry on much longer.

    They are evil.

  • Comment number 59.

    I am pleased to see that I am not alone in being astonished at your, and the media in general's reaction to this. It seems to fly in the face of how the public feel. I joined this blig sight this morning as I felt compelled to say something.

    I watched Newsnight last night and saw the same effect ie.

    1. vast majority of the public applauding the actions of a conviction politician

    2. politicians of all colour (other than Lib Dems) stand back and refuse to be associated with his actions

    3. media drive forward and embellish upon the politicians view and ignore the public sentiment

    Can you not see that in this case the media (TV and the papers) really is trying to create a false impression. The public support for Davis has been massive and, very unfortunately, the media are starting to belittle his actions.

    I can see some small parallel with the state/media manipulation currently underway on another continent where the ruling party is desparate to stay in power.

    Listen to the people in this instance! You are in denial about the groundswell of public opinion. Not for the first time in recent years I am ashamed to live in the UK.

  • Comment number 60.

    I have to say Nick, I'm inclined to agree with the posters on here who think you've become a little blinded by the bright lights of the Westminster Village.

    Out here, in the real world, David Davis' move seems to be a popular one. It puts Gordon Brown in a very difficult position (stand and lose, or fail to protect 42 days) and actually serves to enhance the image of Conservative MP's as principled and dedicated sorts, much at odds with the secret dealing and self-interest which has been seen to pepetuate the Labour party in the last week.

    This isn't to say that some of your points are not valid ones, but the benefits of a bit of positive publicity around a prominent MP and the unsettling of Brown, might just make this a gamble that pays off for Davis and for Cameron.

  • Comment number 61.

    I think that you have misread the mood of a lot of the people of this country Nick. Whilst I would not presume to speak for such people, the blogs I have read and the comment on websites such as this suggests to me that people are pleased to see that an MP acts with integrity when he feels that such a fundamental point is up for debate. I for one have had enough of the lickspittles of the the Labour Party saying that this 42 day matter is an issue of national security. It is not, it is simply the erosion of yet more of the freedoms of the people of the UK. Read Magna Carta and the Declaration of Arbroath. These documents are the building blocks of democracy in most of the English speaking world and we must not allow them to be eroded by the or any other Government.

  • Comment number 62.

    I'm less concerned with what's good for Cameron or what's-his-name... you know... dour Scotchman... Brown? and far more concerned what's good for me, my children, and the country in which we (for the moment) live.

    And Davis is right. Absolutely spot-on.

    Those terrorists, the ones who are intent, in the oft-repeated warnings by nuLab mouthpieces - on "destroying our way of life"? They can't, and they don't have to. We're doing it for them.

  • Comment number 63.

    No no, I think Nick Robinson is right. The Conservatives know that the 42 Days legislation is unpopular - the debate has been carrying on for weeks.

    Now the Tories should have their payoff: a weak government who passed the legislation by buying MPs with wild promises, and all the media savaging of Gordon Brown that would have followed. Instead they have an incautious and potentially ill-disciplined frontbencher throwing his toys out of the pram.

    Maybe Davis is doing this from his deep-seated convictions - and hurrah if he is. But Nick is not wrong to consider the possibility that Davis is simply setting himself up as a potential leadership challenger, because you can bet your house that's what Cameron's now thinking.

  • Comment number 64.

    I'm confused. Who does David Davis think he is representing? Most of the Conservatives I know think locking up suspected terrorists for 42 days is a brilliant idea, in fact I'm sure they would extend it to locking up suspected benefits cheats, illegal immigrants and hoody wearers given half the chance.

    Obviously they are a bit concerned that they seem to be siding with Labour on this, but they're not too worried because given enough time they think the law could be extended to locking up suspected Socialists for 42 days also.

  • Comment number 65.


    I think 'nightmare' is way too strong for anything on your list.

    I agree, however, that Davis's stance is more likely to damage his career and the best interests of his party than to enhance them.

    Newsflash - personal sacrifice tends to go with the territory when a person takes a stand on principle.

    Amongst politicians, this makes him or her an exotic creature to friend and foe alike; an oddball to be derided as disloyal or a stunt artist or a loser of the plot.

    When a leading politician or party invokes 'principle', the arm of coincidence is long an all embracing so that whatever is being advocated on principle inevitably coincides with the best interests of the advocate.

    There are, of course, exceptions but, sadly they usually involve politicians whose career has or is coming to an end. Loss of office and discovery of principles are not uncommon bedfellows.

    This case is a rare exception. Davis believes - rightly or wrongly - that his proposed course of action is in the best interest of the country and that this is more important than self-interest or party advantage.

    The reaction he has received from politicians and the political journalists says much more about the lack of principle in that arena than the lack of judgment on his part.

    He does indeed lack judgment if his aim is to achieve self benefit or party benefit but it is plain wrong to equate presence of principle with lack of judgment.

    There were a significant number of MPS who went against their principles in the 42 day vote, in favour of self or party interest. How typical that the critical headlines should be about the guy who is sacrificing self interest for principle.

    Brown is let off the hook, comes the cry. By whom - Davis or the media ?

    I think Davis's actions on this are politically misguided but greatly to be admired.

  • Comment number 66.

    It is a political farce. If Davis want's a referendum on the issue he should call for one NATIONWIDE. He should state that no political parties should whip support for the referendum, and therefore apolitical organisations such as the judiciary, police and security services should be able to raise their support or objections freely. That would be a truly brave and risky option.

    When the public hear the reasoning directly from the Police they will back them. Unlike the Conservative party we trust our Police and Judiciary to make the correct decisions, and trust them not to abuse power.

    David C made a great deal in PMQ's of Conservative losses to terrorism. Let them share a platform with other victims of terrorism who support this measure. They are not the only ones to have suffered.

    Instead this farce will become, without Lib Dem opposition, a foregone conclusion, he will simply be returned to the commons. It is not a single issue campaign if his losing it will weaken the opposition on ALL issues and increase the Governments' majority.

    If he is fighting on a single issue will he pledge not to vote on other issues? Of course not, this will stop Labour supporters who disagree with the bill voting for him. The majority of the Country are fairly sick of this Government even if they support this measure, give us a chance to give a true indication of our feelings without Supporting Labour.

    What self respecting Conservative would strengthen a Labour Government because they disagree with Davis on a single issue, when the Labour alternative would vote against their interests on all other issues?

    The only way to truly gauge public opinion on a single issue is a full referendum. Gordon Brown should call his bluff and ask for cross party support for one. If they have nothing to fear from Democracy what could possibly be the objection? Both opposition parties state a referendum should be used when the constitution is altered, if as they claim Magna Carter (or the few clauses that remain) is at stake then surely this meets their criteria?

    What this is truly about is that DC has no intention of revoking this legislation when they come to power. After all he will not need the Muslim community’s votes then will he? He will probably state that new intelligence has come to light and however evil the Labour Government were to introduce it then, it is needed now. Davis knows this and is NOT a hypocrite.

    In spite of this post (or even rant, sorry I feel strongly on this) I stated yesterday and remain of the opinion that I would probably be a Tory supporter now if Davis had won the leadership. In a referendum I would vote against him, in an election probably for him.

  • Comment number 67.

    I worked on the Davis campaign at the last general election and can vouch for the man's conviction and integrity. This is not a stunt this is a man who has decided to resign as a matter of principle. I think it shows that the tories have politicians who stand by their principles unlike the labour MP's who merely tow the party line for personal gain. I don't think it is a negative for the tories - Cameron and other top tories all have the same libertarian values as David, their is no division as the Labour Spin doctors will like to tell you. David strongly believes on this issue and will tell you the same in a debate over a pint in the local pub as he would on the sofa in any TV studio in the country. He is doing it for personal reasons, not for gain or to challenge DC, but to keep the agenda in the media and out of strong convictions and principle. Morality is a rare virtue in modern politics and rather than play the party political game we should be discussing the real issue - should we give up the premise of being innocent until being proven guilty - that is the real question right now Nick!

  • Comment number 68.

    I'm uncomfortable with 42 days, so I'm not attacking the point Davis was making, but while his move has generated enormous publicity for his cause, which is commendable, it does threaten to degenerate into a farce that could damage the Conservatives. Quite simply, it won't be a referendum on 42 days if any Conservative voters who still support 42 days cast their vote for Davis. He will need to successfully shun their support or the result will be meaningless. How will those voters feel about that? And if Cameron does campaign on his behalf as he promised, it would also need to be on that one single issue, which risks alienating authoritarian-leaning Conservatives well beyond that constituency. And where will those voters turn to if they no longer feel welcome in the Conservative Party? I imagine Ukip must be rubbing their hands with glee. Along with Gordon Brown, of course. No wonder Cameron is so angry.

  • Comment number 69.

    Sorry Nick, lots of conjecture but no facts.

    Sadly look look only at the party politics and the personalities.

    In reality, the issue of erosion of civil liberties is much bigger and much more important than party politics. It will unite people and politicians across the spectrum. Never mine Brown and Cameron, Labour or the Conservatives, this is much more important than any of them, something that the political commentators within Westminster can't seem to grasp

    I've just looked at the text of David Davis' speech and find it applies to my daily life in a way I do not wish it to. The key section says

    "....the generic security arguments relied on will never go away - technology, developing complexity and so on - we will next see 56 days, now it’s 70 days, 90 days.

    But in truth 42 days is just one, perhaps the most salient example, of the insidious, surreptitious and relentless erosion of fundamental British freedoms.

    We will have, shortly, the most intrusive identity card system in the world, a CCTV camera for every 14 citizens, a DNA database bigger than any dictator should have with thousands of innocent children and millions of innocent citizens on it.

    We witness and assault on jury trial - that bulwark against bad law and its arbitrary abuse by the state, short cuts to our justice system will make our system neither firm nor fair and the creation of a database state opening up our private lives to the prying eyes of official snoopers and exposing our personal data to careless civil servants and criminal hackers.

    The state has security powers to clamp down on peaceful protest and so-called hate laws to stifle legitimate debate whilst those inside Parliament get off Scot free.

    This cannot go on it must be stopped and for that reason today I feel it’s incumbent on me to take a stand."

    This means all of us, Nick Robinson and all. One day, at this rate, political commentators will be told what to say and those that don't will be out of a job.

    Anyone, like myself, who worked in Eastern Europe in the late 70s - early 80s know the suffocated feeling of the people who now have their relative "freedom." We seem to be going the other way towards a state controlled population. Just give it 50 years. Happily I won't be around then.

  • Comment number 70.

    i can't believe how much negativity this has generated in the press - these are fundamental questions about the liberty of every person in the country and the, frankly, despicable behaviour of the labour party in gradually removing our freedoms. We are walking into a police state and all people care about is 'its a stunt that will cost a small amount of money' - pretty small compared to the hundreds of billions of pounds wasted by this governments incompetence and corruption.
    Even more amazing that it makes the conservatives look bad, which journalists keep banging on about but myself and much of the public feel the complete opposite.

  • Comment number 71.

    32 CEH

    There you go again, winding everyone up.

    If "Brown is Britain" then God help us all

  • Comment number 72.


    Just read the comments on this issue on "Have Your Say".

    These are not always very insightful but on this occasion they speak for themselves.

    May I respectfully suggest you have a look at them, as I think you will find them interesting and useful in your work...

  • Comment number 73.

    I'm wondering once Mr Davis is re-elected how long before he challenges Cameron for the leadership? He must strike before the next election, and sooner rather than later.

  • Comment number 74.

    There are just as many possible positive outcomes as negative ones, but your point blank refusal to acknowledge or comment on them reveals a bias in your thinking which while perfectly valid and suitable for material published here, should not be tainting the reports you deliver on the BBC TV news. Your 10 point list sounds a bit desperate, almost petulant. There is no evidence whatsoever of any high level split other than your conjecture.

  • Comment number 75.

    what exactly is the "cost" of a by-election to the taxpayer, Mr Robinson? and how does that compare to the public spending growth and waste under Labour? or the licence fee, which we apparently pay to be fed government propaganda.

  • Comment number 76.

    Dear Nick,

    On a football terrace we'd all be chanting...

    you're wrong, and you know you are!
    you're wrong, and you know you are!
    you're wrong, and you know you are!
    you're wrong, and you know you are!

    Get over it!

  • Comment number 77.

    I'd get out more if I were you Nick. Stop having those hugely enjoyable (and no doubt expensive) lunches with your chums in the Westminster village and start talking to real folks.
    Your 10 reasons no doubt make excellent sense to your chums - in fact you probably wrote them together.
    The fact is real people don't buy the party line.
    Talking down to us on the basis we don't really understand how things work isn't going to cut it this time.
    You are not in the loop here Nick. You have judged the mood of your chums very well. What you don't get is the mood of the people.

  • Comment number 78.

    As if we needed more evidence that Gordon Brown stands for dithering and incompetence, we have the fantastic spectacle of a byelection being called on an issue on which Gordon Brown claims to have conviction.

    Yet we have no canidate and allegedly, no decision yet whether to actually fight the election.

    Brilliant. So we're told how much Gordon Brown cares about our rights but when someone challenges him he can't decide whether to field a candidate.

    If he's so decisive why hasn't he appeared to say immediately they will be fielding a strongly pro 42 day detention candidate?

  • Comment number 79.

    @ C_E_H

    Charles, whenever I read any of your posts I'm reminded of a quote I read from a Zen master (you'll have to forgive me if I can't remember who it is, maybe you can enlighten me)

    "If someone claims they are Zen, they are not"

    Your comment that Brown *is* Britain is a very, very dangerous viewpoint to have, that reminded me of Chancellor Palpetine spitting that he *was* the Senate in Revenge of the Sith. Nothing is more dangerous to democracy than when people begin believing that 1 individual can singlehandedly "save" a country, as the people of Germany found out to their cost in the 1930's. Do you think everyone who voted for the Nazi party really shared their views? Or do you think that they had lost their national identity and pride following the 1920's, were duped into fearing the communists after the Reichstag fire, and believed that Hitler could restore their pride as a nation?

    I don't believe that Brown is a Hitler or a Stalin as some people on these boards do. I think that he has nothing but good intentions, enough good intentions to pave a road right down to hell, and that is exactly what he is doing. I've always viewed Brown a little bit like my dad, when I was younger he would give me a bedtime and tell me not to talk to strangers, and that was good, I needed those rules because I wasn't able to make well informed decisions for myself. I now am old enough to make those decisions, go to bed when I deem it necessary and will take to strangers if I feel like it. Some of the rules I had as a child I do not follow as they're no longer appropriate, even if at the time they were sensible.

    Brown seems to share in your delusion that he is father to the nation. He is trying to tell us to be in bed by 9, to eat our greens and, most relevantly to this issue, to not trust strangers. But me, and the vast majority of the electorate, are not children any more, and we deserve the right to an informed decision on these subjects, and that is why I believe that DD is right to force the issue. Make the case for all these intrusions into our liberty, and I mean really make the case, not trot out the "It's for security, it's to complicated to go into" line, that only readers of the Sun and the Daily Heil. If it's for security explain why! And LISTEN to the other side, don't just dismiss their arguements as wrong, explain why! This open debate is what has been missing from the whole issue and DD is an absolute saint for addressing it, whatever *his* motivations were

    Sorry for the rant, give a board guy a keyboard...

  • Comment number 80.

    Nick, just a thought. Am I picking up that you are feeling a little defensive about the reaction to the way you have been presenting this story? Have you ever had to present a 10-point justification of your views before?

    I was interested in your addendum to your last Newslog message about precedents for David Davis' resignation:

    "George Lansbury, 1912
    The Labour MP for Tower Hamlets, Bow and Bromley resigned to fight a by-election on a platform of votes for women. The Labour Party disapproved of his resignation and Lansbury lost the contest to the Conservative candidate by 731 votes."

    No doubt seen by the Labour Party leadership of the time as a nightmare for them. No doubt popular opinion was in favour of not giving votes for women, so political commentators of the time would have scoffed at this "rush of blood to the head".

    But who was right in the long run?

  • Comment number 81.

    Honestly, Mr. Robinson, you are at it again! none of your 'reasons' hold water at all. Did the Government's PR department issue you with that list or did you think of it all by yourself? I hope the latter but suspect the former.
    Simple question: How come the Tories found none of this 42 day detention/ getting rid of habeus corpus/cctv everywhere nonsense necessary when the IRA were in full flow???
    And what makes anyone think that the Tories NEED the support of that dreadful rag, the Sun, when they seem to be doing very well without it?
    If there is one thing about the current furore that cheers me up it is the fact that the Great British Public seem to be far less influenced by the media than they used to be, for which we should all be profoundly grateful.

  • Comment number 82.

    Although I have never agreed with conservative policy, even though I have socialist beliefs and even though I do not agree with the philosophy of the right wing - I believe what Mr Davis has done is exceptional and requires applause. I don't wish for it to be interpreted as a 'Tory discipline problem' as some of the press are keen to push - but merely a man - with a belief - and a principle - which he is prepared to risk his reputation for. I agree that the By-election might be pointless, I will be annoyed if the Labour party don't rise to the challenge and put up a candidate - but good on David for trying to highlight a serious failure of our political system. How can a 'one man cause' (as GB has made it) be forced through parliment based on the 'buying' of minority votes )the UDP)? Sure - we all know the Lords will hurl the bill out, but this is no 'fair' system. Labour have lied about the reasons for extending, lied about the standard that is set abroad and mis-led the public by claiming that 60% of people are for it - where? who? - all lies. At last the people who are involved in politics have started to realise the system is flawed and DOES NOT REPRESENT THE PEOPLE.
    David may be the first, but I sincerely hope there are many to follow. In answer to the critics who say this is pointless - I ask them what's the point of David continuing as an MP if the position becomes pointless in the face of a system which tramples all over the philosophy he originally began politics for (representation). I think Labour backbenchers who opposed the bill should show the same principles and resolve and do the same - then we would have a much more interesting situation for Gormless Brown to deal with. Maybe this is the first chip from the block of democracy and a sign that things really need to change with the British political system.

  • Comment number 83.

    Labour should refuse to stand against Davis on a point of principal and civil liberties he seems to have forgotten - that this country is run as a democracy and parliament votes to make decisions, majority over minority. If he wants anarchy then he is (I suspect) in the wrong party. No one should stand against the man, expose him as a self interested opportunist whose odd behaviour stands to cost the taxpayers tens of thousands of pounds in a no-point by-election.

  • Comment number 84.

    Taking a step back, DD is doing us all a favour by allowing us to pause and reflect and the incremental changes that have been happening over recent years.

    It may be embarrassing or inconvenient for the Tories, it may be a high risk to DD personally, but I think it will pay off.

    It does also turn the spotlight on the obvious and (perhaps not so obvious influence) of Rupert Murdoch.

  • Comment number 85.

    #47 At 11:44 am on 13 Jun 2008, mullerman wrote:

    If the Tories were in power they would of implemented the 42 day ruling ... fact.

    er, no. Opinion. You'd do well to recognise the difference.

  • Comment number 86.

    It seems, Nick, as though you have done the classic media thing of creating your narrative before considering the evidence, and then finding yourself able to speculate only in a way which takes what available evidence there so far is and fits it to support your narrative. We seem to be in uncharted waters and yet you are pre-determining that the story should be 'trouble for Cameron'.

    Please stand back and consider how the three leaders have handled the surprise so far: Clegg - decisive response; Cameron - unflustered piece to camera that shows a calm and tolerant attitude to an unforeseen situation; Brown - .... ah, yes... no evidence at all: might he be dithering by any chance?

    I would not be surprised if Cameron did not like Davis's decision; equally I suspect that Davis foresaw that and therefore (determined to go ahead anyhow) acted unilaterally. By so doing Davis created space in which Cameron could create his own position, something he has done in an intelligent, measured and confident way. As a result, at this moment, he seems to have considerably more leadership skill, judgment and character than Mr. Brown. And Clegg certainly seems to have taken some steps in furthering his leadership profile.

    Come on Nick: where is the balance in your commentary?

  • Comment number 87.


    Why are you so blind to your own mistake? Or do you just like digging yourself a hole?

    I won't go over the points that have been eloquently made above by a variety of people but clearly the truth is that David Davis did an honourable thing, and the public reaction has been positive. Your ten points on the other hand are utterly unconvincing and you are starting to sound dangerously like a (za)Nu Labour spokesperson: you're on the BBC now, so you're supposed to be impartial ;)

  • Comment number 88.

    So Gordon avoid headlines in the paper? So what?> (Ed Balls) ;)
    everyone knows what Gordon Brown did, the damage is already done. The media isn't just newspapoers , only 20% buy a paper, TV the web and the blogs know what went on.

  • Comment number 89.

    Kelvin McKenzie has got another problem to contend with if he stands - Liverpool FC supporters.

    They have never ever forgotten what he and his paper wrote about Hillsboro and they will never ever forgive it.

    Already on the 606 site, Liverpool fans are urging their fellow supporters in that constituency not to vote for him.

  • Comment number 90.

    I think some of the above posters are missing the point of Nick's article. He is not stating an opinion as to whether he believes Davis has made the right decision, rather pointing out how that decision could impact on the Conservative party. As a result, it isn't really a matter of much debate; this is where things stand.

  • Comment number 91.

    I think Nick's ten reasons are right and this is bad news for Cameron - but he has two years to gloss over the whole thing. Davis will be re-elected and the Conservatives will not lose a seat, which must be the most important thing leading up to an election. I would expect Labour not to field a candidate and spend their time improving their ratings. If Labour DO put up a candidate, then I would question Gordon's judgement - it's a contest they won't win and do not have to fight.

  • Comment number 92.

    I just wonder if 'he' had been 'she' instead (Davina?) whether the tone of the debate would be on the lines of "hormonal hysterical woman, over reacting as usual, having a hissy fit".

    Harriet Harman has developed a spine and Hazel Blears has developed an aura of happiness, as comment pundits have observed. By letting go of their party machine thinking and affiliations, their more natural characters are arising. This is quite enlightened from a Daoist/Buddhist/Stoic perspective.

    Detachment is not indifference. It is the prerequisite for effective involvement. Often what we think is best for others is distorted by our attachment to our opinions: we want others to be happy in the way we think they should be happy. It is only when we want nothing for ourselves that we are able to see clearly into others’ needs and understand how to serve them.

    -- Mahatma Gandhi

    Oh, dear. What has Gordon unleashed...
  • Comment number 93.

    I pitty people who are willing to support a party who wishes to remove their freedoms, over a principled man because of ignorant fanboyism and misplaced loyalty.

    Think about what you are agreeing with.

    Turn of the SPIN, stop proliferating lies and disinformation.


    The ONLY thing this is about is your fundamental freedoms and rights, and whether you want to live in a country that is GREAT for being built on these.

    Be aware of their gradual erosion.

  • Comment number 94.


    You claim that if the Tories were in power they would've implemented 42 days. Fact.

    I'd be interested to know how you came by this fact, because that's a theory. They're not in power, so you cannot state as fact how they may have reacted to a particular set of circumstances. We can guess and theorise but never claim it as fact.

    Which goes a long way to proving the problem I have with the die hard Labour supporters. By distorting the facts and mixing in rumours and suspicions they aim to warp the debate into the one they want to have.

    A few more examples

    1. DD was sacked because he said he would repeal 42 days and DC didn't want that
    -Then why was Dominic Greive on Channel 4 news last night saying he would repeal the law? Why would DC appoint a new Shadow Home Sec. that had the same views as the one he "Fired"

    2. This is about 42 Days
    - No, this is about the whole spectrum of erosions into our liberties, CCTV, ID Cards, DNA Database. 42 Days is just one small aspect of this.

    3. It's just a publicity stunt.
    - Thats true, but not for the reasons you believe. The General population seems to have been conditioned to accept, without thinking, the "function creep" of "anti terror" legislation. If DD'd resignation draws more attention to that surely it's a good thing, whatever the outcome.

    4. It will achieve nothing
    - Surely the fact we're all posting so vocifourously on the subject proves it already HAS achieved something, to stimulate debate on the issue. Whatever the outcome we can't say we've sleepwalked into a surviellance society. The issues have been raised and thoroughly examined

  • Comment number 95.

    Nick.. time to stop digging.
    The public arent interested in the party politics, they are interested in the principle.
    Why does everything revolve around a party power struggle.

  • Comment number 96.

    If there is an authoritarian/libertarian split as per your point 7 Nick, we know where your loyalties willl lie from your Ein Volk Conservatism as national YC Chairman.

  • Comment number 97.

    I am confused by why in your Blog you aren't actually discussing the issue of 42 days for which the public are applauding David Davies (please read HYS) on but instead some trivial dissagreement with David Cameron for which no-one seems interested in but both yourself and evening news correspondents seem keen to pursue?

    Please Nick, get back to the basics of the actual issues and not the political soap opera that is Westminster.

    Let us properly debate the 42 day ruling, let Labour actually come out and tell me why it is a good thing, with evidence.

  • Comment number 98.

    #48 purpledogzzz, I had hoped that you had taken the hint and gone on holiday but no, there you are spouting off your verbal D when are you going to realise that less is more, as they say on the TV " calm down its only a commercial"

  • Comment number 99.

    no, I fear it is the civil libertarians who are living in a bubble of their own, caught up in a peculiar frenzy of self-congratulation, and of congratulation for a man wth whom they make very strage bedfellows indeed.

  • Comment number 100.

    Nick, your 10 negatives versus the hordes of positive responses from the public demonstrate the vast gulf between the public and the westminster insiders.

    Why don't you step back and try thinking up 10 reasons why this is a positive step?

    Perhaps instead of the Tories being seen as split, it embarrasses Labour into debating it between the rebels htse who don't like it but were bribed/whipped into shape, and Brown's calculating/corrupt government.

    Perhaps DD uses this to convince the supposed 60% in favour that their approval is giving Brown his justification?

    give it a try!


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