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Unpredictable politics

Nick Robinson | 14:10 UK time, Thursday, 12 June 2008

This resignation is quite extraordinary and without precedent that I can think of in British politics and means that politics is now utterly unpredictable.

(Here was my initial reaction on the BBC News channel just after Mr Davis's statement.)

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David Cameron has lost control of his strategy. This was not his decision. He was not asked for his agreement. He was informed late last night by David Davis that he was going to do this come what may. That he was going to resign and trigger this campaign. This is not a campaign that Mr Cameron wants, it is not part of his strategy and indeed, I am told by senior Tories who know Mr Cameron well, that this was David Davis' personal decision and will be his personal campaign.

David DavisNow Mr Cameron has moved very quickly indeed to replace Mr Davis insisting that there are lots of issues on which the Tories have to have opinions and views and stances other than 42 days. But interestingly he's kept his options open. Dominic Grieve is personally very close to David Davis and they agree entirely on the civil liberties agenda. It's therefore possible that if Mr Davis wins on this issue, he could get his old job back on his return to the Commons.

But there's a lot of water to go under the bridge before then - not least the fact that we will have a by-election in which the Lib Dems apparently will not put a candidate up against Mr Davis. They were the big challengers to him so it's a straight Tory/Labour battle in addition to any other third or more marginal parties which will put themselves forward.

No-one today can have any idea frankly what the consequences will be other than they are unpredictable and it's a very dangerous time for David Cameron indeed.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Don't see how it's dangerous for David Cameron at all. Any team leader wants some heroes on his side who are prepared to stand up and fight for what they believe.

    The by-election will be fought and won by David Davies having brought all the NewLabour hacks out again to try and defend their case.

    What about the nine DUP members who will now come under intense scrutiny to volunteer exactly what concessions they were offered to buy their political favour?

    Will all nine appear on the GMTV sofa to explain their decision? They should be invited.

    Good Luck Mr Davies. Democracy salutes you.

  • Comment number 2.


    This is not a story about Tory spilts and danger for the Tories - that is the line fed to you by the Labour spin machine.

    This is about a man of principle fighting for what he believes in. David Davis deserves plaudits for taking a stand.

    It would help if the BBC could find a political editor who was willing to report things even-handedly - instead of just repeating lines fed to him.

    You should be ashamed of your posting

  • Comment number 3.

    It's a shame they don't all resign.

  • Comment number 4.

    Well, Nick, you may try to spin this as a split, but Cameron is fully supportive of this brave and principled decision.

    The government's totalitarian tendencies have gone too far. With Davis in the Tories, we know that they will respect our freedoms and our privacy.

    This will kill off Labour! I look forward to a conservative victory in the next general election and a Liberal Democrat opposition.

  • Comment number 5.

    doubt its as dangerous for Cameron as it is for Brown and New Labour

  • Comment number 6.

    There is in fact a precedent. George Lansbury resigned his seat in 1912 on the issue of supporting the Suffragette Movement. He lost.

  • Comment number 7.

    You're joking right?

    You think David Cameron doesn't want this? Try reading the HYS boards on this website, post after post of people applauding the integrity of the Conservative party and pledging their vote at the next election. Cameron will be delighted!

    David Davis is running a by-election in a safe conservative seat, at a time when the tories are trouncing Labour in the polls. Victory is guaranteed, and if there was any doubt, the Lib Dems have agreed not to run against him.

    The result? Well for a start the Tories have pinched Gordon Browns headlines on the day he was going to claim that he is making a comeback. They keep the 42 days debate going for another few months, and when the tories win the seat (and keep in mind they'll be winning back Boris Johnsons seat in the meantime) they will be continuing the momentum they have picked up since Crewe and Nantwich.

    It's a political gimmick, nothing more, albeit a genius one!

  • Comment number 8.

    Congratulation to David Davis. He is a real man of principle. I think most of the population agree with his comments on intrusion, snooping and databases; George Orwell's 1984 in all its forms

    If only all MPs had the guts to stand by their principles we would have a much better and more honest parliament. Yesterdays 42 day vote is a case in point.

    In reality, had it been a free vote Brown may still have won with many Conservatives voting yes and many Labour MPs voting no. It was a travesty bringing parliament in disrepute.

    I will now email David Davis support him in his stand. This action, and others like it, are the ones that separate heroes from cowards.

  • Comment number 9.

    I have watched his speech and agree with every word. But I fail to see how re-standing in his own constituency proves anything one way or the other. He would almost certainly get re-elected even if he stood as an independent. The Lib Dems are not running, Labour would be on a hiding to nothing anyway, but especially in the present climate, so what price they may not contest the seat either? That would make the whole thing rather pointless, but even if they do run, what chance of them winning? Next to nil I suspect, so what does Mr Davis hope to achieve? Or is this about some personal bargaining chip with Cameron about turning back the tide of state intervention after the next election? If so, good luck to him. There must be more to it than the 42 days detention vote?

    I admire David Davis hugely, always have, agree that he is a man of honour and principle. I am just slightly bewildered by this.

  • Comment number 10.

    A Noble deed? Rubbish, he'll get safely re-elected but cost the British taxpayer dosh.

    Anyone know just how much running an unneeded by-election will cost the British public?

  • Comment number 11.


    Having watched your piece to camera and then David Cameron's piece, there seems to be some disagreement. Cameron says that the conservative party and himself will be supporting Davis's by-election campaign. I trust your piece for this evening's bulletins will be less partisan.

  • Comment number 12.

    Not sure the emphassis that this is dangerous for Cameron is justified.

    This is surely a one-off by an unusual and individualistic person who clearly feels more strongly about a single issue than his colleagues.

    the implications are something we'll have to think through more carefully than usual.

    One occasion where you should perhaps have held your fire, rather than rushing to judgement?

  • Comment number 13.

    I rather think that Davis's resignation will win him support and kudos amongst the general public, whilst drawing attention to the erosion of civil liberties which has taken place under Labour. All in stark contrast to the pathetic Gordon Brown who is playing cheap politics with an issue of fundamental importance.

  • Comment number 14.

    Sorry Nick, you are wrong on this. To me it looks like Davis is making a stand on an issue he feels most strongly about. He is attacking Brown and only Brown over his consistent erosion of our civil liberties.

    Cameron can just stand there and say 'Davis is his own man, this is something he felt he had to do'. It does not make him look weak, it makes him look like a man who empathises with Davis' campaign. While Brown looks like an authoritarian.

    Davis will win, he will rejoin the shadow cabinet, Brown loses a third by-election on the trot. Where was your comment on the possible consequences for the PM?

  • Comment number 15.

    Of all the speeches I've seen on the 42-days issue, that by David Davis yesterday was far and away the most impressive and convincing.

    His resignation over one of the most important issues in British politics today - the creeping erosion of our civil liberties - shows that there is at least one MP with a conscience and with the integrity and guts to "Dare to be a Daniel".

    I hope that only the Labour party will stand against him, and that he defeats them with a record majority showing that English people do care about the liberty of their fellow citizens and their children.

  • Comment number 16.

    I could not think of a Conservative Politician who is more likely to turn of the electorate than Dominic Grieves, the new shadow Home Secretary.
    Jacqui Smith will think all her birthdays have come at once. What a gift to Labour.
    Grieves will tangle the electorate up with such legal boring jargon, he will loose the plot as he cannot help himself.
    The electorate will be bored to death by his nit-picking and will switch off. What a bad choice. A clever man but an extremely bad communicator.
    He also has a very condescending manner. I personally think Davies has taken leave of his sense, or is going through a male menopause.

  • Comment number 17.

    I think this could be a great moment in politics.

    A politician making a principled stand for freedom and democracy; to fight against an increasingly authoritarian and corrupt Labour government

    And kudos too, to the Liberal Democrats for supporting this move across party boundaries and refusing to field a candidate.

    I hope that the people of this country can rise to the occasion and kick Labour out of power for good; and replace them with the Lib Dems as the main opposition party at the next election.

    We need to get some HONESTY back in our political process.

  • Comment number 18.

    It tells you all you need to know about labour that they would consider a principled stand in defence of privacy from unnecessary government intrusion, freedom and liberty is a "gimmick".

    freedom and liberty are NOT gimmicks.

    I have never ever been more ashamed of the Government, or as proud of the actions of a politician.

    We may yet have found our RON PAUL!

  • Comment number 19.

    I could not agree more with the comment about politics being unpredictable. It seems to me to be just like politics in America with Obama winning the democratic nomination for President. This is so important that if Davis loses then we should abandon hope.
    When will the bye election actually be held. Could Gordon Brown in some way delay it. The bye-election must be held as a matter of urgency.
    David Davis is no Enoch Powell, I have personal experience of the powers of this government in respect of injunctions taken to prevent free speech and if there is anything I could do to assist the victory of a principled politician then I will.

  • Comment number 20.

    Good for David Davis. I'm joining the Conservative party as soon as their site is back on-line

  • Comment number 21.

    6 rhonddao1

    Bit different. In 1912 the suffragettes we're causing lots of trouble and became disliked by the voting public. Men!!!

    David Davis on the other hand is taking a principled stand on an area of government that everyone I know, of all classes and political persuasion hates, namely the erosion of our liberties and constant snooping on our private affairs.

    This isn't a political stand, it is a a national one.

    Although he didn't resign, Churchill also in 1912, I think, crossed the house to the Liberals on a point of principle, Tariffs.

  • Comment number 22.

    It may be principled, but I can't for the life of me see what he can achieve. He wants a single issue election, but in a constituency where his main opponent is not going to stand. At the last election he got 22696 votes, and the Labour candidate 6033. So he's going to win. So what?

    Maybe Labour won't oppose him anyway, though that could be spun against them I suppose. In any case it wouldn't make much difference to the significance of his eventual 'victory'.

  • Comment number 23.

    Well they say that Cameron is Blair mark 2.
    A lot of people called Blair, Bliar, David Cameron should now be called Bliar mark 2 as he came onto camera today saying he supported Davies, however it is being widely reported that there was one hell of a row between Cameron and Davies after the vote last night.
    It is also being reported that the Conservative machine will not be behind him. So much for Cameron and his principles.
    The Liberal Democrats are not putting up a candidate.
    I hope he knows he is taking a risk as this seat could go to UKIP.
    The top and bottom of this is ,this is a power struggle as Cameron did not want to be seen as soft on politics, Davis wished to be more gung ho. Davies managed to persuade Cameron to go his way. On this issue a lot of Conservatives thought that Davies was pushing this in the wrong direction.
    I hope Labour does not dignify this crass stupidity by putting up a candidate.

  • Comment number 24.


    Can you please explain why this is dangerous to David Cameron? I would have thought that bringing the increasingly authoritarian Labour government to the public's attention would do nothing but good for the Conservatives, and nip any Brown revival in the bud.

    Of course I'm not an Oxford PPE graduate, so what do I know questioning your piece!!!

    PS Whatever happened to kiwilegs?

  • Comment number 25.

    How can Nick justify saying that the Tories are in strategy chaos. Stop repeating what the government tell you, parrots!

  • Comment number 26.

    Nick - I am not a supporter of either party but this one is a shocker and appears to be blatantly biased. How on earth is this dangerous for Cameron exactly? Have you thought that some Labour rebels might not follow suit as independents to keep their seats at the next election and distance themselves from the Government? I would.

  • Comment number 27.

    A very clever stunt no doubt, but its also a very good way to make a very very good point. No labour MP would dare take this stance.

    His speach was spot on, lets hope that feeling continues when the Torys win the next election.

  • Comment number 28.

    And Gordon called it opposition for opposition's sake?

    Well have some of that GB. I bet that left you a bit speechless when you were tucking into your lunch today.

    Well done David Davis. This does not weaken the tories, they have won the argument not GB. I don't know who the people who said they wanted this law (68% apparantly) but I have yet to find any single person who agrees with it. This was an own goal for the government and not a fight worth fighting.

    I completely agree with David Davis and he has spoken about this issue considerably. We must not change our way of life because of a few fundamentalists. He is a highly respected and principled man and undoubtedly more respected now than he was previously.

  • Comment number 29.

    Nick, your posts are usually very informative.

    This one, however, is so out-of-touch it's unbelievable.

    Get off your Government-fed spin, and stand up for the rights of the population like you should be, given we pay your salary.

  • Comment number 30.

    I hate to break it to you , Nick, but outside of Whitehall in that strange place we call "The rest of the country", it's more important to see a politician do the right thing than see them do it in the right way.

    I can't help but think that you're more interested in a story about political bickering than you are about changing the very nature of the relationship between citizen and state.

    He claims that he is putting his job on the line on a matter principle over civil liberties and this is the first time in many, many years that I can say I honestly believe a politician.

    Quite fairly, many will say that this is a gimmick because he can't, in which case it just proves his point that Brown does not have the support of the country in pushing this law through.

  • Comment number 31.

    A Westminster-centric analysis of the fall-out from this illustrates how governments become cloth eared, journalists sucked in and the electorate becomes dis-engaged.

    Never mind that there's growing unease about the constant erosion of civil liberties in the country, that may sway votes at the next general election; does it represent a split in the Tories?

    David Davis has done a good thing and been rubbished by Labour lieutenants in terms that show they haven't the slightest regard for our rapidly disappearing freedoms, it's just grist to the Westminster political advantage mill.

  • Comment number 32.


    Your commentary on this is very confusing.

    A Shadow Home Secretary resigns out of principle to force a by-election. Not a small issue but an issue which was only won by a PM with a large commons majority by "convincing" the DUP members in Parliament to support him. (And a good deal more coercion too - I am sure you know better than most)

    And your reporting of this? A split and return of confusion for the Tory leadership. You are an intelligent man, Nick, can you not see why you look like a labour party sycophant?

  • Comment number 33.

    They {professional politicians} calculate everything ... and in this case, according to the interview, David Cameron told Davies that this was 'risky'.

    I got the impression that Cameron did'nt think it was worth it.

    For Davies, it was obviously the cumalative effect of the 'surveillance society', which he felt strongly about, with the 42 day issue as the final straw.

    It is so rare to see a politician stand by his personal principles that this comes as a bit of a shock.

  • Comment number 34.

    I have my doubts about this as a strategy but you have to admire the man. We should all remember that:

    Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

    As true now as when Ben Franklin penned it 250 years ago.

  • Comment number 35.


  • Comment number 36.

    I admire Davis' stand greatly, you could be cynical about it but I honestly think he's simply a freedom-loving person who's had enough of Brown attacking our freedoms and losing all our data; he's saying that another 2 years is too long to wait and that he wants some kind of public vote on those kind of issues so that people can tell Brown what they think.

    I think it's an excellent move; I'm 100% behind him, and my opinion of the tories has sky-rocketed because of it; it's so refreshing to see someone make a stand like that.

  • Comment number 37.


    Why does this create " - - a very dangerous time for David Cameron." ??

    Inconvenient? Could be.

    A distraction? For sure.

    Very dangerous? How so? What is the worst that could happen?

  • Comment number 38.

    I am shocked by this move by David Davies.

    However, hats off to a man of principal who, one of the few left (from either side of the House) who is willing to put his job on the line for what he believes to be right!

  • Comment number 39.

    While I agree with David Davis's emotive comments on the issue of 42 days and the erosion of traditional liberties I cannot see how the pantomime and expense of this resignation and by-election stunt is justified. Challenge the argument in parliament and promise to reverse the mistake in your manifesto, not walk away in disgust only to walk back again to the same travesty of a democratic process! I hope people realise that such large government majorities are responsible for the railroading of ideas through parliament without proper debate and scrutiny, that the process of elections by first past the post is biased and broken and needs reform, that only when we adopt a PR system that counts the vote and views of all will we have a parliament that will consult and represent us. David Davis and the Conservatives are not principled, they're playing politics; Nick Clegg should making these arguments and selecting a strong candidate to fight Davis' seat on the basis that we are the true torchbearers for liberty and British rights, a party of principles and the long term, not theatre and short term popularity.

  • Comment number 40.

    I'm not convinced that David Davis' constituents care very much about the erosion of civil liberties.

    They might get mixed messages from the Conservative Party though and wonder at Davis' indignation at the proliferation of CCTV cameras, DNA databases and the arrangements for investigating suspected terrorists.

    Isn't this what the Old Labour Party used to do (Hain, Boetang, Mayor Ken and all those trainee labour MPs like Harman in the National Council for Civil Liberties?).

    Conservatives as the Champions of Civil Liberties at this late stage?

    Strange stunt if ever I saw one.... but let's see whether the electors are interested. Should be fascinating! (Not!!)

  • Comment number 41.

    QueryAlex_B wrote:
    "A Noble deed? Rubbish, he'll get safely re-elected but cost the British taxpayer dosh".

    A desperate labour supporter face down in the water if ever there was one, ha ha ha

  • Comment number 42.

    You are spot on Nick, Davies may come out of this well but the Tories certainly will not.

  • Comment number 43.

    What risk? Davis has a decent majority, and without the Lib Dems (especially post Crewe) will increase it. The tories can then claim that the vote is a vote against the 42 day rule and a vote of no confidence in the government, when it's actually just a normal by-election result.

    Cameron may not want to back Davis openly, as that would confirm the above, but I bet he's laughing inside.

  • Comment number 44.

    Query_AlexB: whatever the cost of the by-election it won't be one ten-thousandth of the cost of the bribes Brown has had to promise to get this repulsive measure through.

  • Comment number 45.

    What a shocking waste of public money. I hope the Labour party follows the Lib Dems and has nothing to do with this shammy stunt. There is no bravery to run in a safe seat agaimnst an unpopular governement.

    Can we not charge the waste of our cash to Mr Davies or to the Tory party?

    Still, at least we will be able to use the "Davies test" on any Tory who is opposing something - "Are you going to resign as an MP over it? - No? - Then you clearly don't feel that bothered!"

    Perhaps they should all resign on the EU referendum (the Lib Dems could not stand aside on that one, so there would be a real contest)- after all, isn't that principle too!

  • Comment number 46.

    why is it that the BBC and most media outlets saying that the british public agree with the 42 day terror bill?
    personally i have not spoken to anyone who agrees with it.
    I,m not a lover of David Davis or the conservatives but i think the general public are starting to understand what the bill is about now, and i think your find he has the Majority of support behind him.

  • Comment number 47.

    In focussing this blog on the dangers to David Cameron and the Conservative Party, Nick Robinson gives the clear impression that he is stuck in exactly the same westminster bubble that so many other journalists and politicians inhabit. For once, can we not forget about party politics, and focus on the reality of the situation, which is that this is a personal decision is, taken in the light of fast-disappearing liberties. Party politics is irrelevant in this context, and I wish Mr Davis well in his actions.

  • Comment number 48.

    jimbrant #22

    The point is to see how many more than 22696 votes he gets this time; how many of those 6033 Labour votes will he pick up (never mind the Lib Dems) because of his principled stand?

    Well done to David Davis for standing up for what he believes in, not what he's told to support.

  • Comment number 49.

    Why so negative Nick?

    This is unprecedented, but it should be seen in the context of what happened in Parliament yesterday. We ended up with a poorly drafted Bill being sent to the Lords.

    This is a man taking a stand on a point of personal principle. He is entitled to do that without the internal party analysis.

    Whilst Labour may not be particularly concerned about 42 days remaining in the media, they are concerned about accusations of being authoritarian generally. There is a real dispute here and it would be good to focus on that.

  • Comment number 50.

    Sorry Nick, but having seen the interviews etc with David Davis, David Cameron, Caroline Flint and Tony McNulty - I think you have got this one wrong!

    Perhaps and the two Labour ministers mentioned above would not recognise a principled action if it hit you round the face.

    Whilst it is a strange move, and what it's outcome may achieve is unclear - David Davis clearly thinks that this issue is too important to be left to politicians to decide in the manner of last nights vote. Granted it was a vote the government won, but the apparent horse trading that went on to achieve it is an insult to democracy in my opinion.

    Perhaps, Caroline Flint or Tony MucNulty could take a similar principled stand on this issue - let them resign their seats. Why not, they seem to have plenty to say for themselves on the matter?

    Or maybe Gordon Brown could take a principled stand - if his moral compass has such a direction - and let us all have a say on whether we want to be governed in this manner.

  • Comment number 51.

    Well, Nick, you may try to spin this as a split, but Cameron is fully supportive of this brave and principled decision.

    How can you possibly know that? I'm not suggesting that the BBC are always right but I think that their political correspondent probably has more of an idea than most of us.

  • Comment number 52.

    When I read about Mr Davis, I thought it worth posting a comment on HYS, saying first how much I admired him and second speculating that the BBC would a) poor scorn on him an b) say how much trouble this would be for the Tories.

    Having expressed my thoughts I happened to go to to Nick Robinson's link, and of course immediately discovered that he was way ahead of me.

    My advice to Mr Robinson is to tender his own resignation as de facto Labour member for Shepherds Bush, and actually think about what Mr Davis has done and why. You never know Nick you might actually become a better reporter.

  • Comment number 53.

    I see Labour are calling Davis' resignation as a waste of public money.






    The cheek of it. From a Labour "We've just blown 3 billion on the never never to try and bribe a bye-election" spokesperson

    I see that the Arch Tory supporter Nick Robinson is now being pillored as being an Arch Labour supporter Nick Robinson.

    I think its more of an Arch Neutral Nick Robinson

  • Comment number 54.

    At last! A politician voicing concerns that I have had for a long time now. Hopefully his actions will stimulate a debate on the gradual erosion of our civil liberties and make people think carefully about what we could so easily lose. This is not about 42 days or being hard/soft on terrorism, it is about what sort of society we want to live in. I believe he has acted out of principle and he has certainly shaken up British politics - for a while at least.

    After yesterday's shameful and sordid vote, those MPs who allowed themselves to be bought off or who voted robotically on party lines should be ashamed. We need more politicians of principle like David Davis.

  • Comment number 55.


    I like you but this time you have it wrong. This IS a point of principle and you should be rejoicing not belittling his stand as an internal row or political misjudgement. If I did not know better I would be tempted to doubt your neutral position on this one. Surely you do not side with those who would take away my freedoms to disagree with you? Please report this resignation accurately without Labour spin. Thanks a lot.

  • Comment number 56.

    Nick - could you be any more pro-Labour? More BBC ultra-left bias - (I suspect even this comment will be removed)

  • Comment number 57.

    I've just seen Clare Short MP on the News agreeing with David Davis on many of his issues.

    Strange days indeed !!!!

  • Comment number 58.

    This is a silver lining for Cameron - to have one of his only possible political rivals removed from the Shadow Cabinet is a godsend.

  • Comment number 59.

    Having read some of the political quotes am I the only one who think the like of Blears, Hill and co should be first against the wall. Regardless of whether he wins his seat Davis has almost certainly consigned himself to the backbenches for the foreseeable future - that is principle over career. To portay such a stand on such a crucial issue in terms of party political advantage is nauseating. They just don't have a clue.

  • Comment number 60.

    Surely the huge risk to the Conservatives is that when (given the non LD participation it surely can only be when) DD wins, it will be all but impossible for the Conservatives not to commit to reversing the 42 days (assuming it ever gets into law).

    Then, come the next General Election, if there should - heaven forbid - be some sort of terrorist outrage, Labour will (however unjustifiably) be able to paint itself as the party that is prepared to be tough, whilst the Conservatives aren't.

    My guess is that it's the risk of something like this that makes DC run away from any firm commitment, but DD looks likely to force his hand.

  • Comment number 61.

    It is so rare these days for a politican to be principled about anything that it is no surprise you (Nick) and the hard bitten shameles Labour MP's interviewed have to try to put a spin on the situation. That awful Minister McNulty, the one that said Boris Johnson had no chance of becoming London Mayor, made as much political capital as he could cram-in in a few short minutes. He was just venemous and spiteful, as was Caroline Flint. If you want to know what is wrong with this country just look at the grey, charmless, hard bitten, un-principled and incompetent New Labour Ministers. i.e. McNulty, Flint, Harman, Blears, Jowell to name but a few. These people are control freaks and they will not rest until we are all the same grey, charmless people like themselves. Of course we, the electorate will be grey, charmless and broke. The politicans will be grey charmless and rich.

  • Comment number 62.

    What would happen if the whole of the Tory and Lib Dem front bench resigned as MPs. Could it force a general election?

  • Comment number 63.

    BBC bias at its best! The BBC could not be more transparent in its true role as a mouthpiece for the establishment. Nick Robinson's assessment was just plain ridiculous.

    I have never in all my life smiled, nodded and applauded at a political statement. And that it should come from David Davis of all people!

    At last, at last, AT LAST!

    Well done Sir! You have single handedly returned politics to what it should be.

    If the BBC will kindly keep their commentary on the fringes of neutral, and doesn't try leading thought instead of reflecting it, we, the lowly chickens, horses and cows, may be about to take the farm back from the pigs.

  • Comment number 64.

    It must be a cold, cold day in hell, for I find myself backing, 100% and without reservation, a Tory. And one of their more objectionable specimens at that.

    All power to his elbow, and nuts to those who will brand me a Tory fellow traveller for saying so.

  • Comment number 65.

    Spinnig this as a problem for Cameron is ridiclous how could you fall for such twaddle?

  • Comment number 66.

    I think you've badly misjudged the situation arguing this is bad for Cameron and the Tories. If Davis had resigned in this way over another issue, say Europe or Immigration, it would be a terrible setback for the party. But instead his Home Secretary is taking an undeniably brave stand on an issue which is important to many voters who may never have considered voting Tory before.

    In short, this could be the Conservative Party's Clause 4 moment.

    So if Cameron is privately angry, perhaps it is because it won't be him who will be getting the credit for it, if it works. On the other hand, if Davis DOES lose, there will be very little political ramification for Cameron as Davis will be written off

  • Comment number 67.

    Without precedent? 17th December 1985?

  • Comment number 68.

    A comment being added every minute... so fast infact the moderators cannot keep up... poor dears.

    A politican literally putting his job on the line is to be applauded, especially when it is to make a stand for civil liberties.

    That the Labour front bench want to spin this as Tory disunity is unsurprising.

    That you, Nick, want to spin this as Tory disunity is disappointing.. simply because so far the only words from Camaron have been ones support for Mr Davis's principalled stand.

    As Lib Dem supporter I'm glad we wont be putting up a candidate against him as a way of showing our support.

    Two more years of Browns 'clunking fist' and the Lib Dems will be HM's Offical Oppostion to HM's Tory Government ...circa May 2010.

  • Comment number 69.

    Lets see if a labour 'rebel' resigns too.....especially in a seat they can lose....

  • Comment number 70.

    Nick....just look at all the comments on your blog and others....fantastic support for David Davis. You political commentators cannot read what the general public think of the majority of politicians. We are fed up with their weasel words...."no referendum as this is a constitutional treaty"....this island has been moving towards a police state for years...worse we now have council appointed officials who give out fines. DVLA sell our personal details to cowboy car clampers..etc etc etc. The Tories will even further extend their poll lead after this action by DD. Nick you need to get a grip and stop spouting the words of comrade Brown's party....

  • Comment number 71.

    I think you called this one wrong, Mr Robinson

    Davis has seized the Queen's Colour and will lead a charge against the pernicious 42 days

  • Comment number 72.


    You are the only man in the UK who can misread the feeling of the UK public better than Gordon Brown.

    I think you need to get out of Westminster a bit more often and remember you are reporting to "us" - the general public and the electorate - not merely the inhabitants of Westminster.

  • Comment number 73.

    Well done David Davis !

    Perhaps all MPs who feel the same way, should resign and stand for re-election.

    At least that way it would trigger a General By-Election...

  • Comment number 74.

    Quite as to how you come to the conclusion that this is "it's a very dangerous time for David Cameron indeed." baffles me.

    This is infact the complete opposite and that statement should be applied to Gordon Brown.

    Brown must have been grinning tohimself about how he managed to bribe this piece of legislation through the commons and getting plaudits from the Murdoch media machine, but this action by Mr Davis brings sharply into focus exactly why it was wrong and that somebody needs to make a stand.

    This is what real principles and moral compass is Nick.

    Not the snivveling little worm that is Brown who claims as such but often goes against such and u-turns more times than a driving instructor.

    I hope people see the stark contrast between Mr Davies putting his money where his mouth is and putting his career on the line standing up for his beliefs compared to Brown who offers back-handers in order to get is way or simply cowers in the corner hoping it will all go away or eventually is forced to completely go against his so called 'moral compass.

    I challenge anybody on here to disagree with a single word spoken by Mr Davis's statement.

    It was a damning verdict of the creeping police state that Labour has created with Brown seeking to ever expand.

    We the people have had enough and it is about time somebody made a stand.

  • Comment number 75.

    My first thought was that this might have been 'principled', but on more mature consideration I think not. It would have been principled if he might have lost his seat, but really there is absolutely no chance of that. So it seems to me to be just a bit of political theatre. Labour should simply refuse to oblige him in playing along with his stunt. The 42 day issue is too serious for this sort of playground 'dare'.

  • Comment number 76.

    I really think you're out on this one, Nick.

    David Davis should be applauded and the Conservatives have just gone up in my estimation.

    Having also read some of the comments made by Labour MPs regarding Davis's resignation, they're wrong and using cheap shots to try and deflect the real issue.

    I would bet against seeing something even resembling principle coming from our government, no, won't happen.

    They should talk to their rebels - they'd learn a thing or two.

  • Comment number 77.

    Running a by election on principle of defending freedom and liberty for all law abiding people, will not cost anywhere near as much as Brown squandered throwing away an election because he was too cowardly to fight it!

    Labour thinking that defending liberty, freedom and the rights of law abiding individuals to remain free from unnecessary interference from an overbearing intrusive state is a gimmick? Tells you everything you need to know about labour.

    Only today we have yet another story of a man that was stripped, thrown in a prison cell, having his DNA taken and stored permanently, for the non crime of.... get this....falling off his couch laughing at the TV.

    The police state can abuse anyone to meet their targets and this must STOP!

  • Comment number 78.

    This is a master-stroke by David Davis.

    At a stroke he's turned the coverage of the 42 day detention 'victory' for the government to a story about the opposition to it. He's completely denied the government of it's moment in the spotlight and yet again the Tory position takes centre stage.

    Well done too to the Lib Dems who have recognised the singular importance of this issue and are allowing Davis the best opportunity to slaughter this inept government.

    Davis shows himself to be a man of the utmost sincerity and honour, unlike the odious and loathsome Blears who is left with nothing except playground snearing to fall back on.

    Privately Brown must be chewing the table in rage. No matter what he does it all goes down the tubes for him, doesn't it? Hopefully he'll get flushed away pretty soon.

  • Comment number 79.

    David Davis' resignation is not necessarily damaging to David Cameron. I am a life long labour supporter and am astounded by the erosion of our freedoms under the Labour Government. I am considering voting Tory for the first time in my life IF David Cameron has MPs like David Davis on his team. We need principled MPs to lead our country. The losses to our hard fought freedoms due to the fear of terrorism are unacceptable. I had a close call on 7/7 and would risk that again rather than lose any of the freedoms that make our country great.

    David Davis - well done!!

  • Comment number 80.

    Nick, I have to disagree with you on this.

    I support David Davis's stand full-throatedly. The issues he's addressing are very real and very much ignored up until now. The slow eradication of our freedoms strikes at the very core of our values as a nation, and I admire Davis's effort. Is this move truly so alien that even a veteran political commentator such as yourself can't see it in any other light that just a partisan split?
    David Davis has shown his colours today as a man of principle willing to take a stand on a moral issue he believes in, rather than the usual political spin-doctoring we have come to expect, but not want, from Parliament. Good for him, and stuff the politics.
    He's just won my vote for the election.

  • Comment number 81.

    Come on mods - get a move on 32 messages to be approved. Are you waiting to get to the magic 42?

  • Comment number 82.

    I think Nick Robinson should count to 1000 before he blogs anything.

  • Comment number 83.

    Nick, I actually think it is a very clever political move and seizes the headlines back from Gordon Brown. It is almost akin to a storyline from the West Wing, an equal measure of statesmanship and theatricality

    The problem for David Cameron is that in the future others may be tempted to take this un-orthodox ploy on other issues. A future conservative administration could get into very choppy waters over a contentious european vote. Imagine what would have happened to the Major government if one of the numerous euro-rebels taken this action.

  • Comment number 84.

    Why is it a dangerous time for Cameron? Davis' relection is assured. He'll be welcomed back into the cabinet as a hero. I think you have misjudged just how popular this move by Davis will be. Yesterday we had stories of MPs selling out. Today we have a story of an MP with such conviction he is willing to lay his job on the line for it.
    I also think that youy and the BBC are massively overstatign the support for 42 day on the basis of the Telegraph YouGov Poll.
    Davis has drawn the criteria for the election - Nothing to do with Road tax, Brown, 10p tax rates - this is a by election on 42 days, plan and simple, and if Davis wins, then he has a clear indication that the 42 extention is not as popular, as Brown, and the BBC seem to think it is.

  • Comment number 85.

    Nick is quite right in his speculation and Nick is also well informed that the Tories stand with regards to the 42 days, is David Davis doing and not Cameron's.
    Reason being, that Cameron was in favour of the 42 days, but David Davies and the rest of the extreme right of the Tory party were dead against him.
    To save himself from embarrassment, Cameron bowed to the majority in his party and changed his music, but did not campaign enough to convince more MPs to vote against.
    The understanding between Cameron and the other half of the party was that if they want to defeat the Govt. they will have to do the dirty work themselves!
    What would David Davies do if there are no contestants in this so called by-election? Resign again? PR on it’s own does not put bread on the table. Have a nice day Nick.

  • Comment number 86.

    Brown is really going to have his work cut out.

    Either he puts someone up to argue the case for 42 days in the by-election and get thumped into the floor, or they don't contest it and be seen not to have the courage of their convictions.

    The voters of Davis's constituancy should turn out in record numbers to support Davis' stand. Then there will be no way that Labour can argue that we don't want this illiberal and unnecessary law.

    The whole thing was so pointless. It has been evident for ages now that no-one wanted the increase, but Brown decided that it would be worse to back down then to win an unpopular vote.

  • Comment number 87.

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

  • Comment number 88.

    I used to respect your reports even if not always agreeing with them but this swallowing of labour spin hook line and sinker takes me aback more than the announcement.

    I have become more than a little jaded about politics in this country lately and seriously considered moving to a country that does not insist on watching every move its citizens make. Maybe there is yet hope though if we have a party containing MP's prepared to make such an astonishing stand against this creeping cancer.

    I wil certainly watch this with interest. Contrary to your attempts to portray it as a Tory split I think they will serve to rip the debate out of labours hand and put it firmly into the conservatives

  • Comment number 89.

    This is both principled and very clever politically. Last summer Brown soared into a lead when not in Parliament. Now he will have to fight a single issue by-election which he will certainly lose as the LibDems are supporting the Tories. If Brown does not fight it, it will go alongside his bottling the election and refusing to honour his referendum pledge as a sign he is fearful of public opinion. Davis will use his campaignto explain about the erosion of freedoms and esp the 42 day rule which polls say the public supports - they won't after it is correctly spelt out to them that it is they, not some dodgy foreigners, that are losing their ancient freedoms and liberties.

  • Comment number 90.

    GB has shown that he is prepared to manipulate and bribe his way to political victory.

    Who is to say that come close to an election he wouldn't manipulate the electorate by allowing some small terrorsist threat to materialise or by banging up some undesirables to make himself look tough. It is only a short step from what GB achieved yesterday, bribery to win, to what Mugabe is doing in Zim, starvation to win.....

    All kudos to DD, he has shown himself to be a man of principle and all the "Labour 'til I die" posters are clutching at straws about a "waste of money". Which I think coming from Labour is hypocrisy of the largest magnitude considering the Billions you have thrown away over the last 10 years.

  • Comment number 91.

    When the value of yesterday's horse trading is revealed ... MOD receipts going directly back to NI for example ...any shred of legitimacy that Brown thought he had will have gone.

    Votes bought to enact a reduction in habeous corpus and a repeated denial of such bribery will see Labour demolished in the same way the old LIberal party was in the inter war years.

  • Comment number 92.

    I can't see that this will ultimately damage the Tories or Davis. At the moment it seems like a bizarre, needless triggering of a contest with a foregone conclusion.

    But consider: Labour have yet to make their move. If they put up a candidate, that person must respond to all Davis' accusations about the erosion of civil liberties under Labour. If that candidate defends all of the government's measures, and is defeated, that's fine for the Tories.

    If the candidate doesn't take the party line and doesn't defend all of the measures, that's Labour disunity and fine for the Tories.

    If Labour decide not to field a candidate, they look as if they're not even willing to defend their own policies, which is also fine (and possibly best of all) for the Tories.

    It's definitely a stunt, but not that likely to backfire, surely?

  • Comment number 93.

    Is this the start of a new wave of resignations every time a decision goes against an MP in parliament?

    A meaningless gimmick. Perhaps David Davis should be asked to pay for the cost of the by-election and we'll see how strong his principles are then!!!

    The fact Cameron has refused to say the decision would be reversed if the Tories win the next election may have something to do with it.

  • Comment number 94.

    I feel elated. A politician acting on principle. Whatever next?

    Watching and listening to the BBC rolling out a series of Labour MPs who utter almost the same words makes me think they are worried, and quite rightly.

    This resignation can only be good for politics as a whole. Forget 42 days. Its just a symptom of control. Erosion of our liberties, increased surveillance, more and more draconian laws, even weighing rubbish bins. These continue to weigh heavier and heavier on us all.

    I also agree about Nick's and the BBC's coverage in general. It is all about looking for splits.

    This resignation isn't just about politics, this is about us as a nation, our culture and our identity. Its about bringing a subject that most of us feel every day to the fore.

    Those (I mean political journalists and politicians) who make it party political are simply out of touch with the general public.

    As for the BBC coverage, a true case of

    "Don't let the truth get in the way of a good story."

    More balance please.

  • Comment number 95.

    Why 42 days? Why not 60,70, 90. I can envision a scenario when the police might take longer to go through multiple encrypted hard drives as part of a fishing trip/investigation. To be safe, lets make it indefinite, that should cover all eventualities nicely. This is terrorism after all, liberties must come second to public safety.

    I hope DD's stance brings the ludicrousness of this argument to the fore and makes people realise that there is a balance here to be struck and that the current Labour leadership just doesnt get it. Perhaps there will be an argument in this bielection and labour will win it. I think this will reflect badly on a level of paranoia and fear that has been created in this country. Frightened people can do cruel things to minorities in the name of public safety.

    I dont know anyone injured by terrorism, I do know 4 children and several friends killed in road accidents in this country. If public safety is the issue, why not ban all people from driving, it kills and injures far more people...

  • Comment number 96.

    Weird ? A stunt ? Those who talk like this have forgotten what politics is actually for.

    Didn't Gladstone do something this ? And Nye Bevan ? I seem to recall Churchill did something similar. This is a group to which anyone would be proud to belong.

    It is a supremely important issue and all you can talk about is the effect it might have on David Cameron. As for Blunkett, Flint, Blears etc. What pigmies !

  • Comment number 97.

    How typical that the BBC should see this as a stunt and be unable to comprehend a matter of principle.

    You've spent too long in the Westminster bubble Nick, try extracting yourself for a few days and talking to real people, and by that I do not mean the folks at Labour HQ who would appear to be using you as a glove puppet at the moment.

    Well done David Davis. Where do I sign up to help with the campaign?

  • Comment number 98.

    Will Derek Conway be running his campaign this time, and sourcing funding again?

  • Comment number 99.

    I'm not sure I agree that this is dangerous for David Cameron.

    I'm not an expert but the way I see it is that in all likelihood David Davis will win a contested by-election which will mean the Tories can claim to have won the argument as proven at the poll's and he goes back to the opposition front bench.

    with the Lib Dems not standing a candidate, Labour could decide not to contest the seat also, which would also give ammunition to the Tories to claim PM Brown runs scared of the electorate on any subject because he doesn't seem able to win one:-
    General Election
    Lisbon Treaty Referendum
    42 Day By-Election campaign

    Either way David Davis comes across as principled man who is prepared to risk his career for his beliefs.

  • Comment number 100.

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


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