Three thoughts on all the Westminster excitement (for non-UK readers, the short version – the Shadow Home Secretary has resigned his seat as MP to force a by-election, which he has announced that he intends to fight on the single issue of the erosion of civil liberties in Britain, following the contentious and close vote to extend the legal period of detention without trial to 42 days):
1) No one (outside of blogland) really cares about a bunch of muslims being locked up (and no one outside of blogland thinks the risk of anyone other than terrorist suspects being affected is a serious one). Nor do they care much about ID cards and a national ID database, or about there being loads of CCTV cameras invading our privacy every second of the day with no discernible impact on crime rates (the “if you’ve done nothing wrong you’ve got nothing to hide” mentality still being massively dominant) when their house price is plummeting and/or it’s costing more to fill up at the pumps and do the weekly shop. The next election will almost certainly be fought over the economy, with Gordon Brown’s ten years as Chancellor being painted as ten years of luck that set us up for a crash by the Tories, and as ten years of stability showing Gordon Brown to be the best man to weather the economic storm by Labour. Civil Liberties are simply not an election-winning issue.
2) This is aimed at Cameron far more than Labour, and smacks of sour grapes that Davis hasn’t got the influence within the party to make this a central plank of the Tory attack strategy. He’s throwing his toys out of the pram, because two-time leadership loser Davis can’t hack that he’s not the boss. He almost certainly does believe (pretty much) everything he says on the civil liberties front – he’s got a decent enough track record, (though his support of 28 days does raise a few questions and contradictory positions on gay rights do cause some concern) – but it’s hard not to see this as anything more than another internal Tory party spat.
3) It is, however, moderately interesting that one of the most senior opposition frontbenchers sees parliament’s influence as so diminished that it’s easier to spread his message (pretty much literally) from a soapbox. Maybe someone should get the man a blog…
(Far more interesting, of course, is the result of the Irish Lisbon Treaty referendum – expected later today, and expected to be very close indeed. But will there be any irregularities that may allow a legal challenge from the losing side?)