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David Davis - sanity or carving a position?
TORY SHADOW Home Secretary David Davis has stood down to fight a by-election in opposition to the government's narrow victory on the issue of 42 days detention without charge for 'terrorist' suspects. At first, politicians and political commentators united to condemn Davis' announcement.
Tory leader David Cameron was reportedly furious - it diverted attention from the government's problems after Gordon Brown avoided defeat only by buying the support of nine Democratic Unionist Party MPs. Also Cameron wanted to move on from an issue that appeared to have popular support and that the Tories opposed for largely technical reasons.
Brown was reportedly delighted. He backed the announcement by former Sun editor and Murdoch stooge Kelvin Mackenzie that he was considering standing against Davis.
Davis seemed to have given up a guaranteed appointment as Home Secretary if the Tories win the next general election. Was this the act of a maverick MP or a more far-sighted move to carve out a position for the future, particularly with an eye on the Tory leadership? Davis, for instance, ensured he got the Lib Dems to agree not to stand against him before dropping his bombshell.
By 15 June, the real world intruded on the Westminster bubble as Davis' stand was gaining some popular support. Shadow cabinet members were getting emails applauding Davis' stand.
Such is the low public standing of MPs that Davis' apparent preparedness to sacrifice his career because of his principles gained an echo. Murdoch is now distancing the Sun from the idea of opposing him - the paper's prestige would be damaged if its candidate was hammered in the polls.
Survivors of the 7/7 attacks were apparently sounded out but said they would be more likely to campaign for Davis. And at least one Labour MP, Bob Marshall-Andrews, says he will campaign for Davis.
This incident shows the volatility of British politics at present; many people feel there is no alternative to the sleaze-ridden incompetence of the main political parties. But it also shows the possibility of a new right-wing populist party forming in future. The Tory Party's fault lines run deep - patrician one-nation Tories rub shoulders with Thatcherites, right-wing libertarians, right-wing authoritarians, anti-EU nationalists etc - and the consensus behind Cameron is a fragile one.
But we can put no faith in capitalist politicians leading the fight against the dangerous 42-day law. It should be opposed by the workers' movement as a danger to innocent Muslims and to all opposing unjust wars and other government policies, as the legislation can be potentially used against any worker.
Davis cannot speak for workers, he is a right-wing Tory. He supports the anti-gay section 28, the return of the death penalty, and has called for the Human Rights Act to be scrapped; yet his attacks on Britain's 'surveillance society' struck a chord. It shows how far the Labour Party has moved to the right that such a politician may be seen as the only sane man in the asylum.
In The Socialist 17 June 2008:
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party NHS campaign
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Post office closures
Socialist Party workplace news