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42 Days: Back to the bazaar

Anthony Barnett
Anthony Barnett
12 July 2008

Anthony Barnett (London, OK):In my article in response to David Davis's walkout of parliament I wrote:

The overwhelming majority of its ordinary membership surely oppose the measure. But they continue to leave the party quietly and privately. The underlying cataract of their disaffection is one of the forces that is driving, literally, Labour into bankruptcy.

I have just come across the survey that Compass did of 800 Labour Party members. This says that "Only 9.15% support the government’s position for a maximum period of 42 days detention." Indeed it seems that nearly half want a return to 14 days.

One has to ask, what kind of politics is it where a party takes a controversial decision when its leader can't even raise ten per cent support from his own members! For me, the radicalism of Davis that we should applaud is less his stand on 42 days than his decision to face up to the reality of the Commons being a busted flush.

Today's Guardian editorial, 'Back to Westminster' lamentably fails to understand this, calling it an 'oddity' that Davis 'felt the need to leave parliament to further a cause that already has underlying majority support in both houses.'

The thuggish McNulty has just assaulted Davis as a cartoon character (although I'd be proud to be compared to the excellent Homer Simpson myself, what a dad!). This is just what we predicted about going for crude character assassination. Also, according to the BBC:

Tony McNulty also accused the ex-shadow home secretary of "vanity" for quitting his seat to trigger the contest. He said Mr Davis should have made his argument on civil liberties in Parliament instead.

It is quite extraordinary how Labour spokespeople can go all pious about having the debate in parliament. 42 days lost the debate in parliament whose views were then suborned by what Diane Abbott described as a bazaar. Any answers on that, then? But why doesn't McNulty take the debate to his own party? Will he be so brave as to put it to a vote at the Labour Party Conference?

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