Has David Davis' stand backfired?

James Graham
13 August 2008

James Graham (Quaequam Blog!): That is certainly the conclusion of Lib Dem blogger and New Statesman columnist Jonathan Calder:

"It is now clear that Davis's political suicide bombings damaged his career and - far more important - has made it easier for the enemies of liberty in the Conservative Party (a club with a large and thriving membership) to prevail.

"Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity."

Why this conclusion? This week the Conservative Shadow Home Secretary has announced proposals to make it easier for the police to access surveillance powers. Reading Davis' campaign website you could certainly be forgiven for thinking that he was opposed to such measures.

The key word that Grieve is keen to emphasise is "proportionality," yet there is already growing evidence that the existing RIPA regulations allow public bodies to monitor the public in a completely disproportionate manner. These are powers which are currently being handed out to councils on the nod, for goodness' sake; just how can the police be said to be restrained?  Surely you don't have to be an anti-police paranoiac to think that these are precisely the sort of police powers which should be tightly regulated?

I don't automatically condemn Davis in the way that Calder does; it may well be that his decision to resign was spurred by the fact that he had already lost this particular battle in the Shadow Cabinet. He has also given us a pretty colossal stick to beat Cameron with, should we choose to use it. But for the sake of his reputation and the faith in which hundreds of individuals put in him, he really ought to respond to this sooner rather than later.

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