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David Davis's Resignation

Friday, 13th June 2008

Like the whole political establishment, I was gob-smacked by David Davis's resignation. And frankly bewildered. The government is on the ropes, the Conservative Party is doing well (despite a few negative stories!). What a weird time to resign! And I have two serious concerns: first, 42 days is about the only government policy supported (wrongly, in my view) by a majority of the people. Not the best choice for a single-issue bye-election campaign. And secondly, voters respond badly to what they see as an "unnecessary" election, and tend to punish the man who caused it.

While respecting David's motives, I can also understand the attitude of punters who may say "It was his choice to quit, so why should we help re-elect him?". And if, as could happen, he is returned on a reduced majority, the government will say that clearly the public is less exercised about 42 days than the Party is.

But enough carping. It is a move that has taken extraordinary courage and resolve, and I salute David for that. It is a splendid and flamboyant gesture in the cause of freedom. And both for myself, and for The Freedom Association which I chair, I salute his commitment to civil liberties. He is already broadening the issue to include ID cards, DNA data bases, surveillance cameras, the whole panoply of the intrusive Big-Brother state.

And as soon as you scratch the surface, you find that Brussels is as much to blame for this state of affairs as Gordon Brown -- perhaps more so. To illustrate the point, I can do no better than quote part of an entry on the Democracy Movement blog:

"While it's clear that our own government must carry much of the responsibility for the problems Mr Davis is concerned about, a proper debate about threats to civil liberties is simply not possible without acknowledging that the EU is also a big part of the problem. Brussels institutions have long been active behind the scenes in many of the erosions of civil liberties to which Mr Davis refers in his resignation statement.

"One clear example, which should form a major part of Mr Davis's campaign in addition to the issue of detention without charge, is the looming Communications Data Bill, announced in Gordon Brown's recent preview of November's Queen's Speech.

"The Bill is designed to create what The Times back in May called a "'Big Brother' database for phones and e-mails", by permitting the collection and retention of records relating to every phone call made and e-mail sent. "However the fundamental purpose of the Bill is to "Transpose EU Directive 2006/24/EC on the retention of communications data into UK law", confirming that it is the European Union rather than our own government that is the chief architect of the plan.

"Of course, it is just one example among others. But it is a major and approaching one that, by making it one of the high profile aspects of his campaign, his successful re-election could aim to see squashed."

See the full piece at: http://democracymovementblog.blogspot.com/. Oh, and good luck to David!