News Brief – June 12, 2008
David Davis, the Conservative shadow home secretary today announced he would resign as a Member of Parliament, thereby triggering a by-election in his constituency. His resignation came in the wake of a narrow government victory to extend detention without trial for up to 42 days and Davis says he will fight the by election on this issue alone.
In a statement to the press Davis described the new law extending the period of detention without trial as a “monstrosity”.
“In truth,” he said, “42 days is just one - perhaps the most salient example - of the insidious, surreptitious and relentless erosion of fundamental British freedoms.”
“And we will have shortly, the most intrusive identity card system in the world.
“A CCTV camera for every 14 citizens, a DNA database bigger than any dictatorship has, with 1000s of innocent children and a million innocent citizens on it.”
Davis’s impending by-election in his constituency of Haltemprice and Howden is likely to ignite debate on the burgeoning powers of state security under Labour.
The Liberal Democrats who also opposed the extension of the detention without trial limit, say they will not contest the by-election; making it likely that it will be a vote of confidence in “anti-terror” legislation.
Although Davis conceded that the 42 day extension bill was likely to be defeated in the House of Lords, he said he felt he had to “take a stand”.
The impetus behind the extension of the detention without trial limit was “essentially political – not security”, he said.
“We have witnessed an assault on jury trials,” he continued. “And the creation of a database state opening up our private lives to the prying eyes of official snoopers and exposing our personal data to careless civil servants and criminal hackers.”
His principled stand clearly took many in the mainstream media by surprise. However, Davis is not your run-of-the-mill politician out for a ride on the political gravy train.
The straight talking politician served with the S.A.S. and unlike many in the Conservative Party, he comes from a distinctly unprivileged background.
Born to a single mother in 1948, he was adopted by a Jewish family with strong links to the working class trade union movement.
Davis took the decision to resign by himself, without consulting party leaders and it appeared to have caught many fellow Conservative Party members unaware. However, the Conservative Party leader David Cameron later described his shadow home secretary’s decision as “courageous”.
Last updated 15/06/2008