Thursday, 12 June 2008

David Davis Chilled in Chiltern

David Davis has pledged to resign his seat and fight it on the basis of his opposition to the 42 days of detention. Clever move, perhaps, daft stunt, perhaps, dangerous manoeuvre, perhaps.

He's already run into some of the discomfort that he must have expected - rumours of disagreements with his leader and this being an attempt to bounce Cameron; the BNP backing him because they agree with his stance; UKIP offering to campaign for him, and so on - but he must be a little concerned about what's coming next.

Clegg has already stood his party down from the election, so the only real decision left to be made is Labour's - what position can Labour take which will give least benefit to Davis' move? Given that the result last time wasn't exactly a close call, will the decision be the Dennis McShane sniffy dismissal or will Brown decide that this is an opportunity for a fightback?

David Davis (Con): 22,792
Jon Neal (LD): 17,676
Edward Hart (Lab): 6,104
Jonathan Mainprize (BNP): 798
Philip Lane (UKIP): 659

After all, it's going to be difficult for Davis to improve on his showing against Labour from 2005, and there would be the opportunity for Labour to claim that a move towards it was a regaining of some ground after the kicking it took in Crewe. The rumour currently is that Labour will not contest, seeking to leave Davis with a hollow victory. That, of course, allows the Conservatives to say that Brown is afraid of testing his policy in a public vote.

Labour might have made the wrong move yet again. There is little doubt that Davis will win and win handsomely, particularly given the revelations that Brown bought votes for 42 days at a very high price. It might have been a bit of a rough ride for Labour and the defeat would have been sore, but it would have been an expected defeat and it would compare favourably with what appears to be a fear to ask the electorate to vote Labour - building on the fearty reputation that Brown got after delaying the general election.

Of course, Labour actually has a secret weapon it can use - MPs can't resign, they have to apply for a job which prohibits them being a Member of Parliament - taking the Hundreds. The Chiltern Hundreds is in the gift of the Chancellor of the Exchequer - Darling could refuse to grant it. It's not been refused since 1842, but it's still an option ... The other option is for Darling to grant Davis the Hundreds and then refuse to release him from the appointment so he can't stand in the bye-election. Not much chance of either, I suspect.

Mind how you go!

1 comment:

Will said...

A thought occurs: didn't Bob Spink vote with the Government? Surely that puts him in an odd position with his new pals in UKIP, who are, it seems, backing Davis...