14 June, 2008

David Davis and Party Politics

I don't normally follow Westminster politics as it seems, to me, to merely be a more expensive version of Students' Union politics. However, David Davis standing down made me a little more interested. All of the newspapers etc seem to be condemning DD for 'breaking party unity' or words to that effect, and all seem to have come to the conclusion that what he did was a bad idea. I'm not sure I can agree with them, for a number of reasons:

1. If you do feel strongly about something, and by resigning you can make it a bigger issue, go for it.
2. Politicians are normally perceived to be people who will do anything to keep their seats. The symbol of a person willing to stand down and risk not getting it back is powerful in tackling this.
3. Number 2 applies even more when Gordon Brown (who hasn't got the popular mandate) is taken into account
4. Why does party unity matter so much anyway? I've never quite understood why deviations from a party line are bad. Every politician has to submit their own manifesto, when we vote, we tick a box next to an individual's name (unlike a party list system). I can quite understand why party leaders think unity is a good this (!) but I don't understand why it's meant to be so good for the rest of us. It means politicians are bullied into voting for things they don't want/don't believe will work and so every vote comes down to who has the strongest whips. Fantastically democratic!


Alex said...

Well I very much am obsessed with westminister politics, although that's more because I find it entertaining, like an episode of Eastenders, than because I think they deal with stuff that really matters (I mean, some of it matters obviously, but there is a lot of time caught up in "punch and judy" "westminister village" type activites). While I'm not convinced that a bi-election that DD will obviosuly win is neccasserily the most fantastic, amazing way of defeating civil liberty theives, I think generally he is a good man who has a done a good thing. The fact that labour won't put up a candidate against him says a lot about where they are at the moment (and I'm not convinced that "but if we did, we would lose badly and look embarassed" is a good enough excuse for the party that at the last election was the most popular choice of the public. I genuinely believe that the governemnt are scared to have too much of a debate on the issue as I think they know that they would lose. The "but 42 days is a popular choice" i think is pretty disengenuous: it's a popular choice among Sun readers - as is bringing back the death penalty - but not among Question Time audiences. Also, the fact that 42 days got throught the commons on the smallest margin of any bill in a very long time, after a massively gigantic whip effort that included David Milliband returning from Israel simply to vote, that without the support of the DUP, who I forgot could even vote in our parliament, the bloody foreigners, surely suggests to someone in government that maybe they're dealing with something here that not everyone likes.

So I don't really get the criticsm of DD by institutions such as the guardian ("he's a tory: he must eat babies") as I think the 42 day law itself is so zany, that any stand against it is probably a good thing.

Miss Middle of Manchester said...

I can't help feel that the DUP heard "terrorists" "42 days" and forgot that today it probably wouldn't result in us locking up half of Sinn Fein!

I agree with you otherwise, though.