My old class mate (college class, that is, not social class) George Pascoe-Watson, the Sun‘s political editor, just said something on Sky that’s taken me by surprise. Referring to Dave’s commitment to campaign for David Davis in the forthcoming self-inflicted by-election, George said this might mean that the Tories “might not stand a candidate against him”. What on earth does that mean? That DD has resigned as a member of the Conservative Party? That he won’t be the Tories’ official candidate?
Davis’s own claim that this by-election will give his electorate an opportunity to pass judgment is perhaps true, but what happens if and when he arrives back at the Commons with his new mandate? That the 70,000 voters in Haltemprice and Howden should have a veto over policy agreed by the House of Commons, a policy supported by an overwhelming majority of citizens (including, presumably, a similar proportion of Haltemprice and Howden’s voters)?
The rather magnificent Denis MacShane is on Sky at the moment, being gloriously patronising about DD’s “little by-election”. At least half of the Labour MPs I met in the tearoom in the past hour have told me they think Labour shouldn’t stand a candidate. Not sure yet; we should probably let the dust settle before that decision is taken.
I had lunch a few weeks ago with a good friend of DD’s who said DD had given up any hope of leading his party. If rumours about an irreconcilable split between Dave and DD are true, could this be DD’s last throw of the dice, a chance to attract some attention after years in Dave’s shadow? He says he wants to take a stand against government infringements on civil liberties. Does that mean he feels that no-one else in his party (aka Dave) is willing to do so?
What is fascinating about Dave’s most recent pronouncement in this is his statement that “I wish him well” in his by-election campaign. He sounded like a disinterested commentator, not the leader of the Opposition and the Conservative Party.