David Davis MP, useful man

Why does Davis scare some Tories?

Davis and friend Davis and friend
David Davis is back in the news. William Hickey writing in the Sunday Express see HERE, thinks that he may come back to prominence following a Tory win in the General Election. At the Tory conference Davis was invisible; the reason for this? Well Hickey reports a comment heard at the conference: “David has never really been part of Cameron’s inner circle but many of them privately agree he’s still the best qualified to be Home Secretary if the general election goes to plan.” Naturally the name behind this comment is not revealed but we can assume it's neither a friend of Chris Grayling the current Home Secretary nor are they a member of the inner circle! So is this all fluff? Probably not.

Few people seemed to understand Davis with his principled stand on the issue of civil liberties. Just to remind you, he was opposed to the Nulabour plan for 42 day detention without charge and ID cards. Many people failed to grasp the nature of Davis' stand, one was Michael White of the Guardian, though you might say that White misunderstands so much it is hard to keep up. The Guardian is where Henry Porter writes his column Liberty Central so it should have been easy for White to see the reason for Davis' ire. Alas no it was not, so we are left with the impression that defence of civil liberties is hallowed ground, trodden only by saints from the left of politics.

More than a few good people were invisible at the Tory conference, but Grayling's gaffe on the appointment of Sir Richard Dannatt was hard to miss. This has lead to a close look at the way that Cameron does business. He seems to rush in, but he will certainly pay later for having Dannatt in his team. Cameron will also pay for not having people like Davis and John Redwood on side.

“It's too early to say”, was a favourite remark by a once popular and now discredited politician; it's too early to say what the NuTories will look like, but we can surmise. Cameron has a problem, it is, or better they are, the old Tories, he is chained to these people. And this merry band pop up like mushrooms in the Spectator. The Davis story is carried in the online Spectator in a post by David Blackburn, see HERE; the comments from readers are both illuminating and depressing. Basically old Tories fail to understand a man like Davis and a subject like civil liberties.

It is easy, too easy, to portray these people as tweed-wrapped bores from north Oxfordshire who write shopping lists in Latin and stump around in a permanent grump. Normally the term 'useful idiot', describes a willing but witless left-leaning fool with more energy than brain. But here in the Spectator are readers' descriptions of Davis that are perfectly penned, no errant punctuation here, but they are written by fools. It is rare these days to find a politician with principles and super rare to see one who will stand by his beliefs. The by-election caused by Davis was not a 'toys out of pram' moment, as some Spectator readers seem to think.

But back to Hickey, yes it is correct to say Davis is out of the Cameron inner circle and will probably stay so for a while. But beyond the north Oxfordshire aspic, the general public look for more than another dreary row of clones. They had that with Nulabour and now want more, a lot more. This is the reason that Boris Johnson was elected Mayor of London and remains popular. The threat of erosion to our civil liberties has never been greater, Davis is not reckless but brave, he's useful.