Some thoughts on David Davis
13 Jun 2008
At the last Leadership Election, I voted for David Cameron rather than David Davis.
After my preferred candidate - Ken Clarke - was eliminated, David Cameron both reflected my own position on the political spectrum and, in my view, was more likely to lead the Party to victory. David Davis would consolidate and reinforce the votes we were already getting; David Cameron would reach out to the rest of the electorate, whose support we needed to win.
Party members took a similar view, and David Cameron won by a large margin. We will never know what might have happened had David Davis won, but David Cameron has certainly lived up to our expectations and the issue of who should lead the Party - which has dogged us since 1990 - has gone away. The other two parties are now grappling with it.
After our Leadership election was over, I was impressed by the way David Davis worked as a key member of the team led by the man who beat him. David Davis has been an impressive performer in the House and on the media. The way he and his supporters rowed in behind the Leader helped the party develop a reputation for unity and cohesion - a precondition for victory.
But his resignation makes little sense to his friends. In two years time, almost to the day, David could have been the new Home Secretary introducing the Bills that our Party is committed to. He would have been in a position to do something about the very issues he feels so passionately about. Instead, he will - at best - be waving his Order Paper in support from the backbenches.
But it goes deeper than that. The Cameron Cabinet will need mutual cohesion and unity if it is to respond to the challenges that lie ahead. Could it afford to have, in a key post, someone who can resign - not because he disagrees with what his party is doing - but because he disagrees with what his opponents have done? How stable would the foundation of the administration have been with a Home Secretary who does what David has just done? If David can be impulsive and take key decisions without consulting colleagues, was it not better to discover this in Opposition than in Government
And in the short term, David has taken the heat off the Prime Minister. He doubtless believes that the cause justifies this; but he will understand if his colleagues in Parliament and supporters in the country take a less charitable view.
The debate on 42 days is not over; the Bill is in the Lords who are likely to reject 42 days. The Bill come back to the Commons, where we will have one less vote and be without our key spokesman. His campaign in Haltemprice and Howden will be a shadow of the campaign in Parliament.
His risk is that, in a few days time, he simply drops out of the news; the by-election may be a non-event, though an unwelcome call on the resources of the Party.
David, I fear you have made the wrong call.
 
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