Friday, 13 June 2008

David Davis breaks ranks with the Political Class

There can be little doubt that Davis' stance has drawn massive public support from a nation utterly sick of the apparatus of Statist authoritarian control all around us. There is no doubt that he has acted from the highest principles. It also seems likely he has blown his place on the front bench.

Principles are as rare as hen's teeth in modern politics; Davis' stance would not have been remarkable a hundred years ago, and the pages of Tacitus are sprinkled with Roman senators who put death before dishonour, but the notion that a man will act not out of self-interest but out of an altruistic determination to expose this great wrong is clearly an alien one to our political class.

It is no surprise this morning therefore that comment on Davis' resignation is divided, with blogs and the comment sections of the online media overwhelmingly in support but the editorials and opinions of the political class echoing Robinson's 'bonkers' comment. The political class only seem prepared to accept an MP with convictions if they are criminal ones.

I think the truth is that David Davis has opened a fissure in our petrified political process, and they're not sure how to deal with it on either side of the Commons. We'll have to see how this plays out, but Davis may just prove to be the grain of sand around which will grow a pearl of inestimable price.


Nick Drew said...

This is clearly right: a large sector of the Westminster Village (including the commentariat) is completely nonplussed, and is inclined to fear what it neither understands nor controls, nor even can predict. Nick Robinson's top-of-the-head commentary betrayed a narrow, utterly 'conventional' thought process quite unable to deal more subtly with what it was witnessing - it did not compute.

We live in an age of rigidly regimented machine politics and, sure enough, party discipline has its place. There remains of course the possibility that General Cameron had a master-plan that has in some way been undermined by Sergeant Davis' bold act. But I doubt it, he is more probably just plain miffed.

Some great commanders, like Wellington, could not tolerate initiative in subordinates. Others, like Nelson, fostered initiative, but only in strict futherance of a well-understood Grand Plan.

The key to the deployment of what Germans call Auftragstactik is that subordinates are perfectly acquainted with the the overall Auftrag, or undertaking, task, mission. It seems to me probable that in this case, Davis considers the mission is to defeat 42 days: whereas Cameron isn't so interested in this - his goal is the defeat of Brown.

If this is so, (a) Davis the SAS man, a loner par excellence, is right - by his own lights - to take this initiative; (b) Cameron, the commander, has inadequately communicated the Auftrag to his subordinate

Or it's just egoistical, freelance troublemaking. Either way I trust it meets with great success. To switch analogies, when the scrum-half makes an unplanned blindside break, the flankers must still hurl themselves forward in support, in case he needs to offload near the try line


I agree with your last paragraph. There seems to be a world of difference between the political club in Westminster, and everybody I have spoken to personally on this issue.