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Thursday, June 26, 2008 

Davis and the other Haltemprice and Howden candidates.

Keeping with the despairing theme, it's hard not to now that we can see who's standing against David Davis, the full list of which is here.

There seems to be a lot of people quite content with throwing £500 away, doesn't there? Anyone having second thoughts is more than welcome to send the cash straight to me, where I can guarantee it will be put to a better use.

With the list now known, it does seem apparent that the chance of a genuine debate over civil liberties has precipitately declined. While it's impossible to know just how many of the independents are serious candidates, the inclusion of David Icke means instantly that the whole thing is just bound to descend into instant farce: great fun for the tabloids, who'll doubtless be following him around the whole time, not so good for anything approaching a defining moment, but I suppose it's possible we could be surprised.

David Davis's decision was always going to be a risk, a noble idea that rested on Labour having the guts to put up a candidate to challenge him. There may be sound political reasons for not doing so, but the cowardice it also displays, regardless of whether the candidate would have had any chance of winning or not is of a piece with Labour's current predicament, unprepared to test the electorate's actual support for almost any of the recent policies to have emerged from No.10. After all, according to the polls the public overwhelming support 42 days, so where's the harm in taking the debate back to the constituencies themselves rather than relying upon the bribery and bullshit of Westminster? The problem is that Labour is absolutely terrified of losing anything, and the partisanship of some Labour-supporting bloggers, mocking the initiative from the beginning even if they opposed 42 days showed the contempt that has arisen over the last few years for the views of the public when not asked specific questions and giving specific answers.

Still, of the other candidates that are standing, it's good to see that the Greens have put up a candidate, which would genuinely make me think twice about voting Davis if I lived in Haltemprice and Howden. It's also good to see that Davis has made clear that he considers them the only serious opposition, which means that some good, however small, still might emerge from the contest itself rather than from the simple principle of giving up your job for something you believe in. Also serious though I would imagine are the Socialist Equality Party, who despite being a tiny far-left ultra-Trotskyist sect punch way above their weight online through their World Socialist Website. They're slightly over-the-top in already claiming that Labour's anti-terror legislation has "established the apparatus of a police state in Britain," and are as hard left as you might imagine, but judging by the apparent dearth of other serious candidates, and the failure of the SWP/Respect/Left List to stand a candidate, are most likely to pick up the few left of Labour votes there are.

After being so enthusiastic to begin with over Davis's decision, it was always likely that reality was going to bite back if Labour abrogated from defending itself. It still does mark a watershed in British politics, and one which still might yet not fall flat on its face.

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One's opinion of his chance of success does vary week by week, but it does not look very low.

I think it's because either by design or stupidity his tactics were wrong. What he should have done is made it Conservative policy to return to a week or fewer days, and a list of other policies (fewer CCTV etc), and if Cameron had vetoed it then he could have stood as an independent and dared the Conservative to stand against him, then it would have been much harder for Labour not to.

On the other hand on his blog he's made clear he actively supports 28 days, rather than (as some claimed) it was just a technical vote, and so the message is just too diluted.

it does not look very low.

I meant, high, of course.

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