David Davis is obviously not the only MP who cares about civil liberties – Tony Benn, William Hague, Nick Clegg, et al do a fine job – but he’s demonstrated his commitment in the most unthinkable of ways. His very impressive resignation speech is available here in full:
“… in truth, 42 days is just one – perhaps the most salient example – of the insidious, surreptitious and relentless erosion of fundamental British freedoms.
And we will have shortly, the most intrusive identity card system in the world.
A CCTV camera for every 14 citiziens, a DNA database bigger than any dictatorship has, with 1000s of innocent children and a million innocent citizens on it.
We have witnessed an assault on jury trials – that balwark against bad law and its arbitrary use by the state. Short cuts with our justice system that make our system neither firm not fair.
And the creation of a database state opening up our private lives to the prying eyes of official snoopers and exposing our personal data to careless civil servants and criminal hackers.
The state has security powers to clamp down on peaceful protest and so-called hate laws that stifle legitimate debate – while those who incite violence get off Scot free.
This cannot go on, it must be stopped. And for that reason, I feel that today it’s incumbent on me to take a stand.
I will be resigning my membership of the House …”
MPs don’t resign for anything any more, not even when they’ve been exposed as wittingly and wilfully involved in the most sordid of circumstances – for an MP to resign on a matter of principle is sensational, especially when it virtually guarantees that his career will not now reach anything like the heights it might have otherwise done. But does that even matter? Some twit of a reporter on the news this evening said Davis had now resigned his place in the history books in order to make this stand – obviously, making a stand on fundamental civil liberties doesn’t really count as history-book material for some people.*
This time, it seems that party politics might just not have had anything very important to do with this decision – but even if it’s naive to think so, perhaps attention could just focus on the principles for a little while. We need to be alert and engaged in order to hold on to our liberties – maybe Davis’s action will help wake people up a bit about these issues and at the least slow down if it doesn’t reverse the damage of the last decade or so.
* And plus, isn’t that just such an idiotic Blairite phrase?