Whatever the exact motives for David Davis’ resignation from parliament, his actions will result in a thorough national debate being instigated on the importance of civil liberties to the United Kingdom. Gordon Brown’s claim that the public support his controversial 42 day pre-charge detention measure will be subjected to forensic scrutiny because Davis is intent on placing that specific debate within a broader context. This broader context will involve examining how highly British people value freedom as a central tenet of their state’s governance, and whether those foundational freedoms have been eroded incrementally to the extent that the ethos of our Kingdom has been undermined.
If Davis’ narrative of erosion will prove ultimately convincing remains to be seen, but whether the British people decide that they are happy to cede certain freedoms in order to feel safer, or whether they agree with Davis that the pretext of security is being employed to bolster an ever more intrusive and unaccountable state, it is a debate which is critical in determining the type of United Kingdom in which its citizens want to live. Three Thousand Versts therefore applauds the Ulster Unionist peers who have offered their support to David Davis’ by-election campaign. It makes me proud, that in stark contrast to the DUP, Ulster Unionist politicians are prepared to involve themselves wholeheartedly in a national argument which is fundamental to determining the values which define our state.
I happen to believe that Lords Maginnis, Rogan and Laird are correct in their contention that personal liberties and legal protections are intrinsic to maintaining the type of United Kingdom I want to live in and represent the central tenets on which the concept of Britishness is built. Lady Sylvia Hermon has taken a different view, but it is a position which she has reached by deliberating on the issues, rather than evaluating what benefits she could extract from its adoption. It is a position which she is entitled to adopt and one which she will no doubt be prepared to defend.
Over at Burke’s Corner Brian Crowe has produced a typically learned post, extracting passages which outline some of the freedoms afforded to us by Acts of Parliament and common law, which are now threatened by hastily conceived legislation. The electorate in David Davis’ East Yorkshire constituency will undoubtedly return him to Parliament, but by the time his campaign has elapsed the entire United Kingdom will have focussed its collective mind on the worth it accords to such legal protections. That alone makes his resignation a worthwhile exercise.