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Jerry Hayes

Prima Donna or Maradonna? David Davis hand of plod.

July 4th, 2010 by Jerry Hayes

If you hear strange noises emanating from Number 10, don’t be too alarmed, it will only be Cameron and Clegg choking with hysterical laughter over the breakfast headlines that David Davis is joining forces with Bernard Jenkin to scupper the referendum and oppose Ken Clarke’s prison reforms. How delightfully Tory that the sublime joins forces with the ridiculous.

I am very fond of David. But it is the sort of affection that one has for an old and trusted labrador that you know that will soon have to taken to the vet and put out of it’s misery. Many years ago, well before he stood for the leadership, I asked him how he regarded his role in the Conservative Party. “Bayoneting the wounded”, he quipped,with the sort of grin you are never quite sure whether he is being serious or not. Well, now we know. Quite what on earth he thinks he is doing attacking Ken Clarke’s rather sensible and unrevolutionary prison reforms  is a bit of a mystery. Not so much a Prima Donna as a Maradonna; David Davis,” Hand of Plod”.

But thinking and acting are not one of his stronger points. I do not mean this as a criticism, merely that he is an instinctive politician and tends to act before he thinks. I bumped into Francis Maude the night Davis resigned as Shadow Home Secretary to fight a by election about freedom. “Why?” Was the only word that came to mind. “God knows”, said Maude, “quite extraordinary, quite bonkers.The  first we heard of it was on the news”.

In many ways David Davis is very similar to his old friend Alan Clark. Both outsiders, both ambitious, but both somehow not quite fitting in. Clark used to admire his courage after a boozy dinner in joining him zig zagging the precarious battlements at Saltwood Castle. Either could have easily fallen to their deaths. But was it courage, recklessness, or just the adrenalin of danger? Like Davis, Clark was unpredictable. Once I had a problem with an incompetent minister who was, single-handedly, doing his best to lose my constituents a defence contract. I won’t mention his name just in case he is still alive, although it would be difficult to tell. Clark was Minister of State for Trade, and when I went to seek his advice I expected the usual loyalty to a fellow minister. Not a bit of it. “Oh him. What a useless, arrogant, jaw dropping little cunt. I’ll go to Margaret and get the  shit sacked for you”. He did and he was.

It would be far too easy to dismiss Davis as a bitter man positioning himself as a standard bearer of the right,ready to take over from Cameron should he fall under a Cleggian bus. He is ambitious, as his offering to serve in  a Cameron government the moment Chris Grayling self destructed over B & B s  proved. But he never got the call.

So is it just another walk on the wildside, reckless danger for danger’s sake or a calculated career gamble? I’d bet on the former. David is just bored and desperately seeking a political thrill. That he probably doesn’t care if he plunges to his political death makes him more unpredictable and potentially a little more dangerous. He won’t have many followers, but like David Blaine, he’ll have a lot of people holding their breath to see what he does next.

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The vote on AV is not about fairness but raw politics. If MPs play party games their gonads will be dangling from the lamp posts

July 3rd, 2010 by Jerry Hayes

The cash registers of Newspaperland will be in near meltown as gin sodden hacks cheer that the, “first cracks appear in the coalition’, story might be based on a grain of truth. Today, we learn that the government could be toppled by those political titans of the right, Bernard Jenkin (of expenses fame) and Andrew Rosindell (of absolutely no fame). The Mail’s Peter Oborne, whose bulldog like appearance reflects a perpetual fury about anything his editor wants him to, has predicted the date of the government’s collapse; 5th May 2011, the date of the referendum on AV. Oborne confides in his column that only Cameron really believes in the Coalition and that most Tories are plotting for its downfall. And now for the killer fact: “I have been told”, he thunders, that this includes George Osborne. Hold the front page! This man has more scoops that Mr. Softee.  Except, of course, that it is utter bollocks.

Even the super, soaring, coalition supporting, SUN, gives disingenuity a bad name with it’s headline, “Brits oppose £80m referendum”. The joy of this piece is that they commissioned a You Gov poll which came to the conclusion that 69%  favoured a referendum. Work that one out, Dr Freud.

That is not so say that there is not troubled road ahead for this referendum. It was the price Cameron had to pay for a workable coalition and the early date was Clegg’s recompense for having to take so much grief over the cuts. Now, I don’t want to get wound up about the merits or otherwise of AV. The Liberals have always wanted it because it used to be their only chance of getting a whiff of power and the other parties opposed it because turkeys don’t vote for Christmas. It has precious little to do with fairness, just raw politics. But it’s raw politics of the old kind. Things have changed. An electorate, buckling under massive debt and personal sacrifice won’t take kindly to petty partisanship putting economic recovery at risk. If the tribunes of the people play fast and loose on this one, their gonads will be dangling from lamp posts.

If you cut through the blather, the  arguments are simple. Jenkin’s gripe is that by having the referendum on the same day as the Scottish and Welsh elections, who already use an AV system of voting, his lot will lose. Have it on any other day and his lot will win, as most people won’t be bothered to vote. The wily Jack Straw,who has morfed into a shadowy Gromyko like figure, who would only grant you the time of day on a need to know basis, is far more cynical. Delay, obfuscate and oppose. Little nods and winks that it would only take thirty nine Tories to side with Labour and bingo,we go back to the good old days of large majorities. Hooray! The cheery days of government by dickheadism could return. Except, it is all so crooked. If Labour is mad and bad enough to oppose something it actually proposed, even though a tad cynically, it will have no future, only a present, which is just a recurring past.

So what will happen? Douglas Carswell of the Tories will warn that the voters of Little Todger South didn’t elect him on a manifesto commitment to AV, so the whips have no moral authority over him. There will be a flurry of unattributable briefings from the Wagnarian wing, about how unhappy they are, and how this runs contrary to Conservative principles. The press will run “Cameron on the brink”, stories and will hint that he will have to resign if he loses and that a battle is being fought out behind the scenes between Hague and Osborne for the leadership. And as for Labour? Ed Balls will climb from under his stone and spit venom, whilst the Milibands will write worthy intellectual pieces in Prospect, which nobody will quite finish. But, it won’t be over until Diane Abbott sings.

And the result? Despite all the wailing, beating of breasts, gnashing of teeth, threats of mutiny and walk outs, a few Tory and Labour MPs will rebel, mostly by abstention. The Bill will sail through, the referendum will be won and British politics will be changed for the better. Forever. Hoo, bloody ray.

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