“It’s time for brown people to switch to Tory”
Detention without charge, a principled libertarian stand by an arch-reactionary, the slurs flung at Shami Chakrabarti by Culture Minister Andy Burnham; understandably the blogosphere has been utterly up in arms over the 42 days issue. Only in isolated spots on Labour Home or Members Net are people coming out in defence of detention without charge. It probably won’t change anything but it’s nice to know the sentiment is there.
Some of the Drink Soaked Trots and their allies have been repeating ad nauseam (rather hilariously I have to confess) at the end of virtually every comment or blog post they make, Sunny Hundal’s point of view that it makes more sense for black or brown people to begin voting Conservative for the sake of their liberty. They’ve shortened it to the above title in order to be that little bit more satirical.
Sunny’s comments are more reasonably presented here, with extensive quotation.
The point, as I see it, is not lost on me. Civil liberties aside, a Conservative government is going to be a lot less cuddly than Labour on many subjects close to the hearts of ethnic minorities in this country. Without reducing my point of view to “Labour good, Tories bad,” we should remember people like shadow minister for ‘community cohesion’ Sayeeda Warsi and her anti-gay message peddled to Muslims in her district, but anti-immigration message peddled to white people.
A Conservative government will have little trouble exploiting the divisions in our society for their own gain. Their ideology, if not always their Party, has the media in its back pocket. Yet victory in a general election is less important than a successful defence of our civil liberties against the powers of the state – not just on this 42 days issue but starting with the increased powers of policing at Westminster Square protests and working up. This doesn’t mean I support David Davis however.
Andrew Regan of B4L fame said the following:
It seems a bit rich *not* to back Davis’s campaign (assuming it sticks to the subject of 42-days) when one supports what he’s saying, and when one is glad for the opportunity the by-election provides to try to make the anti-42 case to the wider electorate. Sure, he’s a Tory, probably a hypocrite, and he patently has some unsavoury views on many other topics, but given that he’s now 100% sure to be re-elected, there’s nothing anyone can do about all that stuff.
While he happens to be campaigning on a topic liberals and socialists ought to be supporting, the task should be clear.
I’ve quoted this because I think it displays very clearly all the reasons we shouldn’t support Davis, though inadvertently. Davis is running for election and elections are rarely single issue campaigns; they are never single issue campaigns when a political party is involved. Davis is running on a Conservative slate and if re-elected and given the chance to vote for any number of reactionary measures, he’ll take it. Rightly so because people will have elected him to do just that.
Or at least so the democratic theory goes.
Too many sections of the liberal blogosphere have become enamoured of this notion of Davis and his principled, libertarian run. It’s not a campaign on civil liberties however. It’s not a campaign full stop. After Davis is elected and nothing changes, then what? Is he going to resign again? If we’re serious about a campaign to restore civil liberties, then I very much doubt it’s going to be delivered by parliament.
Labour can’t appear divided or weak on terrorism. The Conservatives mostly support a lot of the legislation passed, which is precisely why they often simply don’t show up, to let Labour do the dirty work while they appear impeccably credentialed as libertarians. Cameron is not going to pledge to reverse the legislation that his Party claims to find so odious. A parliamentary vote is not going to be the answer.
Some of the other solutions have bordered on the utterly fantastic. The creation of an SDP-like breakaway is one I’ve seen mooted. Despite all this, it doesn’t change the fact that Davis is essentially the class enemy. He will go back to the days when one literally had to hobble and bleed in order to collect incapacity benefit. They will marketise the NHS at a frightening pace. Even our foreign policy might take a turn for the worse, if that’s possible.
Single issue campaigns are well and good for encouraging popular engagement and a united front, but there’s no unity to be had between socialists and conservatives. I think a lot of the softer sentiments in favour of Davis comes from the absence of fear of Tory policies. Labour on immigration and national security pretty much toes the same line. No few social liberals and Labour libertarians are in favour of the absolute marketisation of the economy.
That is a much more crucial issue than whether or not Davis gets re-elected – which is certain to happen, as Andrew mentioned, so why does he personally need our support? Someone should have run against him and made a proper socialist, libertarian argument. No doubt local media would have covered the dispute endlessly and that is just the right time to have our arguments advanced against his.
Where so many fail in their analysis isn’t as regards parliamentary analysis or splicing principles to see if David Davis name is inside but in assessing where power currently lies and where it should lie. If power resides with the State, controlled as it is not by ‘the people’ but by an elite, and if one thinks that is justified, then of course there is no possible recourse to the legitimate decision of a legitimate government, apart from harshly worded letters to the editor perhaps or voting come election time.
That no one has thought of actually building a proper movement to overturn the offending laws using extra-parliamentary means shows precisely how superficial the concern of so many London politicos actually is. Approach the trade unions, consider civil disobedience to disrupt their use, have Liberty and Amnesty et al campaign and fund-raise for anyone arrested either for civil disobedience or under the 42 days law. If we’re actually against this, let’s be against it.
Our opposition to 42 days is much more dramatic than it has been portrayed. If we carry it through to its logical conclusion, what we’re actually saying is, come 28 days (or whatever limit one personally sets) we want all suspects released, whether or not they are actually guilty, unless the state can present its case. This is a valid proposition and one I support, but if we’re going to go through with this, we better know that we’ve already lost any battle if the field chosen is the media.
Brown faces being led away and the picture of people lying dead in the street will see to that.
For that reason any campaign must be a campaign of solid activists in every town, organised by community or workplace or whatever. It must build funds for its own newsletter to counteract the nonsense that the mainstream media will print. At the end of the day, ask yourself if the Conservatives or even David Davis would participate in such a campaign. When you answer that question, you ultimately answer the question as to whether or not we should re-elect Davis, never mind support his campaign.