I've just been down to my local Conservative Association coffee morning, when everybody was asking me what on earth 'my man' was thinking about. 'My man' in this instance is David Davis, whom I supported in the last party leadership contest. I then walked down and up Broad Street talking to people that I know, all totally unconnected with the political world. No-one raised the issue with me at all, and when I raised it with them, they were all fully supportive and admiring of David's action. Read into this what you like, but it's another small example of the growing disconnection between what I'll refer to an the political activist and the rest of the population.
My answer to the question about what 'my man' has done were along the lines of Chiang Kai-shek's response when asked to reflect on the impact of the French Revolution. "Its too soon to say". What's the betting this was someone else and some commenter smarter than a wood pigeon is going to correct me. My general response remains that I wish he hadn't done it, but I'm right behind him now that he has. Charles Moore has taken a strong and, as usual, well argued view on this, which is less than complimentary about David. The major saving grace is that his replacement in the Shadow Cabinet is Dominic Grieve, a man just as committed to civil liberty as David Davis.
My disappointment is mainly that my party has lost such a very effective potential Home Secretary. But you can bet that David Davis has thought this through. Perhaps he believes that he can play a role which is personally satisfying as a backbencher. I always like to relate events to personal experience, however tangential. About eighteen months before I last my position as an Assembly Member, I resigned as a party 'spokesman' to become the only Conservative backbencher. There were several reasons, but one was that I felt I could have more impact in my role as Chair of the Environment, Planning and Countryside Committee than as a party 'spokesman'. Working on the Committee's business was as satisfying as sitting in the debating chamber when I wasn't involved in a debate when all AMs agreed on a 'motherhood and apple pie' motion was pointless. And anyone with even a passing interest in Parliamentary affairs will have noted than one of the most effective MPs is Frank Field, and he's been a backbecher for most of his career. I've also discovered since losing my seat that I can have quite a bit of influence on some political and local issues when not an elected member at all. All in all, there's a future after office, and I feel sure that there remains a major role for David Davis in British politics. But I would still have preferred him not to have resigned. I'm sure things will look different again by next week.