David Davis – what politicians should be about

22 05 2009

I’ve just sat in on a talk by David Davis MP hosted by the University of York Conservative and Unionist Association. As with too many of these talks, there was no title for the talk/debate – just the name of the speaker. Still, I come out of the session with rather a lot of respect for Davis.

Parliament, and our political system, are in a dire state at the moment. The appalling to-do over MPs’ expenses is just the tip of the iceberg. Much deeper is a problem of the nature and content of our politics. Too many career politicians are being whisked into Parliament to follow meekly in line with their party leader.

Davis is different to this. I saw him speak about two years ago, when he was still Shadow Home Secretary. He was unconvincing and unimpressive. Since then he has found his stride – he has become a one-man campaigner for British liberty. As a result, he seemed more comfortable with himself today.

This is a delightfully unpolished man. He is constantly using the wrong words, mixing his metaphors and stumbling around for his next point. But this is because he is speaking without notes. His words don’t come from a text, but from his heart. He genuinely believes in what he’s saying.

As a consequence, there’s some meat in it that you can agree 0r disagree with. For me, his stance on Europe is probably a bit ungenerous, but there were many things that had me nodding in agreement like the Churchill dog.

I asked him about how we could defend our freedoms from government attack without a decent Parliament. His said it was absolutely vital that we got a new speaker with some balls (my word, not his) who could push through some decent reform. He wants the speaker to take control of the Commons agenda, rather than the government. He also wants backbench MPs to be able to initiate debates. It seems astonishing that this isn’t already the case.

All in all, I wish there were more folk in the House of Commons like David Davis. He’s not flashy, and probably wouldn’t be great running a big department… but you know where you are with him, and you know that he gives a damn about stuff.

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