From The Observer :
When a battle-weary David Davis got off the train home on Friday night, the condemnation of his colleagues ringing in his ears, he headed to his local pub for solace. His aides were waiting, with a sheaf of emails they stuffed straight into his hands. They came from excited Tory activists, life-long Labour voters, ordinary people who had never written to politicians before: there was an offer of help from a Lib Dem constituency chairman and pledges of cash from pensioners. But one, he admits, gave him 'a lump in the throat': it was from a woman who worked on a local government project to encourage the alienated and unfranchised to vote. What he had done, she wrote, would 'make my job so much easier'.
While Westminster ruminates on the implications of Davis’ resignation (unlikely to return to front bench politics, never stand for the leadership again) the reason for his resignation has been largely absent from the story. However it’s worth pointing some interesting facts from last week.
First the DUP didn’t swing the vote. As Revolts shows the government did a remarkable job dampening down discontent on its own benches.
Of the 49 Labour backbenchers who voted against the Government in November 2005, when they went down to defeat on the Terrorism Bill, only 29 did so today. Perhaps even more strikingly, of the 48 backbenchers who the whips had identified as noes – in a list leaked to a Sunday paper back in April, just 25 voted against the government. And note this: of the 39 backbenchers who the whips had down as wavering then, just seven voted against the government.
Second, a core narrative of the 42 day saga was the importance of Labour looking tough on terrorism and in the process making the Conservatives look soft and huggable. Ministers, for example, took pleasure in highlighting the fact that 65 percent of the public backed the government on 42 days but get this: the same poll shows that the public still think that the Tories have the tougher policies to deal with terrorism. And what’s more Brown’s own poll rating took a drubbing because of the vote.
Third the measure remains a long way from enactment. The House of Lords will certainly vote the measure down which means we are in for a game of Palace ping pong in the coming months, interspersed by Davis’ own campaign.
Is Davis a martyr or the spokesman for a new populist movement? Only time will tell.