The scene: the House of Commons voting lobbies. David Davis and Nick Clegg are walking through to vote against 42 days detention.
David Davis: "If we lose this vote, I'm thinking about standing down to force a by-election on the 42 days issue, but I'll only do so if you agree not to stand against me. I get to look like a hero, a principled politician who puts his career at risk to stand up against an over-mighty state. I also give the impression that civil liberties are associated with the Tory Party. As you won't be standing, you save lots of money which would be spent on the campaign, but you also get to avoid the hassle of actually being able to make a liberal case to the electorate in Haltemprice and Howden, giving them the inconvenience of having a Lib Dem candidate to vote for. You didn't actually want to take the seat, did you? Also, why don't you announce that you won't be standing a candidate five seconds after I announce I'm stepping down, to give the impression that this is a backroom deal and that you're bouncing the party into not standing? Yes, you might annoy some of your more vocal activists and give them the impression that you don't know what you're doing, but who cares about them anyway? What do you say?
Nick Clegg: "Er, OK."
Seriously, can anyone give me an explanation as to what Clegg was actually thinking when he agreed to this? If Clegg had said that we'd be standing, Davis probably wouldn't have stood down, but that wouldn't exactly have been a disaster, would it?
Of course, it maybe that Clegg didn't agree in advance not to stand. But that would just mean that he reacted to the news like a headless chicken and instantly decided to bounce the party into not standing, which I'm not sure does him any more favours.
As you might be able to tell, I'm not too impressed with Clegg on this issue.
The Second Referendum, or, Obliquity
3 months ago