It’s been a week since David Davis stunned the Westminster village and delighted the public with his decision to resign his seat and fight a by-election on his fears that Britain was becoming a surveillance society.
In his politics column for this week’s Spectator, Fraser Nelson suggests that Mr Davis’ resignation had more to do with wider concerns with the Cameron project:
"At a dinner party in central London a few months ago, David Davis made an extraordinary confession. He had become disenchanted with David Cameron, he said, and was considering quitting politics. ‘I believe in certain things,’ he said, ‘and I do not believe the next Conservative government will implement them’…
So many theories abound about Mr Davis’s ‘real’ intentions that the most damaging possible explanation — a loss of faith in Mr Cameron — has hardly been mentioned. Their differences over issues such as tax, grammar schools and defence spending are hardly a secret, having been extensively aired during the leadership contest. They were also said to disagree over Mr Cameron’s plans for locally elected police chiefs — Mr Davis asking what a home secretary would have left to do if policing was devolved. Mr Davis ferociously denies any such splits, but anecdotal evidence to the contrary has been accumulating for some time."
There is probably some truth to the idea that there were/ are differences between David Davis and David Cameron but it’s now important to ensure that those differences are as well managed now that Mr Davis is outside the shadow cabinet as they were when he was a member of it.
In recent days some shadow cabinet ministers have been privately briefing against David Davis. David Cameron must communicate that this is unacceptable. It’s important that a good number of senior frontbenchers – Mr Cameron included – campaign alongside David Davis in Haltemprice and Howden.
There is also a need for David Cameron and George Osborne to address some of David Davis’ concerns. Sat on large opinion poll leads there is a temptation for the Conservative leadership to eschew radicalism but David Davis’ desire for the party to be bolder on tax and defence is not only shared by the majority of Conservative members – and increasingly by voters at large – but is right for the economy and country. As Tim Montgomerie, Editor of ConservativeHome, argues in today’s Daily Telegraph, a movement away from Labour’s spending plans is essential if the Conservatives are to stop the flight of businesses from Britain and in order to fund the kind of tax reform that could see the party connect with the millions of low-paid workers that Labour has failed.