Monday, June 16, 2008

Should I go and campaign about liberty with David Davis?

Dear readers,

I would like to ask your advice. Should I go up to Yorkshire and campaign about liberty with David Davis?

As regular readers will know, the subject of terrorism and the causes of terrorism and how we protect ourselves from its effects is one close to my heart. Equally close to my heart is the subject of liberty and democracy; things that those who would like a Sharia State are not at all keen on. By the chance accident of being on a train three years ago, and then writing about it on a message board when I got out of hospital and got home, and then being asked to keep a diary by the BBC, which became this blog, I ended up being part of a big news story, and the political, for me, became the personal, and vice versa, in a rather unusual way.

This blog is where I express my personal opinions, like millions of other bloggers do on their blogs. I like writing and debating, and after a while, my writing jumped from blogging into mainstream media. There are lots of journalists and commenters expressing their opinions about politics and terrorism, and I joined them, and the debate, in a small way. If Melanie Phillips, say, or Matthew Norman can express an opinion on the anti-terror laws, civil liberties or security measures, then why shouldn't I?

Even though I keep trying to say that my views are just my views, except when I am specifically campaigning or acting as a spokesman for a group view ( such as the campaign for an independent inquiry into the 7 July bombings which is supported by a group of survivors and families), there is a worrying tendency to try to make me the voice of all victims. I am not. How can I be, how can anyone be? That is just lazy journalism. Three trains and a bus were bombed, and if you were to go onto any three trains and bus this morning you would find a wide range of people with a wide range of views. We who were unfortunate enough to be caught up in 7/7 were just ordinary everyday people of all ages, races, religions and political persuasions. That was the whole point of indiscriminate bombings targeting the general public.

There are families and survivors who support 42 days and all sorts of increased powers and I entirely respect their viewpoint. I was not seriously wounded or bereaved on 7/7, although I do understand what it is like to be on the receiving end of hateful violence. And I understand grief and anger, even more now since my mother died suddenly last summer. I too feel the urgent desire to do everything possible to stop a repeat of the London bombings, or worse. That is why I campaign for an inquiry into 7/7, that's why gave evidence to the London Assembly as part of their drive to improve communication and response on the aftermath of a disaster, that's why I stayed engaged in the debate and continue to be, three years on. Because I don't want it to happen again, and I care about the issues raised. Passionately.

But I also don't want to live a life of fearfulness, in a climate of suspicion and anxiety about being blown up at any moment. I want an accurate picture of the terrorist threat. I don't think the threat should be exaggerated to win votes or play politics or sell papers. I also think it should not be underestimated. So I follow the news, watch the court cases, talk to people - everyone from police and security personnel, experts and academics, politicians and journalists to ordinary people who have been affected by terrorism and the terrorism policies of this country. I try to learn as much as possible about what is going on. I'm still listening, still learning.

And the position I came to is this: the bomb exploding is only part of the terrorist's strategy. What they really use is the fear of the bombing and the effect this fear has on all of us, which is far more people than they could ever hit with an explosive device. They want us to be afraid and to imagine our worst nightmares. They want us to become angry and to start looking at all Muslims with suspicion and preferably, hatred. Then they can move in and say to young Muslims: see, you are victims of an oppressive system that wants to make war on Islam and hates all Muslims. Rise up and fight back!

They would like this very much: the British people to be permanently afraid of them. It makes them important, it dignifies their 'cause'. They would never get enough people to vote for them, so they rely on propaganda and the threat of violence to get us to notice them, and to recruit to their cause.

I do not want to do their hateful work for them. We have withstood far greater threats than this, most recently, waves of terrorist bombing campaigns from the IRA, to the mighty German war-machine hammering us with ariel bombardments, night after night, the WMD of their time. Children evacuated, gas-masks supplied to the population, streets flattened and people maimed and killed by the thousand. Every night, every week.

And whilst this was going on, and whilst men and women went off to fight and die in other lands, we still held on to our fundamental freedoms. Soldiers served to protect and defend us and to keep us a free country. Even 18b, legislation introduced by Churchill's government during the war to intern up to a thousand suspected fascists without charge or trial was abandoned before the war had even ended, Churchill having said that to detain a man'“without the judgment of his peers is in the highest degree odious and the foundation of all totalitarian government, whether Nazi or communist”. After the war, ID cards were dropped, and life went back to normal.

Now, we're told, the new complexity of terrorist plots means the police might need longer than 28 days in the future to actually charge someone they have arrested for questioning. But for the last ten years M16 and the police have been investigating complex plots in co-operation with other nations' security services -such as international weapons or drug trafficking cartels -and they have had to deal with evidence cached on hundreds of computers, witnesses speaking foreign languages, complex networks who are resourced with their own protection muscle, their own lawyers and often the assistance of corrupt officials - and they have not said that they need six weeks to question suspects and investigate before charging them.

There have been no terrorism cases where longer than 28 days has been needed, police have gone to the wire on three cases only and even that may be, we're told, not true. (Who has not gone to the wire on a deadline? I know I have). But to lock someone up for six weeks in a windowless cell - yes, even a person suspected of terrorism - and then to go on a fishing expedition and look for proof to charge them - running all the while the risk that they may be innocent - and 50% of people who are detained under the terrorism laws so far as I understand it - have been found to be innocent - how is that right?

These laws can be used on anyone. Anti-terrorism legislation, despite reassurances at the time of passing it that it was only to be used in the most serious cases, has been used against a pensioner shouting 'nonsense!' at a conference, numerous protesters, people gathering petition signatures , actors, journalists .. and they could be used against you or me.

And the anger the laws foment when applied heavy-handedly or in way that suggests that Muslims are being criminalised is actively used against us, to damage one of our best sources of intelligence, information from local communities. It was local Muslims in Bristol who tipped off the police about a Muslim convert who was arrested and allegedly found to be assembling explosives, making some kind of vest. He was not on the security services radar.

These laws do not make us safer. We do not become more free and safe by giving up freedoms.

So, this is important, and I have said it all before.

Now, should I stand and say it again, at Mr Davis' side?

Reasons against

1. In some ways it is quite frustrating being a 'survivor' of a terrorist attack. No matter how much research and work I do, no matter how well I put my case, people are not listening to me because I am reasonably well informed and have done the leg work. No, it is because I am a 'victim'. Well, that should actually be irrelevant. Debates about liberty and security should not be won or lost because of sympathy for the person on the stump. The fact that I happened to be on a train with a suicidal terrorist is not the point. The fact that afterwards I tried to find out as much as possible about both sides of the debate before coming to a decision is of more relevance. You should not be able to win a debate by simply shoving someone onto the floor who has suffered as a trump card; that is cheap and exploitative and wrong.

2. This debate should be above party politics. It should not be about point-scoring against the opposing political party to your own. The people affected by the London bombings should not be used as a political football, or to make emotive arguments. The bombings were an attack on all of us, indiscriminately, and the debate about how far we go and how much we change in the aftermath equally affects all of us and should be participated in by as many people as possible. That's how democracy works.

3. I'm not a Conservative. If I go and campaign with DD, I am campaigning for a Conservative candidate who has in the past said things I strongly disagree with, such as supporting Clause 28 and the death penalty. My own 7/7 experience, and 7/7 itself, could be used to support a Tory campaign. Because people will look at me and go '7/7 victim' and want '7/7 experiences', not reasoned arguments and research. Or perhaps I am just being cynical. But I can see me saying my stuff , and then the opposition bringing on someone in a wheelchair or someone who has lost a loved one, who disagrees and then it will become all about 'who has the right to speak more because who has had the worst time of it' and it will be shameful.

4. I am not a politician or a professional campaigner backed by an organisation. I am a civilian. I do not have the support of lawyers, advisers, staff to protect me against spin and attacks and abuse and hate-mail and intimidation. I am not particularly thick-skinned, I have not had a great time over the last six years and I have taken the brunt of some very nasty stuff already for speaking out, which has included a criminal harassment campaign, abuse, heckling, intimidation, threats to 'pop round', the attempted publishing of my home address and family details, people contacting my family, unsolicited nasty communications, vicious lies and abuse published on the internet and on two occasions, death threats. Quite honestly, there have been times when I and my family have been very scared and upset. Am I really up to walking into a bear pit, unprotected? With the Sun against me and the government's spin machine grinding away?

Reasons for

1. I have said and I still say, that Mr Davis is making an important and principled stand on a matter which is extremely important to us as a nation. I have said that if you do not act on your principles, then they are just opinions. It's all very well blogging about it, and going to demos, and lobbying, and being in a documentary about liberties, and writing articles and giving speeches but should I do more, if asked? And I keep being asked.

2. This debate should be above politics, and not just left for the Conservatives to have internally about how far they might go if elected to repeal or pass terror laws. Already two Labour MPs have stepped forward to support the campaign, as have Nick Clegg, Shami Chakrabrti, Helena Kennedy, Henry Porter, NO2ID and others who support the cause of civil liberties. It affects me as much as anyone else, it has been a passion of mine for some years, I am deeply involved in it, so why should I not speak up?

3. If I do not stand and speak out, then how can I decry people for not standing and not speaking out, not getting involved? How can I stand back and let the Sun make out that standing up for liberties is somehow letting down all the victims of terrorism? How can I let 'victimhood' be used as a stick to browbeat people with? It is simply false to equate 'supporting civil liberties' with 'being soft on terrorism'. I bloody well hate terrorism, I have seen the horrific things bombs do to people, I have lain awake shaking as the memories crowded back in. I want to stop terrorists killing and maiming people. I am also certain that the laws being put forward are being put forward for political reasons, and run the risk of being counter-productive.

4. I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't really, aren't I? Like I said to the Home Affairs Committee, please don't take my opinion any more seriously than the opinion of anyone else. I am just an ordinary person. I do not have any special wisdom. I'm scared of terrorists, sometimes, I'm scared of being attacked and abused. But I don't want to be. I want to stand up for what I believe in, I want to live my life freely, I want what everyone else wants. The freedom to speak and the freedom to keep silent. To be fairly heard and fairly treated, to work and live in a way that is meaningful to me. I didn't choose what happened to me, but I can choose how I act afterwards .

So, should I stand and speak?

I apologise for the length of this public-soul-searching post. Just typing it up has helped me think it through, though. Now it is over to you. If you were me, what would you do?

And what do you intend to do in this debate about freedom and fear?
And what do you think Mr Davis, the other candidates and the political parties and the government should be doing?

Thank you in advance.


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Blogger Unknown said...

Please do it: not as a "victim of terrorism", but just as yourself, which now simply means someone who has become respected as a wise and intelligent
commentator on events.

And of course make it clear that your support is "single issue" support.

June 16, 2008 1:52 pm  
Blogger anticant said...

Rachel, the only authentic guide is your own conscience. If your heart tells you to campaign alongside DD, you must do it. Otherwise, you will feel slghtly ashamed for the rest of your life.

This is a cause which transcends party politics. We are being mindlessly railroaded - with the best of intentions, of course - into a proto-fascist state and state of mind.

I am 80 years of age and in poor health. Otherwise, I would definitely be actively campagning for DD despite his unsatisfactory record on gay rights, which I fought for publicly in the 1950s and '60s.

Have a look at some of my posts in anticant's arena.

And whatever you decide, my profound admiration for your courage and outspokenness.

June 16, 2008 1:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, please do. God knows I've never been much of a fan of David Davis (and I say this as a Tory), but if he's going to make a stand like this then people who agree should support him.

The alternative is the Government dismissing the whole thing as a 'stunt', refusing to debate the issue and continuing to blithely state that they have public support on this issue. They need to be shamed into defending their position, and the only way that this can be done is by a genuine, cross-party body of support standing by David Davis.

June 16, 2008 1:59 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you do, I would be careful of becoming directly associated with David Davis - for example by saying "I support David Davis in his campaign for ...". The problem will be, that although you would no doubt go on to qualify that statement, the soundbite will be "I support David Davis", and you have already given reasons why that might not be the whole truth (Section 28 etc.).

As a 7/7 victim your opinion will no doubt be sought. If you think you can do that without supporting David Davis' general agenda, which is anything BUT Civil Liberties, then good luck to you. You'll need it.

You COULD just go around saying "I support Civil Liberties", or "I support the reduction in the limit back to 14 days, never mind 28 days", but I don't think people will be that interested. The media circus is centered around David Davis, not so much the issue. That's sad, but that's the way I see it.

If I were you? I would offer my services to an organisation such as Liberty. See what their suggestions are.

June 16, 2008 2:22 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With some of the afore-mentioned caveats about how the media will trivialise or skew anything you say, I would with respect ask that you do make yourself available.

I am sure there must a way that everyone who supports him on this issue whilst disagreeing with his other policies can operate under a single umbrella on this occasion.

I think it might have to be something including Liberty rather than organised by them because The Sun etc will do their best to confuse this issue with Liberty's stance on other things with the aim of putting-off many conservatives who would otherwise happily vote for David Davis on this test of opinion.

June 16, 2008 3:05 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rachel, I think that it is probably right to talk to organisations like Liberty - and also to Helena Kennedy, the Liberal Democrats and others.

I personally think that DD should be supported in this, but it would be good to see a united front on this from pro-civil liberties people.

June 16, 2008 3:06 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those are some well considered fors and againsts there.

The main thing is that this is not about Davis/otherwise, but about a debate on the subject. No doubt there will be an opposition candidate, and they might well be someone espousing the dog whistle politics of The Sun. But they will not beat Davis.

I think you're wise to be cautious about politicians and the media (on all sides and persuasions), and how they use people and twist their words.

Would YouTube be an option? Video which may get picked up by more mainstream sources, but over which you have editorial control (and Youtube can attract large audiences).

June 16, 2008 3:33 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...


A very wise and insightful post, not just on DD, but on the wider ‘war’. For what its worth, I think you should help him. As you know only too well, putting your head above the parapet is dangerous, but this is an important chance to make a difference in a highly practical way.

Your right that being a victim doesn’t offer any unique insight into policy making, but you have to admit that through no fault of your own you do have a noterity and a small measure of fame. If handled with taste and discretion, this public profile could really add value to the wider campaign


June 16, 2008 4:01 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would say no. I think that Davis' resignation on principle is fine; but to call the subsequent byelection a 'referendum' on terrorism laws is an abuse of the electoral process. The deck is heavily stacked in his favour, given that he has a safe seat. Even if he didn't, you can't assume that everyone in that constituency will vote on that issue, or that the constituency is representative of the country.

June 16, 2008 4:02 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting points, and you raise some important issues. I think you have a unique perspective and authority - it's important not to play the "victim" card, but also I think a number of people might be surprised that you're not in favour of tougher measures. You have a relevant and important voice in this debate.

However, I'd personally not do it, for the "I'm not a Conservative" reason. I'm decidedly pissed off with this government for many reasons, but the Conservatives piss me off even more and many of the things they did when last in power make my blood boil. I would not want to be associated with any of that at all. There's probably a better place to be campaigning, and you might be better off finding a less partisan place to raise the issues.

June 16, 2008 4:23 pm  
Blogger Deborah said...

Rachel, my opinion (for what it's worth) is that you should take care of yourself, first and foremost. You don't bear sole responsibility for representing, or for speaking out - and I know from my own experiences that feeling that way can heap a whole load of pressure on you and you can end up burning out. I worry that you've had such a rubbish time from people who either don't understand or don't care that threatening people over the internet, or in any press, is not ok, and can be frightening and re-traumatising.

Having said all that, I don't think you should be silenced by other people's terrible behaviour, and that if you really want to do this, you should go for it. I guess what I'm saying is do it because you want to - if that's the case, but not because you feel you have to, despite the personal cost.

You have a great deal of intelligent, well-thought out things to say on this issue, and I hope that people can hear you in this way, and not just as the 'survivor point of view', which as you rightly say, demeans everyone.

June 16, 2008 4:34 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


When I read the opening to your post, my immediate thought was that it would be a Good Thing for you personally to throw yourself into such a worthy cause. Something positive and proactive after the negatives over the last year (your Mother's sad death etc)

However, some of your 'reasons against' do make me wonder whether my gut reaction was right. I do think that anyone who stands up to campaign on any issue, particularly one like this, is considered to be fair game by the gutter press. You are a very strong person, but you will be attacked anew and are you prepared for that? It seems too much punishment for one person to take.

With regard to your status as a victim of terrorist violence, the relevance diminishes with time. As you say, your story was picked up by the BBC initially because of what happened to you, but your work now, while it may be connected to your experiences, is so much more and your appeal would have foundered by now if you did not have the ability to write about other issues. You are a very talented writer.

You need to do what is right for you and your family and hopefully writing about it today has helped you make that decision.

Whatever you decide, I wish you the very best.

June 16, 2008 5:03 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rachel, if I were in your position I would wait for a few days before coming to a decision. In particular I would wait to see who else is going to be on the ballot papers - at the moment David Davis is against Miss Great Britain, "Mad Cow Girl" and a market trader from Northampton. I can't see there being much (serious) debate on the issue of 42 days (or, for that matter, on any other subject like ID cards) with only these 3 standing against Davis, and as such I guess that there isn't much to gain from you joining in the debates. Would all the media hassles be worth it to debate the finer points of erosion of civil liberty with "mad cow girl"?

June 16, 2008 5:04 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Rachel,

I too have agonised over what steps I should take in regard to helping David Davis's campaign.

In my opinion, these are dangerous times for the libertarian wing of the Conservative party. A defeat or farcical by-election for Davis would strengthen the authoritarians in the party and could lead to David Cameron failing to fulfil his promises to revoke some of Labour's more repressive legislation should the Tories win the next election.

Everyone who values their civil liberties, whether or not they are Torys, should support Davis in this by-election because we don't want the next government to be dominated by authoritarian Conservatives.

I am convinced that a humiliation in this by-election, (and that includes a refusal by Labour to even field a candidate to campaign against), for David Davis would do terrible damage to the cause of civil libertarianism in the UK. Remember that this is a single-issue campaign and your support for Davis's political platform is not equivalent to you supporting the Conservative party.

Davis is being opposed by powerful forces, like Rupert Murdoch, who would love to see him fail. How nauseating it would be if an Australian-American multi-billionaire should be the sole funder for the campaign of a populist candidate, like John Smeaton (due to his anti-terrorist hero status), who has little interest in our civil liberties. I suppose freedom isn't for the little people in Murdoch's view.

Best wishes,

Ian Flintoff

June 16, 2008 5:33 pm  
Blogger Davide Simonetti said...

It is a bit of a dilemma but I would say do it. You can always walk if it starts turning into a Tory party campaign. The best thing David Davis could do is get a broad line-up of people from across the political spectrum who want to defend civil liberties and there are plenty on the 'left' who feel that way. Davis needs to show that this isn't just a Tory issue but a national one. If two Labour MPs, Nick Clegg, Shami Chakrabrti, Helena Kennedy, Henry Porter and NO2ID are already on board the you're in good company and the Tory element is something of a minority.

As for the getting abuse part of your dilemma, well that's a bit more tricky and only you know how much you can take. But you'll have more support than abuse, I'm sure. The other thing I'd say is that we've all been waiting a long time for an opportunity like this to come along.

I hope that helps in some way.


June 16, 2008 5:39 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

" 7/7 Survivor Backs Davis Campaign"

Whatever reasons you use to justify backing DD that's the headline you'll see; personally if I were you I'd keep right out of it.

There's just something not right about all this...

June 16, 2008 5:39 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off Rachel, read this:

That's Iain [Who, as you know, is gay] talking about Davis, seems his vote was whipped through in regard to various gay issues and it's little more than Stonewall's perversion of the truth.

Second of all, you are the voice of Terror victims wether you like it or not, you started this blog, and you then accepted attention from the mainstream media rather than saying no. This makes you the mainstream media voice and opinion of terrorism and victims of terrorist attacks in the modern age.

Davis' campaign has said they'd welcome you with open arms.

Now, if it was me, I'd go, and make sure you're vocal about your views and that you and Davis reflect eachother in regards to the defence of our civil liberties, but not much further than that.

June 16, 2008 6:06 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do it, but only if you feel you can take the heat, and not because you feel you owe anything to anyone (you don't).

But if you choose, you can nail the lie 'strong on liberty = weak on terror' with unique authority.

June 16, 2008 7:02 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Rachel.

I'm a long time reader and admirer of your blog (and of yourself), although I haven't left comments on it before.

You do not know me, so there's no reason why my opinion should have the slightest bearing on your decision, but for what it's worth;

Having just read your latest piece, I think you've answered your own question. Anyone who reads your "reasons for" and "reasons against should be left in no doubt as to your conclusion.

This is possibly the most important public debate of our lifetime. The freedoms (or lack of) that our children and grandchildren live under may very well depend on the outcome, and future generations may look back on ours with grateful awe or with contempt.

Stand and speak or don't. It's up to you, but at least you have the freedom to make that choice and the freedom to stand and speak if you choose to do so.

June 16, 2008 7:44 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you believe that what he is doing and saying is right then I think you should go and help him.

June 16, 2008 8:01 pm  
Blogger FrankFisher said...

Two points: first, purely because you can even say this "It is simply false to equate 'supporting civil liberties' with 'being soft on terrorism'" and mean it, you should go.

IF my second point holds true - you met Davis right? Do you trust him? Do you think he is being honest about this? Is yes, then go.

The media are trying to turn this into a circus - instead, people who believe in freedom and civil rights should go, and turn it into a carnival.

June 16, 2008 8:22 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...


Heard you on FiveLIve earlier this morning, thought you stood up well to Victoria's questioning. That will come in handy...

I've tried to use my words carefully below,

I think, as some others have mentioned - whether you like it or not, your views are out in the public domain and as such you wouldn't be surprising anyone if you did go up to Yorkshire and actively campaign alongside Davis.

You will be in good company, as it seems half the Lib Dems Cabinet and several Labour rebels such as Ian Gibson and Bob Marshall-Andrews seem keen on doing likewise and doing it on this issue only.

As on Davis' views on Section 28 and the Death Penalty - they contradict with mine, yours and Shami Chakrabarti's views on both issues, yet we all agree on 42 days, and the sense that civil liberties are getting eroded - so don't worry too much about that.

As time moves on, it is becoming clear to me that the media's tune on Davis' resignation has not gone down well with the people at all well as I have seen on Nick Robinson's blog on the BBC's website and there is a backlash against those who live in the Westminister bubble.

As for whether you should go to Yorkshire, only you can make that decision, but from what you said in the immediate aftermath of DD's resignation, you should stand by your convictions and go.

June 16, 2008 8:45 pm  
Blogger The Cartoonist said...

Go for it. As Davide already pointed out, if it turns into a general Tory party campaign, you can always walk. But the way it looks you're not alone and in good company indeed with all the other supporters.

June 16, 2008 9:14 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rachel, I think it's important that people don't take the knee-jerk reaction that people who survived an actual terror incident support the demolition of everyone's rights.

It is ultimately your choice, but I would be grateful if you would stand up and be counted on this one. You have a valuable personal perspective.

Good luck with your decision!

June 16, 2008 9:33 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I believe you should go and support Mr Davis. I'm a natural Conservative but voted Labour at the last election following deeply unpleasant election literature issued by my local Conservative candidate on the topic of immigration.

I've never had strong feelings about civil liberty type campaigns but something about a 42 day period of internment feels so very wrong. If people from a broad spectrum of opinion back this campaign we stand a chance of being heard. At the least we may scare politicians away from chasing the Daily Murdoch knee jerk vote.

June 16, 2008 10:10 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thank you very much everyone for the comments. I do appreciate it. Hello especially to people who have not commented before. And to Frank, who wrote a really good article in the Guardian CiF

I'll let you know tomorrow, when I've had a sleep and a chat with my
(very anti-Tory) husband...but I think most of you will have already guessed what my decision is likely to be...

June 16, 2008 10:12 pm  
Blogger Old Fogey said...

This has now become a single issue campaign and election. The fact that he is a Conservative and you are not is now irrelevant. If you feel as he does about the 42 day issue, I see no reason why you shouldn't campaign for him.

June 16, 2008 10:30 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, I would advise you not to go anywhere near Davis' campaign.

Actively supporting him _will_ be taken by the media and both parties and likely a lot of the country as being support for the Tories. "Analysis" will all be on the basis of how this affects Brown, what it says for the chances for a Tory majority next election etc. While there is an opportunity here to promote civil liberties arguments, that can't be done by supporting any of the mainstream parties; mired in party politics and partisan factionalism.

The election is a one-horse race anyway, everyone knows he will win.

Personally, if I had the opportunity, I would keep some sort of profile so that people would ask me whether I was supporting Davis or not based on his "position", and whenever they did, ignore the whole "supporting" point and use it as a chance to move the interview on to _actual_ issues.

June 16, 2008 11:16 pm  
Blogger Alex Runswick said...

Hi Rachel

I share many of your concerns about campaigning for DD but like you believe he has taken a principled stand.

My advice as a professional campaigner would be to work as part of a coalition. You will inevitably be singled out by the media because of the 7/7 angle but having a wide range of organisations and bloggers working with you, all opposing 42 days but bringing different angles, should help. I know Sunny Hundal at Liberal Conspiracy has been debating whether to get involved.

Hope this helps

Best wishes

Alex Runswick

June 16, 2008 11:54 pm  
Blogger cabalamat said...

I think you should; this country needs more people to express sensible views on the issue of 42 days and the wider issue of civil liberties.

June 17, 2008 5:36 am  
Blogger Menelaus said...

Rachel - I passionately believe that you should do so, and for two reasons (one flippant, one not).

1. This is a civil liberties matter - it transcends party politics, it just so happens on this occasion that Mr Davis is on the side of the angels.

2. To get up Luke Akehursts nose!

June 17, 2008 5:55 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Roger was on the nail with this - you're the only authentic guide to your conscience.

But I'd think it would be great if you did. It would make life hard for the Murdoch camp. You'd have the satisfaction of knowing you'd stood up to be counted and done more for liberty than most people ever do.

What do I intend to do? Send him some cash, write about it and keep talking to people about it - this is the most important story in the UK right now, and the media can't be allowed to let it die.

(P.S. Agreed with Craig about Akehurst - via whose loathsome blog I found your site. Only I wouldn't recommend getting up his nose so much as smacking him in it. There's not a jury in the land that would convict you if you did.)

June 17, 2008 8:21 am  
Blogger Brennig said...

David Davis' 42-day resignation speech (I have a copy if you want one) is a wonderful piece of prose, full of reasoned humanity - worthy of Churchillian standards.

Rachel, can you take a leaf out of American cousins' book and endorse DD's anti-42-day campaign (for that's what it is) without picking up any association with his political stance?

June 17, 2008 9:37 am  
Blogger janestheone said...

Don't do it Rachel. It is a political stunt and you are not a politician. You are a writer.

thank you by the way for your book, which I read last week. I am not going to post a review as I am not very good at them but I will write something about it on my blog.

June 17, 2008 9:41 am  
Blogger Dave Hodgkinson said...

If David is doing this as a point of principle and not as a political statement, he should resign from the Tory party and stand as an independent.

June 17, 2008 10:25 am  
Blogger DAVE BONES said...

I wouldn't worry. He's separated himself from mainstream Toryism by this action anyway so your not magically becoming a Tory are you? You are already "campaigning" on the same issues innit.

June 17, 2008 10:49 am  
Blogger DAVE BONES said...

By doing this you would also be putting into practice, and testing for yourself your ideas of cross party alliances

June 17, 2008 11:03 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This debate should be above party politics. It should not be about point-scoring against the opposing political party to your own."

The thing is, that can be said of all political issues which have any kind of meaningful effect on real people's lives. Real people, real issues, should never be party-political footballs. But in our current political framework, they ALL are. Every single one of them. Including this one. Davis has his own agenda. He also has beliefs, some strongly held. Most politicians do. They just allow them to be compromised in the daily dirty life of party politics. You believe that in this case, he is abandoning the dirt of party-political backstabbing and allowing a strongly-helo principle to transcend all that. I'm afraid I'm still more cynical than you on that, but leaving that aside, he is not one man alone. He has the backing of many other Tories, he is still a Tory, he will still be happy if the result of this campaign is the strengthening of the Tory party, and he and all those many other Tories around him will be working to that end, whether or not he is also genuine in wanting to make Britain a safer place for ordinary people, including ordinary Muslims.

Many right-wing libertarians talk about freedom, and indeed believe in it passionately, but when you look deeper you discover they mean freedom for a selective group of people they approve of, and not for others. By allying yourself with him you may well find yourself being tarred with brushes you would rather not be tarred with, and indeed being used for aims you do not believe in.

By NOT joining in directly with Davis' campaign and standing shoulder to shoulder to him, you would not be selling out or being apathetic or cowardly. You will continue to take a principled stance against 42 days and a whole load of other issues. You will continue to shout loudly about it and do everything you can to support the causes you believe in passionately. This is not either-or. You are not choosing between either joining Davis or doing nothing. And it would be manipulative of anyone to suggest that was your choice.

As you mention above, they want you because of your emotive victimhood status, not because of your political credibility - of which you have shedloads, and will continue to have, no matter what you decide.

June 17, 2008 5:13 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dunno if you've seen this, which you probably disagree with but may find interesting nonetheless.

June 17, 2008 5:18 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thank you very much indeed everybody for all the comments and emails. I'm sorry I haven't finished replying to all the emails yet. I will do tomorrow.

I'm still working out exactly what to do and how best to play this, but your wise words have really helped.

Cheers and thanks

June 17, 2008 6:36 pm  
Blogger Mark said...

Hi Rachel,
Maybe the fact that you have a NO2ID banner on your website might give you a clue as to what you really think you should do?
As you so rightly say, this is a break, a big break.
If Davis fails or is humiliated, the opportunity may well not come around again for quite some time.
What's the worst that can happen? They confront you with someone who has come out of
a terrorist attack much worse than you? Maybe someone who has lost his children.
Make you out to be as "egotistical" and as "loony" as Davis? The tide of opinion goes against you.
You are judged to be WRONG.
You know, I know, millions of other people know that you are RIGHT.
Even old John Major knows that you are RIGHT (Note pre-davis date:
We will only all be WRONG if we have LOST. You could get over the having been WRONG part. Dare I say it, you might even get over possibly having been
mistaken for a Tory for a while. NO ONE will "get over" the consequences of losing this debate in a hurry.

It is unfortunate that in the current climate, one can not have a proper debate without everybody (good example: luke akehurst) scrabbling around for "trophy" supporters.
For that is unfortunately what you would be in part.
To be fair to him, that is the vile way things are done in the UK at the moment. It's something that needs addressing, but some other day.
Things (media) seem to be turning our way, chances are this thing could really work. I think that your firm endorsement would really help to consolidate a shift in the media.
I am looking for ways to help, but I will have to content myself with writing letters of support. I'm also sending Davis some dosh.

All the best, whatever you decide.

June 18, 2008 2:34 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rachel, if you do it, please be aware that in Yorkshire of all places, and East Yorkshire in particular, you may be regarded with suspicion. Nobody will know or likely care who you are, and unless Mr. Davis explicitly includes you, you may well be ignored.

Yorkshire folk tend to regard the Southern media and politicos as at best parachuters-in and at worst London-centric parasites. (Many people in Hull are still in temporary homes after the floods of a year ago: where were the media then ?)

I wouldn't want that extraordinary voice of yours to be sullied by what *may* be seen as self-promotion, self-regard, with an increasing gap between what is *perceived* as a self-regarding polticial interest and the actual concerns of real people. I wouldn't want to see you creep back to London with your tail between your legs, unheard and embarrassed.

Rachel North from *where* ?

IainC (Scottish but living in Yorkshire).

June 18, 2008 9:54 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

Heh, good point.

But my sister was born in Sheffield, where we used to live, my in-laws live in Scarborough, and my husband is a Yorkshireman and a fervent Leeds supporter.


June 18, 2008 9:59 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

And my other in-laws live in Preston.

June 18, 2008 10:02 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

Many right-wing libertarians talk about freedom, and indeed believe in it passionately, but when you look deeper you discover they mean freedom for a selective group of people they approve of, and not for others. By allying yourself with him you may well find yourself being tarred with brushes you would rather not be tarred with, and indeed being used for aims you do not believe in.

By NOT joining in directly with Davis' campaign and standing shoulder to shoulder to him, you would not be selling out or being apathetic or cowardly. You will continue to take a principled stance against 42 days and a whole load of other issues. You will continue to shout loudly about it and do everything you can to support the causes you believe in passionately. This is not either-or. You are not choosing between either joining Davis or doing nothing. And it would be manipulative of anyone to suggest that was your choice.

As you mention above, they want you because of your emotive victimhood status, not because of your political credibility...

This is a big issue:as is the 'you're doing it for publicity' thing. Re. the issue of doing it publicity, there is a big difference between getting into the public eye because you are campaigning about something and trying to bring it to public awareness, which means, being public about it and speaking about it to the media when they ring up and ask about it, and simply wanting to insert YOURSELF into the public eye as some kind of celebrity ( see Paris Hilton, BB contestants, et al).There is a bit of a problem in this celeb-obsessed world with people assuming that because you have been in the paper or on TV, that is, and always was, your entire aim in and of itself: simply to be on the telly. There are people who want to be famous simply because they want to be famous - some kind of narcissistic need for adulation that they have - but I am not one of those people. If I was, I would have applied to be on Big Brother or something, or at least arranged some kind of career for myself where I actually get paid for turning up and speaking out and being on TV. Anyway, I don't think many people really know who I am outside of a few hundred political bloggers which isn't a huge swathe of the population.

As to the bigger issues of disagreement between myself and DD - well, yes, they are there. But I am wrestling with what I said in the re-wind/Sun post - this is not about the debate being grabbed by the Tories,or politicians in general, or political bloggers in London, or whatever - it is about the debate, full stop.

Not getting involved because of distaste for political parties' policies and general hand-wringing seems to me to be doing a disservice to the debate, which is going on now, and which, if allowed to fizzle out will only play into the hands of authoritarians (and some libertarians) who would like to carry on exactly as they are doing, pushing us down a dangerous path which will see us in ten years living in a very different society. One where the issue of civil liberties is something that is not discussed at all, and dangerous to discuss.

June 18, 2008 10:37 am  
Blogger jailhouselawyer said...

Only if you pop into see me for a cup of tea...

June 18, 2008 4:42 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

I think you should do it, as this one issue is vital to our freedom, but I do agree with one comment: look after yourself.

June 19, 2008 7:02 pm  

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