Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Winning The Argument

Ahead of tonight's Commons vote on the ID cards Bill, Peter Riddell points out that although the government may win the vote, it has not won the argument.

In terms of the argument, the antis have it, and the man of the moment is David Davis. As one admiring commentator puts it:

'It is difficult for an independent minded person to argue with the approach put forward by David Davis on this subject when the government first began to paint itself into a corner in support of an ambitious biometric ID card system more than a year ago. Any proposal, Davis argued, had to be measured against four criteria. Will it work to achieve the stated goals? Is the government capable of introducing such a system? Is it cost effective? And can civil liberties be safeguarded?'

That commentator? Why, the Grauniad of course.

Say what?

Yup, while other Tories were busy painting us into the same authoritarian corner as the government, Our Man was standing up for our freedoms. And he set out the case against the government in clear everyday language that has resonated not just with so-called libertarian fundamentalists, but right across the political spectrum.

Returning to power does not depend on winning a few lawyerly skirmishes in the Commons bearpit. It depends on reaching out to people way outside Westminster, or London, or indeed the comfort zone of our traditional supporters.

It depends on winning arguments like this in the hearts and minds of the electorate, long, long before the next election ever takes place.


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