Public supports Davis resignation

Mr Davis has become Britain's 'freedom fighter' according to some
Mr Davis has become Britain's 'freedom fighter' according to some

The first nationwide poll on David Davis' shock decision to resign has shown unexpected levels of support for the former shadow home secretary.

A nationwide IpsosMORI pol for the Independent found 35 per cent of people would vote for Mr Davis if they lived in his Haltemprice and Howden constituency.

Only 23 per cent said they would not support him with 33 per cent saying they would not vote. In a sign of how the move has fascinated the public, only 9 per cent replied 'don't know'.

Nevertheless, more people thought Mr Davis was wrong to resign than thought he was right. Forty eight per cent said he was wrong while only 39 per cent said he was right. Those figures do not look as depressing for Mr Davis as one might think given previous polls have shown support for 42-day detention to rest on a higher margin.


Interestingly, men were more likely to think he was wrong than women and a majority of young people aged between 18 and 24 thought he was right.

Mr Brown has spent the morning defending the home secretary's 42-day powers. Speaking to the IPPR with Jacqui Smith, he said: "The protections are, in my view, there in the legislation. We have a duty for protections to be put in place."

But Mr Brown still felt the need to show he understood opponents' arguments, accepting the fact that British freedoms were what terrorists were ultimately trying to destroy.

He also announced an annual report by the information commissioner on surveillance in the UK which would then be debated by MPs.

Downing Street are denying the speech is a direct riposte to Mr Davis' resignation but are refusing to tell journalists whether it was planned before last Thursday's announcement.

While the poll was the first on Mr Davis actual resignation, previous surveys of attitudes after the announcement showed no effect on the Tories' lead.

A ComRes poll for the Independent on Sunday put the Tories on 44 per cent, unchanged from their last result. A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times found the Tories on 47 per cent , again unchanged.

A poll on Conservativehome.com, the website for Conservative members, found 65 per cent of those asked supported him.

In an article on the website explaining his position, Mr Davis wrote: "My conduct may seem eccentric in the eyes of some - but my motive is plain and simple.

"I have deliberately embarked upon an unorthodox course of action to dramatise the damage being done to the country I love, the mother of democracies, by the government's cavalier disregard for the liberties we have fought for down the centuries."

Sun columnist Kelvin MacKenzie has backed down from his early promises to stand against Mr Davis. It is understood executives at News International - the Murdoch-owned media group which controls the Sun - grew jittery at the idea.

Some believe the friendship between James Murdoch - chief executive of News Corporation - and David Cameron won the day. Others point to the Sun's habit of sticking with those parties it believes will win upcoming elections.

Recent Sun editorials have adopted a warmer tone towards Mr Davis, possibly stemming from the upsurge in support the politician has enjoyed from the general population.

"David Davis is an ego-driven maverick," wrote Trevor Kavanagh. "But he has struck a nerve with voters of all parties who are fed up with acting as bit-part players in a real-life Big Brother."

In an interesting twist, Labour MP for Medway Bob Marshall-Andrews has promised to campaign for Mr Davis, risking losing the party whip in the process

Mr Marshall-Andrews told The Observer newspaper: "They can't muzzle the whole of the party, and it seems to me foolish in the extreme in the present climate to start describing civil liberties as a stunt. I have had emails asking, 'Why does it take a Tory to say this?'"

Colonel Tim Collins, the army man made famous for his speech in the opening days of the second Iraq war, has also promised to campaign for the Tory renegade.

In a related deveopment Mr Davis has said he will launch a website to campaign for civil liberties.

The website, Daviddavisforfreedom.com, will act as a sounding board for debate on the subject ahead of his by-election campaign, Mr Davis said.

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