David Davis served as Conservative Party Chairman and shadow Deputy Prime Minister, but to many he is best known for resigning his seat and stepping down as shadow Home Secretary on a point of principle. He has since established himself as an influential backbencher, and Chair of the Future of Banking Commission.
Before entering the Commons, David worked as a troubleshooter and strategist for Tate & Lyle, becoming a main board director. Apart from driving the recovery of loss-making subsidiaries he was central in reconfiguring the company. He also contributed pieces to The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times on industrial relations and management techniques, and wrote a book based on his experience. How to Turn Round a Company is as relevant today as it was in 1989.
Soon after his election to Parliament David was invited to join the Government. His first role was in the Cabinet Office, responsible for policy delivery and public service performance and some aspects of intelligence oversight. He moved to the Foreign Office as Europe and Security Command Minister, then became Science Minister (as befits a graduate in molecular science). When Tony Blair's New Labour were elected he stood for the leadership of the Conservatives, and was appointed Chairman of the all-powerful Public Accounts Committee.
In presentations David often explores the concept of 'fairness' and its effects on politics, social mobility and society. He also suggests that anything less than a full Coalition term would result in mutually assured destruction for both parties. Meanwhile too much power is still vested in too few companies - and government itself is part of the problem thanks to close ties with business, finance and media. David argues that we need more competition, and more scrutiny.
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£2.5K TO £5K
Q&A (WITH KEN LIVINGSTONE)
JLA: Where should public spending cuts be made?
Ken: Let's have no more nuclear weapons and cut the military budget to the European average - and stop popping all over the world invading countries.
David: I agree we shouldn't upgrade Trident, but it would be immoral to cut back on the resources we give our soldiers. The other thing I would cut is middle class welfare. It's perverse to give well off people the state's money - give them lower taxes, not welfare.
JLA: Are we returning to a clear ideological divide between the two main parties?
David: There are differences in ideas and ideals. The Tories would like to cut taxes and bring down spending (not an instinct of the Labour party) - but the walls limiting what government can do will make it difficult to differentiate.
Ken: I loathe the crap about elections and politics being about whether or not you like someone. I disagree with almost everything she did, but Thatcher wrenched the whole debate in the direction she wanted because she believed in something and was prepared to lose rather than betray her principles. Politics is not about electing nice people, it's about making decisions.
JLA: Is the recession being used as an excuse to reduce the size of the state?
David: As it stands the state is clumsy and doesn't respond well to its client base (- in business if you don't respond to customers you go bankrupt). I support the NHS but I don't understand how we've doubled the budget and not received double the service. We have to do something about the natural tendency of the state to spend our money without delivering an improved outcome.
Ken: When I became Mayor I was able to act quickly because Blair created an executive post. Cabinet Ministers should have the same power to hire and fire as far down the layers as necessary. There are some smart people in government departments but it's a wholly risk-averse, inward-looking bureaucracy.
JLA: Do we now have an opportunity for real change?
David: Almost everyone is in favour of an austerity approach, but they won't like it when it addresses itself to them. The question is, will the government be able to hold the line and use the crisis to mould a more responsive, effective state.
Ken: At a time of crisis you get the chance to set the agenda for a generation ahead. This is a definite opportunity to remake the entire political and social structure of the country.
HOW CAN JACQUI SMITH ESCAPE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THIS OUTRAGE?
by David Davis
When Henry II bellowed "Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?" and four of his knights journeyed to Kent to murder Thomas a Becket, he famously showed abject contrition by walking to Canterbury in sackcloth and ashes.
When Jacqui Smith's petty tantrums at leaks from the Home office set in chain a series of events that ended in a posse of Counter Terrorism officers journeying to Kent to arrest Damian Green, we saw no such contrition. Her responses went from "I didn't know," to "It's not my responsibility," to "It would have been irresponsible not to have done it." That last claim was based on the assertion that national security was at risk.
Let us put to one side the Home Secretary's inability to distinguish the nation's security from her own political insecurity, and consider the facts from a man who is both independent and has all the facts, the Director of Public Prosecutions. He said, " I have concluded that the information leaked was not secret information or information affecting national security.
"It did not relate to military, policing or intelligence matters. It did not expose anyone to a risk of injury or death. Nor, in many respects, was it highly confidential. Much of it was known to others outside the civil service, for example, in the security industry or the Labour Party or Parliament. Moreover, some of the information leaked undoubtedly touched on matters of legitimate public interest, which were reported in the press."
Throughout this case Ministers have tried to imply that there was some hidden sinister aspect to this case. Indeed, the letter to the police from the Cabinet Office said in terms that there was a threat to national security. We now know that this was untrue, that it was either a lie or a piece of remarkable incompetence.
So how did it happen?
What the combination of the Damian McBride affair and the Damian Green affair tells us is that a culture of vindictiveness has grown up, in Whitehall in general and the Cabinet Office in particular. It is a culture that can only have originated from ministers and special advisers, since it is so at odds with the traditions of our Civil Service.
Indeed, the increasingly habitual use of the full power of the state to attack opponents of the government, be they whistleblowers or political rivals, is inimical to our entire liberal democratic tradition.
There are a number of questions left unresolved. Firstly we have not established whether Ministers were knowledgeable about these decisions and actions; and if they were not, why not? Police operational independence does not absolve Ministers from accountability. Are we seriously to believe that in the six month gestation of this case, no minister was consulted at any time?
Former Home Secretaries of both parties have said to me they are astonished that Jacqui Smith didn't know what was happening. She should have done. We also still have the unresolved question of Parliamentary privilege, which was undoubtedly breached in pursuit of this case.
It is the responsibility of Parliament and a free press to hold Government to account. When Governments lie or conceal information, as this one has done systematically, it is necessary to publish information from whistleblowers. They will not be possible if the police can seize parliamentary files whenever they feel like it.
Parliament also needs to consider the question of when criminal law can be used to protect confidential government information. If an employee leaks confidential information when working for a private company or individual - a celebrity's nanny, for example - they get the sack. They do not get arrested.
Government is only different in very limited circumstances, essentially involving national security. Those limited circumstances do not extend to protecting Labour politicians from embarrassment and exposure of their failures.
That is why the Damian Green affair is the second major case attempting to use "misconduct in public office" to gag whistleblowers to collapse in twelve months.
This law is antiquated, anachronistic, and has become a discretionary power for the Executive rather than a reliable protection for the people. It is time it was revoked or rewritten. After all, if we took the law literally, namely "misconduct in public office", this week we might end up arresting the Home Secretary.