David Davis was absolutely superb today. Completely in command of his speech and extremely well prepared for the questions. I found him very convincing and, to my mind, he had the case for 42 days detention thoroughly beat. I think the Conservatives were on the right side and I'm glad that they had exactly the right man for the job making their case.
What made it even better was that he clearly wasn't out to strike poses. He constantly reminded his own side to take their opponents' arguments seriously instead of heckling. He gave no quarter in the debate but engaged with those supporting the Government position without rancour. I don't want to be a mushy hippy - making Barney the purple dinosaur's speech at the next Bloomberg Nonpartisanship Symposium - but, when you're arguing against a position supported by a heavy majority of the public for the very credible reason that they want to strengthen the fight against terrorism, it pays to be respectful.
It is a real shame that the blogs can't do the same. Those commenting on the PMQs live blog screamed in incoherent rage that Tim had betrayed the tribe. Apparently independent thinking cannot be allowed when it might aid the enemy - how liberal!
Now it's the DUP who are getting it. I think we should be more careful. If they have decided this on the basis of a bribe then that is a bit shoddy. The dead hand of the state is already weighing more than heavily enough in Northern Ireland. A little more subsidy isn't worth deciding such an important issue over. However, the £200 million is currently nothing more than rumour and coincidence. Fiscal decisions relevant to Northern Ireland are made all the time and siding with the Government now would be a questionable strategy for a rent-seeker. It is hardly necessary to contruct a conspiracy theory to explain why they voted for this measure. They've been on the front lines in an earlier War on Terror, at huge personal risk, for a very long time.
If those insulting them and putting their support for 42 days detention without trial down to venality are wrong they risk pissing off some good members of the conservative coalition to little end.
Cross-posted from CentreRight.Com.