Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Getting out the vote

There has been a lot of debate amongst liberal lefties about whether or not it is a good idea to support David Davis or not in his election campaign. Whether or not you think the end of opposing the plans for detention without for 42 days justifies the means of joining the ranks of the Tories, Lib Dems, Henry Porter, the BNP and UKIP in backing Davis, though, it doesn't really matter. David Davis is going to be re-elected.

But what will decide whether this has any impact on the debate about 42 days and the wider issues of civil liberties is what the turnout is.

If it is very low, then the government and media will conclude that people don't think it is a big issue, that Davis' stunt has backfired and so on. If it is roughly comparable to the turnout in the local elections, then there is a bit more of a case that people think it is as big a deal as who runs their local council, but even that won't impress many people.

But if the turnout is similar to or even higher than at the last general election, then it will really make people in Westminster reconsider their assumptions.

Setting up campaigns called things like 'Democrats for David Davis' is one thing, but it will be interesting to see how many of the people who regard this as a tremendously important issue on which our liberties and freedoms hang would actually be up for doing any of the unglamorous but important campaigning activities that might actually make a difference in raising turnout, speaking to people in the constituency face to face or telephoning them to encourage them to go and vote, making sure that people who are away on election day have postal votes, delivering leaflets to raise awareness, offering people lifts to and from the polling station on the day itself and so on.

The other implication of this is that it is as important to try to get people who disagree with Davis to go and vote as it is to get his supporters to do so. Politics can be a funny business sometimes.

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