David Davis' resignation and refighting of his seat on the chosen ground of civil liberties and the rule of law offers a fascinating potential. Labour has done everything it can to shut down by-elections since 2005; only death has been an acceptable reason for a by-election in a Labour seat (apart from the permanent erasure of Tony Blair from Gordon Brown's world).
Discipline has not extended to the idea that a dissident Labour member of Parliament might wilfully resign and force a by-election; presumably the Party hierarchy assumed that the benefits were too high to be sacrificed to principle. Is that true now?
There are Labour members of Parliament sharply disillusioned with the leadership and its behaviour; there are many who want a new Leader followed by a general election just to limit the melt down; there are older Labour members who can be offered very little post this parliament so unpopular is the current government, and so unlikely are their seats to return a Labour MP after their demise, that they may as well be left to fight and lose. (The Lords and the quango posts and the advisory positions will soon be for the Conservatives.) What have any of these groups to lose (other than a relatively small wage payment for a little longer) from negotiating either policy changes or personal advantage under threat of resigning forthwith and forcing a destructive by-election where Labour will fail to hold in almost any seat in the country?
In breaking disciplinary ranks the Conservative shadow home secretary has highlighted a disciplinary flaw that can be fatal to Gordon Brown.
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