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Davis increases majority, says goodbye to Tory front bench

Would turnout have been higher with stickers?

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David Davis trebled his majority in his Haltemprice and Howden constituency in yesterday’s by-election, though the 35 per cent turnout will continue to raise questions over how much of a debate on civil liberties he has achieved.

The former Tory shadow home secretary pulled in 17,113 votes in the election, giving him a 15,355 majority, compared to the 5,116 he had at the last election. But the turnout was 34.5 per cent, compared to 70 per cent at the 2005 general election. The Greens took second place with 1,758. Miss Britain made fifth place with 521 votes.

The election was forced by Davis resignation from the Commons, and the Tory front bench, in June in protest at the government’s plans to detain terrorist suspects for upto 42 days.

Labour and the LibDems did not field candidates, with Labour preferring to snipe from Westminster, rather than engage in the full debate about civil liberties that Davis said he wanted to provoke.

Davis will have plenty of time to raise the issues close to his heart – though it is unlikey to be from the front bench. The Conservative party appears to be only slightly less supportive of his by-election effort than Labour, and there is little expectation that he will be returning to his old job in the shadow cabinet.

Davis claimed the result was “a shot across the bows” for Labour’s assault on Britain’s civil liberties, and that support for 42 days detention had slumped from 69 per cent to 39 per cent. Labour will no doubt write off the result as a sideshow, as it continues to empower the citizenry by offering them prize draws and “I’ve voted” stickers just for turning up at a voting booth.®

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