For weeks and weeks, hundreds and hundreds of people toil away at fighting 42 days. They do it for decent reasons, matters of principle, matters of honesty. They take time off work; they struggle; they fight for what they believe is right.
Then, just at the end, David Davis takes time off from slagging off immigrants for a few minutes - just enough time to claim the entire story for himself. Like Janet Webb taking credit for the entire Morecambe and Wise show, Davis clinches every single column inch on the anti-42 campaign just for himself.
Every single other reason is dismissed; now Davis calls the shots. He holds the agenda. It's all about the Big State all of a sudden. Nothing more, nothing less: the anti-42 campaign has become the anti Big State moral crusade. All of a sudden, the lines have been redrawn.
I asked yesterday how much a by-election costs and was pleasantly surprised - it hardly costs any money at all. But what it might cost is goodwill. Do you think, if MPs decided to resign every time they lost a vote in the Commons, that those volunteers who help out with these events would be happy to do it every few weeks? I don't. I think they'd get seriously pissed off with it.
Still, despite my reservations, I am pleased that someone has made a stand against 42. That it should be one of the least liberal and most vile Tory bastards in Parliament should shame New Labour to the core - except the whole point about New Labour is that they are by their very nature shameless. Davis might have principles I disagree with, but at least the man has principles in the first place. Sure, he's abusing democracy for the sake of a campaign that, while attacking 42, is really against the Big State and therefore resonant with the libertarian right - but he shouldn't have had the chance to grab the headlines.
Where were New Labour? Where was anyone in the cabinet ready to make a stand? Where were they all hiding? Did they really all agree with six weeks' detention? And if they didn't, what did they do about it? No, far better to try and save the lame duck leader than to go through the embarrassment of actually standing up for what you believe.
Labour are an absolute embarrassment and disgrace to their principles, their history and their voters. Compared to which, even a scumbag anti-immigration tossrag like David Davis manages to emerge with some shred of credibility. It shouldn't be this way, and yet it is. What happened to Labour? Have they no pride?
*edit* There's a horrible rumour doing the rounds that Kelvin MacKenzie might stand against Davis. If that's the case, let me make it clear that while Davis is an opportunistic, Machiavellian, anti-liberty, anti-gay, pro-death penalty bastard, he is a million billion billion times more of a human being than MacKenzie will ever be, and I would personally wear an "I love David Davis" t-shirt for the duration of the campaign.