Will we still remember the cause on polling day?
I’m on the penultimate day of my touring holiday in Spain and haven’t had much access to the UK media during the past extraordinary 24 hours so it’s hard forming an opinion of how this is going to play.
Hopefully we should see some quickie poll soundings which will give a sense of whether the former Shadow Home Secretary has made a ghastly mistake or whether he has public support. A constituency survey would be particularly useful.
The biggest danger for Davis and Labour is that the news agenda will move on very quickly. The Irish EU referendum results look set to dominate the political headlines this weekend and then there’s the risk of the petrol crisis spreading. By July 10 the original cause of the by election could be all but forgotten.
One of the key elements is how Davis himself is perceived – because his whole “hard man” image makes it hard to pin the description on him of being “soft on terror”. For the whole strategy of Gordon Brown in all of this was to push for the 42 days so that such a label could be attached to the Tories.
The morning papers suggest that Labour might not fight the by election in the hope that this will undermine the importance of the by election and make Davis’s gesture appear futile. That might seem the right Labour decision this weekend but how will it look on polling day? A party of government not being prepared to contest a key contest might not look smart when other matters have come to the fore.