Davis by-election bid is just first salvo in ' freedom campaign'
DAVID Davis's by-election campaign on the issue of 42 days will be just the first salvo in a major "freedom" campaign led by the former shadow home secretary.
Supporters of the Tory MP said they are gearing up for a relentless campaign on issues such as ID cards and the surveillance state, claiming they want to redraw the Conservatives as the party of liberty, against the authoritarian Labour Party.
Davis will set out his agenda in the coming week as he aims to link the new law allowing the police to detain suspects for 42 days without trial to his wider campaign. One ally said: "David is making it clear that the only truly libertarian party out there is the Conservative Party. That is what the Tory Party was about and should be about for the future."
But there are growing fears that Davis's relentless focus on civil liberties will put further pressure on leader David Cameron as he seeks to hit back at claims he is soft on terror.
Westminster was awash with rumours last night that Glasgow baggage handler John Smeaton was being urged by Labour to stand as an anti-terror candidate in the forthcoming campaign. The claims were rubbished by Downing Street.
Gordon Brown will this week lead a fresh assault on the Tories, pointing to Davis's opposition to CCTV cameras and the fact that the 7/7 bombers were only caught because of such surveillance.
Davis intends to campaign against so-called 'hate laws', which he claims stifles legitimate debate, pointing to the example of a 15-year-old boy recently charged for describing Scientology as a "dangerous cult".
He will also attack new powers which allow the state to enter a private citizen's house, along with the build-up of databases within central Government, on which personal details are kept.
Yesterday, Davis's successor as shadow home secretary, Dominic Grieve, conceded that the events of last week had been a "distraction" for the party.
He was also tackled by Labour critics who pointed to comments he made in 2005 when he claimed the London 7/7 attacks were "totally explicable" because of the resentment felt by the Muslim community.
Davis is expected to resign as an MP this week, triggering a by-election, but it looks increasingly likely that Labour will decline to contest the seat.
Not the way to do it: Eddie Barnes on Davis vs MacKenzie
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