I know that politics is a funny old world but the recent by-election in Haltemprice and Howde, caused by the resignation on a point of principle by David Davis, was just a joke. Being a politician must be the only job where you can resign one day and then when the job advert comes out looking for your replacement you can submit your CV and be considered for the position. I think we need a change in the law to stop this mockery of democracy -- if you resign from your position as MP you shouldn't be able to stand in the resulting by-election.
David Davis won the by-election with 17,113 votes, giving him a majority of 15,355 over his closets rival. After the result was announced he is reported to have said "Today the people of Haltemprice and Howden have delivered a stunning message to the Government, and our campaign has reverberated across the country". Hmm, I don't think so. Not only has his vanity clearly got the best of him, but the debate he wanted to trigger seems to have been mostly ignored by the press and public alike.
David Davis could claim that his majority is now almost three times what it was at the last election (5,116) but given that the other two main political parties didn't field a candidate this is not surprising. I think though that he must be just looking at the totals and not actually looking at the whole set of data when commenting to the media.
Let us look at the numbers for a minute. In yesterdays by-election 17,113 people voted for David Davis giving him a majority of 15,355. At the last election 22,792 people voted for him giving him a majority of 5,116. So while his majority may have increased less people actually trust him to be their MP than they did last time; 5,679 people who voted for him in 2005 didn't yesterday. If that isn't a stinging rebuke then I don't know what is.
So let us look at just how much this farce cost the tax-payer. According to the Telegraph (not my daily newspaper but the only source I could find for the following) the cost will run to more than £200,000. Royal Mail provided free postage to each of the candidates leaving them with a bill of around £112,600. East Riding Council, which administered the election and the counting of ballots, is thought to have spent at least £95,000.
Given the farce that this election was I think we should a) change the rules to stop MPs resigning and then standing again at the resulting election and b) send David Davis a rather large invoice to cover the cost of this stunt.
Just to be clear, I'm not for a minute saying that David Davis' point of principle was wrong (my politics are my own private business) just that MPs should not be allowed to waste public money in this way.