The Spectator

How important is the defection of Quentin Davies?

How important is the defection of Quentin Davies?
Text settings
Comments

Two contrasting views in the papers this morning.

Here’s the key passage from The Guardian’s leader on it:

“There has been no more brutal assault on a Tory leader since Sir Geoffrey Howe plunged the knife between Mrs Thatcher's shoulders in 1990. Mr Davies's withering comments will be endlessly repeated. They represent a huge new threat to Mr Cameron's recently more shaky standing. And they give Mr Brown the priceless reputation of being a party leader who, like Mr Blair a decade ago, can reshape British politics to place Labour in command of the centre ground once more.”

And now, Daniel Finkelstein in The Times:

“people with knowledge have a tendency to regard the things they know as more important than they actually are.

Using a political example, look at the reaction to the defection to Labour of the Conservative MP Quentin Davies. You have to be a political expert to know exactly who he is and acquiring such knowledge is painful (trust me). Having done so it is natural to assume that what he does matters. If you have no idea who Quentin Davies is, or perhaps just a vague idea culled from the papers, then you are more likely to correctly understand that what he does doesn’t matter awfully.”

The Guardian’s leader is a classic example of this tendency. Yes, Davies's words will rattle around in the Westminster village for a few days and lead to some clucking about Cameron’s leadership. But I’ll be amazed if come the general election anyone is talking about this as a turning point.