by RAY FLEMING
DAVID Davis shows no sign of letting up on his “policy-a-day” campaign for the Conservative leadership while David Cameron contents himself with broad principles and a “sense of direction” approach. On Thursday Mr Davis launched what might just be a winning idea when he proposed that Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs in the House of Commons should be barred from voting on laws that apply only in England. At the present moment Scottish MPs, for example, can and do vote on health, education and transport legislation of concern only to England, even though Scotland has its devolved powers in these areas which are determined by the Scottish parliament. Wales also has its own Assembly for specifically Welsh matters and, when it gets its act together, Northern Ireland will have similar devolved powers. Mr Davis, who was answering questions on a BBC Radio 5 Live phone-in, said that his idea would divert the pressure for an English parliament which he thinks would be costly and add a further unnecessary layer of bureaucracy. The change would be logical but only a Conservative government would ever be able to contemplate introducing it since Labour has a virtual monopoly of MPs from Scotland who form a useful core of support, regardless of the relevance to them of the subject under discussion, when it is needed. Meanwhile, David Davis's habit of saying what he actually thinks rather than what he should think continues to get him in trouble. Off-the-cuff answers to questions on the BBC radio's Woman's Hour programme led to the president of the Conservative Women's organisation complaining that he had been “patronising”. Actually, both candidates might well have complained that the interviewer, Martha Kearney, created the problem by enquiring about their respective preferences in the matter of underpants. Perhaps this was an attempt to get one of them to make the same blunder that John Major once did on this subject (“shirt inside the pants”) but it hardly set the tone for a serious discussion of women's issues. Are Conservatives around the country actually listening to this on-going debate between the two Davids? The ballot papers have already been sent out, but by second–class mail, so perhaps there is still time to influence the voters.

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