As Louise reported a few weeks ago, Jill Saward – campaigner against sexual violence – stood in yesterday’s Haltemprice and Howden by-election. This was the by-election called by David Davis in protest over the 42-days detention proposals, CCTV and DNA databases – what he calls “the slow strangulation of fundamental British freedoms“.
Unfortunately Ms Saward didn’t do terribly well, coming sixth overall – ahead of “Mad Cow Girl” of the Monster Raving Loony Party, but just behind Miss Great Britain – in what must have been the oddest by-election in living memory.
Davis won with 72% of the vote (on a 34% turnout that means that 24% of the population eligible to vote voted for him), although neither Labour nor the Lib Dems ran a candidate against him, presumably ‘not dignifying him with a response’. Nevertheless, it is thought that he may have sacrificed his political career to make this stand, having previously been seen as the possible next Home Secretary. He now says he doesn’t expect to find his way back into front bench politics any time soon.
Saward ran against Davis’ platform (in particular disagreeing with him on the importance of DNA databases) saying:
“Mr Davis thinks that by forcing a by-election he is standing up for British justice. In reality he is attempting to strike a hammer blow through the very tools the police need to keep us safe.”
Ms Saward was herself the victim of the infamous ‘Ealing Vicarage’ rape in the ’80s, waiving her right to anonymity as a rape victim to campaign against sexual violence, which she has been doing ever since. She also campaigns for funding for victims of sexual violence, increased prison capacity, ease of housing transfer, support and training for medical professionals to deal with victims, and consideration of victims’ rights during trial.
Gemma Garrett, otherwise known as Miss Great Britain, beat Ms Saward by 29 votes, having made a recent career of running in by-elections pledging to make politics “sexy”.