David Davis has one of the few Conservative opponents of the Trade Union Bill. The second reading of the bill is currently being debated in the Commons and the former home secretary popped up to clarify his position. After acknowledging that his public comments on the Bill had helped Labour — likening parts of it to something under General Franco’s Spanish dictatorship — Davis said the opposition had to accept that strikes can have a harmful impact on the public:
‘There is an issue when a monopoly – it doesn’t matter if it’s a private sector monopoly or public sector monopoly – goes on strike. The victim then is the public. It’s not the workforce because they tend to get their money back through overtime. It’s certainly not the owners – if there are any owners – because they don’t lose anything lose, their market share doesn’t go away. It’s a monopoly, the public has nowhere else to go.
‘And I say this to the Labour party, I have some sympathy with much of your criticisms of the bill, but you have to address this issue. How do we deal with the problem where action by a trade union without proper support, without sufficient support from its own membership, does discomfort the public very badly.’
But Davis’ troublemaking is far from over. He noted two key areas he objects to in the bill as it currently stands: Davis said he was ‘offended’ by the idea that a picket organiser needs to give his name to the police force’, arguing it is ‘a serious restriction of freedom of association’. The second was regarding unions on social media:
‘The other single opponent I want to complain about, to raise, is the issue of…restricting the actions of unions in social media. This strikes me both as impractical – how on earth are you going to do it on the one hand – and actually asking for judicial trouble. You will be judicially reviewed on this issue if you pursue this line.’
In recent times, Davis has become one of the government’s most frequent troublemaker, causing headaches on surveillance laws to scrapping the Human Rights Act. But he has picked a plethora of battles with the government. Tory MPs are increasingly beginning to comment that it’s harder to find issues where Davis votes with his party than ones he’ll rebel on.