You'll be running against the Monster Raving Loonies and a fruit seller. Hasn't the gamble failed?
It speaks volumes that Gordon Brown will not defend his record by contesting this election. But my aim is to launch a national debate on the defence of British liberty – and that is bigger than any one politician. I will spend the next three weeks making the case against ID cards, 42 days and the increasingly intrusive surveillance society – and for habeas corpus, free speech and the right to trial by jury. I am willing to debate anyone, any time, anywhere.
There is wide cross-party support for what I am trying to achieve – not to mention overwhelming support from outside the world of politics. Mr Brown has gagged all ministers from participating in any televised debates. He's terrified of the electorate and he's terrified of the debate. He is right, at least, on that.
Isn't it laughable that you are framing yourself as a fighter for liberty when you are an impassioned supporter of the death penalty?
I do not campaign to restore the death penalty. (Actually I have never even made a speech on the subject, but it seems to fascinate interviewers.) But it is my personal, moral, opinion that, in the most serious multiple murder cases, where the evidence is overwhelming (not just beyond reasonable doubt), it is justifiable.
Why is a personal vanity crusade was more important than constructive team-playing inside the Conservative Party?
I don't agree that standing up for the principles I believe in is vanity. And the Conservatives have jumped two points in the polls since I resigned, so it is not damaging the party.
Tell us the truth – did you have a blazing row with David Cameron?
No. The papers just made that up. We are still friends and he is coming up to campaign for me in the next few weeks.
Isn't this all just driven by your monstrous ego and jealousy that David Cameron stuffed you in the leadership contest? Bernard Morris,
I've dealt with the vanity point, and ruled out standing as leader. It is a rather sad sign of the times that there is such shock that anyone in politics would give up their job for what they believe in.
Have you at any moment regretted your decision since it happened?
Not even for a second. I have never felt more sure of a principle in my life.
How did you feel about all those toffs taking over the Conservative Party again?
I could not care less about things like that. I dislike inverse snobbery as much as the conventional kind. Anyway I have a toff on my campaign, Tony Benn [see below].
Did you ever imagine you'd see the day when you were battling on the same side as Tony Benn?
Yes, I have always had friends from across the political divides. Tony Benn and I are old friends. I admire his courage, even if we disagree on many things.
Were you offended by Andy Burnham's comments about you and Shami Chakrabarti?
I think it is pretty pathetic that Mr Burnham will not take up my challenge for a debate on the Government's record, but is all too willing to issue personal smears. He is gutless on both counts.
How come you style yourself as a defender of freedom when you supported homophobic legislation?
I may have voted against certain legislation, but that does not make me homophobic. For example, I am in favour of allowing Christian adoption agencies to be exempt from discrimination laws, because they do a great job and – out of religious conviction – believe children should have a mother and a father.
You supported 28 days' detention but opposed 42 days. So how many days' detention should we have (and please don't duck the question)?
We should only be keeping someone in jail without telling them what they are charged with for as short period as is necessary, bearing in mind the need to protect the public. Detention without charge is a necessary evil – it must be strictly limited. The current evidence from police and prosecutors' experience in conducting investigations shows that 21 days has proved necessary in practice. A 28-day limit was agreed in 2005 for the most exceptional situations and I think it is still justifiable, but not a day more. We certainly must resist the political pressure to keep on increasing the maximum period. Remember, the maximum detention period quadrupled between 2003 and 2005 – from seven to 28 days. It is tempting for the Government to play the numbers game – asking for 42, 56, 70, 90 days – because it is a way of talking tough on terror. But that is something we must check, or we will continue to see our freedoms salami-sliced away. Finally, we can equip the police with greater tools to get better investigative use out of the current 28-day limit, which would ease the time pressures they face. For years, I have been calling for the use of post-charge questioning and intercept evidence in terrorism cases. These are not silver-bullet solutions, but they would significantly boost our law enforcement capability and take some pressure off the police.
Isn't this just a stunt to raise your profile?
That is what ministers say. But I don't think this Government can accuse me of stunts, after the farce of its rigged vote on 42 days. And the public don't see it as a stunt – 69 per cent think I am taking a principled stand.
What's wrong with CCTV cameras, unless you're committing crimes? They've made my estate safer.
CCTV has its place. But the current approach is the worst of all worlds – intrusive, ineffective and enormously expensive. The Government spent half-a-billion pounds on CCTV – more cameras than any other country, one for every 14 citizens. But police say 80 per cent of CCTV footage is of poor quality, particularly for identifying criminals. There are cases where CCTV has helped, but many where it has failed. After the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes in July 2005, there was no usable footage from any of the CCTV cameras.
I am enormously impressed by your actions, But what do you propose to do after your campaign in Haltemprice and Howden to address the shortcomings in parliamentary procedure?
I will continue to campaign to defend our fundamental freedoms. The best way to reinvigorate our democracy would be a change in government at the ballot box – and I will be working whole-heartedly towards that goal.
What did you do when you were in the TA?
I am not sure that I can tell you anything interesting, but let me squash a few common misconceptions. Firstly I was a soldier not an officer, contrary to what many papers report. Secondly, although it had its moments, it was much more brutally hard work and much less glamorous adventure than I suspect many people think.
Ever think about joining the Liberal Democrats?
Do you wish we had more referendums in this country?
I think there is a case for referendums on big constitutional issues that affect the fundamental direction of the country. The EU Constitutional Treaty is the most obvious recent example.
Who is your political hero?
I have huge admiration for William Wilberforce. He held my seat in Parliament and was one of the great champions of freedom during the 19th century, leading the campaign to abolish the slave trade. He never gave up, no matter what the odds.
Apart from sharing the same constituency, do you and Alan B'stard share any similarities?
A mischievous sense of humour.Reuse content