I don’t have an opinion about the Syrian civil war. But I must say that I’m rather enjoying the UK political fiasco surrounding parliament’s refusal to drop bombs on Syria. Because all the politicians who don’t represent me (and don’t want to represent me or smokers like me) have been getting a lot of egg on their face.
Alan Duncan, David Gauke and Steve Webb failed to return from holiday to support the Government, angering the Prime Minister, according to sources.
Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, and Mark Simmonds, a junior Foreign Office minister, claim to have not realised that voting had begun as they were in a meeting. Commons officials said the explanation was baffling as it “would have been clear” that a vote was happening.
Kenneth Clarke also abstained after being given permission for “logistical family reasons”,…
“The Prime Minister is pretty angry,” said a senior Tory source. “This vote had a three-line whip and no, they didn’t all have permission to miss the vote.”
So David Cameron can’t control his own party, and has been weakened. I can only say that I’m utterly delighted. After all, it’s not as if he represents me or anything.
Lord Ashdown, the former Lib Dem leader, said he felt “ashamed” and “depressed” about the failure of politicians to support action. “Call me an old warhorse if you wish but I think our country is greatly diminished this morning,” he said. “The special relationship with the US is seriously damaged, and Britain is now more isolated.”
No, it’s not the country that has been diminished. If anyone has been diminished, it’s all the aforementioned politicians, including Lib-Dem peer Paddy Ashdown – who doesn’t represent me either.
And it’s not as if Labour’s Ed Miliband has come out of it any better. (Did I mention that Miliband doesn’t represent me?) Commentator Dan Hodges has left the party in disgust:
Whatever your view of last night’s defeat for the Government over Syria – for what it’s worth mine is it was a catastrophe for the cause of progressive interventionism – there is no avoiding the fact that it was a triumph for parliamentary democracy.
I certainly hope it was a catastrophe for “progressive interventionism.” Because I’ve had “progressive interventionism” up to here. The smoking ban is a piece of “progressive interventionism”, and the more catastrophes it suffers, the better. If I ever get the chance, I’ll throttle “progressive interventionism” with a rope, and bury it under rocks.
Nor is it a triumph for parliamentary democracy, as EUreferendum points out:
What happened on Thursday, therefore, was a minor miracle, and although the vote went the right way – in accord with public sentiment – that does not mean, as Ambrose Evans Pritchard would have it, that this was “a momentous day for British democracy”. It rested with a mere 30 Tory rebels voting with Labour and another 31 Conservatives who failed to vote.
Largely, as Autonomous Mind points out, it was an aberration, an artifact brought about by a toxic combination of a weak government, party politics and timing. Given only slightly different circumstances, the vote could easily have gone the other way.
What this is all about, I suspect, is a lot of unpopular politicians looking for ways to direct attention away from themselves, and towards something else. And what’s better than a war to do that?
And so Spain’s unpopular Rajoy has kicked up a row with Britain over Gibraltar. And unpopular president Obama sees in Syria an opportunity to burnish his tarnished image. And unpopular UK prime minister Cameron, and unpopular French president Hollande, both want a piece of the action. And in Argentina unpopular president Kirchner is rattling the sabre over the Falkland Islands.
A plague on all their houses. None of them speak for me.