Thursday, 29 August 2013

Another Fine Mess...

Witterings from Witney makes an excellent point about the lack of mandate for Cameron to intervene in Syria. More than most - for obvious reasons - he’s acutely aware of Cameron’s lack of mandate or accountability to constituents.

It's a wonder that Hague can keep a straight face when talking about "democratic nations", given that the coalition government wasn't elected, that Cameron is Prime Minster but only received support from less than half of his own constituents - no-one else voted for him - and that he is using the Royal prerogative to go to war. A mechanism which allows a Prime Minister to act like an unaccountable monarch.

Unsurprising then that Cameron has the freedom to display such arrogance and contempt to the lessons of history, to evidence (or lack of), to his party, to Parliament and to the British people; a level of contempt which really does beggar belief. It’s obvious that Cameron had privately promised Barack Obama that Britain would stand “shoulder to shoulder” with the United States - to intervene in a hugely complex conflict with unknowable, but undoubtedly grave consquences, to stand firm with a President who clearly doesn’t like us nor respects our military interventions. And he did so without first bothering to consult the British people.

So how refreshing is it to see a rare outbreak of democracy (sort of)? Despite assurances to the Americans, Cameron was then to be told "no you can't" by Parliament and the British people, the latter's views laced with outright hostility to the idea. A situation that has left the embarrassed Cameron, and British officials, having to inform…
…their counterparts in the US last night to explain that President Obama would have to go it alone or wait to see if Mr Cameron can persuade MPs to back him in the coming days. It could leave President Obama to go it alone and order an attack as early as this weekend.
It’s rather uplifting to see that the only mess Cameron has embroiled himself in is a political one entirely of his own making. One that has led to "government insiders" using less than Parliamentary language to describe the situation.

Yet despite this rare outbreak of democracy (let's hope it's contagious) fundamental problems remain and are exposed. It is possible that the UK will still become involved; Cameron is not bound by Parliament, he can still invoke the Royal prerogative. MPs also can ignore their constutients as wonderfully illustrated by Tom Harris in the Telegraph:
Strike on Syria: the enviable, alarming certainty of the MPs whose minds are made up. I'm not yet sure how I will vote tomorrow. That is allowed, isn't it? 
Well actually no it shouldn't be. As an MP you should be guided by your constituents wishes not by how many books you've read. What's obviously most important to Tom is that his personal conscience is clear, not that the rest of us end up with the bill and any potential fallout as a result.


  1. It does rather beg the question what purpose does Parliament serve these days and also the old chestnut what is the point of government?

  2. Well, that outcome was unexpected - Cameron said it was a judgement call: how does that reflect on his powers of judgement? And, my goodness, I'm beginning to wonder if the internet is finally bringing some vestige of democracy!

    1. Aye, it was rather embarrassing for Cameron - he's been caught out by misjudging the mood.

  3. There is a point that is being missed apart from the democratic one.

    There has been a growing "Progressive" World-wide movement, usually found amongst our left wing friends - we tin-foil hatters refer to it as "One World Government" or "New World Order"

    The press may be obsessed with the Miliband/Cameron willy-waving contest but the Progressive interventionists took a hit as well last night.

    As Ian E says above, the Internet seems to be a conduit for a searching scepticism; that's polite terminology from me for cynicism.

    FWIW I still think we'll be in there - with all the Iraq/Afghanistan mistakes being made all over again.

    1. You have indeed a good point..."Progressive interventionists" is the term New Labour chap Dan Hodges has used to today...and he's not happy

  4. One little matter that Cameron will now need to deal with urgently is looking at current UK forces which are allegedly already in Syria.

    There have been rumours and tales of UK Special Forces and\or MI6 in theatre. With Parliamentary approval for action against Syria having been vetoed, the status of such UK personnel would now be under considerable threat if they were captured by either Syrian Government or anti-Assad factional forces. Either of those sides would have some reasonable grounds to declare that captured British personnel were in place without legitmate legal mandate from their Government, and could be treated as mercenaries rather than forces with a theoretical protection under the Geneva Convention. (Unlikely they'd get it anyway, but that would be a headline justification).

    If indeed such ground forces are there, they may now need to be withdrawn pronto.

    1. Perhaps this is why the belligerents over this issue have proved to be such bad losers - they have perhaps, proverbially at least, been caught with their Pantsdown!

  5. 'Tis but a hiccup I suspect. He will get what he wants. There will be another event in this Devil's Symphony and it will form the basis of a new and compelling case and somehow will not fall under the jurisdiction of the motion that they lost yesterday. On this one he will bypass parliament and in we go.

    My worry is the Russians. They will not fancy losing that warm water port given the winters we have had over the last few years.

  6. Wish he was half as funny s L&H.