Saturday, 31 August 2013


I posted this blog almost a year ago. I am reposting it now with sadness that I have not been proved wrong.
Miliband's political assassination of the attempt by Cameron to do something of value in Syria should not be forgotten.


Thursday night I was shocked

Friday I was depressed

Today I am disentangling my thoughts about the parliamentary decision not to take any action in regard to Syria.

I am a cynic about intervention. I know that human costs and collateral damage can never be calculated or avoided. Nevertheless I dreamed that an adventurous, pro-active solution might be found to prevent a little of the suffering in Syria. I do think doing nothing has its dangers.

Leaving aside Syria for the moment . . .

I found what happened to Britain on Thursday night far more disturbing and worrying. There is a shift in our democratic government. Oppositional parties no longer work as they once did. Voters are increasingly sophisticated about being manipulated. They want economic and technical competence from a government not vote-teasing promises. Britain has a hung parliament and probably will have for the foreseeable future. We are governed by committees, quangos, reviews, inquiries, planners and bureaucratic technocrats. We are governed by the middlemen and on the whole by agreement.

A government of a committee of different parties cannot however, make a decision to go to war or to intervene militarily. It is not in the nature of such a government.

It is difficult enough for the United Nations.

Is this a danger?

Yes, as Tony Blair found. He made the right decision to go to war in Iraq which we had been bombing since the first Gulf War anyway. He knew the public would never agree so he and Bush fudged the evidence.



Ed Miliband was determined to show how different he is to Blair. He even suggested that Cameron was acting like Blair.

Leaving this aside for the moment . . .

It is true that the nature of a British public constituted of well-fed, educated, comfortable and secure people, is anti-war. We largely agree that we need a defence force. We are not sure how it should be used. Once we leave Afghanistan we will for the first time in 70 years not be engaged in any war except for the deadly serious war in cyberspace that we are not informed about and never get to vote for or to debate in parliament. Some of us don't know if it is more important to be protected from Trolls on the Internet than to have the right to privacy, freedom of the press and the freedom of information. It is a dilemma.

Leaving this aside for the moment . . .

Britain and America are blamed as Imperialists and the policemen of the world. Sadly history has made us and the power its gave can't be magicked away. It has its uses. It may perhaps be used well. South Africa is in the same situation with regard to Africa and so now is China. The Syrian situation is extraordinarily complicated and dangerous. It is not impossible that events in the Middle East could force back the boundaries of human rights and liberties for us all especially as some rights are so frail and recently recognised. There are no answers, no ways to proceed in Syria that are sure to make the world safer. Protecting women and children and civilians from nerve gas attacks may be very difficult but on Thursday night I thought it was morally essential for Britain to take a stand.

Britain did not.

How can our government decide to go to war or to intervene? I suggest that it can't be done by parliamentary debate and MPs being whipped to attend. For us to be properly defended we would need a Defence Committee to take such decisions. Inevitably the public would not be and could not be, and never will be, completely informed of all the facts and all the dangers.

Leaving aside the dangers to Civil liberties and Freedom of Press that this would bring . . .

Lets go back to what was for me the truly depressing outcome of Thursday night. It wasn't that Cameron lost and we haven't decided to bash Bashir. It was that we voted to be 'Little England' as defined by Nigel Farage's clownish absurdities.

Poor, poor Little England what are you going to do?

All your assets and banks and industries are owned or shared by global interests. Most of what you eat and drink is outsourced. You may only be the poodle of America and the rest of the world but now you are biting all the fingers that feed you.

Poor, poor Little England where in the world of the Global Village are you going to hide yourself?

Leaving aside for the moment the mean-spirited, narrow-minded and self-centred nature of Farage's Little England . . .

What shocked me most about Thursday night was the cold, calculated, political opportunism of Ed Miliband. He appeared to see his own advancement as the only important result to be achieved that day. He used Parliament to destroy Cameron's credibility by betraying his own agreement with Cameron – that may be politics and Cameron is his opponent – but the cost of what he did will diminish the world standing of Britain – it is also to the detriment of those Syrians who need help most – women and children and civilians.

Ed Miliband is not a likeable or charismatic leader. He does not generate an air of trustworthiness. I was ready to give him a chance in case he did turn out to be a man of the people. What I saw in Ed's attack on Cameron was the steel of an assassin's knife and I remembered that I had seen it glint behind his brother David's shoulder at the Labour leadership elections.

(Images are recent press photos)