Well, it looks like our MPs have got us embroiled in another war after Parliament voted to attack Syria. Despite 10 days of wrangling and blatant bullying by Labour’s bigwigs there were enough Labour MPs who were prepared to break ranks and vote with the Tories to begin bombing another country in the Middle East.
David Cameron was only prepared to take it to a vote if he could be confident he could win because, as I understand it, he didn’t want to hand a ‘PR’ victory to his opponents if the vote proved that we hadn’t got the guts for a fight. Labour also struggled with the fear of losing face and appearing divided and as it happens, Jeremy Corbyn’s worst fears were realised when his tactics failed and Labour MPs bickered about moral rights and legalities and the desirability of feasting at the military ‘top table’. There were some nice arguments and rousing speeches, and a few tears as, for 10 hours, MPs debated whether to permit Marham’s Tornados to take off and start doing our bit to help French and American pilots defeat the terrorists. But in the end Cameron got his way and democracy ruled the day.
I wasn’t there but judging by TV coverage it looked like a packed house with standing room only. The Commons heaved as lots of smartly dressed people wearing suits and brightly coloured cardigans in their warm and well-lit chamber pontificated about whether to send our aircraft into war. We heard quite a lot about how it all worked and how we had to support The French in their hour of need and how clever and sophisticated modern guided bombs are. The risk to civilians living in these cities it seems is pootling, there’ll be barely a handful of innocents slaughtered or maimed for life in these raids and this was deemed by the majority to be OK. “You can’t make omelettes without breaking a few eggs”. And so, from the cosy safe world of The House of Commons, the fate of Syrian civilians was also sealed by the vote.
I imagine our MPs had hardly got into the Westminster bar and got their first stiff Gin & Tonic down their necks and grabbed a handful of peanuts before the raids started from Cyprus where Tornado pilots were waiting, fully armed and itching to get cracking.
And so, with the vote in the bag and their consciences relatively clear our MPs toddled off into the night to a warm bed with another day over and another milestone under their belts. Far away, out of sight and out of mind in some god-forsaken Syrian town, another group of less comfortable and well-healed people sat with tiny children and frail relatives listening for the sound of Tornados screaming overhead and the dull thud and crack as warheads and missiles landed near homes.
The PM’s declared intention is to keep us safe at home by doing this…I won’t be holding my breath!