Saturday, 31 August 2013

Reflections on the Syria debate

It is a good thing that democracy and parliament had its say. I welcome the approach of a Prime Minister who consults and listens, even though the nature of the events of the 21 August forces the Coalition government to move with some speed. As Matthew Parris put it in today's Times, "Cameron has struck a blow for democracy."
I think he is right.
A few further brief points to make.
If you want to understand my decision read the blog posts from earlier in the week, the motion, and the speech. My good mate Colonel Bob Stewart very kindly came up to me after the debate and said, "thanks for putting me right" as to the exchange we had in the debate.
The effect of the Iraq conflict and the decision of Tony Blair to take us into Iraq on the back of the dodgy dossier and the 45 minutes claim hung over the debate on Thursday. Many voted against any action because of past issues.
That Ed Miliband changed his mind midweek and withdrew his support for a very measured and step by step approach starting and ending at the UN, with a further parliamentary vote to follow, is regretful but that is his choice, albeit is regretful that he chose a path that was not the UK speaking as one.
For those who have any doubt as to the legality of what was proposed, read online the published Attorney Generals guidance.
For those who doubt the fact of Assad's actions in killing hundreds then read online the independent Joint Intelligence Committee report. The evidence is overwhelming.
The fact of Russia objection is purely strategic and tactical. It has nothing to do with the merits or actions of Assad.
I keep coming back to the point that the Arab countries envy our parliamentary democracy. The Coalition government asked the question if we wanted a road map taking in the UN and a second
vote. The parliament said no and the government has accepted that. That is an end to the matter. Other countries may proceed. Our role, even via the UN is minimal now. As I explained in the speech the UN is almost powerless in these circumstances.