Friday, 30 August 2013

War With Syria was a Bad Idea - That's Why the Government Lost

Conservative MPs Who Voted Against the Government Motion
David Amess
Steve Baker
Richard Bacon
John Baron
Andrew Bingham
Crispin Blunt
Fiona Bruce
Tracey Crouch
David TC Davies
Philip Davies
David Davis
Nick de Bois
Richard Drax
Gordon Henderson
Philip Hollobone
Adam Holloway
Dr Phillip Lee
Dr Julian Lewis
Tim Loughton
Jason McCartney
Nigel Mills
Anne Marie Morris
Andrew Percy
Sir Richard Shepherd
Sir Peter Tapsell
Andrew Turner
Martin Vickers
Charles Walker
Chris White
Dr Sarah Wollaston

Conservative MPs Who Abstained on the Government Motion
Adam Afriyie
Henry Bellingham
Graham Brady
William Cash
Christopher Chope
Kenneth Clarke
Geoffrey Cox
Nadine Dorries
Alan Duncan
David Gauke
Justine Greening
Alan Haselhurst
Chris Kelly
Pauline Latham
Edward Leigh
Charlotte Leslie
Ian Liddell-Grainger
Jack Lopresti
Anne Main
Patrick Mercer
Jesse Norman
James Paice
Priti Patel
John Redwood
Andrew Rosindell
David Ruffley
Mark Simmonds
Rory Stewart
David Tredinnick
Andrew Tyrie
Bill Wiggin
Tim Yeo

Last Night the Government lost a motion on Syria by 13 votes, even though it didn't sanction military action. What the motion did was back the Government's legal position for going to war and in principle agree to it. Yet the Government couldn't even win this. Above is the list of Conservative MPs who voted against the motion and those who abstained (some of those who abstained are missing government ministers and some are ill). This was not because of  the spectre of Iraq or that it's not in the British Interest. The Government lost because this was clearly the worst idea ever.

Normally I'm pretty pro intervention. I was in full support of what happened in Libya because we allowed the Libyan people to get rid of a brutal tyrant and get them started on the path to democracy. Not everything is perfect in Libya at the moment but there is a democratic government which is starting to assert itself. People who would normally back intervention to save civilians lives and to allow a democracy in Libya did not back last night's motion in the Conservative Party and that is why the Government lost.

 Libya was a success, despite some problems afterwards. The only people who really regret toppling Gaddafi are George Galloway and the Russians who passed the UN motion.

Despite convincing hard-line sceptics like Douglas Carswell and Cheryl Gillian to vote with the Government David Cameron still lost this vote. And this was not the usual ground of Dr Sarah Wollaston either. The Noes on their side had MPs who you would not expect in this lobby. The abstentions are even more surprising. If we miss out the odd story of Justine Greening not hearing the division bell, you can see Adam Afriyrie and Jesse Norman not voting for the Government. Why did this happen?

 You know you have problems when those you would expect to back the Bill do not.

It wasn't to do with Iraq. For sure there were a lot of mentions of it but they came mostly from the Labour side. Labour has a problem with Iraq because they are of a mind set not to agree to intervention. Yet when Labour MPs sat on the government benches their own Prime Minister pushed for war and lied in the process. As a result they got a hammering in the polls of 2005. Speak to a Labour MP for a short time and Oona King will soon come up. Many of the electorate were also wary about Syria because of Iraq but in whole probably no more than in Libya. 74% of voters is such a huge number that it was clearly not Iraq which decided for them not to back Syria intervention. 

  Iraq caused a big problem for the Left but the facts caused a problem for the Conservatives.

David Cameron lost last night because, probably a lot like me, Conservative MPs could see this was going to be a disaster based on all the facts of Syria. A country where we would have to engage in a 3 way war. A country where we risked causing massive tensions with Iran and Russia. A country where there was no chance of bringing about a democracy. A country where we could quite clearly make no difference, or maybe make things worse, in saving civilian lives. A country where we were rushing over a short time to start action with little preparation. And also a country where our military chiefs said the most likely outcome for the UK would be defeat. This wasn't like Iraq at all, it was clearly much more complicated and much worse to get involved with.

I simply cannot believe that David Cameron, and William Hague too (who will be a bit nervous now so close to a reshuffle), thought that he could carry his party when all the facts went against him. I wasn't expecting Government defeat last night, but most sensible people knew that, with 80 Tory MPs against arming the rebels earlier this year, there was no way he was going to get Parliament to vote for war. What clearly happened was that David Cameron had decided to go to war perhaps even a year before, he had been swayed by all the graphic images we were seeing on our TV.

 William Hague has lost most of his credibility as a top rate statesman after the Syrian issues.

What Assad is doing is horrible beyond belief but if the PM hadn't allowed his heart to take over all logical thinking he wouldn't have lost a vote. With all the information at his disposal he should have known better than everyone that the facts showed we were unable to help and most likely we would make things worse. 

I'm going to follow this up with another post later about what has actually come of this vote.

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