Sunday, 1 September 2013

England is a democracy after all

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I stopped off at Tesco's on the corner of Haymarket and Jermyn St (yes there is a Tesco's in Jermyn St) and saw on the television (in a supermarket, which I did not stop to think was odd) the result of the vote in the House on Syria.  I could not quite take it in at first. I had dined well.

Having taken it in, I was never happier (well, not since the royal baby turned out to be a prince not a princess, but apart from that since...well since Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope and before that never.) 

For the first time in my life I thanked God for the Labour Party.


The vote reminded me of the 1979 vote of confidence that brought down the Labour Government. As a schoolboy, I heard that debate on the radio because the House had not taken the disastrous decision to admit the cameras. I remember the great Frank Maguire, Independent MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, was flown over by the Government in a Wessex helicopter for his third or fourth visit to the House but remained in his seat when the House divided. The Government Chief Whip went up to Maguire and said, 'Aren't you going to vote, Frank?', to be told that he had come to to abstain in person. The Labour Government lost the no confidence motion by one vote, his. That was drama and high comedy, as exciting votes in the House always are.

Thursday's vote was like the Norway debate, except that Mr Cameron, unlike Chamberlain, lost. Strictly David Cameron should probably resign - but of course he won't. But at least there should be a vote of confidence. 


The next morning much nonsense was in the papers. 
Why do quite a few journalists worry that England deciding for herself about bombing another country, rather than simply obeying the USA, means we are losing influence and status? 
'David Cameron tonight suffered one of his biggest setbacks as Prime Minister after MPs refused to support Government plans to participate in military strikes against Syria.' 
said the Daily Telegraph. 

On the contrary, he has just been taken off the hook, albeit a hook of his own devising. And despite all the evidence that Britain is now undemocratic and authoritarian, this makes me feel we are a democracy after all. I begin to think what a clever man said to me the other day is almost true, that there is little difference between Mr Cameron and Mr Blair. I also think, however, that Mr. Clegg will come out of this most weakened and that, though he did the right thing for all the wrong reasons, Mr Miliband might end up being wounded too.

I understand why David Cameron wants to do something, for humanitarian motives, but not why he has not learnt his lesson from Libya and Egypt. T
he Syrian regime is the rule of Satan made manifest, as Gladstone unjustly described Bourbon rule in the Two Sicilies. Nothing disgusts me more than right-wing American dolts who regard Assad as the good guy, fighting for Christianity. Unfortunately, the alternative to the regime would be even worse. Even worse for Syrians (look at Libya and Libya is completely Sunni) and much worse for the West. 

William Hague said a week ago:


 "What is happening now in the Middle East is the most important event so far of the 21st century, even compared to the financial crisis we have been through and its impact on world affairs." 


But why is the Middle East important at all? We get oil from Russia, Venezuela and other countries and the Cold War is over. Does it matter to us in England or Europe what happens in the Middle East? Mr. Hague is a very intelligent man and thinks so but I wonder what his reasons are and what he is scared of. Radical Islam in Europe is something to fear, but I do not see how intervening in Syria would help with this problem. 

Why were the Balkans so important before 1914 come to that?


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