David Cameron, the British PM, attended the G20 summit recently and supported military action against the Assad regime in Syria. Following defeat in Parliament and a clear lack of support from the public, just who is Cameron representing? I posed this question in a blog elsewhere a few days ago.
Dear Mr Cameron,
August 21st 2013, Damascus. Syria sees yet another display of barbarism by way of the use, it would seem, of chemical agents upon the defenceless civilian population. The clamour arises immediately for a military response directed at President Assad and his controlling regime. It is at this point, in fact, a matter of speculation as to who is responsible for the use of these weapons, but the cry is heard, nevertheless, ‘Something must be done!’.
After recalling Parliament early from the summer recess in order to debate the crisis in Syria and, in particular, to seek parliamentary support for military action in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime, you will remember, no doubt, that you failed to obtain such support.
Indeed, MPs, in a rare demonstration of an understanding of the will of the British people, rejected all versions of the proposed motions that would have supported military action, including one that would have permitted action following receipt from UN inspectors of positive evidence of the use of chemical weapons by Assad. In the main vote, 49 members of your government coalition, approximately 20%, voted against military intervention, including 30 members of your own party.
Following this comprehensive and humiliating defeat, the BBC reports you saying, “It is clear to me that the British Parliament …. does not want to see British military action.”
In subsequent polling, both the BBC and The Independent report that somewhere in the region of 65-70% of the British public supports the decision taken by their MPs.
It seems fairly clear that neither Parliament nor the average Briton wants a repeat of the mistakes made in relation to Afghanistan and, particularly, Iraq. The general view is against military intervention even if there becomes available incontrovertible evidence that Assad and his supporters were responsible for using chemical agents against his own people. Evidence which, I might remind you, has yet to be independently forthcoming.
It is also abundantly clear that to weigh in on the side of the rebels in Syria carries with it enormous risks, specifically by providing succour and support for the very terrorist organisations a succession of UK governments have identified as the main threats to peace and stability within our own borders. A threat seemingly so great that we have fewer freedoms in this country than we have had in living memory, all on the back of the claimed need for restrictive and intrusive anti-terrorist legislation so we can all sleep better at night.
At the G20 this week, therefore, I was somewhat surprised to see that you were actively supporting the call by the US, France and others for military action. Clearly, despite what one might assume, you have not attended the G20 intent on putting forward the will of Parliament or the overwhelming view of the British people, so just who were you representing at this summit?
Presumably, you were putting forward ‘the Government’s position’. But what is the purpose of government if it is not to reflect the wishes of its people? If it has been your intention all along to portray the UK as a supporter of military action, why seek parliamentary approval in the first place? Were you so arrogant that you assumed you would obtain such backing with little difficulty? Are you now merely seeking to rescue the ‘special relationship’? Do you have so little respect for the British people, and their representatives, that you feel you can carry on regardless?
There is no legal basis for military action without UN support; the people of Britain are solidly against iintervention; Parliament has struck down your attempt to pursue an unlawful course of action. It’s about time, Mr Cameron, for you to grasp the nettle and show some backbone on the international stage and actually represent us, the citizens of this country, and not your own cynical, pro-war political agenda. For my own health, however, I will not be holding my breath.
The British People