Friday, 30 August 2013
The Losing Side
I may be wrong - it happened once before - but I don't get all the politicking around David Cameron's so-called ‘surprise defeat' in the Commons yesterday. What I saw was a prolonged debate with plenty to think about, followed by a vote which was – if there was any surprise at all - much closer than I expected. The narrow result of 285-to-272 against the motion reflected a persuasive performance by David Cameron rather than, in my view, any support for Ed Miliband or his muddled message. If our Parliament truly reflected the mood in the country the outcome should have been more like two-to-one against.
Sure the doves are out, chanting victory and singing outside their tepees, ululating in joy and hugging the hell out of any tree in range, but nobody except the BBC is hugging Ed Miliband today. I expect he is waiting for his summons to Len McCluskey’s office to find out if he keeps his prefect badge for another term.
Yet today’s papers are full of views that this spells the end for Cameron. I really don’t see that. Why? He didn’t do what history suggests Tony Blair did and take the country into an illegal, unwinnable war on ‘sexed-up’ evidence. If anything, Cameron’s term in office may come to be remembered as the time that Britain finally gave up wanting to play world soldiers and got on with democratically rebuilding its own nation state. I only say ‘may’ because I believe there is still much to do.
There may be many reasons for Cameron to stand down as party leader, but I’m not convinced this was the decider. I’ve not been a great fan, but his performance yesterday was, I thought, impressive in huge contrast to the push-me-pull-you antics of Mr Ed. It is reported that some Labour MPs ended the day still unsure as to what Miliband’s position actually was.
So it seems we’re not going to war in Syria any time soon. That should be a decision to celebrate. It seems the much-vaunted but always abused ‘special relationship’ may be in doubt. Good. It seems like a victory, albeit a narrow one, for democracy; at least our version of it. And if democracy won on war, we might just have a chance of it winning in peace; it’s about time. Maybe now we can get on with deploying a bit of democracy at home and sort out our far more important relationship with Europe.
I wish you'd won. I know. Loser!
Ed Miliband is today being bullishly myopic, claiming a victory and calling for Cameron to consider his position. Be that as it may, I know which of them looked like a leader yesterday and which looked like a bewildered youth way out of his depth. There definitely was a loser yesterday, but I don’t think it was David Cameron.