Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Revolt That Never Was



In the end, it was a bit of a damp squib. For all the talk of nervous whips applying thumbscrews to Labour MPs and ministers being called back from foreign parts, a mere 12 Labour MPs in the end rebelled against the government in today's debate on the Iraq War - nothing in comparison to previous rebellions which have seen the government defeated a couple of times. Called by the SNP and Plaid Cymru, and reluctantly supported by the Tories, the Commons motion was proposing an inquiry into how we went to war in Iraq. The Conservatives actually favour waiting for such an inquiry until after the war, whilst Labour naturally favour not having one at all.

Or at least they did.

Although the government won the debate today, Defence Secretary Des Browne appears to have promised an inquiry after all, in comments made to television broadcasters. As ever, the government's message is confused and subject to late changes, and heaven forbid they should provide either consistency or clarity.

As far as lessons about Commons behaviour go, it was always a no-brainer for Labour MPs not to walk into the same lobbies as the opposition parties on an opposition debate. However, it is a sign of how fractious this parliament is - and in particular its all important Labour MPs - that the expectation of government defeats is so regular.
And we do at least know that an inquiry is in the offing - even after leaving office, Blair is likely to be haunted by its findings.

5 comments:

C H Daly said...

"As ever, the government's message is confused...and heaven forbid they should provide either consistency or clarity."

What tripe! Let’s investigate the chameleon instead. Despite supporting the war perhaps only a month ago, Cameron proves his shameful political greed to jump on board the inquiry boat that unfortunately sank like the Titanic and left him with the wet feet. Hague in the meantime is now calling for an inquiry in “about a year”. Ah clear concise politics from the blue backyard there. To add insult to injury, the press have mostly steered clear of thumping the government for the scrappy vote and instead of chastised Cameron for his pendulum politics. Fantastic stuff!

However, from a neutral’s perspective (I’m trying as hard as I can!) this vote does seem to be a parliamentary capitulation. Parliament seems to have surrendered itself from its functions as holding the government responsible for its actions. As GM correctly points out, for all the seething remarks, bitter condemnation and expectation leading up to vote, only 12 Labour MP’s opposed their government and (although scrappily) Blair will be pleased enough to have escaped sentencing in the Commons. At the moment, if you were a British Autocrat you’d want to have this so called “parliament” full of nodding heads and yes-men.

Furthermore for any at all interested in the best NHS we have ever had in Britain, Cameron’s scouts will be shot at dawn when he finds out about the number-plucking that they resorted to in recent condemnations of job cuts. With the NHS in a transition period and still providing a fantastic service to Britain, the Department for Health released the real figures for job losses that bear literally no resemblance to actual figures. In reality fewer than 20% of job losses were from clinics (another point failed to be mentioned by Cameron). With a chorus of “Liar liar pants on fire”, I demand that Cameron step up, prove that he’s such a great man, and apologise for this utterly ridiculous scaremongering.

Lestaki said...

How does the NHS relate to a vote on an inquiry in Iraq? That's some sideways motion there... incidentally, I've never got the "chameleon" thing. They're cute, harmless and inoffensive creatures, and if being a chameleon means standing for something other than the policies that have lost the Tories every election since their spectacular fall from power, then that seems to be a good thing to be. Let's be charitable and "neutral" and give Cameron some time- I still recall you were generous with wait and see when Gordon Brown's cabinet was discussed.

And on the vote itself; I think this is another example of the inevitable problems that come with the party system (though we need such a thing). After learning about the grand old days of politics around the 1900's where parties would split and defect and move around left and right over everything from Home Rule to Tariff Reform, 100 years later Labour manages a paltry 12 rebels to raise any sort of voice over a debacle on the scale of the Iraq war. Here I agree with Connor- parliment isn't acting as a check on goverment action, but rather seems to que up to sign onto the various party lines. Personally, I view this as A Bad Thing.

-M Pester

C H Daly said...

I am allowed to comment on more than one issue at a time, I stand for more than one political issue jeez. Also, yes of course I am generous about giving Brown some time with his cabinet: do you think it might be because he's not even leader yet? Egg on your face Sir.

Moreover, despite your clearly wise views on the accountability of government towards the end on your post. I might advise that one not make an enemy of one of the pair of the strongest media hands in the school through the mispelling of my name. Centuries of Gaelic heritage and tradition discredited through sheer stupidity.

I smell a Sporting Glory smear campaign...

Lestaki said...

You make a good point, though I still mantain that after so many years in power Brown is not coming from the outside of a leadership race to try and make a fundamentally flawed party electable. Brown is Blair's natural sucsessor, and I'm very much unconvinced of his desire to take the party in a new direction. Another case in point, your comments of the NHS "in a transition period", which sounds like another wait-and-see excuse to me. All I'm asking is for you to be consistent in your position. Cameron is leading his party through a "transition period", which means he needs to make changes- perhaps like a chameleon, to see what works.

A pleasure, Connor. ;)

-M Pester

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