Syria vote means political pain for David Cameron


A defeat in Parliament on matters of peace and war is without modern precedent.

The question is, what does it mean?

First and foremost - Britain will not take part in any military attack on Syria.

America may press ahead regardless but the principal advocate of a tough response to the Assad regime has been neutered.

The prime minister has lost control of his own foreign and defence policy and as a result he will cut a diminished figure on the international stage.

Some strong advocates of the transatlantic relationship worry that America may now question the value and reliability of Britain as an ally.

It is - perhaps - here at home, though, that David Cameron will feel the most political pain.

The rupture with his own party which he did so much to try to repair is back on public display.

What's more, the man who is determined to replace him - Ed Miliband - has been given the opportunity to disprove the claims that he is weak - and will walk taller as a result.

The repercussions of this vote could be felt for a very long time to come.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 374.

    I think nick Robinson could not have got this more wrong. Even Ed Miliband looks terrified that he appears to the electorate to be the double dealing weasel most people know he is. Cameron mis calculated but at least he was acting according to principle. I suspect in time he will come out of this far better than Miliband who totally proved he cannot be trusted to be prime minister.

  • rate this

    Comment number 373.

    Dave makes it up as he goes along. His laissez-fair leadership allowing his minions to prosecute whatever outlandish right wing, typically American inspired programs backed by twisted and regressive ideology of the "Law according to Margaret"

    I expect the poor will suffer the consequences of this slight

  • rate this

    Comment number 372.

    'political pain'?? it always amazes me how naval gazing we are, those of us lucky enough to be safe from political oppression, hunger, etc. how does the pain of breathing & dying of Sarin poisoning compare to so-called 'political pain'? please, think before composing smug political commentary.

  • rate this

    Comment number 371.

    This is simply yet another example of Cameron's slap dash way of doing business. He rushes through everything he does without thinking things through. Recalling parliament ahead of the UN inspectors return and starting writing up the report on their findings when the House of Commons summer holiday period was finishing very soon anyway was just another example of DC acting before thinking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 370.

    JH66 352
    Dave may have tried to restrain his tetchiness in response to events but not so you. I was summarising in a blunt, even Sun-esque, way the basics of the situation as a sort of antidote to the 'central office' rationalised spin evident in many posts. Irrespective of your view of the Coalition's proposals the sheer incompetence of their deployment is clear for all to see.

  • rate this

    Comment number 369.

    gerkinhead @363
    "a blinder"?
    US - not just Obama - led up garden path?

    If so, a wheeze too far. US and UK, worldwide, the public is growing - in leaps & bounds - more perspicacious. Such evil only for the eddies of consciousness. Next, war crimes as cries for help?

  • rate this

    Comment number 368.

    @367 AllforAll
    Rousseau : flight or dream?
    I think he was dreaming of ancient Rome and linking its degeneration with the degeneration he saw all around him.
    Again Shklar,
    "To warn them against further corruption was a duty, really to alter their downward path, impossible."
    Thanks for the dialogue.
    Much appreciated

  • rate this

    Comment number 367.

    plotinus @361
    "born free"
    Rousseau: flight or dream?

    Piaget etc updated development

    Hard to turn a herd, flight of lemmings too late

    But in Egypt we HEARD voices of peace, unbelieving of violent folly as destiny for known communities

    Syria, also, soil of the Middle East, ground of Islam, NOT at all without humanity & hope. No more than Germany yesterday or world under Mammon today

    Good night!

  • rate this

    Comment number 366.

    @364 AllforAll
    re @359
    Yes in order to form the coalition of the willing it is almost as though we need to be inoculated against the tendency to crave Mammon (as you say).
    No to selfishness but yes to enlightened self-interest which is served by banding together in order to achieve the common good through virtuous living.

  • rate this

    Comment number 365.

    Sadly, Miliband and the 'vote' have taken the GREAT out of Great Britain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 364.

    dialogue appreciated
    (negatives not mine)

    As against infectious diseases, 'for herd immunity' from desire for advantage (in vote or income, both logically - and from so much negative experience proven - vital for hope of meaningful & sustainable democracy), understanding ideally afforded in childhood, wide agreement in adulthood, special help in low intelligence, low-empathy, illness

  • rate this

    Comment number 363.

    Dave has played a blinder here . He has delivered what the public wanted , no involvement in open ended grief in a hopeless middle east situation . The USA have to respect a democratic decision even if they don't like it. Perhaps he didn't want to win this vote. Just to make sure he sent off a load of MP's to sit in the toilets . Come on .... You have to hand it to him . Ed the scapegoat again

  • rate this

    Comment number 362.

    Let us remember that the 'Red Line' was Obama's and that all of the political fallout we are witnessing in the UK is of Obama's making. It was his off the cuff remark and the coming anniversary of it, that has forced everyone to this point.

  • rate this

    Comment number 361.

    born free
    sadly not a la Virginia McKenna out of Africa
    but a la Rousseau
    born free but everywhere in chains
    and then in the words of Shklar, on Rousseau,
    "Most men are, and must be formed by a social environment. They must flee to a facsimile of the Golden Age or contemplate the remote possibility of Sparta."

  • rate this

    Comment number 360.

    "born free"?
    Sadly not

    Born in an extremity of ignorance and helplessness, we are 'free' to be such, with help to learn, to live or die, sink or swim in the trying, our 'human freedoms' - our 'human rights' - the shared creations of society, equal… or as such meaningless, illusions, however disguised, in a dictatorship of fear & greed, no hope for our loved ones, our future. So...!

  • rate this

    Comment number 359.

    @357 not omniscience
    But consider Mill's three conditions for representative government
    "The people for whom the form of government is intended must be willing to accept it; ... They must be willing and able to do what is necessary to keep it standing. And they must be willing and able to do what it requires of them to enable it to fulfil its purposes."
    The coalition of the willing

  • rate this

    Comment number 358.

    @357 Allforall
    c.f. @346 respect for freedom .... born so
    Yes we are born free, but our character is formed first of all in childhood, ideally through being taught right from wrong and then these become traits through repeated action in adulthood.
    Freedom is an essential prerequisite and, of course, in Syria although born free that freedom to act has now been taken away.

  • rate this

    Comment number 357.

    @340 not omniscience, for partnership & specialisation, free competition not for belonging (secure), or power (equal), but to be our best

    @346 respect for freedom, not for ignorance. Born so, we grow

    @350 virtue natural in agreed equality of personal stake, else corrupted

    @355 intentional near-miss, naturally must escalate, and not slowly. No effect if no way out, no offer of belonging

  • rate this

    Comment number 356.

    What really happened - UKIP set up its stall early and placed its position firmly in the NO camp. Any assent to Military Force without regarding Public Opinion would have seen UKIP's popularity surge. The BBC keeps pushing the usual US line though in spite of knowing the Public's feelings. No sensible person in the UK trusts ANY US Politician, they're bought a sold by 'Lobbyists' like cattle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 355.

    @353 AllforAll
    Obama talked earlier about a shot across the bows.
    This of course means a shot which is an intentional miss.
    Surely he does't mean this as it would offer no deterent.
    What he is proposing is a short lightening strike.
    But this seems purely tactical and will probably have no effect, especially when so telegraphed.


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