PMQs Verdict: Syria, Redux

September 4, 2013 1:46 pm

The two leaders may have been sat opposite each other today for the first PMQs of the year, but they couldn’t bear to look at each other.

That’s half right anyway – specifically Cameron couldn’t bear to look at Miliband. Hatred is perhaps an overused word in politics, but it’s probably not an over exaggeration to say that Cameron hates Miliband, and for what it’s worth, I don’t suspect Miliband is especially keen on Cameron either.

A “F**king c**t’? A “copper bottomed s**t”? Those words may not have come from the Prime Minister’s mouth but I’m sure they have rattled around his head in recent days, and such sentiments shone through in today’s almost hypnotically passive aggressive display.

But despite all that, and despite the events of the past week, the two leaders managed – just about – to have a mature conversation about Syria and the potential options for a non-military way forward for Britain in the conflict.

If only such basic decorum could have prevailed last week.

There is a clear majority in the house for – at the very least – keeping intervention against Assad on the table if the evidence is clear and the action is limited. We know that from the voting records of Labour and government MPs last week. And we know that if Cameron and Miliband had been able to put aside their differences (my preference, unsurprisingly, would have been for the government accepting Labour’s amendment) either before, during or immediately after the Syria debate last week, then the sensible position of maintaining the choice – however unlikely – of exercising military action at a later date, could have been kept on the table.

Instead, Miliband and Cameron were passive aggressive but borderline civil to each other. But a week too late.

  • Steve Stubbs

    Sure, never rule out any option. But remember, this is a civil war between two factions of Islam, both of which have a significant presence in THIS country. Do we really want to take sides?

  • Matthew Blott

    Mark, I admire your loyalty (and I’m not being disparaging when I say that) but over this episode it seems pretty tired. I suspect (and dearly hope) it was more cock up than conspiracy on Miliband’s part but the spectacle of Labour MPs seeming just a bit too pleased with themselves while the carnage continues left a very bitter taste. The events last week are turning out to be a lot bigger than we first realised and I actually think it’s proving to be quite a pivotal moment in Ed Miliband’s leadership. There’s some interesting thoughts on the fallout here

  • Matthew Blott


  • rekrab

    What else is driving the Syrian crisis? where is the West weakest at this present time? “economics” the American dollar and the Euro, inclusive of the sterling pound are in a dire state, Russia, China, Iran all know this and Asia is more than aware of this to.

    China can buy all the oil and Gas Russia can produce in ruples, and Iran is selling it’s oil for Gold? think about it? Russia is the second biggest exporter of oil and gas in the world, the Asian market now has the power to push the dollar and Euro into the abyss.

    Is it all about WMD’s? I’m not convinced? with the flick of a switch the EASTERN SIDE OF THE WORLD can reverse the power of wealth from East to West and that’s just about effective as an economic nuclear attack.

    I can hope and pray, this isn’t the case but all the facts and pointers are out there, it’s unstoppable and the build up in the med is most probably the start of a far wider war.

  • markfergusonuk

    You think I’m being loyal by saying that Miliband should – and could – go back and try again for military action in future? Even though he’s ruled that out?


  • Featured The Labour leadership is wrong – we should have the courage to support today’s strike

    The Labour leadership is wrong – we should have the courage to support today’s strike

    Winston Churchill once offered the world a shrewd analysis of what it is be truly bold when he said: “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” Although the former Conservative Prime Minister is an unlikely person to think of when it comes to the British labour movement, today, as more than one million public sector workers go on strike, the Labour leadership should take heed of […]

    Read more →
  • News Labour to auction off Patrick Stewart’s voice to raise election funds

    Labour to auction off Patrick Stewart’s voice to raise election funds

    Labour will be holding a gala dinner with an auction to raise major funds for next year’s election campaign. Hosted by Stephen Fry, attendees will be able to bid on a host of items, including artworks by the likes of Sir Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor and Grayson Perry, a signed Cristiano Ronaldo football shirt, for Sir Patrick Stewart to record a voicemail for you and… a five-a-side football match against the Shadow Cabinet. The five-a-side team includes Jim Murphy, Sadiq […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Time for bigger thinking on our railways

    Time for bigger thinking on our railways

    There is a lively debate across the country about the future of our railways. At the heart of this is a sense – shared amongst the public – that the rail system is not delivering the best deal for us as passengers or taxpayers. For a start, our railways are far more expensive than in other countries. The botched privatisation of the 1990s created a complex split between train, rolling stock and track which has led to needless costs. Our […]

    Read more →
  • News Labour should vote against legal aid reform today, says shadow justice minister

    Labour should vote against legal aid reform today, says shadow justice minister

    Andy Slaughter the shadow justice minister has called for Labour MPs to oppose the coalition’s proposals to change legal aid eligibility, the vote over which is due to take place in the Commons today. The vote is over government proposals to make it so that to assess whether people are eligible for legal aid, they will have to take a residency test. This means, only those who have been residents in England and Wales for a year or more are […]

    Read more →
  • News Growth forecast almost as good as when Labour were in power

    Growth forecast almost as good as when Labour were in power

    Forecasters have predicted that the UK’s economic growth for the last quarter will have risen to 0.9% - up from 0.8% in the last quarter. While this is very good news, and we can all welcome an increase in growth, it is worth noting that this is the highest quarter of growth since the second quarter of 2010 – or in other words, when Labour left office. Labour left the Tories with a recovering economy, and quarterly growth of 1%. By […]

    Read more →