A Victory for Democracy?

Now, I don’t claim to be anything more than a passive watcher of the news; I catch it for an hour in the morning, maybe the headlines at 6pm and then I watch the news at 10. However, I can’t help but feel that the events in Syria, and in the British Parliament, need a mentioning.

For those that do not know, I will give a brief outline of the Civil War in Syria (and it will be brief, I hardly know a barrel of information on the topic!). It began in March 2011 as a chain of peaceful protests, followed by a crackdown by the Syrian Army. In July 2011, army defectors declared the formation of the Free Syrian Army and began forming fighting units. According to the United Nations, up to 100,000 people have been killed and in order to escape the violence, over 1.7 million Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring countries of Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Turkey. As of this moment, the civil war has become so out of control that a chemical attack was made on civilians in the city of Damascus. It is currently unknown as to who exactly caused the chemical attack, and while it is heavily suggested to have been the Government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, it has neither been confirmed nor denied by the UN Weapons experts who have examined the evidence.

The chemical attack is the cause of the main flux in condemnation for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, particularly from the Western World.

President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron have both been particularly strong in their words when describing the chemical weapons attacks and it is for this reason that the House of Commons, one of the Two Houses of Parliament, was summoned by Cameron (while not in session) to vote as to Britain’s willingness to take military action against Syria.

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Far from budding friends most of the time, both Obama and Cameron appear to have found a unity over Syria and the outrage of the use of chemical weapons

The Government put forward this Bill with the express intent of having Military action being ratified, however The Labour Party also made an amendment to the Governments Bill. Call me cynical if you will, but I feel they are mainly doing so in an effort to appear as if they have learned from the mistakes of their recent past in the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. Despite this, what they called for were reasonable measures; military action would be validated when:
– The UN Security Council voted in support of it
– There was undeniable proof that the chemical attack was of Government origin
– The force was to be used only to stop the use of chemical weapons and promote humanitarian support
– The UN Weapons Inspectors could guarantee that it the chemical attack was designed to attack civilians

The Labour Amendment was voted on shortly before the Government’s and defeated by 220 voted to 332. As such, it meant that Parliament was either accepting military action on the facts as we known them to be know (as the Government wants) or declining to accept any use of military force at all.

As it happened, the House of Commons voted to defeat the Governments Motion, 285 votes to 272.

Now, mentioning Labour, there is something I don’t understand; The House of Commons had two votes tonight: one in which Labour put forward their amendment to the Governments ‘militant’ Bill regarding Syria and another in which the Government put forward its Bill for military action to be taken in Syria. Both failed, yet the second fails by a much closer margin.

Despite this, Labour are calling for a General Election and/or the resignation of David Cameron? As much as this is a rather stinging blow to Mr Cameron and his pro-action agenda, its hardly been a staple part of his manifesto. Its a simple fact of office that (probably more often than not) politicians may want one thing, but not be able to achieve it.

The defeat of the Goverment’s motion prompted a, I think, rather nice quote from the PM:

“I believe in respecting the Will of this House of Commons.”

“It is very clear to me the British parliament, reflecting the view of the British people, does not want see military action. I get that and the Government will act accordingly.”

I think that I would agree that the Invasion of Iraq in 2003 did haunt this debate, and those who were making the same debate in 2003 when they agreed to the War on Terror; whether or not it was a wise choice, or a fair choice. I don’t know.
Will it stop others from getting involved? Unlikely, as Obama has already made it clear that he is fully prepared to make this a singular American Operation (unlike Bush’s ‘Coalition’). However the effects of the vote on Congress are yet to be seen.

Do I personally think that we should have voted yes to military action in Syria? No. I think it is about time that we realised that just because we may have some degree of power by the size of our Armed Forces it does not mean we have an automatic position as the Worlds Police Force. Not only this, but I think we have to recognise that its simply not possible to solve problems like this with full out military force; it hasn’t worked for use in the last decade, and it wont work here. Saying that however, I do feel that we as human beings have a moral obligation to try and ensure that such heinous crimes as the use of chemical weapons on civilians (or anyone for that matter) are never permitted nor allowed to occur.

To this end, I have no idea what to do about Syria. Its a right old mess.

So. There we have the ramblings on of someone with very few of the real facts and only our (if we are honest) pretty shoddy media to source.

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The Iron Lady is dead: Margaret Thatcher 1925-2013

So. Margaret Thatcher is dead. Yup, I’m afraid today is going to be political people.

Many love her. Many hate her. I don’t think it’s typical newspaper exaggeration to say that she is the most divisive politician in the modern age. To quote two well-known UK politicians; “She changed the political landscape not just in our country, but the rest of the world”

Baroness Thatcher was the longest-serving British Prime Minister of the 20th century and is the only woman to have ever held the office (she was also the first female leader of similar standing in the developed world). She went to war with the Trade Unions, Miners and Argentina and most definitely got her way in all of them. She developed our relationship with the United States and was a key player in the thawing of the Cold War, so much so, a Soviet labelled her the ‘Iron Lady’. Her economic policy led to major recession, and the methods she used to fix the economy (which they did) were incredibly unpopular. She arguably ripped the industry out of the North, and destroyed the mining industry. She also took on the Trade Unions which, I think its fair to say, were too powerful, and were holding the country to ransom. She responded to the Falklands situation and defended the people against oppression.

She was a person who restored belief in Britain. The defeatism which had become installed in Britain post-WW2 was successfully expelled, and Britain grew into one of the strongest countries in the world economically.

Now, I wasn’t actually born until after Thatcher left office, so the only knowledge I have of her policies is based off the accounts of others and my own research. However, I like to think that I have covered at least a basic understanding of her time in Office and the woman that was Margaret Thatcher. I think she had a lot to answer for, but she was a straight talker. You don’t become the ‘Iron Lady’ without deserving the title.

“The lady is not for turning” And it’s a testament to her strength that she never did.

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Post Script:
For those that are seeing the news that people are actively celebrating the death of Thatcher, its something I can’t comprehend. It is more than reasonable to condemn someone for their policies or opinions – politicians pretty much load the gun for us – but to celebrate a death?
Smacks of distaste if you ask me. I don’t think it’s ever acceptable to actually celebrate a death. Don’t mourn them, criticise them sure, but don’t celebrate it.
It’s not a matter of showing respect. It’s a matter of being human.

Post-Post Script
Sorry for the nearly two months of inactivity! Back to normal, semi-weekly updates from now on!