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Mis-communicators of the week: Labour MPs

3rd September 2013

MPs were called back from summer recess early by the Prime Minister to debate and then vote on possible action by UK forces in Syria. You would have had to have holidayed over the past few months on the moon not to have seen graphic TV images of civilians killed in a chemical attack and other horrible acts of violence in Syria. The chemical attack has been seen by David Cameron, Barack Obama and Francois Hollande as one step too far in the two-year old conflict. Hence the recall of Parliament.

Then things stop being so straightforward. Some MPs including Conservative and Liberal Democrat disagree with David Cameron that the UK needs to act to try and put an end to the conflict. Others had different reasons to - as described by some papers - humiliate David Cameron by defeating the Government's motion to pave the way for action against the Syrian regime. Some questioned the evidence that Syria was behind the worst of the atrocities committed in a bitter civil war. Many others fear getting sucked into another conflict like the invasion of Iraq which would be costly in lives and money as well as potentially undertaken based on flimsy evidence. That said, subsequently the United States and France have presented evidence about the extent of President Assad's involvement in the chemical weapons attack that killed 1,429 people including 426 children.

As is their right though, the views expressed by MPs from all parties in the House of Commons prior to a vote taking place should be respected. In opposition this is something David Cameron promised would happen precisely because of a lack of trust stemming from the decision to go to war in Iraq. Furthermore those who voted against the Government motion for these reasons reflect the current view of the British people who, latest polling shows, are opposed to UK involvement in Syria.

Then there is a sizeable rump of the Labour party who, based on their behaviour on Thursday evening, voted on party political lines - not because of their concern for  UK soldiers’ lives or because they held reasonable doubts about intelligence pointing to the Assad regime's involvement in gassing to death nearly 1500 of their own people. When the result of the vote was announced, and it became clear David Cameron had been defeated, a guttural roar of the kind more suited to a football terrace rose from the Labour Party benches.

These pictures were broadcast around the world. Those not so well versed in Westminster life could easily have assumed some consensus had been formed in the world famous House of Commons chamber such was the noise. This was a verbal equivalent of putting two fingers up at the Prime Minister. This was pure party political point-scoring of one-upmanship and doing anything to weaken an opponent. This senseless moment of thuggery sent a signal to the world that the UK was uncaring; more interested in bitter domestic disputes than disputes of life and death. This is why Labour MPs are my Mis-Communicators of the Week.

Mis-Communicator of the Week is written by Edward Staite

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