War war not jaw jaw
The extension of the RAF’s air strikes against ISIS in Iraq to include Syria seems likely to go ahead, following the inability of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to persuade his Shadow Cabinet to oppose action in a debate now expected to be held tomorrow. With a free vote now guaranteed, up to 100 of Labour’s MPs could vote with the Government meaning the motion is sure to pass. The fallout from yesterday’s meeting is all over the papers this morning and the story is, as predicted, about Corbyn’s leadership.
At every turn yesterday, Corbyn and his team made error after error of judgement. His office admitted that a survey of members over the weekend which saw 70,000 responses was largely ignored, with Corbyn picking out a few arbitrary responses to support his views. He was forced to back down over his attempt to use the National Executive of the party to force the Shadow Cabinet to support him. His press team briefed out his proposed compromise as a fait accompli just as members of the Shadow Cabinet sat down to discuss it, and then rejected it anyway. The upshot is that the official opposition party has no formal view on Syria, with Corbyn due to start the debate opposing the Government’s plans, and his Shadow Foreign Secretary to end the debate supporting them.
If it weren’t so serious, the farcical way the Labour Party is tearing itself apart would be a thing of comedy. But there is a danger that there are holes in the Government’s plan of attack: what exactly happens once we start bombing? What is the plan for Syria post-ISIS? Are the Government ensuring Britain makes a genuine difference to the international effort? The reality is that by opposing the Government in such a stubborn and inept way, Corbyn could end up giving the Government a free rein to do as it pleases. It would appear Corbyn has still to learn the nuances of opposition.