Britain’s crisis of governance…..
It will not surprise the readers of this blog to know that I was overwhelmingly relieved by the result of the Parliamentary vote on Syria on Thursday. Opponents of military action got the perfect result, Labour’s ‘road map to taking a decision and maybe taking action’ fell and so did the governments motion. In the short term at least, British involvement in military action against Syria is politically impossible, although it is not ruled out long-term.
Thursdays result has both ushered in and highlighted an ongoing crisis of governance in Britain. We are lumbered with a government that is now even more diminished than it previously was and an opposition which remains ineffective and, I would argue, totally unable to land a killer blow. Ed Miliband’s Commons performance on Thursday was poor, it summed-up the contradictions of his position, in his heart he obviously is a Syria hawk, or else he would have ruled action out, but politically he is being backed into an oppositionist corner; as the Spectator rightly pointed too, his speech lacked oomph because it lacked true conviction he was doing the right thing in his own eyes. Although in the short-term this may look like a strong position, in fact, it is a terribly weak position and Ed Miliband will more than likely be left all at sea by coming events.
Over the road, complete bedlam has taken over in Number 10. The Conservative back room operation hasnt been the same since Steve Hilton left and Lynton Crosby is no Steve Hilton, he is an attack dog desperately in need of a cast-iron muzzle. This is the latest in a long and growing line of disasters for the Conservative machine, the last notable one was when they were ‘out-whipped’ by their own rebels in the House of Lords vote. David Cameron is looking incredibly shaky and unless he does something quick this will be a death spiral for his leadership as well as the government itself.
So, what we have is a government incapable of governing and an opposition unable to take the government down, all of which equates to a big black hole where the governance of Britain should be. This does present a clear opportunity to the likes of UKIP, who must be rubbing their hands as the three main parties tie themselves in Gordian knots, and is a serious concern for the rest of us. The issue of Syria isn’t going away nor are the shockwaves it has sent through British politics.