Syria, again.

Free vote –
Shadow Cabinet –
Corbyn’s view –
Stop the War PG

Jeremy Corbyn has decided he will allow the Labour Party a ‘free vote’ on intervention in Syria. This means the vote will not be ‘whipped’ allowing party members to vote however they wish. This came in the wake of many members of the Shadow Cabinet threatening either to resign if this was not allowed, or to defy any whip put in place, therefore daring Corbyn to sack them.

This is crucial for a vast wealth of reasons. First of all, it should guarantee Cameron the majority he needs in the vote. Fearful of rebellious Tory MPs he needed the support of the Labour Party. If Corbyn had imposed a whip this would have been less likely and Cameron would have been more unwilling to schedule a vote. This should definitely be used for the role of Parliament and the power of the PM within Parliament (Cameron choosing when and why to schedule a vote). It should also show the weakness of Cameron with just a majority of 12 – even Major had 22!

This also reflects the growing factions within the Labour Party under Corbyn’s leadership. Politics students should be wary of what they read in the media about Corbyn – do remember that he won the leadership with a massive landslide across all three membership types. Equally, the feeling of polled constituents seems to be against Syrian intervention in line with Corbyn. The rebels therefore are the Parliamentary Labour Party, more intent on representing themselves than recognising that, like it or not, Corbyn was elected by the people they are supposed to represent (again a problem with Burkean representation). This is great for Parties in Unit 1.

With Cameron having already said he will not run in 2020, it is interesting to see him following a presidential pattern, which is that when the clock is running down or a PM has a weak majority, they will typically look to foreign policy as something that they can achieve. This therefore would be useful for an essay on whether the PM is like a president.

It is finally a good example for pressure groups and particularly for a new social movement. Stop the War was quick to organise protests in London on 28 November against proposed intervention and is planning more too. Such speed of organisation speaks to the importance of the internet for pressure groups today. However the fact they are protesting in London, and the fact that they are unlikely to be successful, speaks to a good example of elitism, both geographically and in the importance of key people.

Historians amongst you should be viewing this with cynical eyes – when has air strikes alone ever been successful in the last 40 odd years without substantial military support on the ground…