MPs voted to approve air strikes in Syria after a 10 hour debate in the House of Commons. The vote was 397-223 and the first UK air strikes took place just hours after the vote.
This is extremely useful for Unit 1 parties and Unit 2 Parliament. Jeremy Corbyn offered Labour MPs a free vote on this matter whereas the Conservatives whipped their vote. This meant that 66 Labour MPs ending up voting for air strikes (in defiance of Corbyn) and 7 Conservatives voted against air strikes in defiance of the whip (plus 7 abstentions). This would be great evidence for divisions within parties, although the higher level students will be able to use this to discuss the depth of the divisions within parties.
Also for the Labour Party, 11 Shadow Cabinet members voted for air strikes and 16 voted against (1 abstention) which would be useful for looking at the strength of opposition in Parliament (remembering their role is to scrutinise) and the strength of Corbyn. Certainly, the response to Hilary Benn’s ‘barnstorming’ speech has been profound today and must have Corbyn worried for his leadership.
It could also be used in conjunction with a discussion on the strength of Cameron’s majority – despite it being very weak he has sailed through this motion. Equally it could be used in a discussion of the role of the PM with foreign policy being an area in which a PM traditionally is seen to act more like a President, yet on this occasion he want the support of the House; maybe because of the shadow of Iraq, maybe because if it all goes wrong it is Parliament who is accountable not him personally…
The protests by Stop the War outside Parliament are useful for PGs in Unit 1 – their tweet on Monday calling for ’emergency protests’ speaks to the importance of social media in pressure group action and perhaps can be used in a discussion of New Social Movements. Equally, the protests outside Stella Creasey’s office in her home constituency show PGs using different access points.