David Cameron’s humiliation in Parliament is without precedent in modern history.
The last time a British prime minister was defeated over an issue of war and peace was in 1782.
It also means that Britain’s standing globally is no longer what it used to be. The bruising it suffered cannot at this stage be quantified. Even with the loss of its empire, Britain still remained an important influence in world politics much beyond its size and its reduced wealth.
The special relationship with the US – which I never believed was as solid as our government claims – is badly indented with the rejection of Parliament to stand side by side with the US on the Syrian issue. It was the British PM who pressurised President Obama to consider taking punitive action against the Assad regime, on the assumption that it used chemical weapons against its own people.
David Cameron will certainly feel diminished as a result of the gravely wounding snub to his leadership and will no doubt lose any effective influence he might have had in dealing with the EU. The French, in particular, are cock-a-hoop about this turn of events and are likely to benefit from Cameron’s fall from grace in the eyes of those who envy Britain’s major role in world affairs. Cameron’s rhetoric about renegotiating some aspects of the European Treaty and getting more independence from Brussels will now be harder to achieve as his credibility is bound to fail the test of time.
With some Tory backbenchers reluctant to support him, there are clear indications that he has lost control of his own party and is unlikely to recover from the impact of their betrayal. This will lead to his ultimate humiliation.
On the other hand, the discredited Labour leadership proved conclusively that they cannot be trusted to keep their word in a crisis. It is worthy of note, however, that it was a Labour government who colluded with the US to invade Iraq under false pretensions; and now, it seems, the present incumbent leadership is playing the hypocritical role of being ever exacting in order to gain every cheap political advantage possible. Tony Blair, the renowned warmonger, is at it again while his previous acolytes are playing their saintly shambolic function as a matter of expediency.
How politics has become a profession of mediocrity is beyond the pale. Ed Miliband can never rise to the challenges of the job. How can anyone be convinced of his sincerity when he wrested the leadership of the Labour party from under the very nose of his own brother? He has tricked David Cameron into believing that Labour will support the government, when he clearly had no intention to do so. It is now abundantly clear that leopards never change their spots.
Miliband has come out of all this worse than the PM, whose judgement has been appalling to say the least. But Miliband’s behaviour has done Britain incalculable harm. He will always be remembered as the cad who upset the apple cart and made us as a nation the laughing stock where our prestige matters.
The lessons our politicians must learn quickly are very simple. If you cannot bite, never show your teeth. You will avoid calamity and sleep better.
And finally, never call a vote in Parliament if you don’t know you can win it.