There are a significant number of doubters amongst Tory MPs about the wisdom of air strikes in Syria. Julian Lewis defence committee chairman reacted with incredulity when thePrime Minister’s put his case for military in the Commons.
“Air strikes alone will not be effective, they have to be in co-ordination with credible ground forces.” said Lewis. He disputed David Cameron’s assertion that such a credible force existed. “The suggestion there are 70,000 non-Islamist, moderate, credible ground forces, I have to say, is a revelation to me and I suspect most other MPs in this House.”
Former minister Peter Lilley challenged Cameron “to convince me that what you refer to as the Free Syrian Army actually exists rather than is a label we apply to a rag-bag group of clans and tribal forces with no coherent force.” And John Baron said: “Having just returned from the Middle East, regional powers and allies believe that in the absence of a realistic long-term strategy and proper local knowledge, we risk repeating the errors we made in Iraq, Afghanistan post-2006 and Libya.
He said key questions remain unanswered and “without these answers, air strikes will only reinforce the west’s failure in the region generally at a time when already there are too many aircraft chasing too few targets.”
It’s the existence of these Tory doubters which means that Cameron – at the head of a nominally majority government – needs support from Labour MPs to get his way.
And the issue been slotted quickly into the ongoing narrative about Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
One of the Corbyn’s problems, I believe, he is not a doubter. He is a conviction politician, which is central to his appeal. It is barely conceivable that he would ever vote for the kind of action being proposed.
The effect of that is that people wrestling with doubts are likely to discount what he says. They are more likely to be influenced by the shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn, who had rejected air strikes because of the lack of a coherent strategy from the government, now says the case made by the Prime Minister is compelling.
For what it’s worth I am personally unconvinced. I share the misgivings of the Independent’s Steve Richards who says “Labour MPs who despair of Corbyn must think very carefully whether they have heard enough from the PM to justify air strikes.”
One thing I am sure of is that the campaign of pressure on MPs being organised byMomentum , the pressure group based on the Corbyn leadership campaign will be counterproductive. It will increase not diminish the number of Labour MPs who support David Cameron.
Once again – Jeremy Corbyn needs saving from his friends.
From Donald Brind writing on politicalbetting.com 27th November 2015.