Damascene Conversions?

The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton.

It’s a quote attributed to the Duke of Wellington, although it’s more than certainly apocryphal. Why the resonance?

It’s a right-wing wet dream. Combining the ruling classes heady cocktail of war, public schooling and the supposed natural order of things that gives the likes of Michael Gove a semi when they ponder it.

And of course, it’s a pile of steaming horseshit. Battles may be commanded by those from the privileged classes, yet few drops of blood from the same go to soak the battlefields they choose to play soldiers on. That ‘honour’ is given to the thousands of anonymous state schools that will churn out fodder. As was, always will be.

So cometh 2013, cometh the war. Cometh the war, cometh the Etonian. Riding high on the artificial economic boost, Cameron gets bored by his status as Prime Minister (albeit, a coalition, non-mandated one) and decides that’s not enough. Hubris sets in. PM is not enough. Statesman is the logical next step

The Shakespearian tragedy of Blair’s dalliance in Iraq as Bush’s poodle is well-documented. He failed, and now lives life as a bizarrely belligerent figure, in his post-irony job as Middle East envoy.

Cameron would have been aware of this, to  an extent, when he decided to link with Obama on the latest intervention. Libya had been, at least on a surface level, a success. Blair had been successful in his campaign to blow up Belgrade. You get the taste, you want more.

Yet he lost. It’s quite staggering, really. The Commons is a very hawkish place, and it should really have been easy, yet the supreme daftness of policy ensured that was not to be. Even the Lib Dems, who had the USP of opposing Iraq in the last two elections, threw away another chance to show they were an independent party and voted with, bar a few naughty exceptions. Sarah Tether is practically an opposition MP these days.

Soubry voted for. Kenny Clarke didn’t. Kenny didn’t for ‘family logistic reasons’. As Ken’s wife claims single-person’s council tax relief on his West Bridgford home,  it might not be unreasonable to assume the two possible reasons:

  1. There was a post- Ashes 20/20 match that day. Kenny, a life-long fan of cricket and ale might have found it rather hard to pull himself away from the MCC bar to vote, his head more in the Oval than the Oval office.
  2. He didn’t want to provide succour to a leader who used him as a gravitas-giver during the early days, then chucked him aside when the party swung to the right.

Soubz voting for might have been her worst mistake. When standing against Nick Palmer in 2015 she has lost a major attack point: Iraq. Despite his public announcement in 2010 that he regretted his vote for intervention, I still find lots of comments on this blog that they can never vote Labour again for Palmers vote on 2003.

Palmer was quick to come out quickly and announce he would have, if an MP, voted against intervention. Soubz was equally quick to write a rationale why she voted  for, laying it out in a remarkably similar way as Blairites did in 2003. Shame on the Lib Dems, nationally and locally, for also hawking up on this one.

It looks like Cameron has reached to far on this one. He’s now seen as weak, out of touch. America now prefers France over us. It was a misjudgment of Anthony Eden proportions, and just as amazingly sudden. There will be more twists to this tory, I’m sure, but unless it starts to resemble a Möbius strip this is one argument Soubz and her Tory friends cannot do anything but find themselves on the wrong side of.


A new blog by a local offers a much more nuanced discussion on Syria, well worth a read: