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:


10 thoughts on “Damascene Conversions?

  1. Steve Carr says:

    Please don’t insult people because they hold a different view to yourself Matt. Hawking this one up? Shameful? I don’t think so. I was very much against the Iraq War in 2003. But this is very different indeed. Unlike both Labour and Tories in 2003, we (the LibDems) were not convinced by the dodgy dossier. The evidence of WMD can be seen every night on the TV in Syria – the use of nerve gas last week and a napalm like substance only minutes after our MPs voted to do nothing. I think the real question is, do you want Britain to be part of the international community or turn into a neo-isolationist country ignoring what is happening beyond our shores. I for one am totally against that.

    • Peter Kobryn says:

      Shameful ? – The Lib Dems desperation to protect their position in this govt. by jettisoning any inconvenient value or principle….that’s pretty shameful…

    • Fluffles says:

      – “Please don’t insult people because they hold a different view to yourself Matt.”

      Isn’t that the tagline of this blog??!

  2. This is such hypocritical leftie nonsense. the Blair government went to war, as part of an imperialist religious agenda, based on total lies. Cameron, you may not like, but at least he wanted to go to war for principles of saving lives. I find it ridiculous, that the left said nothing as the World and the UK was destroyed by the Labour government. And now all they can do is sling mud at the Tories, for doing much, much less. think of all the civil liberties taken away by Blair. All the total disregard of independent Nations by Blair, etc, etc. i do agree with your comment on the Libs, but they only were against the Iraq war to gain popularity. It seems to be forgotten, but initially they were for it, then they saw where public opinion was heading, and suddenly became the party for Anti-War. They would sell their grandmother, and all their children to stay in power.

    • Steve Carr says:

      Would that be why we held all of our seats in Broxtowe despite the predictions of a wipe out? Tories/Labour all the same really.

    • Chris says:

      This issue many had was Cameron’s haste to go to war without facts and discussion. He seems to have missed the lessons from Blairs mistakes. Labours reputation has been damaged significantly due to Blair who seemed (and still does) to be on some big ego and religious crusade. At least it seems to have made parliament wake up and consider to its voting public.

  3. Mary poppings says:

    Love how it’s another Muslim country tearing its self to bits

  4. Chris says:

    I am disappointed, but not surprised Anna voted against the view of the public. I am still looking hard for that day when she represents me.

  5. Joan says:

    The proposal currently on the table that Syria put chemical weapons into the hands of international control seems a sensible one. It is sad that our local Liberal Democrats seem so keen for military intervention that neither they nor their national leadership were putting forward any ideas for non military resolution of the conflict. The current proposal might not work but let us at least give peace a chance.

    • Chris says:

      Perhaps Steve Carr can explain how bombing other countries is a requirement for being a part of the international community. Germany aren’t involved, does that mean that they are “neo-isolationist”?

      I think that one of the saddest things from the last few years is that the Lib Dems have shown themselves to be completely self-interested. They were happy to (correctly) oppose Iraq by playing at being pacifist but now they are in Government they march to the beat of the Conservatives. I had expected some consistency in principles from the local Libs at least but you are too interested in defending Clegg and the coalition rather than sticking to pacifist principles. I don’t know what you stand for any more.

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