Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Labour should oppose the attack on Syria!

I mostly blog about a limited range of topics - but I never forget that, as trade unionists, we are part of a global movement which unites workers regardless of nationality.

When war comes working class people are sent to kill other working class people on behalf of their respective ruling classes (swelling the coffers of the arms companies).

That's why I was disappointed (if not, sadly, surprised) to see Ed Miliband miss a once in a lifetime opportunity to differentiate himself from this Government by opposing military action against Syria.

Ed Miliband may have surrounded his suggestion that the "Opposition" front bench might support military action against Syria with caveats (http://labourlist.org/2013/08/miliband-says-labour-would-consider-backing-action-on-syria-but-with-conditions/). He may think that is a measured, statesmanlike approach from a future Prime Minister.

However, the soundbite is of Labour backing for action - and if the leaderships of the three main parties are seen to stand together in this way, the political price to be paid by Members of Parliament prepared to ignore popular opposition to this intervention will be massively discounted.

Diane Abbot emerges with far greater credit for having been clear about her opposition to action which will make a bad situation worse (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/aug/27/diane-abbott-labour-syria).

I know some on the left decry reference to international law as somehow "bourgeois" (some even take the topsy turvy view that the correct "anti-imperialist" outlook is to give vocal - if pointless - unconditional support to whichever tyrant the West has decided it has an issue with).

Thankfully, opposition to the coming bombardment of Syria need not equate to support for the Assad regime - and support for the rule of law is not at all a bad starting point for socialists. There is no lawful basis upon which the US, UK, French (or whoever) can attack Syria without the support of the United Nations.

Since both Cameron and Miliband have referred to taking action only that is "legal" perhaps Members of Parliament can find a way to amend tomorrow's Government motion to clarify that no missiles are fired absent UN approval?


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