X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week. If you receive it, you’ll also find your subscriber number at the top of our weekly highlights email.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050. If you’ve only just subscribed, you may not yet have been issued with a subscriber number. In this case you can use the temporary web ID number, included in your email order confirmation.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

If you have any difficulties creating an account or logging in please take a look at our FAQs page.

Coffee House

Cameron’s historic defeat

29 August 2013

11:51 PM

29 August 2013

11:51 PM

David Cameron has lost far more than the argument over Syria. He put his credibility on the line tonight, and lost. This is not just an extraordinary defeat but a spectacular political misjudgment, as I say in my Daily Telegraph column tomorrow. There will be a great many more questions asked tomorrow: from a sleepy summer recess, Cameron has conjured up one of the most spectacular parliamentary defeats in modern political history. The first such foreign policy defeat since 1782. What on earth was No10 thinking? That it could depend on Ed Miliband’s support? (He spoke abysmally today, by the way, offering a “sequenced roadmap”, and his amendment was defeated. There are only losers in today’s vote.)

A third of the Tory party is opposed to a Syria strike, the public is against it by a ratio of two-to-one. And yet still, the Prime Minister of a hung parliament tries to ram through a vote for military action using the same methods and logic as Iraq. Their own dodgy-looking dossier. The own Attorney General legal advice (or sections of it), claiming that it’s all okay really. And a Defence Secretary who went on Newsnight and actually spoke about taking action against “Saddam” rather than Bashar Assad. The whole thing looked like an Iraqi Groundhog Day.

[Alt-Text]


I am personally sympathetic to Cameron’s arguments about Britain’s role in the world.But to force a vote in this way, with such shoddy preparation and so little forethought, will outrage Cameron’s allies. Why gamble all this political capital in such a way? Make no mistake: this is a foreign policy vote, but the result weakens the government’s overall authority. Needlessly. All that political progress made over summer: wiped out. Already, Ed Miliband is trying to rewrite today’s history in a way that involves Plucky Ed standing up to America. The same Ed who sounded all up for a Syrian strike in interviews on Tuesday morning.

As the leading article in this week’s Spectator says, an attack in Syria would be a war without a purpose. The more questions asked about this, the more questions arise. And it was the absence of answers to very good questions which, I think, sunk Cameron today. His case for intervention was not very well thought-through. Holes were picked in it all day, by everyone from Jack Straw to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

But there are always doubts when countries go to war. The biggest question is one of trust. Cameron was asking for that trust today, and he didn’t get it. He took a massive gamble, and suffered a massive defeat. It was one from which he will, I suspect, take some time to recover.

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close