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Ed Miliband’s problem is he’s trying to keep his options open on Syria

29 August 2013

6:00 PM

29 August 2013

6:00 PM

Ed Miliband’s scepticism about striking Syria puts him more in line with public opinion than David Cameron. On top of this, he’s had the better of the political manoeuvrings these past few days — forcing the Prime Minister to pull back from a straight parliamentary vote on military action. So, why then did his speech today fall so flat?

Part of the problem is the nature of the Commons chamber. Tory MPs heckled and intervened on him effectively, rather throwing him off his stride. But the more fundamental problem is that Miliband is trying to keep his options open.


Miliband’s opening was a strong argument against any British intervention in Syria. But then Miliband went on to say that he might back intervention at a future date. This drained his speech of its intellectual clarity and moral force. By the end of it, the Tory benches — which are not enthusiastic about their leader’s position — looked far less glum. The Liberal Democrats, many of whom had been wearing pained expressions, had cheered up.

Now, all this could change come the second vote, if there is one. If Miliband is opposing then, he’ll have a far clearer argument to make and Cameron will be asking his side to vote for war rather than just a condemnation of Assad. But today Miliband didn’t win over the House.

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Show comments
  • evad666

    Ralph Milibands lad is basically just not up to it.

  • wycombewanderer

    He’s incapable of making a decision.
    That’s why labour have no policies.

  • HookesLaw

    Miliband bears the impression of the last person to have sat on him.

    • Wessex Man

      At this stage I rather think I would have Miliband and Farage in charge than the loonies who actually “in Charge” and I bet I’m not alone!

      • Oedipus Rex

        You’re right – you’re not alone. The level of ‘party bias’ in this serious situation is frankly disgusting.

    • Two Bob

      It would be a bit like chemical warfare if they sat on his face…..all those toxic gases.

  • Holly

    Today we are suffering yet another catastrophic aftershock of Labour’s time in office.

    Now I don’t know anything about anything regarding Syria, what I do know is, IF this country was ever in a position of needing outside help from other countries, I hope they have much stronger leaders/politicians and would give us the help, not just pathetically sit chuntering amongst themselves ‘debating’ whether or not to do something, due to the previous Labour Prime Minister, who ‘messed’ with the intelligence, because it didn’t ‘prove the case for war’ strongly enough for his liking.

    Bullies like Iran, Syria etc will be emboldened today, because of the previous actions of the middle east peace envoy…Blair.

  • dalai guevara

    you know what?
    I am beginning to believe my lapdog could keep these clowns in check. The acting clowns, that is.

    • Wessex Man

      How do you know, foes it keep you in charge, we cab only hope so.

  • CraigStrachan

    Labour’s problem was encapsulated by Jack Straw’s speech today. He obviously intended to give elder statesman-like support to Miliband, and ended up being totally knocked off his stride by Paul Flynn’s intervention, which reminded him of the cost of Iraq and Afganistan in British lives.

    Labour have yet to escape the shadow of the Iraq catastrophe, no matter how they try.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    …because it’s all about the inside-the-bubble tittle tattle, eh lad?