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The second vote that MPs really should hold on Syria

2 September 2013

8:42 AM

2 September 2013

8:42 AM

Even though George Osborne did everything he could yesterday to kill talk of a second vote in the House of Commons on action in Syria, speculation about that vote still makes the front pages this morning.

There are probably safer bets to place. But one of the failings of Parliament last week – amidst all the cheering for a boost for democracy that is apparently characterised by ministers getting stuck in soundproofed rooms and missing key votes – was that in failing to pass either the government motion or the Labour amendment, Parliament failed to even condemn the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people. That was underlined by the terrible sounds and images from yet another attack – filling the late night broadcasts as MPs clattered through the Palace of Westminster into the division lobbies.

Unless further horrific evidence emerges, and unless the Prime Minister is able to get Ed Miliband to back intervention, David Cameron would be foolish to even contemplate calling another vote on military action: even though last week’s vote was not authorising military intervention, parliamentarians used it as an opportunity to reject the principle, both in their speeches and voting. But perhaps there should be a second vote, and one that all parties can unite around: one condemning the gassing of innocent children.

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