NO DECISIONS of Parliament are more onerous than those which relate to Britain’s national security – or the deployment of the Armed Forces in a foreign conflict.
As such, it is all the more regrettable that a fractious House of Commons debate on whether to extend the scope of RAF airstrikes against Daesh, the so-called Islamic State, to Syria could not have been conducted in a more statesmanlike and dignified manner.
It was not helped by the Government’s business managers imposing a 10 and a half hour time limit when no fewer than 157 backbenchers had expressed a desire to speak.
Given the issue’s importance, a two-day debate – as requested – would have signalled Parliament’s resolve to consider the matter in full and put into practice lessons learned from the Iraq invasion.
Far from restoring confidence in the Commons, the discourteous tone of the debate before backbenchers spoke more respectfully, and succinctly, actually managed to bring politics into disrepute, and polarise views still further, rather than allowing a broader consensus to be reached
Unlike the flawed decision-making which preceded the invasion of Iraq, Mr Cameron’s approach is legitimate in the eyes of international law.
Moving forward, David Cameron must use this Commons mandate wiselyAny action needs to protect, rather than undermine, Britain’s national security.
That remains the most important point of all.
And so it begins.