Parliament considers Syria

They have been debating the Syria bombing in the House of Commons over the last two days. This is Parliament’s page on the 2nd day of debates which is based on a motion put by Alice McGovern MP (Labour). Jeremy Corbyn instructed Labour to vote against, spoke against it and the debate is recorded in Hansard here, together with the voting record. The previous day, the Prime Minister made a statement to the house, the web page with links to the video and Hansard record is here…. I watched a couple of hours; it’s dispiriting stuff, the PM makes every other speech, and half the remainder are Tories and Labour’s Refusniks were out in force.

Here’s how the argument goes, the use of chemical weapons is a humanitarian crime, despite the fact that the two organisations responsible had not determined that such an attack had taken place, nor that military force was to be used, the Governments of the USA, France & the UK had decided that bombing targets in Syria was an appropriate & legal response.

Only the British Government has published its legal reasoning. They argue that Sovereigns have the right to make humanitarian interventions without permission from the UN. That would require the act of a chemical attack to have occurred and the western power’s action to have reduced the likelihood of further attacks.

The right to make such humanitarian interventions is controversial and has never been agreed by the UN nor any international court. The attack has not been confirmed by the international body designated as responsible, and it’s highly questionable if the actions will improve the lot of the Syrian people. This is why the claim to have degraded the chemical warfare capability of the Syrian Government is so important. Otherwise its just recreational!

The argument that the UN had failed to act because Russia was cheating does not give the Governments of the USA, UK & France the right to substitute their judgement for that of the Security Council. As Dapo Akande argues in his legal opinion for Tom Watson, if nothing else there’s always the UN’s Uniting for Peace process which is designed to deal with a deadlocked Security Council. The UN flawed as it is, is our only hope. The three governments have weakened its authority. A further option was as Corbyn says, to support the OPCW and continue to pressurise Russia by diplomatic means.

And they did it.

In the early hours of yesterday morning, the armed forces of US, UK & France bombed three Syrian Government sites. 😪

In the UK, there has and will be much comment on the Prime Minister’s lack of mandate both from the UN and from the UK Parliament.

Some more on Syria

This is the first time I have missed storify, I used it to capture inspirations for blogs but here’s a couple of things you might like to read on whether to bomb Syria. It seems that my cautious, only if legal line has some controversy amongst some friends.

The Guardian has some letters and comments in an article called “Syria, the west’s response and international law“, they report the Government’s response in calling for a robust response to Syria’s chemical weapons attack, which is also reported by the BBC

Corbyn has commented, arguing for a UN led approach.

And the Canary reports on a lawyer’s round robin published at Radio Free, which is interesting because it so clearly states the law.

I also found this, “When it comes to Middle East policy, the UK is nothing but a rogue state“, which, details a number of failings of the UK to honour it’s international legal commitments, from sanctions busting, to illegal weapons supply, and the use of “advisors” in war zones.

I also looked up what the UK did and thought over Gulf War II, and found this, this & this. While some are less clear than others, the following quote is from the Radio Free article

… military strikes by the United States of America and its allies against the Syrian Arab Republic, unless conducted in self-defense or with United Nations Security Council approval, are illegal …

must be central to what limits decent people.

Bombs away again

Bombs away again

Here we go again! What more do the warmongers want us to do in Syria? The RAF is already participating in the “coalition air intervention”. In 1944, the victorious powers of the 2nd World War created the United Nations, criminalised aggressive war and authorised the UN to determine if, when & how collective military action was required. The UN will not authorise revenge or punishment bombing raids, even if only the Russian veto stops it. The bellicose language used by Trump and the threatened Russian reaction are frightening. Our government should be arguing for restraint and the application of international law not colluding with this disaster.

Failing flanks and the new centrism

The Guardian recycles the story about forming a new centrist party and much of the comment is about whether this will damage Labour as the formation of the SDP did in the 1980’s. I wonder? One of Blair’s successes was picking up on the fact that the Tories had lost the trust of business. We are today in a world where British capital is losing faith in the Tories ability to represent them. The Tories, when they think about it at all, rather than their game of thrones, seem to think that the dilettante capitalism of the hedge funds, rentiers and speculators is all that counts. One can assume that this pro-capitalist force in society cannot see how to make an accommodation with Corbyn’s Labour but it’s their loss of faith that the Tories can give them what they need that is driving this.

On the Chakrabarti Inquiry

I had reason to have another look at the Chakrabarti report, you can imagine why. It saddens me deeply, that a such a well thought out & evidenced response to the allegations of antisemitic behaviour has not become the benchmark by which the Labour Party judges itself.

When I first read this, to me the implied allegation that the disciplinary process was unsafe because of the lack of professional legal time and latterly the exposure of the fact that the NCC (Judges & Jury) received little or no independent legal advice from the prosecution seemed to me to be possible the most important finding. After the last week, I am of the view that the gentle yet robust definition of unacceptable behaviour in terms of racism and the Party’s response is equally if not more important

However, for various reasons[1] the then NEC, decided not to bring the recommendations to conference in 2016. This was recognised as a partial mistake by both sides of the argument i.e. those that wanted harsher rules and those who wanted vanilla Chakrabarti since the rules were changed at Conference 17 to delete the “free speech” defence which would have previously prohibited disciplinary actions against any racists or misogynists. Successful prosecutions will remain difficult as the decisions to “do” Livingstone & Greenstein on “bringing the party into disrepute” and not on antisemitism or use of abusive language in the case of Greenstein prove because, despite having changed its rules at Conference 2017 any decisions are still potentially subject to judicial review.

We i.e. the Labour Party badly need the rest of the Chakrabarti Inquiry recommendations to offer certainty around behavioural acceptability, ensure proportionality in terms of penalty and guarantee a fair trial if things require it. In this, the intra-party sectarian delay, has served it poorly.

The benchmark by which we i.e. Labour judge ourselves should be the Chakrabarti report, not the IHRA definition.

ooOOOoo

In this case, there is more to read …..