Parliament should discuss another motion on Syria - former Norwich South MP Charles Clarke
PUBLISHED: 08:11 09 September 2013 | UPDATED: 08:11 09 September 2013
Parliament should be reconvened to discuss another Syria motion in the wake of David Cameron’s large number of stupid mistakes, the former home secretary has said.
The former Norwich South MP – who was in Tony Blair’s cabinet in 2003 when parliament voted to go into Iraq – said the idea that Britain should be saying it was nothing to do with Syria was “completely mad”.
His comments come after the prime minister lost a House of Commons vote which was a first step towards military intervention in the wake of a suspected chemical weapons attack by its president, Bashar al Assad.
“Cameron did not have to say after the vote ‘we get it’ and chuck it in,” Mr Clarke said.
“All he had to do was say ‘we hear the will of the house and we are clear they have rejected these two positions, we will now consider what we do and come back on Monday with another proposal’.”
He acknowledged the issue of Syria was an “extremely difficult question”, but said: “I felt the biggest failure he [David Cameron] had in his position was not to set out a clear goal of action. You have to have a strategic goal: trying to remove the chemical weapons; trying to intervene in the civil war in a particular direction; even regime change. You then have to decide how feasible is the goal. You might well say it is not feasible for reasons a, b and c and therefore we can’t do it.”
“As far as the UK is concerned, I absolutely don’t understand why parliament is not reconvened to discuss something of substance if there is something to discuss – only, of course, if there is something to discuss. But I definitely think parliament should be reconvened to discuss another motion, ideally with all party agreement about how we would involve ourselves and in what way.”
“The idea of saying we are not part of it and whatever is going on is going on and we are nothing to do with it is completely mad.”
He also said suggestions that trust in the government had been damaged by the legacy of Iraq was “false analysis”.
“The failure on Iraq was the failure after the military conflict to follow up and deal with the conflict in a different way. People then made the ‘trust’ comparison: ‘You can never trust a government’. I don’t believe it is true. I don’t think that is a correct analysis,” he said. “I think Labour got itself into a mess partly because of the Iraq position.
“I think Ed has been too critical of the legacy of the Blair government over the period –particularly on Iraq.
“It is right to say mistakes were made, and it’s right to set them out – but the general thinking ‘it is all awful’ is not taking things forward.”
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