Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Imagine a parliament that debated.

There's a debate today in the British House of Commons on a government resolution to expand the bombing in Syria and Iraq. Significant numbers of Labor MPs on the opposition benches have been declaring they will vote with the government on this question. Meanwhile, a Conservative MP's amendment opposing the government's plan is awaiting a vote.

The dissidents in either party may be unpopular with their leaders for a while, and perhaps with some of their own constituents too, but none will be expelled from caucus or otherwise silenced. In functioning parliamentary democracies, occasional differences of opinion among MPs are understood to be an essential part of the process of representative democracy.

Is there really no Liberal MP in Canada who now supports continued bombing in Syria by Canadian forces, or no one in the opposition who opposes it? We'll never hear from them, that's pretty certain.

Update, December 3: Sixty-six Labor MPs supported the Conservative government's bombing motion. (Labour had made it a free vote for its MPs.)  Seven Conservatives opposed their government's motion. (The Conservatives had made it a party discipline measure, a "whipped" vote.)

Update, December 4:  An indicator how how much parliaments and governments are being jerked on ISIS's chain: Two weeks before the Paris shootings, a British Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee (6 conservatives, 4 Labor, one ScotNat) concluded:
there should be no extension of British military action into Syria unless there is a coherent international strategy that has a realistic chance of defeating ISIL and of ending the civil war in Syria. We consider that the focus on the extension of airstrikes against ISIL in Syria is a distraction.
A handful of gunmen shoot up a Western city, and suddenly the RAF is back to turning over the rubble in Raqqa.

Image: Guardian

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