Since the Syria motion defeat last week there has been a lot of over analysis of the impact that it has potentially had on David Cameron politically, both here and on the international stage. While there is no doubt that it is an incredibly difficult situation, it is really hard to sit back and let those innocent people die, it is equally as hard to take military action when so many unanswered questions still exist. Since the debate however, it seems that every detail has been analysed and discussed in an incredibly amount of detail, but there is one view that is often missed from the various political outlets- the impact that it has had on the public perception of Cameron.
While Cameron initially seemed to fully support military action, and in many ways still does publically, his decision was always going to be a risky one with Labour seeming to flip-flop and many of the Lib Dems and Tories prepared to rebel, he could never be certain that it would pass. Cynical as it may seem, Cameron would have done a risk assessment and prepared himself for its defeat, with the party undoubtedly in election mode, Cameron and his team would have known that whatever the outcome his he would gain from either. Perhaps however, he was undecided about which would benefit him most. While I don’t doubt for a second that Cameron was concerned for the population in Syria and would undoubtedly want to work for their best interests, his public perception would have definitely been considered and if he had been indecisive in the slightest parliament would of course help him decide.
Of course we are well aware by now that he did of course lose the vote and a result Cameron has done exactly what the majority of MPs and the public wanted, and that is going to do him wonders. It is important to point out, whatever the legitimacy of the Iraq war, Tony Blair never recovered from his decision with his popularity plummeting at an incredible speed. Although the Iraq motion did passing parliament back then, this time around and despite the amount of evidence that the Syrian regime were responsible for the attack, parliament were much more sceptical. It is important to point out that the protests reached this time around where nowhere near the same level as before, perhaps because of the previous sense of betrayal, but public opinion was widely against any sort of intervention. While Obama and Hollande might be disappointed and concerned that the UK will now take no part, it is after all the British public that will re-elect him again, not Hollande or Obama.
On the other hand there is of course the hypothetical situation, the one that might have happened had the motion passed. While his appeal would have been widened on the international stand and our alliance with America strengthened, the public would have reluctantly being dragged into another Middle Eastern war. In the short-term it might have considerably reduced his popularity but had the mission been successful , he might have had is “Falkland War” moment. Lets not forget that before the Falkland were Thatcher’s popularity was in a vast decline but afterwards it soared and debatably won her the 1983 election, hailed as the hero. Cameron might have imagined a similar fate, if military action was successful he could have claimed to have saved “those innocent children’s” lives. The impact will of course soon be seen and I am sure that the polls will be closely watched.
I want to add that our refusal to participate in military action does not meant we should leave Syria be and while all the leading nations are gathered around the G20 summit, all diplomatic issues should be fully explored as I suppose it will. Although Obama and increasingly likely Congress, seem to fully support military intervention, now while the opportunity has arisen there should be a full and frank debate over the options and every attempt should be made to avoid military intervention. With the increasing amount of evidence and the almost inevitable report that the UN weapon inspectors would give, Russia will be forced to acknowledge Assad’s guilt. With the world’s most influential countries sat together, pressure should be put on the Russians to acknowledge the guilt, stop supplying weapons and hopefully some progress can be made.