TORY Prime Minister Theresa May was determined on Monday to avoid a substantive vote in Parliament on ‘her right’ to go to war and bomb Syria any time she likes.
This was despite the opposition to the attack launched last Friday, opposition that included a large number of Tory MPs concerned that many of their constituents had contacted them urging opposition to the war.
But on Monday the minority Tory government tore up all previous conventions about Parliament representing the sovereign will of the people by deliberately avoiding a substantive vote on the action.
At the end of Monday’s lengthy debate, the SNP forced a vote on the question of whether Parliament had sufficiently debated the whole question of the bombing of Syria. Incredibly, every single Labour MP, with the exception of Dennis Skinner, abstained on this vote with the government winning by 314 votes to 26.
In other words, if Labour had not abstained and joined with the SNP May could have lost the vote and the whole question of forcing her resignation would have been posed immediately. By packing up and going home Corbyn and the Labour Party let May escape by the skin of her teeth.
Faced with the huge anger of the majority of the population that May has been given a free pass by Labour to ignore Parliament, tear up all previous conventions and launch military action purely at her own discretion, Corbyn was forced to rush to the Speaker of the House, John Bercow, and request an emergency debate yesterday on the rights of Parliament to vote on military actions overseas.
Basically, the motion was to establish in legislation the convention that May tore up last Friday that Parliament alone has the right to authorise military action. This convention was reinforced by David Cameron in 2013 when he sought the approval of Parliament to launch airstrikes against Syrian government forces, again, on the unfounded pretext that chemical weapons had been used by President Assad.
Cameron suffered a humiliating defeat and was forced to withdraw despite having a large Parliamentary majority. Determined not to suffer a similar humiliation May, who leads a weak minority government, was determined not to even bother with conventions. A defeat would have spelt the end for her and her hated government.
By abstaining on Monday night Corbyn ensured her survival, and it was only the overwhelming anger of the vast majority of the population that forced him to seek yesterday’s debate. In the end, the Tories mustered a majority yesterday to defeat Corbyn with 256 for and 317 against his emergency motion.
Once again, Labour MPs have let this weak, divided Tory government off the hook to carry on with its war against workers abroad and at home. This is on the same day that they earned the hatred of millions of workers for the treatment meted out to legal residents of Britain by none other than Theresa May herself.
May was forced to make an apology yesterday to Caribbean leaders over the treatment of people and their descendants who came to Britain after the Second World War and who have been detained and threatened with deportation back to the West Indies despite the fact that they have lived here perfectly legally for decades.
The racist immigration laws that have led to this grotesque situation were passed two years ago when May was Home Secretary. Labour MPs may be quite content to engage in lengthy debates with the Tories in Parliament, debates that end up changing nothing while making sure that they don’t take any real action to bring this government down, but the working class is many times more angry with May and her government and determined to kick them out.
Now that May has rendered Parliament nothing more than a talking shop, the working class must take its own independent action by demanding the TUC call a general strike to bring down this hated May government and go forward to a workers government and socialism.