THE ‘sovereign will’ of parliament was shown to be a complete fiction with the exposure of the participation of British pilots in bombing raids conducted in Syria.
A Freedom of Information request submitted by the human rights group, Reprieve, reveals that Tory ministers, the Ministry of Defence and the military have been conspiring behind the backs of parliament, and in defiance of parliamentary decisions, to join in with airstrikes carried out by the US, Canada and France.
Around 20 British military personnel, including three pilots actually flying these bombing missions, are involved. All of these personnel are ‘embedded’ in the military machines of these countries and are subject not to the laws and decisions of the British parliament but to the decisions made by the governments of these ‘allies’, according to the British government.
According to a MoD spokesman, British forces embedded with the armed forces of the US, Canada and France operate ‘as if they were the host nation’s personnel, under that nation’s chain of command’.
In other words, it doesn’t matter a damn what the British parliament decides, the military and government have found a way to disregard it entirely in order to obey the orders of their imperialist masters in the US who are running the whole bombing campaign. This campaign, ostensibly aimed at ISIS in Syria, is in reality part of the drive for the military defeat of Syrian forces and to effect regime change through the overthrow of President Assad.
In 2013, the British parliament, by an overwhelming majority, voted against any military action in Syria. It was a disastrous defeat for the Tory-led coalition that reflected the massive opposition of the working class and middle class to any more imperialist wars in the region.
In the new parliament, with its slender Tory majority, Cameron is proposing a new vote to authorise military action in Syria, this time confident of the support of the Labour Party right wing, eager to prove itself a willing partner in murderous imperialist adventures.
It now turns out that any debate in parliament or any subsequent vote on bombing the living daylights out of Syria, in defiance of the legal government of Assad, which has strenuously opposed all bombing campaigns on its soil, is completely irrelevant.
A Reprieve lawyer, Jennifer Gibson, said the documents obtained by them showing that British military forces have already been involved in bombing Syria makes ‘the current debate over whether Britain should carry out such strikes somewhat obsolete’.
That’s putting it mildly. It’s not just the debate over bombing Syria that has been rendered obsolete but the entire facade of bourgeois parliamentary democracy that has been torn up and thrown in the dustbin. Even Tory MPs, who naively believe in the concept of ‘democracy’, have voiced their shock at this blatant act of defying the vote in 2013, complaining it showed ‘insensitivity to Parliament’s will’.
In fact, the Tories and the capitalist state have been caught out, showing a contemptuous two fingers to ‘Parliament’s will’ as they pursue the overriding interests of imperialism. In the pursuit of these interests, the capitalist class and its parliamentary representatives are quite prepared to ignore and subvert parliamentary democracy while all the time insisting that workers must obey to the letter all the laws passed in parliament.
The ruling class are demanding that the working class meekly submit to laws that make strikes virtually illegal and threaten imprisonment for pickets while their own law-breaking and contempt for bourgeois democracy are dismissed out of hand, with a former chief of air staff urging MPs ‘not to make a huge issue of it’. For the working class this is a huge issue.
If the capitalist class are prepared to dispense with bourgeois democracy in pursuit of their class aims, the working class must likewise prepare to dispense with the sham of bourgeois democracy through demanding that the TUC call an immediate general strike to kick out the Tories and replace them with a workers’ government that will bring in real workers’ democracy through socialism.