Now then, Syria. Missiles. Hot air.
Not for the first time in recent years the RAF has been ordered to deliver WMDs upon the Eastern region. As usual there is a massive wave of opinion sweeping the UK, and equally as usual much of that opinion is polarised. These days we have 24hr news channels which rush to show interviews with just about anyone. Sadly much of our television news coverage is biased. Print media is worse, and when the subject matter is bombing other sovereign countries, political bias really is not useful at all. No disguising it though, a huge percentage of the stuff aired everyday is and will continue to be carefully tailored to suit the particular bias of the particular news company.
I took a call yesterday from a BBC producer who wanted me to be on a daily news show this morning, me being me I put forward that I regard the BBC as being a part of the Tory party PR arm, the conversation did not go well from that point and the required interest in me stopped abruptly. Maybe I was a bit naive there, I do not really know, however, I would rather not involve myself in any sort of potentially biased coverage of such a weighty issue. This is how I see it, If you are not absolutely convinced of the validity of what you have to say, then do not say it.
Quite simple and straight forward that really, it is a fundamental requirement of getting things right.
So, public opinion, people automatically assume that it is the great rudder of the mighty ship Britannia. Here is some news, it is not. The current way of things seems to be that once a Government is in office, it can choose to operate in the way that it sees fit. Public opinion is there to leaned on when it fits the narrative, otherwise they just press on, and do not actually include public opinion in the equation. Things do change in the run up to General Elections, which is where the media puppets play their roles.
Opinion is one thing, Fact is another. At times of war opinion really should not count for much at all. Regarding Syria the facts are rather scarce.
Lets go into the nuts and bolts of the legalities.
So far as domestic law and the UK Parliament, it can be said that there is no constitutional requirement for any Government to consult with MPs before instigating hostile military operations. That may well be unpalatable to many, however it is unwise to assume anything else.
Or is it?
It seems to be the case that the Govt is putting forward that there is no statutory obligation to consult Parliament, so therefore there is no constitutional obligation.
Huge point that one. Before we progress this, let us remember that Cameron did indeed consult in 2013 on the issue of bombing Syria, lost the vote and stood down. If nothing else, this sets a precedent (or it seems to me that it does), I am very puzzled as to why much more is not being made of this across our politically coloured airwaves.
Does Statutory override Constitutional? if it does (I am no Barrister) then why have a Constitution in the first place? Constitutional Conventions come into the picture at this point. Age old things which have taken many years to evolve, Often dark and murky in origin, and to be truthful they rarely see the light of day. However, it is very definitely the case that the Government is aware of them, and has dipped into them when, again, it suited their narrative. For example, they used this mechanism to put the boot into the House of Lords after losing a vote relating to tax credits in 2015, by strange coincidence that particular Convention is called the "Salisbury Convention". It boiled down to them trying to establish that The Lords had no right to obstruct manifesto policies.
So, when it suits, Conventions are just fab, when it does not??
So, every time you hear "there is no statutory obligation", call it into question, it is not black and white, it is a very grey area, which is being exploited to the full to make a small executive group appear to be beyond the Law. Then, think to yourself about the individuals who form that particular "untouchable" group. My suggestion, any such group really should comprise of members of all the main political parties. We are not playing games here. Another point which needs making, Mr Blair DID consult, another precedent? It damn well should be. Something else to remember , only last year the Tories got caught out trying to establish mechanisms to take Parliament out of any big decisions, the Henry VIII powers fiasco. They had to climb down and it certainly has turned out to be just a sign of things to come.
As for International Law, it is again, not black and white. For any powerful laws to be effective, those affected by them have to accept acting in the spirit of them. That again, is enormous.
There is provision for Governments to act without a mandate from the UN. Involving helping a population that is being battered by its own leaders. Under such circumstances, if an attack is deemed to be "imminent" outside forces can indeed intervene. All this is right and proper. Straight off the bat here I have to ask, did the Tories know that an attack was "imminent"? I rather doubt that. Another huge requirement of that provision is that the oppressed be under attack from their own leaders, there is reasonable doubt that Assad was responsible for the latest atrocity. I detest Assad, I detest chemical weapons, I detest terrorism. None of which is relevant here. FACTS are the only things which should be. There are many glaring faults with the video which is saturating our screens just now, the one where children are being hosed down. I have watched a video of a Dr from that hospital who is ACTUALLY IN THAT FILM.
He says that those who rushed in and started doing all that dramatic stuff did not work at that hospital an indeed were NOT medical professionals. Children are shown having heart monitor sensors hurriedly stuck onto them in the wrong places, they would not function if attached like that, they would not pick up a signal. Nobody is wearing protective gloves, whilst trying (supposedly) wash away the residual chemicals. It goes on and on.
So, International Law enables intervention. Based upon there being no other course of action which could result in ending the brutality, coupled with an ongoing and unacceptable level of that brutality. This again leaves much to be desired re the Syria situation. The whole thing is sunk by Trump and his childish tweets. Giving the world notice days ago that the "nice new shiny missiles" were coming. Why in those intervening days did the leading Governments not echo the need for something other than missiles to be tried? Actually, such a thing was in motion. The OPCW were on the case. Here is a thing, the very presence of the OPCW would certainly have stopped any further supposed attacks. Thus negating the legal loophole to enable outside forces intervention.
This is truly staggering. On the very day the "shiny and powerful" missiles rained down, the OPCW were due to start an independent investigation into the whole sorry mess.
Try as I might I can not come up with a reasonable explanation for leap frogging that and launching hostile military action. If you have one I would be glad to hear it.
Lets summarise this. It is clear that Mrs May has no regard for the machinations of Parliament. It is clear that Trump has no regard for the UN or any other trains of thought other than his own. By America first he actually means "America Only".
We are now graphically aware that in certain political quarters democracy and laws are there to be toyed with when it suits.
At times of war this is unacceptable lunacy. May stands accused of the worst form of Megalomania. AGAIN.