Friday, August 30, 2013

Well Done Graham Allen

Precedent plays a big role in parliamentary procedures. There was a tradition of Prime Ministers making use of Royal Prerogative powers to lead us into military conflicts, without the prior consent of parliament being required. This is the way that Tony Blair intended to act over the invasion of Iraq, until a campaign led by Graham Allen the MP for Nottingham North helped to change his mind. What happened is explained below in Graham's own words, as they appeared in Hansard. What he did meant that prior to the invasion of Iraq, Blair was pushed into seeking the support of the Commons for his intended actions. Which at least gave the opportunity for large numbers of Labour MPs to oppose the move, even though we failed to block the proposal.

When it came to the proposal to bomb Syria, David Cameron felt obliged to seek the support of the Commons for this probable line of action. The logic of having a coalition Government might have required him to do this anyway, but Graham Allen's precedent also helped considerably. The Prime Minister still enjoys the ability to resort to the use of the relevant Royal Prerogative Power in the future. But yesterday's defeat of the Government's proposals has further helped to ensure that future Government's are likely to feel the need for prior parliamentary permission before they lead us into military action. Well done Graham.

From Hansard of 13 June 2013, here is Graham explanation of the line he pursued in 2003 -  

"Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab): I was one of the organisers of the rebellion, and it was with great sadness that I rebelled against my party and my Prime Minister. Will my right hon. Friend concede that the vote was not gifted by the Government, but hard fought for? Many of us worked for many months to obtain the vote. Indeed, there was to be an alternative convening of Parliament in Church House, at which we would have had a critical mass, and only 48 hours before the Government conceded that there would be a vote. We had enough Members to convene a Parliament to discuss the Iraq war, and the former Speaker, Bernard Weatherill, was prepared to chair it. It would have included Members from across the House, including some very brave Conservative Members, Members from the Liberal party and friends from the smaller parties across the political spectrum. But 122 Labour Members voted on the first occasion, and indeed the numbers went up on the second vote, which is unheard of, given the whipping operation against those who did not want us to go to war. It was not a gift of the Government; it was hard fought for ".

Also, see here on the parliamentary arithmetic of yesterday's vote.


treborc said...

I wonder what the out come might have been if Iraq and Afghanistan had been better done, I suspect today we would have gone with the USA.

But I think the country is tired and I also think the way the government have attacked our Military with cuts and unemployment.

My MP stated she had many emails and phone calls and letters saying no and very few saying yes to action.

I also think Blair legacy will be a long time ending , people no longer trust MP's or government.

And that is down to Tony Blair who had a hansom, amount of money from the Iraq wars then went running after the dictators to make more.

Harry Barnes said...

We need a force run by the United Nations which can be sent into action under a sensible UN voting system in order to prevent mass slaughter, to protect refugees and to separate combatants where major conficts arise. We also need the UN to determine a peace plan across the Middle East which will entail a two-state solution for Isreal and Palestine. In the meantime nations wishing to tackle abuses in foreign territories, should give their priority to seeking to supply and deliver aid. Whilst also seeking to provide peace corridors for such ends. International agreement needs to be sort to further these more limited ends, until the UN's fuller role can be established. Such actions require widespread and co-ordinated international action.