One of the more remarkable exchanges of today’s PMQs was the intervention by John Woodcock towards the end of the session. He surprised colleagues by calling the failure to intervene in Syria ‘shameful’:
‘This week marks three years since the bloodshed began in Syria. More than two and a half million people have fled the country and the dead can no longer even be counted. We must all bear responsibility for our shameful failure to intervene. But they are supposed to be the ones – they are supposed to be the ones running the country. So what renewed effort will his government make to end the slaughter before all hope fails?’
It’s worth noting that Woodcock supported Labour’s amendment but did not vote on the government motion on Syria. But afterwards, Labour sources were asked what they made of the suggestion that failure to intervene was ‘shameful’. A source replied: ‘We stopped the rush to war… it was David Cameron who took military action off the table.’
This is strange: Labour voted against the government motion, which led to David Cameron ruling out military action. Yet Miliband’s aides seemed to be suggesting that they were disappointed that he had ruled out military action in those dramatic late night scenes in the Commons. They also reminded us that the Labour leader supported action in Libya, arguing that military action should be taken when all the proper conditions have been met and with international engagement.