2 Dec 2015

Syria debate: converts unlikely after leaders’ speeches

I’m pretty sure David Cameron didn’t win any converts with his speech.

It’s harder after Tony Blair’s gifted advocacy left so many MPs with buyers’ remorse.

But it wasn’t a compelling piece of rhetoric in any case, and it was hard for him to find any rhythm with a barrage of challenges from MPs demanding he apologise for his remarks at the 22 Committee last night (when he suggested the anti-war lobbies would have some “terrorist sympathisers” in them tonight).

He repeatedly dodged a full apology and that just fed the attacks.

When Jeremy Corbyn responded, he was barracked by Tory MPs trying to intervene and refusing to give up on their efforts.

Again, I’d be amazed if anyone was converted by the strength of his argument or the power of his oratory.

It’s striking how many Labour centre-right MPs are opposing military action: Liam Byrne, Sir Gerald Kaufman and, still to come, many London MPs who, some argue, feel the pressure of Corbynistas on their local party especially acutely.

Stella Creasy has tweeted that she had to leave the chamber to check on the well-being of her office staff who were taking abusive calls. She’s said she’ll make her mind up at the end of the debate.

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