In August 2013, Labour’s Ed Miliband led his party in voting along with Conservative backbenchers to block any military option in the UK’s response to Assad’s chemical weapons massacre.
Since then the Violations Documentation Center in Syria has listed 23,255 civilians killed. (A minimum count of confirmed violent deaths; the true total is certain to be significantly higher.)
Since then, untold numbers have lost limbs in bombing and artillery attacks.
Since then, Assad’s forces have carried on using chemical weapons attacks, repeatedly bombing civilians with chlorine gas weapons.
Since then, aerial attacks by Assad’s air force have surged, killing at least 8,663 civilians by a minimum count.
Since then, Ed Miliband and his Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander have said as little as possible on Syria. What they have said has seemed wholly disconnected from reality: promoting the doomed Geneva II talks as “Syria’s best chance for securing peace,” calling on the Government to admit “just a few hundred refugees” out of the over 3 million that have fled Syria, and, after the US attacked ISIS in Syria, calling for a UN Security Council resolution that they knew would be doomed and that they themselves seemed to think legally unnecessary.
I’ve heard it suggested that the Labour leadership never expected to win the August 2013 vote, but if they have since regretted the consequences they have never said so publicly, nor done anything to turn things around by building cross-party unity behind a more effective policy.
And so the killing goes on. What can we expect the tallies to be on 7 May 2015? And how will the British electorate weigh this disastrous foreign policy performance in opposition when judging Labour’s competency for power?
• Related post: A letter to Ed Miliband