Voting to bomb Syria: The morning after the night before

It’s worth remembering, that amidst all yesterday’s dodgy strategy, grandstanding and expropriation of crisis & party principle in Parliament, there was some real debate, challenge & ideas.

People grasped the complexity of the issues and why dutiful consideration was our collective responsibility. (Stand up Shabana Mahmood MP for Birmingham Ladywood. What a difference she is from her miserable predecessor!)

It wasn’t just the “finger-jabbing,” smug moral certitude and ineffectual protest of post-2003, though of course, there was plenty of that last night too.

It was illuminating to hear Tim Farron’s reference to Charles Kennedy and his honourable stand on Bosnia in the ‘90s, when faced by a similar triumph of expediency over principle. Then as now, a failure to bring an end to a reign of evil, and peace to a land of innocents.

But Karadzic and Milosevic went to The Hague in the end. And so will Assad and al-Baghdadi’s lieutenants, I hope. All of this is slim comfort to today’s victims of course, as it was to the victims – and victims then to come – of 2003 and 1993.

But the personal difference from 1993 is that I now have a wonderful, clever son. He was distressed as any of us at last night’s sophistry, but of course was seeing it all for the first time as a thinking, engaged adult.

Struggling to find comfort in a situation without any to hand, the best I could come up with was Churchill’s tender words to his own suffering citizenry in mid-war. That today was not the end, or even the beginning of the end. But it was perhaps the end of the beginning.

And today that’s where we are, I think. And we have a lot to do to make it right.

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