MPs are currently undertaking a 10 hour debate on the motion of bombing Daesh in Syria. Last night David Cameron called Jeremy Corbyn and anyone who decides to vote against the government motion to begin bombing – to paraphrase – a “bunch of terrorist sympathisers”. As you can imagine many people were incredibly unhappy about this!
As of 12:30pm today, one hour into the Syria debate, Cameron has been asked TWELVE times to retract his offensive comments from last night. It seems that MPs are not happy about being called Terrorist Sympathisers, nor are thousands of people who stand with Corbyn in opposing bombing.
Some (predictable) commentators are complaining that, by repeatedly asking for a retraction of Cameron’s comments, MPs are “wasting the allotted time for debate on trivialities”, but it’s important to look at the comments from a wider, less-blinkered viewpoint.
Cameron’s “terrorist sympathisers” slur is many things: It’s incredibly offensive, wilfully untrue and woefully cynical. But most of all this kind of language is a dangerously leading piece of political game-playing. Cameron knew exactly what he was doing last night when he made those comments and it wasn’t just a jibe thrown at his opponents.
By branding Corbyn and those who support him or plan to vote with him against bombing Syria as “terrorist sympathisers” from outisde the House of Commons does two things: One, it assures there is no parliamentary fallout of such insulting and smearing language. If he’d used that kind of insult in the House Cameron wouldn’t be able to dodge the backlash as there are strict rules about such denigrating language – members have been suspended for less!
And two, the kind of language used – the connotations of such words, especially in conjunction with similar (or same) words used about Jeremy Corbyn by right-wing media in recent months – was deliberately chosen to strike at the reactive, knee-jerk centres of the brains of those so easily-swayed by extreme and leading language. Now, regardless of whether he apologises or not, those voting against bombing Syria will subconsciously be linked to terrorist sympathy.
It IS important that he puts on record a retraction of his comments, whether he clarifies or not in the Commons today – already Cameron has said that “a vote either way is honourable”… He’s such a disingenuous snake. If he doesn’t retract his comments then it must be seen by us all that he stands by them.
And if, as must be the case, he does stand by the assertion that those voting to oppose bombing in Syria are “terrorist sympathisers” (as he is doing by not retracting) and if he does believe that “a vote either way is honourable” (as he must for he said so in the Commons, where misleading comments are a massive no-no) then a conclusion must be made.
It must be concluded that our Prime Minister David Cameron, based on the two above statements made last night and today, thinks that terrorist sympathisers act honourably. Is this the message Cameron wishes us to take away from his statements? Yes, it’s a leap of logic – even a heavy-handed obfuscation of fact – but then, so were Cameron’s original comments.
Whatever the outcome of this, whether David Cameron offers a retraction and apology for his vile and leading slurs, one thing is for certain: Those who vote today – however they vote – should do so based on what they believe is the right thing to do. History will judge them accordingly, as it has with Iraq.