Nick Clegg answers Lib Dems’ questions on Syria

This afternoon, Nick Clegg answered questions put by Lib Dem members. The half hour interview, by Helen Duffett, is now available on YouTube.

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  • Why is the Coalition allowing exports of chemicals to countries like Syrian that can be used, as well as having an innocent use, for killing people ?

    Would have liked Clegg to answer that.
    Maybe one of his [admittedly few these days] supporters here will instead please.

    This report was only last month –

  • Most of this seems to be Clegg trying to justify action that both the public and Parliament have already rejected, which seems rather bizarre…

  • Eddie Sammon 30th Aug '13 - 10:56pm

    I will not be renewing my party membership because I think the party as a whole is too dishonest. Examples such as the above prove my point.

  • Nick – I’m a Quaker (and I trace my line back hundreds of years within my neighbourhood in the UK), and we supported asylum seekers into our country (which may have included some of your ancestors). That doesn’t mean we want to kill people in other countries regardless of the evidence you can summon up, so please don’t pluck our heart-strings to silence others.

  • If I was Syrian I’d probably want intervention, but I’m not sure it would have the effect I’d want it too.

  • Paul In Twickenham 31st Aug '13 - 8:13am

    I recommend Ambrose Evans-Pritchard’s article about Syria in today’s Telegraph. He neatly summarizes the multiple reasons for this debacle, and suggests what an alternative strategy might have looked like if British actions had not been dictated by Obama’s desire to take action before next week’s G20. As Mr. Evans-Pritchard says, you cannot let railway timetables dictate great-power diplomacy.

    As for the video above, I find it interesting that Mr. Clegg says that he will reluctantly bypass the UN because he thinks that there are so many countries prepared to participate – a “coalition of the willing”, if you will – that he is prepared to commit UK personnel and materiel.

  • Paul In Twickenham 31st Aug '13 - 8:29am

    Let me make a correction to my previous comment : it is my suggestion that Obama wants to act quickly for reasons of political expediency, Evans-Pritchard suggests it is driven by a desire to act before the Syrians have time to move the military targets.

  • Bill le Breton 31st Aug '13 - 9:11am

    What has been exposed in the last few days is that our party leader was actually willing to sacrifice what he believed was the best for the people of Syria in order to embarrass and do down Milliband.

    Please allow me to explain. Clegg and Co argued rightly that the Labour amendment was indistinguishable from the Government’s motion, but spent eight hours telling Labour to support their motion in the mistaken confidence that in doing so they would win the vote *and* skewer Milliband.

    Dare I say it, a Wilson or a Callaghan and possibly even a Major would have accepted the amendment and so got what they wanted (re Syria) if not what they also wanted (re Milliband)’ by isolating those across the Party spectrum who in the word’s of Adrian Sanders urge extreme caution and of thinking through ‘what next’ before ‘doing something’ for the sake of ‘doing something’.

    Now that to me was playing politics with the lives of the ordinary people of Syria.

    So, in their Parliamentary tactic Clegg and Cameron betrayed their own arrogance, hubris, political inexperience and ruthlessness in pursuit of political gain.

    This is a charge I think our Leader should answer.

  • Ray Cobbett 31st Aug '13 - 9:48am

    Perhaps Nick could have explained how loosing off yet more bombs on an already densely populated city whose military targets have been packed with civilians would help anybody.There’s the rank hypocracy of the US whose ‘shock and awe’ campaign cost over 100,000 lives often using shells containing depleted uranium and who ( probably) have the largest stock of chemical weapons in the world. My profound thanks to the MPs who maybe had the same thoughts. No I’m not a green pacifist but a former RAF guy who saw active service three times in his life.

  • Tony Dawson 31st Aug '13 - 1:03pm

    Bill le Bretton is at least half right. The Labour amendment was better-worded. A number of Tory MPs only voted for the Cameron motion because of loyalty – they have told anyone wanting to listen that they would vote against any motion requiring/mandating any genuine military action. But Labour was playing silly politics also, and given ammunition to do so by the poor wording of the ‘government'(sic) motion. Their main intention was to ‘bump out’ the Green amendment from the order paper which would have embarrassed Miliband by splitting the Labour Party vote, had it been voted on.

    The bottom line is that neither vote meant anything much but, having been piqued, David Cameron has spat his dummy out of the pram. Which says a lot about the State of UK politics today. 🙁

  • Bill le Breton 31st Aug '13 - 1:19pm

    Simon, I think you know me well enough not to suggest that I am in anyway absolving Labour. What you are describing is a debate in which each side says, “me first”, no “me first”, which I think makes my point. I believe an instinctive and sincere Liberal such as yourself would have said, “This is so important, if it is the way to get consensus , I’ll accept your amendment.”

    So, either the leadership couldn’t get that through our Coalition partner – in which case he is a poodle, or he is keeping quiet about his failure, or he did not try, in which case he is either tactically naive or is playing politics with the lives of people in Syria and in the surrounding region.

    Either way he is simply not up to the job of being either the leader of our great Party – with all its proud history campaigning for liberty – or the DPM of a liberal democracy.

    He has declared often that he wants a new politics – this has been his moment of trial and he has championed old and infantile politics.

    For the avoidance of doubt and for those who have not read anything else by me on this issue, I would have voted against the amendment and the motion.

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