Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Syria vote

So the Prime Minister and the Cabinet failed to persuade the Hous eof Commons to back military action in Syria. Mr Macaroon will not, at least yet, be able to play war games with the lives of British militray personnel and any Syrians who happen to get in the way.

I was both surprised and pleased by this vote. It is the first such rejection of military action by the Commons since 1782. It is a valuable reminder that we still have checks and balances that work in our constitutional arrangements. 

If it has damaged the Prime Minister then he has only himself to blame for it. We shall have to see if he will learn from the experience. 

I saw in yesterday's Times a report that, following his insistance on a second vote before military action, a spokesman for No 10 and FO source described Ed Milliband as " f****** c*** and a copper-bottomed s***." It is good to see the Government's continuing commitment to the niceties of diplomatic language.

The speech by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Lords, expressing opposition to action and drawing attention to the plight of Syrian Christians, was a good example of one of the continuing advantages of an Established Church with the right and position to express criticism.

The other day I saw a letter in one of the quality papers, supporting military action with the use of a bizarre historical precedent to make the writer's case, and really of quite surpassing daftness, from someone I used to know. Next time I see them I am sorely tempted to point out my criticisms of their letter. Until then, however, and for my own self serving reasons, I will not identify them.

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