British Imperialism was damaged last night. The vote against another imperialist war in the Middle East was in the end a result of the opposition to such adventures that is now prevalent amongst the British working-class after Iraq. That opposition made itself felt as pressure on MP's of all parties. The fact that British Imperialism was weakened also weakened to an extent US Imperialism that has used British support as cover in the past. That is good news for the global working-class, because a weakened Imperialism means a weakened global capitalist class. But, if British Imperialism was damaged, David Cameron himself was fatally wounded.
In recent months, it has been clear that Cameron has no control over his party. The right-wing of the Tories have pushed increasingly for a more narrowly nationalistic policy over Europe, and policies even more attuned to the interests of the small capitalist base they represent. The success of UKIP in drawing votes away from that base has pressured them even more, and forced Cameron into increasing moves to the Right. In part, that same narrow-nationalist focus was partly behind the attitude of some Tory right wingers in opposing another war. That small-capital base they represent is more concerned with keeping taxes down than with fitting in with the global strategic ambitions of Imperialism.
Cameron is only likely to see increasing challenges to his leadership on such issues from those same backbenchers who were unhappy with his leadership. But, also one of his only lines of attack against Ed Miliband over recent months has been to claim that he was a weak leader. Having become the first Prime Minister to fail to get the backing of Parliament to fight a war in 200 years, having failed largely because of the fact that large numbers of his own party voted against him, he can hardly throw those stones from the position of the glass house he now occupies.
Not only Cameron was damaged. Nick Clegg and the Liberal leadership have become indistinguishable from the Tories. Some of them, like Danny Alexander, are if anything more Tory than the Tories. They have been branded with the mark of Cain now as much as Cameron. The kudos they previously had in opposing the Iraq War was lost when they supported the war against Libya, but yesterday was worse for them, because they stood shoulder to shoulder with Cameron and the other warmongers, and lost. As with every other aspect of Government policy the liberals will suffer for it at the next election.
It is not as though the position adopted by Ed Miliband and labour was particularly radical anti-imperialism – though it was a far better position than the usual pro-imperialist, pro-jihadist position adopted by the AWL. As usual, the AWL refused to oppose the war plans of imperialism, even bragging about the failure to adopt that basic position for socialists, and thereby put themselves again on the side of the imperialists by default, and the side of the vile jihadists who will be the ones to benefit from the bombs raining down on the people of Syria, just as they have done in Iraq, and Libya. In fact, watching the debate yesterday, many of the Tory backbenchers had a better stance than that adopted by the AWL, which is an indication of just what a pathetic gang they have become.
In fact, Labour's amendment also fell. Some Labour MP's refused to support it because they rightly believed it left the door open to Labour supporting intervention at some point in the future. Tories undoubtedly voted against it, because although they were prepared to vote against Cameron, they were not prepared to vote for Labour. But, it also appears that Miliband changed his original position because he faced opposition from within the party for a position that seemed too friendly to Cameron.
The weakening of Cameron and British Imperialism, and the fact that Miliband was forced to stiffen his position should give heart to the British working-class. We should utilise it to oppose other aspects of Liberal-Tory policy, and demand that Miliband stiffen his position of opposition to austerity and other attacks on British workers.