Croydon’s Tory MPs vote for war; Reed progresses own cause

The voice of the British public was ignored last night in Parliament by Croydon's three MPs. Steve Reed claims that his constituency feedback on the issue was "inconclusive"

The voice of the British public was ignored last night in Parliament by Croydon’s three MPs. Steve Reed claims that his constituency feedback on the issue was “inconclusive”

How did Croydon’s three MPs vote in last night’s historic Parliamentary debate on military action in Syria? WALTER CRONXITE counted them all out, and counted them back in again

With one a Tory Government whip and one a Westminster new boy eager to impress his Bullingdon club bosses, it is no surprise that Conservative MPs Gavin Barwell, of Croydon Central, and Chris Philp, of Croydon South, last night voted with the Tory proposal to bomb the shit out of Syria, without any sustainable ground force to deal effectively with Daesh, no matter the “collateral damage”, and however our military action may radicalise those who suffer the impact of the West’s not-so-smart-bombs.

Both Barwell and Philp made an effort to inform their constituents immediately of how they had voted, though neither has managed to explain how bombing the enemies of President Assad last night (RAF fighter-bombers took off from British bases in Cyprus within an hour of the vote in the Commons) represents any sort of cogent military strategy or foreign policy, just two years after their party leader, David Cameron, wanted Britain to bomb Assad.

But what of Steve Reed OBE, the vice-chair of Progress and MP for Lambeth South? Now here is the perfect example of a curate’s egg of a careerist MP, wanting to have their bombing cake and yet still avoid deselection…

Reed had been asked what his voting intentions might be. Several times. As one voter in what is sometimes known as Croydon North said last night, “He refused to answer constituent questions on the issue earlier in the week.” And amid the confusion of the Westminster lobbies, it was at first unclear how Reed had voted.

Steve Reed OBE: voted with the Tory Government. And couldn't bring himself to vote against them

Steve Reed OBE: voted with the Tory Government. And couldn’t bring himself to vote against them

Philp, still keen and eager, helpfully tweeted last night: “I walked through the lobby with Steve.”

At first, this was interpreted as Reed having voted for the Government motion. But as the Parliamentary dust settled, it emerged that Reed had voted with the Tories against an amendment tabled by John Baron, but when it came to the substantive motion over whether his country should send our young men and women into war, Croydon’s only Labour MP effectively opted to tick the box “don’t know”, and abstained.

Barwell, who as a teller had the task of reading out the voting scores to the House after the historic vote, described Reed’s abstention as “bizarre”.

This was John Baron’s amendment to the Government’s motion for war, on which Reed voted against:

“while welcoming the renewed impetus towards peace and reconstruction in Syria, and the Government’s recognition that a comprehensive strategy against Daesh is required, [this House] does not believe that the case for the UK’s participation in the ongoing air campaign in Syria by 10 countries has been made under current circumstances, and consequently declines to authorise military action in Syria”.

Baron, the Conservative MP for Billericay, is a long-standing sceptic of Middle East interventionism, and he managed to get cross-party support for his amendment from six parties, including the SNP and Labour. But not from Steve Reed.

Reed claims that he canvassed the opinion of 7,000 people on his Croydon North database, and that he received replies from 700 of them – a high response rate, indicative of how animated the public feels about the issue. All opinion polls suggest that the public, and Labour Party supporters, are overwhelmingly opposed to Britain embarking on military action in Syria. But Reed has claimed that in his straw poll, the “result was inconclusive with no clear majority one way or another”. This assertion is easily tested…

It was not until breakfast time today that Reed offered this explanation for his “bizarre” voting in Parliament: “The security of people here in the UK must be the Government’s top priority.  ISIL have already made several attempts to launch attacks against British people at home and abroad.  The only way to eliminate this threat is to defeat ISIL completely.   Targeted airstrikes are undoubtedly a part of that.  However, airstrikes will fail to defeat ISIL if they are not supported by action to cut off ISIL’s funding and supply lines, and they need to be supported by properly armed and led ground troops from countries in the region.

Gavin Barwell, left, with his fellw tellers, as he read the result of the vote last night. He described Reed's voting as "bizarre"

Gavin Barwell, left, with his fellow tellers, as he read the result of the vote last night. He described Reed’s voting as “bizarre”

“Neither option of voting for or against the Government motion reflected that view.  Since I could not vote against airstrikes which may be necessary but could also not vote for an incomplete strategy, I denied the Government my support by abstaining.”


Sources in Lambeth suggest that the Corbyn-supporting Momentum group is furious with the Streatham MP, Chukka Umunna, for voting in favour of airstrikes. In other parts of the country, Momentum has been calling for the de-selection of Labour MPs who have been openly disloyal to the party leader. In Croydon, the presence of Momentum has thus far been subterranean. Might Reed’s “bizarre” conduct last night prompt them to emerge from their underground existence?

“That’s the trouble with fence-sitting,” one source from the north of the borough said today of Reed’s abstaining. “You end up with splinters.”

“At a stroke, he’s managed to piss off his Progress supporters and his gay networks equally,” said another.

And a Westminster source said, “He may not have felt obliged to support an amendment with a strong involvement of a Tory backbencher and the SNP. But his party leader voted for it, as did the likes of David Lammy, fellow south London MPs Clive Efford and Kate Hoey, and Labour’s London Mayor candidate, Sadiq Khan.

“In the end, Reed’s voting with the Government and then abstaining comes across as weak and confused.

“Do we really want to send an MP to Westminster who expresses no view in the division lobbies on the substantive motion of whether the country goes to war?”

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11 Responses to Croydon’s Tory MPs vote for war; Reed progresses own cause

  1. Duona says:

    I don’t agree.

    The only thing that’s bizarre is Gavin Barwell’s pathetic attempt to deflect his woeful and slavish “toe the party line at any cost to human lives” on to Steve Reed, who asked his constituents, listened and did the right thing by not voting for bombing.

  2. He saved his bacon chaps that’s all. There is nothing wrong with that. He had to listen to his boss. There is a difference between bombing Syria and bombing terrorists in Syria.

    Though I support the government on this issue I don’t think Mr Reed could have voted with the government. The ruthless lefties are trying to deselect those who disagreed with them. It happens in other parties too.

  3. declare2 says:

    The latest YouGov poll on whether or not to extend bombing operations to Syria (remember we are already bombing them in Iraq and they don’t recognise the border) is 48% in favour 31% against.
    I would suggest that YouGov with it’s vast database of people from all over the UK is far better able to gauge public opinion than this website which is only read by a small number of people from one corner of South London, most of whom are from the political left.

    • Funnily enough, the 7,000 people on Steve Reed’s constituency database whom he canvassed on the issue also represent “a small number of people from one corner of South London, most of whom are from the political left”. It is they whom Reed purports to represent. Our polling of a far larger number of people, from a wider area of this “corner” of south London, is probably just as representative.

      And given YouGov’s recent record in accurately gauging public opinion, we’re quite confident that our piece of journalistic polling will provide a good indication of the sort of response which Reed received before opting not to oppose the bombing campaign.

      • farmersboy says:

        Also Reed’s constituency is far more diverse than the nation as a whole. If you look at any poll of Muslims or indeed any ethnic group the vote against is huge. Mr Reed has a duty to them as well so it isn’t just the left he’s ignored

  4. You can’t please everyone. Would you like Mr Reed to ask every single constituent and please them all?

    I think he did the right thing as he was not sure if it is right to bomb the terrorists who want us to do what they want or not to bomb them to please some of his constituents.

    In a free vote it doesn’t have to be “Yes” or “No”.

    At least he didn’t get elected as a Labour MP and vote with the Tories.

    If all politicians listen to a small group of constituents there won’t be political leaders and political parties. Majority of the constituents only vote for the party.

    Corbyn did the right thing because he believed in not supporting military action against another country.

    Cameron did the right thing because he wanted to destroy the terrorists.

    Steve Reed did the right thing because he did not want to vote for the Tories and at the same time he also listened to his constituents and not the small group of people who probably bothered to reply to his letter or email.

    Gavin Barwell did the right thing too.

    An MP cannot please everyone.

    • Patrick: Reed said he consulted 7,000 of his constituents, so it was his initiative, not ours. Our guess, though, is that despite having 700 responses, he probably ignored the bulk of them.

      Yes, he was elected as a Labour MP. And yes, on Wednesday night, he voted with the Tories (against the amendment).

      An MP’s job, in a democracy, is to represent the views of the majority of their constituents. Not to opt to vote tactically, in the hope it might prolong their own “here today, gone tomorrow” politician’s career.

  5. farmersboy says:

    Reed still thinks he’s got a job for life cos Corbyn won’t last until the next election, but just in case…
    Or Blair must have been engaged when Mr Reed called him for instructions

  6. Steve Reed’s question to us was ; we should continue to bomb Iraq or we should also bomb Syria. hardly a choice.

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