Daily Archives: September 11, 2013

Kiran Stacey

David Cameron

This brief stint when parliament returns from its summer break only to depart again two weeks later for party conferences is a slightly strange innovation. Its main purpose is to help the government get through its agenda (the lobbying bill is being pushed through parliament at the moment, for example), but it also helps set the mood of all three parties as they head towards their annual get-togethers.

For a leader who has enjoyed a relatively good summer, it is a chance to use that as a rallying point and gain extra momentum before conference. For one who has had a difficult one, the emphasis must be on scoring a couple of quick hits to give the troops some hope at least.

Ed Miliband has had a difficult summer, as a complete lack of direction from Labour HQ saw the government dominate the news agenda. But he was given a reprieve in the form of the prime minister’s botched Syria vote, which made it appear briefly that Miliband was more influential in forming foreign policy than the prime minister. 

Jim Pickard

Labour and the Tories are both already taking some credit for the fast-evolving situation at the United Nations, where Russia is seeking an initiative to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control.

The rapid diplomacy in New York has seen the US put on hold plans to take military action in response to the chemical weapons attack last month that Washington claims killed more than 1,400 people.

So, presuming that Syria does go ahead and hand in its chemical weapons – which is a big if – whose position is vindicated: David Cameron or Ed Miliband?

(The negotiations are still on a tripwire with Moscow and Washington disagreeing over whether to maintain the threat of military action against Damascus.)

Don’t be surprised if the counter-arguments come into sharp focus at prime minister’s questions today.

David Cameron will claim that only the threat of military strikes against the Assad regime