MP Ben Bradshaw criticisesEd Miliband for following PM over Syria
A Westcountry Labour MP has criticised Ed Miliband's stance over Syria as many of his backbenchers feel "deeply uneasy" over stepping away from punishment attacks on Bashar Assad's regime.
Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP for Exeter, blamed David Cameron for "petulantly" ruling out direct intervention immediately after the Government's shock defeat in the Commons last week.
But he also expressed alarm that Mr Miliband was following the Prime Minister's lead rather than taking a "sensible and measured approach" in response to the chemical weapons atrocity close to Damascus.
The criticism, in an article for The Guardian, is remarkable as the ex-culture secretary is known as a party loyalist often careful to avoid splits.
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This week Mr Bradshaw told the Western Morning News it would be "shameful" if Britain was to "stand on the sidelines" amid calls for a second vote, which has been ruled out emphatically by the Prime Minister.
Calling for "urgent and deep reflection" by the party, the Westcountry MP wrote: "Let's be clear what most Labour MPs were and were not voting for last week.
"We were not voting to support Britain taking part in immediate military action, but nor were we voting to rule it out completely. Neither were most Conservatives or Liberal Democrats.
"But because of Cameron's grotesque mishandling of the parliamentary recall and his 'rush to decision', that's where we are: all three main parties and their leaders ruling out any second vote, whatever further war crimes Bashar al-Assad commits, however much worse the humanitarian crisis becomes and whatever the UN or the US and others decide to do.
"A considerable number of Labour MPs (many more than have so said so publicly) feel deeply uneasy about this."
Mr Bradshaw said the amendment Labour tabled to the Government motion last week was "clear and sound".
It set out five conditions for military action – confirmation by the UN weapons inspectors that chemical weapons had been used, compelling evidence the regime was responsible, a UN Security Council vote, a legal basis, and clearly drawn objectives and time limits.
"Instead of sticking to this sensible and measured approach, we seem to have abandoned it because of the incompetence of a Tory prime minister," Mr Bradshaw wrote. "We have allowed Labour foreign policy to be dictated by the Government."
The MP defended the principle of humanitarian intervention, pointing to Labour's successes in Kosovo and Sierra Leone, and cautioned against seeing everything through the "prism of Iraq".
He added: "Ed Miliband was absolutely right to put a brake on Cameron's 'rush to war', and was as taken aback as we all were when the Prime Minister, at his petulant worst, took the military option off the table following his defeat.
"Miliband now needs to use the extra time offered by the UN process, the G20 and the US congressional debate to reflect on Labour's position and discuss it with colleagues."