August 30, 2013 by Nash Riggins
There are millions of ways a politician can shoot his or herself in the foot. Perhaps she gets too easily distracted, and fails to show up for hearings. Or maybe he abstains from key votes, and tweets crotch-shots to impressionable teens. Well, Labour’s shadow transport minister, Jim Fiztpatrick, has taken political absurdity to new heights by implementing a ground-breaking, fool-proof plan to hinder his own positive influence: to quit his job in protest of something that probably won’t happen.
In a baffling move, the senior Labour MP resigned from his frontbench position last night in protest of what he presumes to be the Labour party’s pro-war stance on Syria. Wow, Jim, that’s very noble of you. You’re really sending a powerful message to your warmongering party leader, Ed Miliband – who doesn’t support military intervention in Syria, and has allegedly been dismissed by Number 10 officials as “a fucking cunt and a copper-bottomed shit” just because he refuses to vote in favour of David Cameron’s latest military endeavour. So, just to get the facts straight: Jim Fiztpatrick has resigned from his position as a transport minister because he agrees with his party leader about not bombing Syria. Hmm…
First of all, it’s pretty clear at this point that the British people harbour little-to-no interest in sending troops to Syria. David Cameron’s well-placed (but poorly calculated) intentions lost every ounce of momentum the second he decided to give Parliament a say on the matter. There will be another vote next week on whether the UK should bomb Damascus, but Syria’s entrenched rebels shouldn’t hold their breath. This is the second time in two months that Westminster and the Whitehouse have started pounding the drums of war, only to get side-tracked days later by various domestic dilemmas. This brutal war has been raging for well over two years, and not even the combatants (let alone David Cameron) have enough foresight to plan around its outcome. That’s usually a bad sign.
So, we turn back to good ole Jim – who hates the idea of Britain’s involvement in Syria so much that he’s willing to quit his job over it. For those who don’t know, Mr Fiztpatrick’s de facto department oversees 24 agencies and public bodies that support the UK’s transport network by planning and funding new infrastructure developments. They’re the ones who give cities the money to buy new buses, punish bad drivers and try to decongest your overcrowded commute every morning. For whatever reason, that sounds like a fairly important slice of government – and if Labour were to somehow steal Downing Street in 2015, Jim Fiztpatrick could have been in charge of all that. Now, he’s unable to change his country’s transportation system for the better, solely because he doesn’t want to bomb a country most MPs can’t even pin on a map. Well played, Jim.
No one is going to argue that what’s going on in Syria is a good thing. At least 100,000 are dead, and civilians are now being choked to death in their sleep by toxic nerve gas. Someone needs to put an end to this butchery – but assuming the British people get their way, that ‘someone’ will most certainly not be David Cameron. If that’s the will of the people, then so be it. Things will return to business as usual at Westminster, and we can all go back to bickering about ‘serious’ domestic issues like HS2 and a new runway at Heathrow – everyone, that is, except for Jim Fitzpatrick. His rash and hopelessly non-symbolic resignation should be pegged as a near-sighted embarrassment at best. Although come to think of it, perhaps his departure from the front bench will be a good thing; after all, if the man is willing to quit his job in what may be the most pointless political protest in history, he clearly doesn’t have enough foresight to manage long-term infrastructure investments.