" “Let me tell you - right - let me tell you”, he explained in response to Paxman’s accusation he wouldn’t stand up to Vladimir Putin. “In the summer of 2013 this government proposed action in Syria. The bombing of Syria, right? I was called into a room by David Cameron and Nick Clegg, because president Obama had been on the phone - the leader of the free world, right? I listened to what they said, and over those days I made up my mind, and we said no, right? I think standing up to the leader of the free world shows a certain toughness I would say.”
It was a lie. A total, and utter misrepresentation of what Ed Miliband did, and did not do, over the Syria vote. He knows it’s a lie, the shadow cabinet know it’s a lie, Labour MPs know it’s a lie.
This is the truth about what Ed Miliband did over Syria. He did indeed walk into “a room” to meet David Cameron – it was the Prime Minister’s study in Downing Street. He told David Cameron that he would be prepared to support military action in Syria. He said that the Labour party would need some persuading over the issue, and because of that he would need to win some concessions that he could present to his MPs.
Over the following days the nature of these concessions changed. First Miliband told Cameron he would need to publish legal advice showing military action was legitimate. Cameron agreed. Then Miliband told Cameron he would need to publish the intelligence showing the Assad regime had used chemical weapons. Cameron agreed. Then he said Cameron would need to demonstrate military action had UN approval. Again Cameron agreed, and confirmed he would be submitting a motion to the P5 to that effect. Then Ed Miliband said a vote would have to await the formal publication of the UN weapons inspectors reports into the attacks. Cameron agreed. Finally, Miliband said there would have to be not one but two Commons votes before action could be authorised. And again, the Prime Minister agreed.
Maybe it doesn’t matter any more. The dead of Syria can’t be brought back. The opportunity to draw red lines against Assad’s use of chemical weapons has gone for good. And Ed Miliband has an election to win. Those depending on food banks, or worried about the NHS, or worried about the cost of living crisis won’t mind a bit of historical revisionism. Nor will Labour MP and activists buoyed by their leader’s combative performance.
But the fact still remains. When asked to present his strongest case for being entrusted with the highest office in the land, Ed Miliband chose to build it upon a lie."