In their first ever vote on the issue, Britain’s MPs have overwhelmingly backed Britain’s continued involvement in the war in Afghanistan. Over 300 MPs voted in favour of the motion “That this House supports the continued deployment of UK armed forces in Afghanistan”, with only 14 voting against, following a poorly-attended five-hour debate on 9 September (reportedly, less than 100 MPs showed up).
Perhaps recognising that the motion appeared to have been deliberately couched in terms likely to activate MPs “support the troops” reflex (how could anyone vote against a motion that contains the words “support” and “UK armed forces” in the same sentence?) Green MP Caroline Lucas tried, unsuccessfully, to have the motion changed to one calling for withdrawal.
The numbers had barely changed since November 2001 (when a handful of Labour MPs registered a protest against the war by voting on a technical motion to adjourn the House) pointing to a major failure on the part of the anti-war movement to turn widespread public opposition to the war into meaningful pressure on MPs.
According to a 5-6 September YouGov poll for The Sun, 72% of the British public think either that all British troops should be brought home from Afghanistan “immediately” (30%) or that “most troops should be withdrawn soon, and the rest within the next year or so” (42%)