James Wharton has already scooped the Politician of the Year in our survey, and it would not have been at all surprising to see David Cameron’s promise of an EU referendum, which gave rise to the Wharton Bill, top the poll for event of the year.
However, Party member respondents have shown sure judgement, in my view, by identifying the Government’s defeat on Syria as the event of the year: indeed, it was the worst foreign policy defeat for any government in modern times.
Had the Government won the vote and Syria been hit by missile strikes, it’s possible that the Assad regime would have fallen swiftly – but more likely that we would now be at war, having been sucked gradually into the Syrian quagmire. This is why I was opposed to such strikes.
The Syrian vote weakened the Government abroad, was a sign of the new assertiveness of the Commons, demonstrated yet again David Cameron’s cackhanded Party management (which has improved a bit since), and showed up Ed Miliband’s opportunism – all “signs of the times”.
It was bad for Obama, good for Putin and set the scene for the present rapprochement with Iran. It is too early to know whether the manner America’s retreat from the over-reach of the Bush years will be for the better or worse. But the view of British voters is unmistakable: no more middle east wars, please.
The Syrian vote won 38 per cent of the total. The other named candidates, all suggested by ConservativeHome readers, are as below. Our Christmas survey generated over 800 responses from Party members.
- David Cameron’s promise of an EU referendum – 34 per cent.
- Same-Sex Marriage Act – 9.4 per cent.*
- Miliband’s conference speech and energy policy – 8.9 per cent.*
- Eastleigh by-election – 6 per cent.
- Other – 5 per cent.
* We usually round our figures up or down as appropriate, but don’t do so when there’s a tie. Readers would ask which of the tied items got more support, so it’s best to tell them straight off.