Rather than Diane Abbott, who addressed Stop the War protesters last night, it is shadow transport minister Jim Fitzpatrick who has become the first Labour frontbencher to resign in protest at the party’s stance on Syria.
No official explanation was given but when he spoke in the Commons debate earlier today he warned that he had “problems” with the government motion and Labour’s amendment since neither ruled out military action. He said: “I’m opposed to military intervention in Syria, full stop. And to be honest with myself, and to be consistent on both questions, I will be voting in the no lobby against the government motion and against the opposition amendment.”
The significance of Fitzpatrick’s resignation is that it suggests he believes Miliband is ultimately more likely than not to support military action. It also means it will be much harder for other anti-war shadow ministers to justify clinging on to their posts in the manner of Clare Short in 2003.