IS JIM Murphy the last man standing in defending the 2003 invasion of Iraq , now that the joint architect of the Bush-Blair policy has begun to back-pedal furiously as Chilcott finally looms?
A recent New Statesman article by Murphy made clear that he is once again urging British military intervention in the region, offering the startling revelation that he now thinks he should have resigned as Shadow Defence Secretary in August 2013 when Labour voted against UK air strikes in Syria.
The nub of his article is the following passage: “I respect conscientious objectors and the Quaker traditions . . . but conscientious objection isn’t a legitimate posture for a P5 nation in the face of Isis ferocity.”
There is one irritating condescension there and one disturbing corollary.  The “I respect conshies” line assumes that those who are concerned about military action are principled but useless idiots. In fact I am no conshie but I objected to the Iraq war on strategic and tactical grounds — fake pretexts for going in and a dismal lack of agreed goals which might have given us an exit strategy which did not leave behind desolation and increased misery for those on the ground.
The same applies to Syria now. We need clear goals and action compliant with international law. Above all, we need a realistic endgame, particularly given Russian involvement in the arena.
But look again at the nub of Murphy’s argument, the bit concerning “a legitimate posture for a P5 nation.” He obviously puts immense store on Britain’s status as one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, regardless of what this may cost.
It’s what drives us to increasingly unaffordable Trident replacement and an absurd aircraft carrier programme, but coveted P5 membership won’t feed bairns or keep pensioners warm.

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