Sunday, 23 November 2014

Two countries (still) separated by a common language

Donley Studlar considers the differences of language within the British and American academies. 

'England and America are two countries separated by a common language’ is a quote widely attributed to the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw. Unfortunately, like many ‘well known’ quotes, its origins are suspect, and no original source as ever been identified.  But his compatriot Oscar Wilde did write, ‘We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language’ (The Canterville Ghost 1887). 

My first year of teaching in the UK has reconfirmed the validity of these adages. With almost 40 years of experience in the US, I was faced with the task of trying to understand the academic curriculum at Strathclyde. But that entailed discerning what the various written and spoken messages actually meant.  Despite having studied British politics for over 40 years and claiming to speak ‘transatlantic English’, I found myself inadequately prepared.  British and US higher education do speak different languages (AmerEnglish and BritEnglish, or AmE/BrE), which I am still trying to master.  Thus, consider this an introduction/induction to the differences.

Here is an introduction (induction) to the main language discrepancies I have discovered, with the AmE listed first:

1: The academic hierarchy:

a) president/principal (chief administrator of the University)

b) college/faculty

c) faculty/academic and research staff (there is also the administrative staff)

d) full professor/professor

e)                        /reader (a rare rank for which there is no US equivalent)

f) associate professor/senior Lecturer

g) assistant professor/lecturer

h) lecturer (teaching professor, adjunct faculty)/teaching fellow, a rank of varying seniority with primarily teaching duties.

Of course, the generic title for all faculty/teaching staff in the US is ‘professor’; in the UK it is ‘lecturer’.  

2: discussion Groups/tutorials (‘tutors’ refers to those leading tutorials but also to the supervisors--first readers--of Honours, MSc and PhD dissertations)

4) degree program/course of study

5) graduate/postgraduate

6) undergraduate senior/Honours (final year) (junior/3rd year); (sophomore/2nd year); (freshman/1st year).

7) academic Year/session

8) courses/modules

9) syllabus/handout (handbook, guide)

10) term papers/essays

11) review session/revision

12) monitoring (proctoring)/invigilating (my favo(u)rite)

13) thesis/dissertation (requirement for BA and MSc students, plus PhDs)

14) grading/marking (There is ‘second marking’ for some assignments, especially term papers/essays, by another internal instructor. If the two markers disagree, there may be a 3rd marker called in to adjudicate.

There is no US equivalent in my experience to the ‘pre-boards’ and ‘boards’ for both undergraduate and postgraduate MSc students, in which the ‘teaching staff’ (faculty) of the School come together to discuss the overall status of each student.

The grading/marking system in the UK also is somewhat different from that in the US although as one of my colleagues says, ‘take the US mark and knock off 20 points’.  The overall marking system is First Class/A (70 and above), 2(1)/B+ (60-70), 2(2)/B (50-60), Third Class (Ordinary)/C (40-50), and Failure/F (below 40).

But not all is mutual incomprehension.  Deans are still Deans although Associate and Assistant Deans are ‘Vice Deans’. Exams are, well, still exams, although in the UK this usually means the one exam of the course/module, what in the US would be called ‘the final exam’.

Most grades/marks (BA and MSc) are based on two written pieces of work, the term paper/essay and the one exam. Some courses of study/degree program(me)s elsewhere in the University do have ‘continuous assessment’, which means US-style teaching of courses/modules, with more frequent required assignments/exams.  And PhD dissertations are still PhD dissertations, although the ones in the UK remain longer than their US counterparts, with the latter getting shorter in some institutions (the equivalent of three publishable articles is this new standard).  

Alas, after passing through these different academic nomenclatures, the overall degree standing/GPA of undergraduate students in the UK is reported to be 2.1 and the mean grade overall in the US is the same, B+, according to some sources. So as another famous British author said, ‘All’s well that ends well’.

Armed with this knowledge, I can now attend US conferences and, during unexpected interregnums such as the ‘Long Night at the Marriott’, respond to the second-most frequent question posed to me at the 2014 APSA, ‘what’s it like to teach in the UK’?

For more on AmE/BrE language differences, see the useful blog maintained by a US-trained linguist, now a Reader in the UK:

Donley (T.) Studlar, School of Government and Public Policy, University of Strathclyde

Sunday, 16 November 2014

London, England, Britain and Europe: Places Apart?

Tim Oliver considers approaches to understanding the United Kingdom and its relationship with the EU.

Academics are often as guilty as many others for lazily using ‘London’ as a catch-all term to describe the UK, UK Government, the financial institutions of ‘the City of London’, England, or ‘the South’ or South East of England. Of course, as the UK’s capital city this usage can often seem logical enough. But London is a place in itself, a city of millions with a distinct population, an economic and social system with its own needs and interests, a place with an identity and politics of its own.

At a time when attention is fixed on Scotland it is worth remembering that it is not just Scotland or areas such as Wales or Northern Ireland that are distinct political spaces. London, an area with a larger and faster growing population and economy than anywhere else in the UK, and the UK’s most powerful cultural and political centre, deserves more attention. And, for this author and others, it deserves its own fully devolved government. The ‘London question’ – how the rest of the UK relates to its capital city that is fast becoming another place – is one of the most pressing questions in British politics.
There are many political topics which we could use to examine London’s distinct politics: transport, the environment, inequality, race relations, policing, economics, identity and so forth. One area where a clear distinction has begun to emerge is on the matter of Europe. Of all the areas of the UK it is London that has the biggest interest in the UK’s relationship with the EU. If, as has been argued repeatedly, the EU is important to Scotland, then so too is it important – and arguably more so – to London.

Londoners are not exactly what some might term Eurosceptic ‘Little Englanders’. UKIP have long under-performed in the capital. The 2014 European Parliament elections continued this trend, London seeing UKIP’s second lowest regional vote after Scotland. Voting patterns reflect opinion polling that shows Londoners have more comfortable view of the EU. Recent polling by Chatham House found Scots and Londoners hold similar views on the EU. This similarity between Londoners and Scots has been clear for some time, as shown below in the data from the British Election Study Continuous Monitoring Survey.

Question wording: “Overall, do you strongly approve, approve, disapprove, or strongly disapprove of Britain’s membership in the European Union?” Source: Source: British Election Study Continuous Monitoring Survey, June 2005-December 2012 (pooled monthly cross-sectional surveys). Weighted data.

There are four reasons that could lie behind this more comfortable view of the EU.
First, a large part of the material wealth of London is tied to the economic vibrancy of the European market. London is Europe’s global city, its richest region to which European citizens and businesses flock to do work. Britain might not be in the Euro, but that does not stop London handling more euro foreign-exchanges than the Eurozone combined. A survey by Deloitte showed that London hosted an estimated 40% of the European headquarters of the world’s top companies. Alongside 60% of top non-European companies have their regional base in London. Companies such as Goldman Sachs and the Lord Mayor of London have warned of the cost to London and the UK of an exit from the EU. Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, is no avid Europhile. But even his recent report on options for London-EU relations, while offering several options including withdrawal, made clear that even in the event of a withdrawal a close relationship with the EU was vital for London’s economic interests.

Second, London’s international population also makes it more likely to view the EU more positively. Over a third of Londoners were born outside the UK, with white-British still the largest single group but now 45% of London’s population. That young Europeans especially have flocked to London has not passed unnoticed in the press. London’s has long adapted to influxes of new arrivals, being home today to the largest BME community in the UK. As Tony Travers argues, ‘The word Londoner is an entirely inclusive concept’. This is not to argue that London has been without its problems, as the 2011 riots showed. But London has a long experience of dealing with the political and social tensions immigration brings. And while in other parts of the UK people might complain about Polish plumbers, in London anger – especially over house prices – is likely to be directed towards Gulf Princes or Russian oligarchs.

Third, London’s population makes for a unique identity that is a mix of English, British, European and global identities. That more Londoners think of themselves as ‘British’ than any other part of the UK helps instead of hinders London-EU relations. As research by the IPPR has shown, Euroscepticism is more likely to be found amongst those who associate more closely with an English identity. This difference should hardly come as a surprise given that in large areas of England London can appear an increasingly alien place. UKIP’s own campaign in 2014 was in part ‘anti-London’. ‘London’ has become a by-word for something that is distant, strange and out of control. As one defeated London UKIP councillor argued, UKIP’s poor performance was because of London’s young, educated, cultured, media-savvy population that can’t understand the heartache felt by the rest of the country. This might have been picked over for her insinuation that UKIP supporters elsewhere are old, ill-educated, uncultured and that the ‘media-savvy’ were somehow duped by media criticism of UKIP. But her warning that London is becoming a place apart from the rest of the UK has been echoed numerous times elsewhere.

Finally, for Londoners the government and political systems of the UK and EU do not appear as distant or uncontrollable. London is blessed with more political representation and networks than any other part of the UK. It is home to the UK’s royal, political, government and legal centres, main financial and business communities, media hubs, think tanks, diplomatic community and has its own elected assembly and mayor, to say nothing of the city state that is the ‘City of London’ and its Lord Mayor. It is London’s links with these that cause resentment elsewhere. Too often UK government can seem to be London government, governing in the interests of London rather than the UK. When David Cameron vetoed an EU treaty he did so to protect the UK’s financial services industry, and while the sector is of interest to the whole UK, it is an industry overwhelmingly centred in London.

So does this mean that London will vote to stay in the EU should the UK ever face an in-out vote on its EU membership? We should not overlook that while Londoners are more positive about the UK’s EU membership, this is hardly overwhelming. The same applied to Scotland where there are limits to how far support for the EU will go. As the earlier polling shows, just over 40% of Londoners and Scots disapprove of the UK’s EU membership. The London Mayoral and GLA elections of 2016 could coincide with a period of renegotiation of UK-EU relations, meaning the issue could be a live one in the elections. It is likely that if the UK government seeks to renegotiate the UK-EU relationship then one aim could be some concessions for ‘the City’. If granted then support of Londoners could be assured. Equally, should the EU try to crack down on London, or appear to turn against it then support for the EU could decline. 

Perhaps the most difficult situation would be if in a referendum London voted to remain within the EU while the rest of the UK, or more likely large areas of England, voted to withdraw. Some worry this could drive the Scots from the UK. It could also provoke long-standing complaints from London that the rest of the UK is a drain on its wealth and damaging its future. Londoners will likely resent being labelled “Little Englanders” when their city is – and voted to be – connected to the EU and outward looking. It could be that an in-out referendum helps to politicise London’s identity politics within the UK.

How likely this scenario is depends on how well entrenched Londoners opinions are about the EU. Given London’s strong international identity, it may be that support for ditching both the UK and the EU could grow. Despite London’s incredible power and place in British life, it remains an under-researched political space. Further work is necessary and highly likely given the Scottish referendum, growing English nationalism and the continuing accelerated growth of London.

Dr Tim Oliver is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Defence and International Affairs at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and a non-resident fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations, Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, Washington D.C. The opinions expressed here are his own.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Desiring Precision? The desire behind the use of drones.

James I Rogers evaluates the political significance of the role of drones in conflict zones.

We see ourselves as noble warriors and our enemies as despicable tyrants. We see war as a surgical scalpel and not a bloodstained sword. In so doing we mis-describe ourselves as we mis-describe the instruments of death.
Michael Ignatieff, (2001).

Ignatieff’s argument is compelling. By using the term mis-describe he suggests that when ‘we’ (America, Britain, NATO, ‘the West’) conduct warfare in a manner which is dominated by our technological superiority, a disconnect between ‘reality’ and ‘desire’ appears.

Of course, realities and desires are often not akin (especially in times of war). Take for example the conflicting perceptions of drone use. It is commonplace to suggest that in reality drone strikes are a “scourge targeting innocent civilians”.[1] When juxtaposed with President Obama’s desire for them to be part of a “just war — a war waged proportionally” it is clear to see where such differences in perception lie.[2]

So, where does this leave us? Well drone deployment is increasing, and the negative connotations which surround them show no signs of abating. (If anything, attempting to identify the realities of drone use is set to remain the ‘sexy-topic’ of academic, journalistic and media study). However, if we are to truly expose the disconnect between ‘drones desire’ and ‘drone reality’ (and attempt to bridge it) then we must surely spend equal time unpacking the desires and perceived successes which make drones an increasingly dominate part of our strategic thought?

This article will unpack some of these desires. Specifically, it will focus on the desire for ‘precision’ held by the most prolific operator of drones, the United States (U.S).

From Kosovo…

The Kosovo campaign saw widespread use of precision strike as well as advanced reconnaissance means. It was there that the process and procedures for their effective use on the battlefield began to be developed.
General Wesley K. Clark (2001).
Former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe.

At the turn of the twenty-first century, the Kosovo campaign, building upon the initial success of the Gulf War, marked a fundamental milestone for the way in which the U.S conducted warfare. It was within this conflict that precision was achieved with near perfection, paving the way for it to become the staple of American strategic thought.

No longer did the United States need to concern itself with justifying a heavy cost to both civilian and American military lives (once common in times of war). Instead, through the use of “unmanned aircraft with real-time, full-motion video transmitted to command centres thousands of miles away”[3] and Tomahawk cruise missiles, the American political and military elites were able to mitigate the cost of war at a societal level whilst maintaining strategic advantage.

Through these perceived successes American strategy became dominated by the strategic utility and moral justifiability that came with being able to deploy force in a proportionate and discriminate manner, to ensure a cost-free and rapid end to conflict.

A desire for such, proportionate, discriminate, rapid and cost-free precision characteristics continued to dominate American strategic thought as the first decade of the new century progressed. From Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation Enduring Freedom, and the various theatres it encompassed, precision continued to sit at the core of American warfare.

Through the use of drones, the American military has been able to pin-point and destroy IEDs, carry out the targeted killing of suspected terrorists and monitor or engage with all issues in-between.

Furthermore, this use of precision has allowed the American political leadership to morally justify its strategy within the framework of proportionate and discriminate warfare. As President Obama stated in 2012, “conventional airpower or missiles are far less precise than drones, and are likely to cause more civilian casualties and more local outrage”[4]. As such, the desired characteristics of precision have come to dominate American strategic thought.

This domination continues. As the latest of the 9/11 wars draws to a close and other opens, it is a strategic thought centred on the desire for precision which America continues to choose to guide it through the amorphous conflicts of the unknown.

The United States made up 64 per cent of the world’s drone expenditure in 2013; with this projected to rise to 90 per cent by the end of the decade. Furthermore, in January 2012 the American military possessed 7454 drones, up from 163 in February 2003.[5] This is a 4470 per cent increase in under a decade. From the hand launched RQ-11 Raven to the symbolic MQ-9 Reaper and MQ-1 Predator, these weapons embody American strategic thought centred upon the perceived strategic utility and moral justifiability of precision.

Thus, it is clear that a desire to be proportionate, discriminate, rapid and cost-free in war, through precision, has come to dominate American strategic thought. And the perceived success of drones to achieve these desires goes some way to explaining their increasing use. However, as mentioned in the introduction, desire and reality are not often akin. Therefore, to build upon Ignatieff’s earlier argument, as drones deployment increases at an exponential rate, we must be sure not to mis-describe the reality of drone use to match our desires. As it is here that the disconnect appears.
James I Rogers is a PhD candidate at the University of Hull, where he is researching military strategy and foreign policy. 

[1] Masters, J. 'Targeted Killings', 23 May 2013, accessed at
[2] Obama, B. 'Transcript of President Obama’s speech on U.S. drone and counterterror policy', 23 May 2013, accessed at
[3] Clark, W. (2001). Waging Modern War, New York: Public Affairs p. xxiv.
[4] Obama, B. 'Transcript of President Obama’s speech on U.S. drone and counterterror policy', 23 May 2013, accessed at
[5] Gertler, J. (2012). U.S. Unmanned Aerial Systems, Washington D.C: Congressional Research Service. p.8

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Blue Labour and Purple Labour: Alternate Futures for the Welfare State?

Matt Beech and Robert M Page discuss Blue Labour and Purple Labour in relation to the Welfare State.
In the years since its 2010 general election defeat the Labour Party has been engaged in a conversation about the role the central state should play in a social democratic vision of the good society. [1]  The reasons for rethinking the purpose, size and responsibilities of the central state are as follows:

1: The impact of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and the ensuing deficit of the United Kingdom.
2: The advent of the Conservative-Liberal Coalition with its ideological commitment to ‘rebalance’ the relationships between the central state, local communities and individuals citizens.
3: The perception held in some quarters of the electorate that the central state is unpopular due to its bureaucracy and unresponsiveness to contemporary needs vis-à-vis public services.
4: The argument that the central state is a necessary but not sufficient vehicle for Labour to achieve the good society.

Two contrasting ideological offerings have prompted considerable discussion within the Labour movement, namely Blue Labour and Purple Labour. Blue Labour began with a number of seminars in 2010 and culminated in an edited eBook The Labour Tradition and the Politics of Paradox edited by Maurice Glasman, Jonathan Rutherford, Marc Stears and Stuart White.[2]  Purple Labour refers to the book edited by Robert Philpot, The Purple Book.[3] 

Blue Labour supporters - whilst not in complete agreement - tend to see Labour’s post-1945 history and, the New Labour years especially, as giving primacy to the role of the central state.  What, in their view is missing or overlooked, is the associationalist roots of the history of the Labour movement evident in the trade unions, co-operatives and mutual organisations.  The central state squeezes out localism, grass-roots autonomy and the opportunity for like-minded citizens working in tandem to meet their mutual needs. Added to this Blue Labourites contend that New Labour’s metropolitan liberalism alienated socially conservative working class communities (hence the colour blue). Moreover, this has significantly contributed to the established view that Britain’s parliamentary elite is out of touch, especially on issues such as EU immigration.

Purple Labour are Blairite MPs and supporters of Progress and Policy Network. They too argue for localism to be at the heart of contemporary social democracy but their political economy is supportive of the liberal market, whereas Blue Labour is a critic of this vestige of New Labour. Purple Labour maintains that without a radical restructuring of its statecraft, including decentralisation, Labour will be unable to win over floating voters in marginals (purple representing marginal constituencies Labour must gain).

In our recent published article in Social Policy & Society[4] we note that this pluralistic debate within the Labour movement is to be welcomed; that both Blue and Purple Labour raise genuine concerns about existing models of social welfare, diversity of provision, and the relational ethic involved; but that a diminution of the central state, as the vehicle for the social democratic vision of the good society, would undermine the historic goals of the Labour Party.

The localist impulse present within Blue and Purple Labour seeks to dramatically alter the welfare state. In short, it would give greater local choice and control of social welfare to private, not-for-profit and publicly funded organisations some of which would likely be established by local citizens. We argue that this will inevitably lead to greater inequality.  Inequality in terms of access, provision and outcome. For ‘statist’ social democrats, this undermines the foundational purpose of a national welfare state.

It is precisely because the welfare state is not one policy or a single organisation but a complex nexus of the NHS, state education, social services and social security, that it does require revision from time to time.  After all, as the needs of the workforce and families in Britain change the welfare state must adapt. Nevertheless, the current fashion for localism as seen on the left with Blue and Purple Labour or on the right in the Conservative-Liberal Coalition is evidence of a concerted ideological objection to the welfare state.[5] 

The welfare state is, for generations of social democrats, the finest achievement of Labour in office.  And, despite the many problems that confront it as an institution in twenty-first century Britain, it remains the primary means to ameliorate externalities of the market economy and redistribute income and opportunity in the hope of a more egalitarian and cohesive society.  It is for this reason that the Labour leadership should trumpet the virtues of the welfare state and the need for a national central state to fund, co-ordinate and preserve equality of access, provision and outcome for all individuals and families in Britain.

Matt Beech is Senior Lecturer in Politics and Director of the Centre for British Politics at the University of Hull.

Robert M. Page is Reader in Democratic Socialism and Social Policy at the University of Birmingham.

[1] M. Beech and K. Hickson (2014) Blue or Purple? Reflections on the Future of the Labour Party, Political Studies Review, Vol. 12, Issue 1, 75-87.
[2] M. Glasman, J. Rutherford, M. Stears and S. White (eds.) (2011) The Labour Tradition and the Politics
of Paradox, London: The Oxford–London Seminars,
[3] R. Philpot (ed.) (2011) The Purple Book: A Progressive Future for Labour, London: Biteback Publishing.
[4] M. Beech and R.M. Page (2014) Blue and Purple Labour Challenges to the Welfare State: How Should Statist Social Democrats Respond?, Social Policy & Society, Available on CJO 2014
[5] For more on the Conservative and Liberal Democrat opposition to the welfare state see, M. Beech (2012) The British Welfare State and Its Discontents in J. Connelly and J. Hayward (eds.) The Withering of the Welfare State: Regression (Basingstoke: Palgrave), 86-100.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Balancing Power: The Consequences of the United Kingdom’s Actions in the Middle East within Europe and America

Rebecca Howard discusses the consequences of UK military engagement in the Middle East.

The United Kingdom continuously performs a balancing act between remaining a European power and fostering a strong transatlantic bond. Often torn between two sides on key issues, such as military intervention, the UK benefits from its multilateral tactics by attempting to balance relations. The United States and the United Kingdom have a unique relationship. While there are many benefits to this bilateral relationship, the two countries have faced criticism at times for the use of military power that some countries find avoidable or inappropriate, particularly from Britain’s European neighbors. Anglo-American intervention in the Middle East is one such area where this military action has come in to question, specifically in regard to the 2003 Iraq War and the 2013 debate over Syrian intervention. Interventions in this region provide a glimpse of the dynamic between Britain and the US in the special relationship, as well as the larger European response.

The use of power is a key area where fault lines occur.  The United States continues to rely on its military power and tends to veer towards hard power whereas most European nations prefer soft power. However, the United Kingdom is an example of a country in the European Union that tends to align with American definitions of power.

Following the terrorist attacks against America on September 11, 2001, and the CIA confirmation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, the United States along with four other nations invaded Iraq in 2003. Although several Member States within Europe backed America’s invasion, two of the largest powers, France and Germany, strongly opposed such actions. At the time of the invasion, France was vocal about their disapproval of top-down democracy that was taking place. Further, the former German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, expressed similar qualms with the Anglo-American led intervention. He was neither persuaded nor satisfied with America’s claims of WMDs and frustrated that no other diplomatic options had been used. [1] The lack of clear evidence of WMDs became the key argument against intervention by Germany and France. It demonstrated to France and Germany that this type of power being wielded could potentially be “justified in cases other than Iraq.” [2] 

The debate over intervention in Syria similarly demonstrates Britain’s tenable role between the US and Europe as a foreign policy actor. Once intelligence reports confirmed that forces within Syria had violated the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) on its citizens, the immediate reaction from the world community was astonishment. British Prime Minister David Cameron advocated for intervention in conjunction with the Joint Intelligence Committee amid reports that Assad had used chemical weapons. However, the UK House of Commons’ ultimately did not support Cameron’s recommendation falling short by just 13 votes. The legacy of Iraq was a key determinant in this outcome. [3] Defense Secretary Philip Hammond was swift to comment that this decision by Parliament would put a definite strain on the special relationship. [4] The special relationship was not the only concern for the British upon this vote to not intervene in Syria. It left questions to be answered regarding the UK’s overall position within global politics and power. Furthermore, the countries of Europe, like France, who once rejected the idea of engagement in Iraq and highly criticized those actions, became the countries that were in favor involvement in Syria. The House of Commons vote strained the special relationship, as the US sought to rally allies around intervention in the conflict. British leaders were quick to convey that the special relationship did not mean that Britain had to follow America into every battle. 

Britain’s critical alliances placing them between Europe and the United States put them in a unique negotiating position within the global foreign policy arena. The UK has the chance to bridge the gap between Europe and America, but they do not quite have the leverage to create balance. Straddling these two allegiances along with the UK’s own domestic policy challenges raises the question of where they stand as a world power. 

Rebecca Howard. Read the extended paper delivered at the 2014 APSA conference in Washington DC.

[1] Bernstein, R. (2004). “The German Question,” The New York Times, Retrieved from:
[2] Carpenter, T.D. (2006). “After Iraq: Permanent Transatlantic Tensions,” Kotzias, N. and Liacouras, P. (Eds.) EU-US Relations: Repairing the Transatlantic Rift, Palgrave Macmillan: Houndsmills, 146.
[3] Osborn, A. (2013). “Analysis: Syria vote humiliates UK's Cameron, strains special relationship,” Reuters. Retrieved from:
[4] Watt, N., Mason, R., and Hopkins, N. (2013). “Blow to Cameron’s Authority as MPs Rule Out British Assault on Syria,” The Guardian. Retrieved from: