The UK Parliament has backed British participation in air strikes against Islamic State extremists in Iraq. After a seven-hour debate, MPs voted for military action by 524 votes to 43. The Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour leaderships all backed air strikes although some MPs expressed concerns about where it would lead and the prospect of future engagement in Syria. The BBC's political editor Nick Robinson said RAF planes could be called into action as early as Sunday. Read more >>
The cartoon by Dave Brown from The Independent is based on a painting by Flemish Renaissance artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder entitled The Blind Leading The Blind. The original painting depicts a procession of six blind, disfigured men. They pass along a path bordered by a river on one side and a village with a church on the other. The leader of the group has fallen on his back into a ditch and, because they are all linked by their staffs, seems about to drag his companions down with him. Bruegel based the work on the Biblical parable of the blind leading the blind from Matthew 15:14, in which Christ refers to the Pharisees. In Dave Brown's version, the man in the ditch is former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose sectarian government has been blamed for helping to fuel a Sunni uprising in the country. The 'companions' he is dragging into a pool of quicksand are US President Barack Obama, and UK political party leaders David Cameron, Nick Clegg, and Ed Miliband, who all gave their support to UK air strikes.
The blind leading the blind is used to describe a situation where uninformed and incompetent people leading others who are similarly incapable. • I tried to explain how the software works, but it was a case of the blind leading the blind, really. See The Phrase Finder for more on this expression.
The Independent has argued against the UK joining the US-led coalition in Iraq, and the cartoon reflects that position. The quicksand is an obvious metaphor for getting 'bogged down' in another unwinnable war in Iraq.
• Peter Brookes cartoon (The Times)