I am not a pacifist. Military intervention should not be a decision taken lightly, but unfortunately under some conditions is a necessary one. We are an outward looking, internationalist party and country, a member of NATO and the EU, having and using armed forces when needed is part and parcel of that.
The current situation in Syria is horrific and no one would deny that action is urgently needed for our security at home, in order to bring peace and stability for the people of Syria and the wider region.
Today, I have read the Government’s motion and listened to the Prime Minister’s answers to the many questions from members who sought clarification of the Government’s proposed actions contained in this motion, I do not believe that the Prime Minister has added anything to the statement he made last Thursday to the House. Furthermore, he has not clarified the deep misgivings I had about the contents of last Thursday’s statement and the doubts I felt having read the Government’s motion and listened to his response today. I do not believe that the Government’s proposed actions, which include air strikes, will achieve peace and stability in Syria or worldwide.
Therefore, I have decided to vote against the Government tonight.
Several countries including the US, France and Russia are already engaged in bombing. I have not been persuaded that adding UK planes to this effort will have a demonstrable difference. I cannot believe that air strikes in isolation would be effective in defeating ISIL/Daesh and furthermore there is a great risk of civilian casualties, causing further suffering in this country that has been so ravaged by civil war. I believe the Prime Minister’s proposal of air strikes is a “quick fix” solution to demonstrate solidarity to our allies, in particular to France which is indeed important, but will not have any discernible impact in any real sense in defeating ISIL/Daesh.
ISIL/Daesh needs to be dealt with, but I do not believe they can be routed without the use of effective ground troops. The Prime Minister has spoken about an army of 70,000 ready to carry out the much needed ground campaign. This figure is highly disputed, and in a region that is so complex and fraught, I do not have confidence that this is a viable solution.
Finally, as I currently understand it, there is no clearly identified long term strategy for the country.
Clearly, there is international will to rid the region of this terrorist movement. ISIL/Daesh actions abroad and in areas under their control are abhorrent. The UN has agreed action is needed, the Vienna talks are underway. This should be given full political weight from the UK, our full support to a multi lateral effort to rid Syria of ISIL/Daesh and then turn to stabilising the country and beginning its reconstruction. I feel, however, that air strikes at this stage will not add to this desired outcome.
I have given this decision my serious and careful contemplation, and it represents the overwhelming majority of my constituents, whom I am here to represent, who are strongly opposed to UK military action.