The vote last week on military action on Syria has caused a huge amount of discussion and naturally I received a large amount of emails and letters on the subject - making arguments both for and against.
My opposition two years ago is well documented, but last week we were being asked to vote on something very different. This wasn’t military action to effect regime change in a foreign country, it was to extend existing action across an international border not recognised by those we are seeking to confront. The words of the Motion put before the House were very specific; it referred to the UN Security Resolution that stated ISIL constituted an ‘unprecedented threat to international peace and security’, it also highlighted the humanitarian support, post conflict stabilisation and reconstruction, the request for support from allies such as France and the United States and importantly clearly said that any strikes would be exclusively against ISIL.
I thought long and hard before voting on this matter. I supported the Motion, not out of any Party loyalty, but because I felt that it was the right thing to do. As we see ISIL carrying out their atrocities across Europe, we know that they are already targeting the UK, and from the barbaric way they treat people in their own strongholds – the beheadings, the murder and acts such as throwing people of buildings – it is clear that they are completely fanatical and will stop at nothing.
I have read every email that has been sent to me, whether they be a template email or individually written, because I know it is an incredibly serious matter. I understand people’s concerns, and previous experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan have made us all sceptical of the use of military force in any situation like this, but I felt that we had to act. We have to confront the evil that is ISIL otherwise they will grow and gain strength, continuing their barbaric actions and bringing that to our own shores. As the Motion said, military action ‘is only one component of a broader strategy’ and that is as it has to be. Action is already being taken against ISIL in Iraq, and what was approved last week means that when ISIL move across the border they can no longer find sanctuary in Syria.
We live in very difficult times, the whole situation in the Middle East is complex and uncertain but there is a very clear and present danger facing us in our own country, so I felt that we had to act and the Motion as it was worded was worthy of my support - but out of necessity and pragmatism, not out of thirst for conflict or at the behest of any of my political colleagues.