Voting against Syria airstrikes

17525193386_b693508e4a_oI wanted to explain why I will be voting against the extension of airstrikes in Syria in the House of Commons tonight.

ISIL are a truly appalling terrorist group and it is clear that they pose an extremely serious and growing threat, find both to the people of Syria and Iraq, ask and to British citizens at home and abroad. There is, of course, no easy solution to the threat ISIL pose, and that posed by Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and Britain cannot solve these problems alone.

In my view, any military action to suppress the activity of ISIL will only be successful if there is a credible regional force that is willing to fight on the ground. The Prime Minister has asserted that there are some 70,000 so-called moderate troops in Syria – and expects that this Anti-Assad force will willingly team up with the Pro-Assad forces to combat ISIL. I am highly sceptical on both these points.

There is no more important decision a country can take than to commit our armed forces to military action and this is not a decision that I, or any Member of Parliament, takes lightly. To be clear, military action always means loss of life, including innocent life. Given that, the test that needs to be met is whether proposed action has a credible chance of making things better and save lives.

In my view, the government’s proposed action does not pass this test.

For that reason – and regardless of the whipping arrangements of my party – I have long planned to vote against, and will do so at 10pm on Wednesday night.