Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Motion to extend action against DA'ESH passed 397 to 223

The House of Commons has voted by 397 to 223, a majority of 174, to extend the existing air campaign against DA'ESH to the territory they control in Syria as well as in Iraq.

Clearly this represents a large majority, much larger than the government would have had if the vote had gone on party lines.

I have been at a work conference in Leeds for a couple of days: I heard some of the radio coverage of the debate while driving home, and arrived just in time to put on the Parliament channel and see the live coverage of the last few speeches, including the winding up speeches.

Credit where credit is due, the winding up speech by Hilary Benn MP, shadow foreign secretary, was absolutely superb: it was rightly said by the actual foreign secretary Philip Hammond when he followed it, that Benn's speech will be remembered as one of the truly great parliamentary speeches.

I strongly disagreed with virtually everything Benn's late father stood for, but he was very possibly the best speaker I have heard in my lifetime and tonight's speech was of the same standard. It's an irony of history that as someone wrote on "Political Betting" that the late Tony Benn would probably have warmly applauded his son's speech, and then voted the other way.

There is no easy or perfect response to the difficult situation we find ourselves in, but I am absolutely convinced that tonight's decision was the right one.

For more than  half a century our safety has been secured by the NATO alliance in which all the members have promised to treat an attack on any of our countries as an attack on all of us.

If the ghastly and murderous attack in Paris a few days ago had taken place in London - and DA'ESH, the so-called "Islamic State" has tried to set up precisely such attacks - and if we had then asked our French NATO allies for support and they'd said no, how would we feel about that?

I would have been deeply upset in such circumstances, and I would have been deeply ashamed to be British if the House of Commons had voted to reject the French request for support tonight.

I was impressed by what I have seen or heard of many other contributions to today's debate, on both sides.

As Philip Hammond said after the vote, this is not just about military strikes and they alone will not solve the problem: we also need to continue political, diplomatic and humanitarian action.

Let the PM have the last word: David Cameron  says

"It is the right decision to keep the United Kingdom safe."


Jim said...

I do actually see the point in this action, as it will do some damage.

but, I do have a lot of sympathy for the following

Chris Whiteside said...

I agree with you, both in your first comment and in that I see what Gerald Kaufman was saying.

But because I agree that in your words, "It will do some damage" I come down on the other side of the argument to Gerald Kaufman - he doesn't think it will weaken DA'ESH in any significant way, I think it might weaken them enough to help.

The Kurdish and Peshmerga forces who retook Sinjar from DA'ESH said that British, US and French airstrikes had helped them. Being able to hit enemy forces just over that ineffective border might help them more.

Jim said...

Ultimately I come down on the same side as you do as well. Its just as I say, Gerald Kaufman raised a very, very valid concern, and I respect his decision to vote the other way.