UK

Tony Benn's Iraq Speech Remembered Ahead Of Vote To Extend Airstrikes To Syria

02/12/2015 21:55 GMT | Updated 03/12/2015 12:59 GMT

Footage of Labour's late Tony Benn delivering an impassioned attack on bombing campaigns in Iraq is being widely shared on social media, as MPs debate tonight whether to launch airstrikes on Isis in Syria.

The Socialist stalwart, father of pro-intervention shadow foreign secretary HIlary Benn, is captured on film speaking in 1998 at the prospect of bombing in Iraq.

"I was in London in the Blitz in 1940", he begins, speaking to Commons colleagues in a fiery debate over whether Britain had played a part in arming the Saddam Husain regime.

"Every morning I saw the Docklands burning, 500 people were killed in Westminster by a landmine, it was terrifying!

"Aren’t Arabs terrified? Aren’t Iraqis terrified? Don’t Arab and Iraqi women weep when their children die?

"Doesn’t bombings strengthen their determination?

"What fools we are to live in a generation for which war is a computer game for our children, and just an interesting little Channel 4 news item.

"Every Member of Parliament tonight who votes for the government motion will be consciously and deliberate accepting the responsibility for the deaths of innocent people if the war begins, as I fear it will.

"In my parliamentary experience we were asked to share responsibility for a decision we won't really be taking with consequence for people who have no part to play in the brutality of the regime which we are dealing with."

MPs are gathered in Westminster tonight to debate whether the UK should join the coalition of France, Russia and the US in bombing Syria in a bid to attack Islamic State.

Both Labour and the Conservatives face fractured parties - neither having managed to muster all of their backbenchers to unify around common decision.

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