POLITICS

John McDonnell, Labour Shadow Chancellor, Calls Syria Airstrike Vote, A 'Shameful Step Backwards'

05/12/2015 18:33 GMT | Updated 05/12/2016 10:12 GMT

Labour’s shadow chancellor has decried the extension of British military airstrikes into Syria as a "shameful step backwards," warning it could lead to another generation of militants bent on committing Paris-style terror attacks.

John McDonnell, who voted against the government in Wednesday’s Commons vote, added that the attacks, launched hours after the ballot, would likely make Britain less safe.

john mcdonnell

McDonnell attends the Building the Fight Against Austerity conference, organised by the Trade Union Coordinating Group, in central London

The prominent Corbynite also reiterated his comments about Hilary Benn's lauded speech, which argued in favour of military action, warning that fine oratory can often leads to the "greatest mistakes."

Speaking on Saturday to The People's Assembly conference in London, McDonnell said: "I have to say this week was a disgraceful, shameful step backwards. And I find it appalling. I know some people found some of the speeches in the great parliamentary tradition and all the rest of it.”

"But as I commented afterwards, some of the greatest oratory in the past has led us towards our greatest mistakes,” he continued. "I think what we will see from the decision this week is not just loss of life, but I also think it will embed, for another generation unfortunately, some of the issues and problems that we saw in Paris.”

McDonnell called the airstrikes an “absolute tragedy," noting that a “political solution should have been pursued rather than a bombing campaign.”

He also called for the Government to further support the refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria. "We are standing back with minimal commitment, and as a result people are dying in the Mediterranean and people are enduring appalling conditions in Syrian camps," he said.

The shadow chancellor added that Labour’s new policy was to reject military aggression in favour of conflict resolution.

Some 66 Labour MPs defied the party leadership, voting with the Conservatives to increase the bombing campaign against the Islamic State group.

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