The Iraq War Should Not 'Imprison' Us When It Comes To Dealing With Isis in Syria, Warns Labour's Pat McFadden

Pat McFadden
Pat McFadden
Oli Scarff via Getty Images

Labour’s Shadow Europe Minister Pat McFadden today said the UK should not be “imprisoned” by the 2003 Iraq War when it comes to tackling Isis.

The frontbencher claimed the UK was involved in a “generational struggle” against the jihadist ideology, and taking on the terrorist group was a “battle of necessity”.

This afternoon Prime Minister David Cameron announced he would consider taking military action against so-called Islamic State in Syria without UN approval.

On BBC Radio 4’s World at One this afternoon, Mr McFadden was asked if had changed his view on intervening in Syria after voting against the proposal in 2013.

He replied: "Yes I am [more open to action in Syria]. I think it is true that every decision on military action since 2003 has the shadow of Iraq hanging over it. There’s no doubt about that.

“Every time the House of Commons debates this, whether it's Libya or the Syrian decision two years ago or the current air campaign over Iraq, it's always in that context and that’s understandable.

“And my view of this is of course we should learn from the past but we shouldn’t be imprisoned by the past, and that this decision must be taken in terms of what we can do in the here and now, not an endless repeat of the arguments of 2003."

Mr McFadden was also asked if he would be prepared to vote for intervention in Syria without a UN Security Council resolution.

He replied: “We have to see what the proposition is. I have no problem in principle with military action against Isis. We’re taking it in Iraq so I have no problem in principle of doing it.

“People ask legitimate questions about what it’s going to be linked to both on the ground and more broadly politically. There’s the Vienna process and so on and what value it can add. The truth is that the struggle that we are engaged in against the ideology which is represented by different forces at different times, the ideology of al Qaeda, the ideology of Isis, sometimes where we’re not involved at all like Boko Haram, is a generational struggle.

“It’s a battle of necessity not a battle of choice and we have to look at it in that context when decisions come to face us.”

He said: “You cannot as I said yesterday outsource to a Russian veto the decisions we need to keep our country safe.”

The stakes appeared to have been raised by Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond this evening, who in a trip to Bosnia questioned the motives of the Russian bombing campaign in Syris.

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