The Blog

Bombing Syria Is The Wrong Choice for Labour MPs

Imagine an abusive household.

The parents constantly fight. They fight in front of their children. The hurl emotional abuse against each other and they turn violent. They hit, slap and kick each other, they scratch, they punch each other. All of this is done in front of the two young children who are scarred for life and just want it to stop. They want their parents to stop fighting and go back to what resembles a normal life.

The neighbours have taken notice of the fight because of the noise from things being broken, from shouting and because the children often escape at their house to get a hot meal. They call the social services to come in and help the children. The social services come in and they take part in the fight. They start slapping both parents around, shout at them and slap the kids too for just being there.

Is this what we would want and expect the social services to do? Is this how we would return this imaginary household to any sense of normality?

Because this is exactly what we are proposing to do in Syria to stop Isis and the Syrian civil war.

The Labour party is against the bombings and for good reason. The case for it has not been made yet, politically, militarily, economically or morally.

Politically, the only benefit is that it buys us a seat at the table with the other countries. It must be a sad day where we have to bomb another country to show we are part of the club. What happened to us leading a diplomatic mission to bring unity to a divided country? The UK should have gone in with its best diplomats to try and sort this mess out, supporting the NGOs operating on the ground to try and alleviate the pain the Syrians are suffering. Why is military intervention the right political solution to fight a terrorist organisation that was born out of the chaos caused by the Iraq war and that will thrive out of the chaos caused by further bombings? If it is to avoid terror at home, it is worth remembering that most of the French suicide bombers were French and Belgian. Maybe, just maybe, is worth looking at the failings at home before we start looking elsewhere. Why vote for bombing Syria when there is no coherent strategy on how to deal with the situation? Were the Iraq lessons never learnt? Why allow Cameron the excuse of Labour MPs voting with him for an ill-though and ill-advised war?

Militarily, the UK offers nothing additional to the "war on terror". Adding a number of airplanes and some more bombs to the mix does not offer anything material. The US already has a lot more airplanes and bombers than what the UK has to offer, and that is before adding France and Russia to the mix. It is naïve to think that the addition of UK airplanes will make a difference to this. If the UK wanted to help, they could offer use of the Akrotiri RAF base in Cyprus. The military solution needs boots on the ground. It needs a coherent military strategy that coordinates multiple countries and armies to pinch, surround and push the ISIS terrorists. This has yet to be provided. So why vote for it? What is the urgent military need that forces Labour MPs to support the government in this folly?

Economically, the case is overwhelmingly against intervention. When the government imposes unnecessary austerity to millions of people pushing hundreds of thousand families and children into poverty, it is naïve, stupid and plainly offensive to then spend hundreds of millions, maybe billions into an unnecessary intervention. The figures have not been put forward by the government. They have not calculated or even estimated the cost of this expedition. Yet, when the figures reveal themselves, Labour will not be able to hold the government into account for wasting money on wars when people starve at home, because Labour MPs would have voted for it. If you are a Labour MP that thought the red book stunt by the Shadow Chancellor was wrong and it prevented from calling the Chancellor into account, what do you think your vote for this war will do? It is a far stronger message and handicap than what a failed joke stunt will ever be.

Morally, it is naïve to think bombing will help defuse the situation in Syria. Any arguments the government makes about morality fail at the start just by looking at the number of refugees taken in. How can we ever make a moral argument for intervention when we do not open our door to feed and support those hit by the civil war and Isis? How can we say that we are doing it for the Syrian people when we do not provide the basic human needs to people made destitute by war? Morally, we should be ashamed of our response.

So, Labour MP intending to vote for war, let me ask you this; if politically, militarily, economically or morally the case has not been made for it, what makes you go for it? What drives the need to go against your party's wishes? What makes you vote against what most of Labour members actually want and support? What motivates you to support an incomplete plan in a way that will prevent holding into account those responsible when things go awry, because they, undoubtedly, will? What is the overwhelming case that you think supports and underpins this activity and makes you vote for it? Do you remember Iraq and its lessons? Do you remember the effect it had to Labour and this country? What do you think, voting for this, would the effect be for Labour and the country this time?

Finally, did you think to ask the Syrians what they want? Do they really want to be bombed some more or would they prefer a diplomatic solution that stops the fighting and sorts out this mess that has been going on for years? I know what I would choose.

Please do not support the bombings.