As a staunch opponent to air strikes against Syria, Wednesday's vote in the House of Commons to do just that was nothing less than a disappointment to me. An inevitable decision by the Conservative Party? Of course. But the decision by some Labour MPs to vote with the government has left many Party members and constituents questioning whether they're being accurately represented.
To watch as MPs from both sides of the house cheered and laughed as the result was announced made it seem as though this is simply a game. It suggests that innocent civilians won't be subject to even more violence in their already war torn home. The vote means that Syria has simply become a pawn in Britain's game of supposed international security.
The Labour MPs who opposed the action called on the "ayes" to provide evidence to support the idea that the air strikes will work, only to be met with silence. While there is the possibility that the strikes will disrupt Da'esh activities, they will ultimately fail to tackle the ideology itself, but the effect of the strikes will still be felt by all in Syria.
The 10 hours of debate showed that understandably security at home and abroad was a key factor in the decision that MPs took. But this focus on security and the need to honour friendships and alliances in other countries seems to suggest that it takes precedence over the lives over the Syrian civilians that the strikes are undoubtedly going to affect. Not everything in politics has to be about international relations, it's just as important to focus on the morality of the decisions that are being taken.
After the terrorist attacks in Paris earlier this month, there was an outpouring of emotion and solidarity for the people of the city and France as a whole. Of course, any attack that causes a devastation as great as that in Paris deserves mass attention. But this is what is happening every day in countries like Syria, Nigeria, Yemen, Libya, and Palestine. The list is endless. But these countries are not simply across the English Channel; we just don't feel as attached to these places as we do to countries like France. In light of Wednesday's vote, it's clear to see that this plays a role in the decisions made in the House of Commons.
There's no denying that what Da'esh is doing is barbaric, and we need to take urgent steps to stop its spread and eradicate its existence. Knowing that women are being raped, and gay men are being thrown from buildings is something that should shock us all into action. But air strikes are not the way to do this. Watching the old boys club of Westminster spend just a day debating such a huge decision makes for some sort of dystopian novel. The men and women who sit in the chamber are so far removed from the atrocities that are occurring in the Middle East that it's almost frightening how little time it took to come to their decisions.
Regardless, the fact that people are choosing to hurl threats at and send pictures of dead refugees and Syrian casualties to the Labour MPs who chose to vote for action is abusive and frankly embarrassing. They were given a free vote and were thus entitled to lean to either side of the argument. By all means, write, email, and call them and let them know that you disagree with their decision, but the scare tactics that are currently being used by some are ineffective and are likely to contribute to the stereotype that the left is vitriolic and malicious.
Yet, as elected representatives, they have a duty to carry out the wishes of their constituents. With protests and vigils being organised and carried out in opposition to strikes in the past few weeks, it's clear that the decision of some MPs, Labour MPs in particular, will likely be met with staunch opposition from the people they represent.
Even with the laughter and the jokes that could be heard in the chamber, it would be too cynical to suggest that any MPs decision was made lightly. Yet with no evidence to suggest that the intervention will achieve its aims, the jump to air strikes seems premature and a disservice to the constituents of this country, but a horrific injustice to the people of Syria.
This is an extended version of an article Lauren originally posted on Think Left