Confirmed: Lib Dem MPs to back airstrikes in Syria – Sky

We will keep you updated.

Nick Clegg has confirmed this

He said that Tim Farron had led the debate and that on balance it was best to back the international effort. There is the “tantalising prospect of a more coherent approach to this awful civil war…we should play our part in being co-author to a solution in that part of the world.

The plot thickens, though. SLF Chair Naomi Smith tweeted..

It seems more likely that he may have spoken out of turn rather than inaccurately, but, still. There’s only 8 cats to herd now, but still they’ll surprise you. Where’s Linda Jack’s fluffy handcuffs when you need them?

Here’s a reminder of the five tests Tim set last week:

1.   Legal

Military intervention must follow an international legal framework. We believe this has been provided by UN Resolution 2249 which urges members to take “all reasonable measures” to defeat ISIL.

This is the instrument with which all those opposed to ISIL have the means to coordinate military action to defeat them, including regional actors on the ground.

2.       Wider diplomatic framework including efforts towards a no-bomb zone to protect civilians

Any military action by the UK must be part of a wider international effort involving all who have an interest in defeating ISIL, as a prelude to ending the conflict in Syria, including Russia, Iran and Turkey.

The UK Government should use all efforts to ensure that the Vienna talks succeed in bringing together the broadest possible support for action to end the war in Syria and effect political transition.

In addition, we call on the government to explicitly work towards ending the Syrian regime’s bombing of civilianswith a no-bomb zone to maximise civilian protection and allow for an upscaling of humanitarian access.

3.       UK led pressure on Gulf States for increased support in the region

The UK should lead a concerted international effort to put pressure on the Gulf States, specifically Saudi Arabia and the Emiratis, to stop the funding of jihadi groups within the region and worldwide and do much more to assist in the effort to defeat ISIL, establish peace in Syria and help with the refugee situation. They are currently doing very little, despite claiming to be part of the anti-ISIL coalition.

ISIL is not just a Western problem, and this is one way of preventing them from framing the situation in that way.

4.       Post-ISIL plan

The government must be absolutely clear on what Syria and Iraq will look like post-ISIL, and what post-conflict strategy (including an exit strategy) they propose to give the best chance of avoiding a power vacuum. This must be linked to the above diplomatic framework which will outline steps for ending the wider conflict in Syria.

5.       Domestic

We acknowledge that the fight against ISIL is not just in the Middle East: it is within Europe and it is here in the UK. We call on the government to immediately publish its 2014 investigation into the Muslim Brotherhood and also call on them to conduct an investigation into foreign funding and support of extremist and terrorist groups in the UK.

We call on the government to step up its acceptance of Syrian refugees, and opt in to Save the Children’s proposal to rehome 3000 unaccompanied refugee children from with Europe.

back airstrikes in Kosovo, calling them “unpardonable folly.” At that time, Paddy Ashdown had been one of the most vocal proponents of taking action on humanitarian grounds. 

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63 Comments

  • I can’t believe this. Nick is on Sky news announcing support , seemingly with no caveats. What on earth is happening?

  • And why is the former leader announcing this news on this most important of all issues? Where is the Leader??

  • Terry Balfour 1st Dec '15 - 7:36pm

    Because Syria and Iraq have become mired in lunacy, I don’t think we should add more by bombing either.

  • David Evans 1st Dec '15 - 7:40pm

    If true, it is a disaster. We spent five years under Nick looking just like the rest. If it really is true it now seems Tim likes being just like them as well.

  • Why on Earth is it Nick who is announcing this?

    Where is Tim?

    He owes it to the party to put out a statement explaining how his 5 tests have been met.

  • Eddie Sammon 1st Dec '15 - 7:45pm

    I think it is the right decision but in the last few hours I tweeted all Lib Dem MPs to tell them to just trust their instincts. By now they will have all received more information than us on the matter and short-term politics shouldn’t dictate the outcome.

    I also think we need to move onto considering action against Assad ASAP. It seems many experts support this and even a lot on the centre-left seem to support it too because of what Syrian natives are saying.

    We need to do the right thing and I’m sure the Lib Dem MPs have considered it. They’ve won a supporter back in me anyway.

  • Thomas Shakespeare 1st Dec '15 - 7:47pm

    How is a “tantalising prospect” reason enough to go to war? We need hard evidence not a stab in the dark.

  • Sigh – Whatever the rights and wrongs, this is dumb politics. The motion doesn’t need our support to pass now, and Lib Dem voters are not warmongerers.
    The rights and wrongs are dubious anyway as we’ve fiercely debated over the past few days.
    Further sigh at Nick Clegg announcing it – Tim needs to lead here.

  • Eddie Sammon – I’d be far more comfortable with action if we were targeting Assad as you’ve suggested, or at least getting him into exile so the pieces of Syria can be put back together. The action we’re now supporting will only strengthen him.

  • OK, I’m new here (to party membership and LDV), but there is a poll showing that a clear majority of members (that voted) are against bombing Syria. Then the party leader gets together with the remaining MPs and decides to back the exact opposite position.

    What just happened?

  • This is not a disaster, this is about showing that we can do more than just talk about a liberal and democrat world from our armchairs. A sound decision.

  • If the 8 don’t know something we don’t I for one won’t be happy.

  • If this is correct Im cancelling my party membership tomorrow. Not in my name.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 1st Dec '15 - 8:01pm

    @nick baird: Only 10% of the 975 who responded were against airstrikes in any circumstances. Let’s wait to hear from Tim about his reasoning. He will have come at this from a liberal and humanitarian and internationalist perspective. Let’s hear him out.

  • Philip Rolle 1st Dec '15 - 8:01pm

    For a hawk like me, this decision is the right one. That probably means that most Lib Dems will disagree with it.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 1st Dec '15 - 8:01pm

    I expect a statement from Tim very soon.

  • The decision is nearly as surprising as the fact that the party thought it a good idea to get Nick to announce it.
    I can’t see that the UK joining in making the syrian rubble bounce will achieve anything without a ground operation and so it just seems that the LDs have joined the establishment parties in wanting to look tough. Oh dear.

  • sorry to go on, but will we be the only party who sees ALL of its MPs support bombing?

  • Andrew Martin 1st Dec '15 - 8:18pm

    Well done Tim.

  • I agree with Paul Walter.

  • Caron, ” very soon”? How is that anywhere near good enough? We (and the public) should have heard from him at the outset, not Nick Clegg.

  • John Barrett 1st Dec '15 - 8:24pm

    Caron – Why quote the statistic of 10% being against air strikes under any circumstances rather than the 67% who actually appose airstrikes now. This type of spin does no credit to LDV.

    Nick making the announcement was a bad decision, even if Tim makes a statement soon, it is too late now. Remember it was Nick who tried and failed to get all our MPs to vote to bomb Assad.

    Johnmc – it would be good to see at least one MP reflect the majority view of those polled, and probably the entire membership. Do not be surprised if we lose members over this decision.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 1st Dec '15 - 8:28pm

    @John Barrett: I was one of the 67%. All I’m saying is let’s see what they have to say – it may be that they know stuff that we don’t yet which might affect people’s opinion.

    I’m not trying to spin anything, I’m just saying wait to see the rationale.

  • We should all remember that we’re not party to information that the MPs have access to.

    I’m sure it said on R4 this morning that there was a poll where all party supporters backed air strikes, including our own.

  • TCO this deference to MPs knowing more than we do – that ship has sailed, after “45 minutes”.

    The Foreign Affairs Select Committee has rejected air strikes and I’m pretty sure they know as much as the Lib Dem MPs.

  • My first comment must have got eaten?

    I’m pretty disappointed in this decision, and I think we are going to be punished for it.

  • John Barrett 1st Dec '15 - 8:42pm

    TCO – It is equally possible that our MPs have no more information than is already out in the public domain.

  • Dave Orbison 1st Dec '15 - 8:43pm

    Sorry but the idea that the face saver here is that the MPs must have been told something, no doubt presumably something they cannot share, is desperate and hardly consistent with the Foreign Affairs Committee voting against action.

  • Stephen Hesketh 1st Dec '15 - 8:48pm

    Surprising that someone other than a party leader should announce such a momentous decision on behalf of a political party.

    In our case totally beyond belief that if it wasn’t Tim, it should have been Clegg!!!

    Looks around … no, clearly it is far from just being me.

  • Julie Maxon 1st Dec '15 - 8:52pm

    For such an important decision to have been announced by Nick via Sky News rather than by Tim to the members is appalling. Tim’s previously stated ‘5 tests’ have not been met so what was the point of them? I’m sorry but saying that they might know stuff that we don’t doesn’t cut it – they will always have access to information we don’t (they should do as MPs) but that’s where good communication comes in and in that respect the Party has failed yet again. Tim, as leader, should have personally issued a clear statement to members explaining why the decision had been taken and why they have now decided the ‘5 tests’ no longer need to be met in full. I am personally against airstrikes so am very disappointed with the decision but am also disappointed with how it is being handled.

  • “I think we’re going to be punished for it”

    So should we do what is right or what is popular?

  • We should do what is right, because to do anything else makes our entire endeavour as a political party pointless.

    We should oppose bombs in Syria for two main reasons:

    1. We have no idea of even what the good endings are for involvement, or how to get there.
    2. We have well over twenty years of proof that “bomb the people you dislike out of existence” is not a valid strategy for a military campaign.

  • Tony Greaves 1st Dec '15 - 9:11pm

    It was very obvious at a joint parliamentary meeting yesterday that the MPs were going to vote for British bombing. There were a few sensible voices from some peers but the whole tenor of the meeting was very dispiriting.

    The crazy part of it is that it won’t make any real difference – perhaps one British plane a day and three missiles a week fired (the Americans are already going back without firing because they can’t find many more targets to hit).

    I do believe that the Commons leadership of our party is letting us down badly on this and that they have been bamboozled by “experts”. But I do think that members of the party who are very upset by this decision (which is also contrary to all the signals given out in the past few days) should stick around and take part in the debate – which will obviously go on for three months up to the spring conference. By doing this we will all contribute to much greater understanding of the situation in Syria which is frankly abysmal (the understanding as well as the situation itself).

    Anyway along with lots of other Lords I will have four minutes tomorrow to have my say, but no vote of course.

    Tony Greaves

  • David Evans 1st Dec '15 - 9:12pm

    Crewewgwyn, do you believe what is right is unpopular? No one knows it is right, but a lot of Liberals know it is wrong. I think a lot of Britons know it too.

  • Andrew McCaig 1st Dec '15 - 9:13pm

    crewegwyn,

    Well, we should certainly not erect 5 tests and then go ahead even when 4 of the 5 tests have manifestly not been met (and even the other one is very arguable. Generally you need permission from the government to undertake military action on their territory. We have that in Iraq, but not in Syria, as far as I know… Unless we are now formally allied with Russia).

    And to those who are saying we should now be attacking Assad – do you REALLY want to start a war with Russia, because that would be inevitable now if we did that…

  • > “I think we are going to be punished for it.”

    As far as the various jihadists are concerned, “the West” is going to be punished regardless…
    So no point in running scared, just stand up, take appropriate precautions and get on with life; it’s what we did through the IRA bombing campaigns and our parents did through WWII…

  • Shifting some rubble around in Syria, with risk of tragic collateral damage along the way, isn’t going to make anyone any safer, either here or in Syria.

  • Has anybody who is against our involvement in Syria actually said we should withdraw from Iraq? If not can it be explained why.

  • Richard Underhill 1st Dec '15 - 9:41pm

    William 1st Dec ’15 – 7:44pm “Why on Earth is it Nick who is announcing this?” David Steel used to make announcements for Paddy Ashdown, nothing new there. Nick Clegg has been seeing the srecurity stuff for five years, but, is it the right decision? Are the MPs wanting to avoid being in the same division lobby as Jeremy Corbyn?

  • This is Tims full statement (email of a shorter version just arrived)
    http://www.libdems.org.uk/position_on_syria?utm_campaign=151201_syria&utm_medium=email&utm_source=libdems

  • John Deeks
    I don’t necessarily agree with this, but the argument goes that the legitimate Government in Iraq asked for our help against a powerful insurgency. No such invitation has come from the Syrian Government.

  • Tim13
    Unfortunately the Syrians in the areas held by Daesh do not really have a government interested in asking for help.

  • Julie Maxon 1st Dec '15 - 10:34pm

    Tim’s statement leaves me speechless re his 5 tests being met as best they can. He asks that, if we cannot support his decision, we might support the approach he has taken in reaching it – sorry Tim, I can’t.

  • Tony Greaves 1st Dec '15 - 10:38pm

    Been talking this evening already (via different media!) to three members whose immediate reaction was to chuck in the towel. But there is an argument here worth standing up and winning.

  • Julie Maxon 1st Dec '15 - 10:53pm

    @Cllr Mark Wright – “the government of Syria has been screaming for help” – you mean the government who are killing their own people with barrel bombs etc … the government who have killed far more people than ISIL and who are the main cause of the refugee crisis. Refusing to help because we don’t like him? I detest him for what he does to his people. ISIL were not present when the first peaceful protests began in Syria.

  • Sorry but I though being an LD meant taking the hard and unpopular road sometimes to give a voice to those who don’t have one. Completely the right decision made this evening. For those who are going to ‘cancel my membership in the morning’, perhaps this wasn’t the right party for you in the first place.

  • Meenakshi Minnis 2nd Dec '15 - 12:30am

    Am I allowed an opinion?

  • A.L.Mockford 2nd Dec '15 - 12:55am

    We set 5 reasonable tests. 4 of these have not been met. Therefore our MPs should do what they said & vote against bombing Syria. Unfortunately once again our MPs have discredited our party.

  • Carl, there is no major party that opposes strikes. I’ve voted Lib Dem for 20 years, hardly the action of someone jumping on every bandwagon. Its not about popularity, the unthinking popular response to terrorism is revenge. We’re choosing a stupid path that will kill many non combatants at huge cost.

  • We elect people to parliament as first and foremost parliamentarians and never as delegates, and members of a Liberal party above all should respect that. What view any member takes , eight individuals have shown and are showing they are listening to reason and conscience.That is as any of us should.

  • John Barrett 2nd Dec '15 - 9:41am

    Cllr Mark Wright – You can’t have it both ways.

    Saying that we should support military action today because, “The government of Syria has been screaming for help against ISIS for years, but the west has been refusing to help because we don’t like Assad.” and ” yes that same government. I supported action against them”. Or have I misunderstood you?

    It sounds like you want to bomb both sides.

  • @Carl
    “Sorry but I though being an LD meant taking the hard and unpopular road sometimes to give a voice to those who don’t have one.”

    The choice that has been taken IS the easy, populist choice TODAY. The unpopular thing to do would be to oppose the bombing – just look at the abuse Corbyn’s receiving. However, time and time again, public support for conflict decreases as the conflict drags on – Farron’s populist support today will turn against him in the coming years.

  • David Murray 2nd Dec '15 - 11:12am

    When Cameron uses terms like ‘terrorist sympathisers’ on those who disagree, with good reason, on a bombing campaign with no defined outcomes, you know that he has no real evidence to back up his proposal, and that it is some macho desire to be seen to be ‘doing something’, whatever the consequencies. Instead, action should be taken to ‘degrade ISIL’ by cutting its supply lines, and attacking states which are providing ISIL with its means of support.

  • Steve Comer 2nd Dec '15 - 5:11pm

    Tony: I’ve not ‘chucked in the towel’ just yet, but I have taken it off the hook in the bathroom, and am considering whether I should!……
    Why do I still want to be a member of the smallest establishment unionist party? I’m beginning to wonder?
    I suppose like smoking being a Lib Dem member is a hard habit to give up….

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