Mixed emotions after Syria vote

Yesterday was a very strange day, full of mixed emotions for me. I had instinctively felt from the start of all of this that the case for extending air strikes into Syria had not been made and, although I came very close, I could never get to a place where I felt the risks to people on the ground outweighed the potential benefits. Had I been a Liberal Democrat MP, I would have voted against. I watched a huge chunk of the debate and it was, at times, difficult to see my feelings being expressed by members of other parties.

This wasn’t like the coalition years, though. On more than a handful of occasions, I sat through parliamentary debates with gritted teeth, often feeling apoplectic because I could not understand why on earth we had even entertained the idea of voting for, say, secret courts or some of the more brutal elements of welfare reform. Yesterday, though, I could totally understand and empathise with our leader’s stance, driven as it was by the best of liberal, humanitarian and internationalist motivations. He made an absolute cracker of a speech, delivered with passion and confidence. If you haven’t seen it, watch this extract:

Here is my response in the House of Commons earlier today, on the decision to take action on ISIL in Syria

Posted by Tim Farron on Wednesday, 2 December 2015

That speech made it into the Guardian’s top ten of the debate and Allegra Stratton said on Newsnight last night that Tim had actually persuaded some Labour MPs to vote with the Government.

I was glad, however, that my views were represented in the division lobbies by two of our MPs, Norman Lamb and Mark Williams. It’s a great credit to our party that we were able to debate this in a very serious manner and without rancour or recrimination. There has been much mention of Charles Kennedy over the past few days. Yesterday was 6 months since we’d woken up to the awful news that he had died. We loved him so much and we miss him intensely. That feeling of loss isn’t going to go away any time soon. We can’t know for certain how he would have voted yesterday. However, we can be absolutely certain that he would have behaved with absolute respect and generosity of spirit for those who didn’t share his view and that’s an example we should always strive to follow.

Tim could have given himself an easy life and led our MPs to vote against, but that’s not who he is. He made his decision knowing that there was considerable opposition amongst activists at least. He showed courage and principle. I hope that whatever our views, we can all be very proud of him for that.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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46 Comments

  • Charles Rothwell 3rd Dec '15 - 9:04am

    Splendid closing words, Caron (unlike some of the vile comments made about Tim/the Party I saw on some Facebook pages!) I was fully behind Tim (+ Hilary Benn + Margaret Beckett) and believe a marker has to be put down. ISIL is the total and absolute embodiment of everything which liberalism opposes and, whatever the (lamentable) reasons for its birth and growth, the time has come for a war of annihilation against it (at all levels, starting, in particular, with community politics) to unfold.

  • Nick Coates 3rd Dec '15 - 9:06am

    Well expressed, Caron. I, too, have written and argued elsewhere against this military intervention. However, the nature of democracy is that the debate has been had in public, in the media and in Parliament, the motion has been decided and I respect that.
    I have a fear coming out of this however, that, in the political world at large there is an increase in the level of invective against whose views are different from ours – some of that was expressed by MPs yesterday. We must not allow political debate to subside into a whoever shouts loudest, whoever can exert the most emotional pressure, whoever is better organised. Let’s hear all the voices, but then let democracy take its course.

  • @Nick Coates,
    “whoever can exert the most emotional pressure,”

    But that is exactly what happened in the Commons yesterday. Those that exerted the emotional pressure won over reasoning. I would also add that living in a democracy means that nothing is ever decided, except on a temporary basis. Yesterday’s vote can be overturned in a month’s time if necessary. It is absolutely right that those opposed to the bombing should step up the pressure.

  • Graham Martin-Royle 3rd Dec '15 - 9:53am

    Whatever the outcome, at least this vote was taken after a proper debate without the lies that accompanied the previous debate about the Iraq war.

  • Graham Martin-Royle 3rd Dec ’15 – 9:53am……………..Whatever the outcome, at least this vote was taken after a proper debate without the lies that accompanied the previous debate about the Iraq war……………..

    The debate I heard was ‘exactly’ like that for the Iraq war….Cameron, like Blair, resorted to abusing his opponents, supplying ‘dodgy’ facts, and promising to make us ‘safer’…

    As for Benn’s speech….. long on passion and rhetoric; short on facts…

  • Lorraine Johnson 3rd Dec '15 - 10:16am

    Thanks for this well considered & thoughtful piece Caron I was very moved by Tim’s speech & had I been an MP he may have persuaded me to support the airstrikes although instinctively I am opposed to violence I too have almost reached the point that action is better than inaction . The decision has now been made & we must respect that & fighting amongst ourselves won’t help. We can disagree but recognise the valid of other people’s viewpoints . The first airstrikes have taken place & I hope & pray that this will ultimately bring about a lasting peace which is what we must focus on whilst doing our utmost to minimise casualties & support refugees

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Dec '15 - 10:28am

    On an issue of this importance those who seek to whip their MPs should be ridiculed and the MPs should defy them, as many did in several parties. When the whips are off the House of Commons can be at its best.
    If we are asked what can eight MPs do, the answer is simple: eight times as much as what one MP can do.do.
    Several MPs were committee chairs. One committee chair had changed his mind. In the Commons substitutes are not allowed in committees, so a committee had voted with a majority of one against military action.
    Caroline Lucas spoke well, although she was rushing the presentation of her research because of the time limit.
    There is one member of the UUP, who had been elected in a seat previously held by Sinn Fein.
    There was an independent. She had presumably been elected for the SNP.
    I did not see Douglas Carswell. Perhaps he was in Oldham.
    Trying to get all the MPs of any party to all do the same thing on an issue as controversial as this is undesirable. In the past some whips would have used allegations of homosexuality, as Matthew Parris has attested. Some suffer internet trolls, as happened to Charles Kennedy and as Labour MP Alan Johnson said in the debate in the Commons yesterday.
    As Liberal Democrats we are pluralists.
    Expect mission creep, such as small numbers of expert soldiers on the ground in Syria, aas the USA has done.
    Further monitoring will be needed, as Tim Farron said.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Dec '15 - 10:39am

    This was the main story on the Ten o’clock news, but, contrary to the broadcasters’ usual time management, they had to wait for the votes. Nevertheless they concentrated on what they saw as the main vote, as the main issue, and not on the amendment, which had widespread cross-party support.
    C’est la vie.

  • Marius Reynolds 3rd Dec '15 - 10:44am

    I congratulate Norman Lamb and Mark Williams for voting against bombing Syria and am disappointed that it was Farron’s decision that Libdems should support the government. I am seriously considering resigning from the party, whose parliamentary actions I find more and more distasteful.

  • Marius Reynolds 3rd Dec '15 - 10:49am

    I c ongratulate Norman Lamb and Mark Williams for voting against the bombing of Syria and am dismayed that Tim Farron decided that the party should support the government. I am a long-standing member of the party but am seriously considering resigning from it, partly on this issue but also because I find its stance on other matters against my instincts.

  • George Boyd 3rd Dec '15 - 10:53am

    Well said Caron
    Was impressed with Tim Fallon and dare I admit Margaret Beckett and Hilary Benn (if his dad was watching down must have been proud) Charles Kennedy sadly missed in my thoughts throughout the debate. Prayers & Thoughts to his family 6 months already.
    Let’s not be divided in the coming year we have to fight on in our own battles. So let’s get “Boot’s on the Ground”. Get knocking on doors and get as many MSP’s & Councillor’s elected ASAP. Good Luck in Oldham to-night as well. The fight back has begun. George Boyd (East Lothian) Royal Navy Veteran

  • Poor old Tim. Everyone thinks his surname is Fallon.

  • Jayne Mansfield 3rd Dec '15 - 11:27am

    I am sure that MPs made their decision in good faith. I really hope that we have made the correct one.

    However, I have never believed that discussions of this import should be made at times of high emotion, e.g. immediately after the Paris atrocities. Nor do I appreciate emotional arguments. We all know what ISIS is capable raping , throwing gays off buildings etc . Repeating how venal their behaviour is, does not mean that the proposed bombing will be effective.

    I have the privilege of working from home so I have been able to spend my days listening to the rolling news on Sky for rather longer than just yesterday. I have listened to more experts than one can shake a stick at and I remain sceptical.

    Today I was listening to a brave Tornado fighter who will be carrying out the bombing, and I hope upon hope that they all return safely. I have also listened to former British fighter bomber pilot and an American bomber pilot. They say that the situation on the ground is so confused that we must accept that mistakes will be made and also civilians will die.

    I believe that the argument about 70,000 potential ground troops is dishonest, as is the argument that bombing in Syria is simply a minor ‘uptick’ in our involvement. I fear that we are embarking on the second stage of a cascade of intervention that our children will inherit.

    Members of the general public such as myself, have been given no answer as to to what a successful outcome would be, given that Assad is killing more civilians than ISIS, and that ISIS is an ideology with widespread support, not simply an army.

  • Dave Orbison 3rd Dec '15 - 11:29am

    Expats – I’m with you it was every bit as bad as the Iraq fiasco. Cameron dreaming up 70000 ground forces ready to pounce if only a few UK bombs were dropped. Sorry Caron but I’m not prepared to share the Farron-love in as to what a brave decision etc etc. This was not a debate where we simply scored who was best. It was a vote with deadly consequences. An objective assessment, even Farron’s own 5 point test shows what a hopeless strategy bombs alone is. Even when the targets are discreet as per Bomber Harris or the Nazi turning Stalingrad into rumble we can see how this alone can never succeed. This was done for no more than gesture politics. If it has no chance of succeeding it can only be part of a planned mission creep project in which case we were misled or at best it is as I say, just a gesture. That’s not a justification to kill innocent people nor to slap ourselves on the back and congratulate ourselves on how wonderfully tolerant we are in debates.

  • Sadie Smith 3rd Dec '15 - 11:51am

    Relieved there are critical voices in this as well.
    Very relieved that Norman and Mark rescued our reputation.

  • I too was pleased to see Norman and Mark salvaging at least something from yesterday’s vote (if back when we voted for Leader I had been told that our two candidates would be in different lobbies on a vote to bomb Syria, I would never have guessed it this way around).

    Yes there were some powerful pro-war speeches yesterday, although it does seem to me that the delivery and passion exceeded the argumentation. It was moving and admirable that Tim spoke up for the refugees… but…guaranteed in the short term and quite probably in the longer term, bombing will create more refugees and hardly improve life quality for those who haven’t yet fled their homes. Hilary Benn’s call to action was equally passionate, but listen carefully and his line of argument wasn’t much more than “ISIS are really horrible, we must do something, anything….and stand by the French”, the French (understandably) having found themselves under even greater pressure just to do something/anything.

    We also need to think about the politics and the long fightback we are now starting. As a tiny party in Parliament with no influence we will struggle to get airtime, and even more to implant any perceptions of what we stand for in the public’s mind, even during an election let alone beforehand. If we look back there have been few big issues that people would widely identify with our Party – indeed the extra penny for education, tuition fees, opposition to military intervention in the Middle East, voting reform, and, on a very good day, just possibly civil liberties and the environment… are there any others? Each of these takes a long long time to embed in people’s minds and build a constituency around; we will need to plug on relentlessly, adopt principled positions and STICK to them.

    If you look at that list now, the education tax is an issue whose time has gone, voting reform and tuition fees ’nuff said, civil liberties we have just about held on to (but isn’t an issue with wide traction), I’m proud of our environmental achievements in government but they are technical and I would be surprised if we were really seen by the person in the street as the Green party nowadays (partly because there is one already), and now having voted in favour of bombing both sides in the same civil war the political capital Kennedy build for our party on foreign affairs is now gone.

  • A nicely written piece,
    Personally, I’m resigned to the fact that parliament has opted Britain into a mess with no real strategy,a mish mash of conflicting aims and no end in sight yet again. Fingers crossed for the people of Syria and our aircrews.

  • 3 thoughts for the morning after:
    1) I hated the debate, it was all “action vs inaction” when it was only the Corbyn pacifiers who were against all action. The question of “Why is this action the right action when it’s been ineffective elsewhere?” was hardly raised, or dealt with trivially. Even with Hilary Benn doing his best, this was never the Commons at its finest. I just hope our course of action is good enough.
    2) Hooray for Norman Lamb and Mark Williams
    3) We don’t matter in the Commons. At all. Look at our sound and fury. We have 8 MPs, and Cameron had a majority of 174. Even allowing for Newsnight saying Tim Farron influenced a few Labourites, this was a stark example of our irrelevance. Our survival is still not guaranteed.

  • John Roffey 3rd Dec '15 - 12:53pm

    Ian 3rd Dec ’15 – 12:24pm

    “If we look back there have been few big issues that people would widely identify with our Party – indeed the extra penny for education, tuition fees, opposition to military intervention in the Middle East, voting reform, and, on a very good day, just possibly civil liberties and the environment… are there any others? Each of these takes a long long time to embed in people’s minds and build a constituency around; we will need to plug on relentlessly, adopt principled positions and STICK to them.”

    Since nearly all of the leading scientists agree that the necessary changes to prevent average global temperatures going beyond 2 degrees of pre industrial temperatures are required in the next 10 years – wouldn’t this be the issue for the Party to focus upon?

    I joined the Green Party for a while earlier in the year expecting this to be the case for them – but was astonished to find that social issues occupied their efforts, by far, to the greatest extent – also that the Party was a shambles and seemed to lack any realism with what could and could not be achieved.

    Since global warming/climate change is going to become increasingly in focus as the targets set are unlikely to be met and this is an issue where the young are becoming increasingly involved [unsurprisingly] – isn’t this the issue most likely to restore the Party’s fortunes – apart from being the most important during that time?

  • Ian Hurdley 3rd Dec '15 - 1:03pm

    I posted this thought earlier on the FB page, Lib Dems Against Trident, but it applies more widely
    When my daughters were growing up I encouraged them to think for themselves, to gather the available information, to reflect and to make their decision. At times, with good intentions they made – and still make – what seemed to me to be bad decisions. That did not stop them being my daughters.
    In like manner, I believe that voting in support of Britain bombing Da’esh in Syria is a bad decision, but I also believe it was a decision made with good intentions. The Lib Dems will not cease to be my party; they do so many things right in so many other policy areas.

  • I find the discussion on this site regarding the bombing of Daesh in Syria absolutely fascinating. I’m not a party member, I was until the mid 1990’s when, like so many in the centre of politics, I got drawn into the whole Blair “thing”. I have read a number of members say they may resign over this issue, but for me, the fact that Tim Farron has made such a bold stand has made me consider, for the first time in almost 20 years, rejoining.
    The posts on this site, on a range of issues, suggest that the Lib Dem rank and file now have a general world view that is pretty much identical to that of the Labour Party over a range of issues. That includes a view of military intervention which is as near pacifist as makes no difference in practice. This is not meant as a criticism. simply an observation. Regarding the rights and wrongs of bombing in Syria, Hillary Benn’s brilliant speech has made any further comment from myself redundant.

  • Steve. at 1.37. Well said. Whilst emotions understandably ran high in the Commons yesterday this was a triumph of bluster and misinformation over fact and reason. Any one placing faith in Camerons foreign affairs track record should look at his performance over Libya and the drastic, deadly and long running consequences of that. Sad day.

  • One point that may be worth considering is that Norman’s father was a conscientious objector in WWII. Whilst no one is beholden to their parents’ views, there is a strong, principled history in his family of such stances. I may disagree with his vote on this matter and share Tim’s, I have nothing but the greatest of respect for Norman and Mark. They, like Tim and the other 5 MPs, voted with their conscience and good intent.

  • Joyce Onstad 3rd Dec '15 - 3:21pm

    While I would have preferred that all Lib Dem MPs arrived at the same conclusion as I did, that is, not to bomb, it was wonderful to see true democracy in action, different points of view being debated with respectfulness (apart from Mr Cameron). I am glad that some MPs did vote against, but I am also touched by Tim for really going the extra mile to explain his decision before and after the vote especially in the video. This to me portrays a leader who cares a lot and wants to take everyone along. . We are where we are now and I hope we will unite going forward to ensure that the factors that led some of us to be on the side of “against “are debated and understood. I for one think that we need to get into the habit of dealing with the causes of things and analysing that as opposed to behaving as if an action can stand apart from other historical actions. No matter how appalling the terrorism in Paris was, it has to be framed in a wider picture otherwise we will forever be dealing with symptoms while the disease continues to grow. There is no doubt that our previous bombing campaigns some of them illegal have led us to where we are with ISIS, Our Middle East Policy is completely inconsistent. One moment we demand respect for the rule of law and human rights, but when that involves our friends. and allies we pretend not to see. One rule for some and another rule for others is unjust and totally iliberal. I hope we will work together to come up with long term solutions going beyond symbolic gestures and a need to be seen to be doing something to grappling with the root causes, a much more difficult task.

  • @ATF “Whilst no one is beholden to their parents’ views”

    Indeed -ask Hilary Benn!

  • “In war truth is the first casualty,” wrote Aeschylus 2500 years ago. Amongst all the rewriting of history we are now seeing we must not lose sight of the issue. The MPs agreed on 5 tests. Clearly these were not met. So Tim moved the goalposts. It’s not principled or courageous to move the goal posts. I had expected better of Tim. It was badly done. Thank goodness for Norman & Mark.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Dec '15 - 5:13pm

    One MP commented on Speaker Bercow’s bladder. One wonders what Hansard will do. Endurance perhaps?
    The Speaker told the Foreign Secretary to be quiet or leave the chamber ‘no matter how senior’. Few are more senior.

    Jayne Mansfield 3rd Dec ’15 – 11:27am Apparently the UK’s missiles are precision guided and only make small bangs. Both factors reduce the risk of “collateral damage”.

  • John Roffey 3rd Dec '15 - 5:21pm

    Apparently the oil fields bombed last night had not been bombed before because it was believed that workers [engineers] were being forced to keep the installations going at ISIS gunpoint – and it was thought that innocent lives would be lost if they were hit.

    So it seems very likely that innocent victims have already lost their lives – within a few hours of Parliament’s decisions!

  • Ray Cobbett 3rd Dec '15 - 5:34pm

    My faith has has been only slightly restored by Norman and Mark last night. Tim should stop dreaming that some of the 66 Labour MPs who voted against their leader may join the Lib Dems. They’re more likely to revive the SDP

  • Richard Underhill 3rd Dec '15 - 5:49pm

    Ray Cobbett 3rd Dec ’15 – 5:34pm .. but they know about the first-past-the-post electoral system which Labour in office did so little to reform, so, realistically, their aim must be to control the Labour Party.

  • Eddie Sammon 3rd Dec '15 - 6:08pm

    I’ve got mixed emotions after it too, even though I was one of the chief drum bangers below the line here. Tim needs to hold Cameron to account on it. For me it is mainly about civilian casualties. Cameron doesn’t need to bomb Syria a lot, but it was very important for us politically and there are some targets to bomb.

    News about bombing oil fields as has been in the news today is fine. However if we start bombing residential areas then public support, still very flakey, is likely to fall.

  • Denis Mollison 3rd Dec '15 - 6:21pm

    Chrisc –
    “the Lib Dem rank and file now have a general world view that is pretty much identical to that of the Labour Party over a range of issues. That includes a view of military intervention which is as near pacifist as makes no difference in practice”

    I think many of us appear close to pacifism because the wars we are asked to support are so dubious.
    In the present case, for a start there are no clear sides. Some outside powers must be supporting Daesh, in particular buying the oil it produces. It seems quite possible that their main supporter in this sense is Turkey. That needs resolving before we drop any bombs.

  • Im weighing up whether to continue as a member after last night. It was great that Mark and Norman voted against bombing but Ive lost all confidence in Farron and his advisors and just as we try to block funding of terrorists, Im not very keen on funding MPs that would interfere in a civil war in this ill thought out way. There are probably better ways to spend the membership dues, and my time, risking the lives of our forces and of harmless civilians. You cant even say Farron won any concessions for his vote, his tests werent met, he talked of rescuing additional refugees but he didnt secure this from Cameron. At best our votes were irrelevant, at worst Farron ducked an opportunity to set out his stall holding the Tories to account at a key opportunity. It looks like it will get a lot worse for the Lib Dems before it gets better.

  • paul barker 3rd Dec '15 - 7:04pm

    We all have mixed emotions about this but our rank & file members dont go around calling each other scab or traitor just because we disagree, Labours do.
    I dont see that we know much about what the wider membership think. We have the LDV survey but that has been shown in the past to be heavily weighted towards activists (& armchair activists like me). On a lot of issues that doesnt matter but I would have thought this was a case where the wider membership are likely to be closer to the electorate.

  • Denis Mollison 3rd Dec '15 - 9:12pm

    @Paul Barker
    Sadly, I think the wider membership (and the electorate) are more supportive of bombing in Syria precisely because they haven’t taken as much interest as activists. You have to waste quite a lot of your time to be reasonably well-informed on major political issues, particularly when almost all the main stream media have such strong political slants. If only we had more real investigatived journalism!

  • David Pollard 3rd Dec '15 - 9:21pm

    Well Caron, I have mixed emotions on the vote, between tremendous sadness and downright anger. I have decided to stay a member because I can see nowhere else to go politically, but my subs will be the limit of my financial commitment to the LibDems into the foreseeable.
    There are two candles in the darkness and I shall be supporting Mark Williams and Norman Lamb.

  • “However, we can be absolutely certain that he would have behaved with absolute respect and generosity of spirit for those who didn’t share his view and that’s an example we should always strive to follow.”

    Does this generosity of spirit extend to people who may genuinely have thought (however wrong they turned out to be) that removing Saddam might make the world a better place in 2003?

  • Most of my friends show disdain for me even showing sympathy for the libdems (let alone being a member). This turn of events has certainly not helped. Along with the majority of the population my friends almost unanimously thought it was the wrong thing to do. As Herman Goering famously said while in the cells awaiting his Nuremburg hearing:

    “Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.”

  • The words of a Syrian (pt1):

    “Different countries have been launching airstrikes, killing tens and hundreds of innocents, rather than terrorist groups locations, but no one saw that on mainstream media, especially what the Russians did and are doing.
    Tackle ISIS? Why not try to close the turkish border, ban buying oil in that area, put ISIS under siege, and if, for sake of argument, this way didn’t work, then move to military action, which is definitely not randomly bombing as what they are doing now!
    Showing solidarity with the French:
    In order for British to proof to the french that they feel empathy with events carried in Paris, it will be wise if they did Air-strikes that cost lots of money and kill other innocent people to show that killing people is wrong?
    Defend UK from extremism:
    If terrorists decided to attack UK, will airstrikes make them change their minds? I mean seriously?
    Airstrikes clashes:
    If the Russians are attacking “ISIS” and they support the regime,
    British are attacking “ISIS” but they are against regime.
    Rebeles are fighting ISIS and Regime.
    Kurds are fighting ISIS, Regime, and Rebels.
    Regime is claming to be fighting ISIS, and fighting Rebeles
    Civilians are stuck between all previous different parties.”

  • The words of a Syrian pt2;

    “How will your bombs identify each one of these? Or you just through it and let the magic happens?
    Can you notice that apparently Russians, Americans, French, Syrian regime, Kurds, Rebeles, and Golf countries, plus more recently british are all attacking ISIS, but for some reason its not working out?
    Earlier on, it was communism what they scare people with, now “ISIS” seems to play that rule! In that way, they can keep people paranoid, frightened and worried all time, promote anything they want, about Islamophobia, or that refugees are terrorists!
    When I checked my facebook, most of my friends in the UK were disappointed, and sad.. I want to tell you guys, please dont be. Because I haven’t seen any reaction from Syrians living in Syria….the sky is full of warplanes anyway…do you think the flag will make difference to them? It will just mean more killing, and situation there is hopless. But it is sad when you know what could the government do with this money!
    War was never the right answer, money spent on military actions can literally change lives, as if it was spent somewhere else:
    A. It wont kill innocent people
    B. It could be used to improve other people’s lives.
    ISIS has been around for more than 2 years! Why only now british government thought they should bomb them? And will it be able to handle more refugees leaving Syria? If they already said they are taking only 20,000 in 5 years!! Is it really for the sake of Syrian people?
    I hope all the MPs who has voted for the airstrikes know that they will be killing innocents, and history wont forgive them, as previously Toni confessed that it was ‘Mistake’ to invade Iraq.”

  • John Roffey 4th Dec '15 - 6:19am

    Well argued DE – I do fear that the weapons manufacturers had a far greater influence on the decision that the issue had suddenly become ‘urgent’ – than we are ever likely to know!

  • Simon Banks 4th Dec '15 - 12:04pm

    I don’t believe anything Cameron did can be equated with Blair’s behaviour over the Second Gulf War. There, Blair presented MPs with one dramatic claim that was entirely false. The most Cameron has done is to talk up the armed Syrian groups which are not with IS or Assad and to claim – a claim that any MP could see was open to question, not a false statement of fact – that joining in the bombing campaign would make us safer at home. It’s also different because there appears to have been little American pressure to join them and it’s hard to maintain that Cameron is doing it purely in order to please the US President and not annoy him.

    As with the original Syrian bombing vote, I cannot see that this is an issue where there is a straightforward Liberal position of principle. Start with Liberal principles and your consideration can take you to either side in the debate. For example, much hangs on how a political solution might eventually be achieved and also on the quite technical question of what a British contribution to the bombing of IS might change, other than killing people.

    It’s a little unfair to accuse either side in the debate of being swayed by emotion not reason. Of course emotion SHOULD play a big part and so should reason: it seems to me there was plenty of reason on both sides, though maybe less in some of the shriller arguments outside.

    For myself, I’ve edged in the last few days towards opposition, but it’s nothing like how I felt over the Iraq war, when the more I thought about it, the more rash and crazy the Bush/Blair position seemed.

  • nvelope2003 4th Dec '15 - 6:11pm

    Lubbock 1884 – Have you offered to take in some refugees ? It is all very well saying “they” – presumably the taxpayers – should do this and that and then talk about a “measly 20,000 ” refugees but they have to be housed and fed by people who are often struggling to cope themselves. In case you have not noticed there is a desperate shortage of houses and this is not going to be solved in a few weeks even if money was allocated to dealing with it.
    Personally I am not convinced that we need to bomb Syria but we are bombing Iraq so the principle has already been accepted. I would like a world where this did not happen but that will never be.
    The “Liberals” might get more support if they offered practical policies which appealed to ordinary people instead of threatening to resign every time a hard choice had to be made.

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