4th December 2015
Last week was a very busy and emotional week at with a long, hard debate on authorising UK air strikes in Syria taking place on 2nd December. Along with my SNP colleagues, I voted against the UK Government; believing that such action will play into the hands of Daesh who will portray this as a Western attack on Islam which they can then use to recruit more supporters in the region. There do not appear to be any credible ground troops and, therefore, air strikes alone are unlikely to be successful, particularly in their aim of ‘taking’ the city of Raqqa. I also believe that the inevitable civilian casualties will risk radicalising some young Muslims who have settled or even grown up here in the UK. I do not believe that this action improves our national security or improves stability in the Middle East.
I grew up in Belfast and have seen the human results of violence, whether it is due to terrorism or to bombing. It is not pretty and it is not something that any of us would wish. I wonder how we would have felt then if someone thought they could have solved that problem by airstrikes?
However, after a very impassioned debate, in which the respective arguments had support on both sides, the UK Government won a large majority with support from a sizeable proportion of the Labour Party and most of the Liberals. The first air strike in Syria was carried out within the hour in what, I believe, will be a long drawn out conflict. Now, all we can do is hope that the consequences are not as disastrous as I fear and ensure that we offer personal support to the British forces who will be faced with carrying out the task.