This weekend Bromley Borough CND held a vigil for Syria in solidarity with events across the UK. CND members have been joining the voices raised against air-strikes on Syria which will do nothing to bring an end to the conflict.
Speaking in the emergency debate on Syria, Catherine West MP argued there had been plenty of time for the Prime Minister to recall parliament to debate a military attack on Syria. Reminding the government that the ‘dodgy dossier’ on Iraq has haunted political debates for years, she said:
The role of parliament is important because there is an element of having to persuade not only one another but the country of our views, our principles and our ideas. That is an important principle that came out of the very lengthy Chilcot inquiry.…Today, we have to reflect on what we have learned from the report, not just about the importance of parliament and our role in scrutinising the Executive, but about two other key elements.
One of those involves the need for a plan. My hon Friend the Member for Wirral South [Alison McGovern MP, co-chair All Party Friends of Syria group – ed] made a fantastic speech yesterday in which she mentioned the cross-party group on Syria and its steadfast commitment to the Syrian people. She spoke about the importance of having a plan, and one of the sticking points over the past week has been the lack of a sense of what we should do next. There has been a sense of ‘this feels fine for this weekend, but what happens next?’
The second element is the need for high-quality intelligence and evidence. This goes back to what was crudely referred to as the ‘dodgy dossier’, which has haunted us in our political debates from many years. We still need to ask those questions. Many of us will make no apology for asking questions. That is our job as back-bench members, whatever role we might have…. there was plenty of time last week to recall parliament, and I wish that we had had yesterday’s debate—perhaps not with every single security detail—at that point.
Many of us could have taken losing a vote—or, indeed, winning a vote. Whatever might have happened with that vote, at least we would have done what we always do, which is to debate, to contend, to get cross, to get sad, or to get happy. We would have done what we do in this place and gone through the lobby to produce a result for the people we represent.
Catherine West MP discussed the UK attack on Syria on the BBC’s Daily Politics. Listen to what she had to say here
Following Theresa May’s decision that Britain would participate on an attack on Syria, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for a Wars Powers Act so that governments are held to account by parliament for what they do in our name. He called for the UK government, through the UN, to take a diplomatic lead to negotiate a ceasefire in the Syrian conflict
Writing in today's Guardian, Jeremy Corbyn said:
"The military action at the weekend was legally questionable. The government’s own justification, which relies heavily on the strongly contested doctrine of humanitarian intervention, does not even meet its own tests. Without UN authority it was again a matter of the US and British governments arrogating to themselves an authority to act unilaterally which they do not possess.
"The fact that the prime minister ordered the attacks without seeking authorisation from parliament only underlines the weakness of a government that was in reality simply waiting for authorisation from a bellicose and unstable US president. That’s why we are pressing for parliament to have the final say on planned military action in future in a new war powers act.
"Now is the moment for moral and political leadership, not kneejerk military responses."
You can read the full article here.
Peace campaigners have responded to airstrikes conducted by the US, UK and France early this morning.
Kate Hudson, CND General Secretary, said:
"We strongly condemn these air strikes on Syria, which are in defiance of international law. They will only increase the likelihood of this terrible conflict spilling over into the wider Middle East and potentially beyond that.
"We also condemn Theresa May's decision to bypass parliament which demonstrates a contempt for the necessary democratic process. She has also disregarded public opinion in launching these strikes; polls indicate that only 22% of the population support this bombing campaign.
"CND works for the prevention and cessation of wars in which nuclear weapons may be used and there can be no clearer example of such a situation than that which we are currently facing. Diplomatic and political solutions must be sought. Nuclear escalation poses consequences too terrible to contemplate."