Sunday, 28 September 2014

Should we have ordered air strikes on Iraq?

Ben Gummer (our Tory MP) has a regular column in or local paper, the Ipswich Star – some have been informative, some interesting and some poor but I would describe this week’s offering as both atrocious and pompous.

He started his column telling us about the birth of his son but then seemed to used most of the time making excuses for his son not being born in Ipswich, quite sad that he feels he has to do this I am positive no one in Ipswich Labour would have made any sort of issue about his wife giving birth in London, in fact most of us would not have been surprised by the news as we would expect Mr Gummer to spend more time in London than he does in Ipswich and as his wife is also from London not sure his son not being born in Ipswich is any sort of a story at all, but I am not being critical of Mr Gummer explaining why his son was not born in Ipswich I am just disappointed that the way modern politics is going that he thought he needed to explain the details of the birth of his son.

But what made me angry was the second part of his column – Ben Gummer used the second half of his column explaining why he was going to vote for air strikes in Iraq, he even went further to say that he believed we should also be bombing ISIS in Syria. Now I do believe Mr Gummer was right to use his column to tell Ipswich residents of why he was going to vote to allow our forces to enter the conflict though I was surprised that he was willing to state how he was going to vote before he listened and joined in the debate at Westminster.

I like Mr Gummer would have voted for Britain to join the coalition so him voting for us to join the US and others in bombing Northern Iraq but it was the pompous manner he put over his view and how he then used the column to not only attack Putin and Farage but also the Labour leader Ed Miliband,

The pomposity of his column was highlighted to me by what seemed him showing off, by describing the theatre of operations as Northern Mesopotamia. Now I may expect someone with an Oxbridge history degree to know what this part of Iraq was formally called and maybe even use that knowledge to understand some of the tribal and territorial issues that make this such a volatile region to live in but you would have just thought he would have called the area Northern Iraq rather than Mesopotamia.

To me it came over pompous and showing off and that is the last sort of reaction you should be after when explaining why you have voted to commit our Armed forces to combat.

Then after getting over his pomposity we had the attack on Ed Miliband, stating that the situation in the region now and the rise of ISIS is down to Ed and Labour MPs not voting to order air strikes on Iraq last year. What rubbish and he also seems to forget that a large number of Tory MPs also voted not to go to war in Syria and they were not your usual ‘little Englander’ Tory rebels.

Many including me actually believe that ISIS would have even been stronger if we had attacked Assad, the trouble is the Syrian rebels have never been united and ISIS was already attacking other Syrian rebel groups at the time of that last vote. My view is shared by many and a Labour MP asked Ed Miliband a leading question that indicated he had the same view but instead of Ed using his answer as an excuse to attack Cameron, instead he said the debate was about ordering air strikes on Iraq now not debating what would have happened if we had voted for action last year. The answer of Ed Miliband was statesmanlike, the sort of answer you would expect from a politician when such a grave matter as sending British planes into action was the subject of the debate. I am afraid our own Tory MP decided to use the vote as an opportunity to score cheap political points.

What Mr Gummers column does come over is one of desperation as he knows the tide is against him in Ipswich

I did state earlier that I, like Mr Gummer would have voted for air strikes in Iraq and like Mr Gummer agree that the RAF should be able to follow and then bomb targets into Syria but that is not to say that I applaud Mr Cameron for the stance he has taken in fact he has just failed to show any sort of leadership over the matter.

The coalition has been in action for a number of weeks but Mr Cameron did not see fit to recall Parliament earlier.

Like Mr Gummer and myself, I believe Mr Cameron believes we should also take action in Syria but he does not have the confidence to be even sure that he can persuade his own party to support him let along persuade his coalition colleagues or Labour or any other smaller political groups, a fact that Mr Hauge seemed to admit on the BBC this morning.

Former Generals and Air Commanders have been critical of Cameron, with one stating that to defeat ISIS it will need ‘boots on the ground’ and another senior ex British General with a former NATO command also being very critical of Cameron, the General disappointed in the way we have left others to lead not only in the battle against ISIS but also in the Ukraine conflict but that is the direct consequence of the drastic cuts to our Armed Forces by the Tories.

We have committed 6 planes to the mission over Iraq, less than Denmark and Australia. Mr Cameron does needs to learn that once you reduce the size of your armed forces you will find that you can no longer expect to be seen as one of the key decision makers in NATO, Europe or the UN.

It does not mean that just deploying armed forces is the only thing we can do as a country to help the situation in Iraq/Syria, we should be proud of the help we have given in overseas aid, something we would not be able to do in the future if Tory right wingers get their way and our aid budget is reduced but there is even more we can do – we are helping the refugees on the ground in both Turkey and Iraq but what I found both surprising but then more embarrassing is that by June this year only 43 Syrian refugees have been allowed to enter this country!

In the late 30’s many politicians did not cover themselves in glory with their willingness to appease Hitler (you can also add the Daily Mail to that list) but many of the British public did not just sit and do nothing, and I am sure many of us have been through Liverpool Street station and have looked at the statues that were erected to remember the Jewish children rescued by the Kindertransport’ – when you lean the story of those children, the contribution to British life by those children rescued it does make a total of 43 Syrian refugees accepted seem quite pathetic.

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