This is not a simple question, and even though I have made up my mind, there are still a number of questions that have not been answered.
I believe the Labour Party should support the Government on their decision to start air operations in Syria.
Jeremy Corbyn has stuck to his principles and does not believe we should start combat operations, I accept his opinion but I now hope he will allow Labour MPs and shadow Ministers a free vote, if the Tories do decide to put the decision to a vote this week.
Whatever the decision, Labour will be damaged by this issue and it has not helped with the likes of Tory Minister Fallon playing party politics over such an important issue.
David Cameron did not persuade me when he spoke to the commons last week and it seems he still hasn’t got all his own MPs on side so he still needs at least some Labour MPs to vote with him or abstain.
So if Cameron has not persuaded me, why do I support Military operations? I support our involvement in the Syrian bombing campaign because I believe after the atrocities in Paris we have to show a united front against ISIS.
I do not believe Cameron and Fallon and their opinion that the RAF are needed to make the operation a success, we could just increase our bombing missions in Iraq to free up US and French planes to concentrate on Syria. In fact I am sure we are already involved in Syria, with planning, early warning and target acquisition in support of other air forces already bombing Syria.
I do wish the Shadow Cabinet could come to an agreed decision but if not I hope it is a free vote and that Corbyn does not use this important issue as yet another pawn in his battle between the PLP and his supporters. I understand why he has asked members and I applaud his attempts to allow the party membership to be more involved in policy making but when it comes to going to war, we (the public) do not have the full facts, actually MPs do not have the full facts and Yvette Cooper raised that point in parliament. But Jeremy Corbyn and the shadow Cabinet have been briefed by the intelligence services and after that briefing (rather than the points Cameron made) it seems most of the Shadow Cabinet supports military action.
Corbyn on the Marr show this morning (where he was very impressive) slated the Tories for playing party politics over this important decision but if Jeremy is playing internal politics then he is not showing the leadership that is expected from the leader of the opposition.
I for one have not received an email from the party asking me my opinion on the bombing of Syria so am not even sure this asking members their opinion is actually valid. Where Corbyn is right is that he is in the majority – I am sure the majority of Labour members do now want to bomb Syria, in fact I am sure most of the country do not want to see us involved in Syria but politicians have to be prepared to make decisions that are not always universally popular. That is why they take positions in the Shadow Cabinet, Jeremy must act differently to when he was just a back bencher.
So I support our involvement in Syria and expect the Shadow Cabinet to have studied the evidence in front of them, read the intelligence reports and then make a sound judgement.
Cameron needs Labour support because he can’t even lead his own party, his performance at the dispatch box last week was poor and he failed to show there was a real plan (I am sure there is – just he could not explain it) he also leaves a number of questions unanswered and though many may blame Blair for Iraq, the mess Cameron left behind in Libya is nothing to be proud of.
So we still need more answers, to help get the correct facts over to the British public;
1. Where and who are these 70,000 fighter who are both against ISIS and Assad?
2. Where is both the plan (and the money) to reconstruct Syria after peace is secured?
3. Remember Cameron has not even got the support of all Tory MPs
4. Remember when Cameron wanted us to bomb Syria last time, it was to bomb Assad that would have helped ISIS
5. If ISIS are routed, will the bombing campaign end or continue against Assad?
So many questions still to be answered but I still believe we should join a military campaign against ISIS in Syria.
Many in the Labour Party will not agree with my opinion, some who are friends and i respect them for the opinion, I may even suffer some abuse from the trolls that seem prevalent in some sections of the left who support Jeremy Corbyn (they need to follow his example about taking the abuse out of politics)
I do not just support military action because I was in the army for over 25 years; it is because I believe that on certain circumstance combat operations are needed. Remember the successful military operations (under Blair) Kosovo and Sierra Leone.
We should and must not just become an inward facing country, in 1939 it was the working classes in their thousands who joined the forces to not only defend this country but to defeat fascism, and some of my first heroes on the left were those Labour men, socialists and trade unionists (like Jack Jones) who left these shores to fight against Franco in Spain. What do you think those men and women would do now?