I am just about old enough to remember the intensive bombing in Britain during the Second World War, and I can still recall being told by my family that I must stay in our air raid shelter following the bombing and destruction of our neighbours’ home.
Even now, as I think about the issues before me today, I inevitably remember the tragic death of that lovely local family. The horror of conflict is hard to express and it is difficult not to cast my mind back to these terrible memories of living at times day and night in air raid shelters.
It is this as well as much additional experience in the intervening period that informs my decision to vote against the Government’s motion on bombing Daesh in Syria.
Like so many other people across the world, I was appalled and distressed by the suffering of people in Paris and their families following the despicable attacks on our neighbour, France.
I have read countless letters and emails from constituents on both sides of the debate, I have listened to experts, I will listen intently to the debates in the Commons today, and I remain convinced that I must reject the Government’s position.
I maintain my view from the last time I was asked to vote on Syria: I have voted to support military intervention in the Commons in the past and I am increasingly convinced that these interventions have not turned out as promised by previous Prime Ministers and party leaders. Civilians have too often borne the appalling burden of conflict with little strategic, long-term gain to show for this sacrifice.
In addition, I am not persuaded that the supposed 70,000 troops on the ground made up of multiple factions are reliable allies capable of working alongside our efforts from the air. I remain unconvinced that strikes without effective action on the ground will do anything but enflame instability in this troubled region, and I do not think the Prime Minister has made a persuasive case.
Finally, I am also appalled by the comments of some of my colleagues who are also against bombing Daesh in Syria and the outrageous threats by elements in the Labour Party to extract retribution from those who vote to support the Government motion. There are honourable points of view on both sides of this debate and we should treat each other with respect and in good faith.
I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to contact me and my office regarding this important issue. Your correspondence has been read and considered and has helped to inform my decision.