PoliticsWokingham

John Redwood: Why I abstained in the Syria vote

I was against the Coalition government’s proposal to attack the Assad government in Syria in 2013, which Parliament blocked. I approached this latest proposal with concerns. I attended various briefings and meetings to understand more of the complex and fragile position in Syria. I had a private discussion with the Prime Minister and talked to other senior Ministers about their plans.

My first priority is to improve the security of our homeland. I have urged the government to spend more money and effort on policing our borders, and on intelligence gathering so we are aware of movements of people and weaponry that could be used against us here at home. I am pleased the government has now announced extra people and money for counter terrorism research, and is promising better action at our borders. I am still not fully satisfied about border control in view of the way terrorists were able to cross EU internal and external frontiers so easily for the French attacks, and will continue to press for better action in this crucial area.

My second priority was to stress the need for any bombing campaign in Syria to be linked to a ground campaign by forces capable of dislodging ISIS from their strongholds. This force also needs to be able to supply well informed intelligence to those commanding the Allied bombers, both prior to attacking a target and afterwards to report the damage done and whether it was a success. Precision bombing is essential, especially in civilian areas, but is only as good as the intelligence that drives it.

During the discussions I was not satisfied that the Syrian Free Army does represent a competent and available force to recapture Raqqa and to help direct our smart bombs and missiles to targets. The position is different from that in Iraq where we are acting at the request of the Iraqi government and with their ground forces in support. I am not in favour of bombing without a winning strategy that can make things better.

My third priority was to draw government attention to the crucial need for diplomatic and political work to pursue a peace process. I am pleased that the main regional powers, Russia and the USA are now in dialogue. I understand how difficult it is going to be to find a peaceful solution to the Syrian civil war and to find a way of governing Syria in a peaceful and democratic way as one country. The West needs to show understanding of the local and regional forces and needs, and to consider what might be the basis for restoring some law and order and functioning administration in these areas. The Kurds who have proved effective fighters against ISIS will of course want some independent government in the areas they are taking in Iraq and Syria.

The government’s motion was narrow reflecting the concerns many of us had. It limits their action to bombs against ISIS only in Syria, and “acknowledges the importance of seeking to avoid civilian casualties” and accepts that a political strategy is important. I decided however, that without further work on the issues of a political settlement and without credible ground forces to steer and monitor any aerial bombs I was unable to vote for the statement authorising airstrikes immediately, so I did not vote for the motion.

I share their wish to pursue peace in Syria and to take action against terrorism and the ISIS threat and agree with the rest of the motion so I did not take the further step of voting against.

Phil Creighton

Editor of The Wokingham Paper, and has worked in local journalism for more than 20 years including the Wokingham Times, Bracknell Standard and Reading Evening Post. He's also written for computer magazines, The Baptist Times and, to his delight and probably not yours, interviewed several Doctor Whos.

Related Articles

7 Comments

  1. Having driven so much evil in terms of banking and legalised tax evasion I was please to find John to have stayed clear of the vote.

    It frustrates me to hear the other politicians taking about protecting us here by further, what always ends up being the result, illegal conquest, and in doing so creating more who can hope for no greater achievment in this life than being martyrs. Imagine the good we could have done in all this waste was put towards Syrians building and mauntaining solar arrays and electric infrastructure. Instead now we pay around £1m / day + bombs for each jet to eliminate those we exploited to remove Assad for us. Google Northwoods Operation, the string pullers are the same.

  2. Mr Redwood,
    I don’t think you could make a decision if your life depended on it! If after weighing up the evidence of the “private discussions” you were not convinced then surely you would get off the fence for once and say what you thought? I don’t particularly care one way or the other which way you would have voted as long as you voted.
    Wokingham deserve to be represented not have an apathetic Member of Parliament who’s sole contribution is opening new shops, shameless self promotion and ever increasing apologetic attitude. I would rather be represented by the likes of the Member for Leeds, the Rt. Hon. Hilary Benn, because at least he stood by the courage of his convictions and spoke out for what he believed in, even though it flew against what his party believed.
    I hope that sometime during this parliament you find your spine!

  3. Dear mr redwood , how dare you make this decision on my behalf , i am so fed up with you sitting on the fence on everything , and i can only hope to god that nothing happens in your constituency , because if it does you should be made to resign , and just to say , never have i encountered a more unapproachable politician than you , and that is saying something. we pay your wages , HOW DARE YOU LOOK DOWN YOUR NOSE AT ANYONE ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close