37 Labour MPs Walked Away with Syrian Blood on Their Hands

sYRIA BOMBS

More than half the Labour members who voted to bomb Syria in 2015 are no longer Labour MPs

ONE post-election revelation may surprise members and supporters of the Labour Party.

Just seven days after the General Election defeat it can be revealed that 37 of the 66 Labour MPs (56%) who supported David Cameron’s demand to bomb Syria in a Commons Motion on 2nd December 2015 are NO LONGER Labour MPs.

They have quite literally walked away from responsibility with the death of thousands on their hands.

The 2015 debate and vote on whether to extend British bombing of Isis into Syria was high profile and controversial for many reasons.

Labour MPs were given a free vote and allowed to vote according to their views. Most – including the majority of the Shadow Cabinet – opposed the bombing, in line with Jeremy Corbyn.

David Cameron won the Syria airstrikes vote by majority of 174.

But 66 Labour MPs voted with the Conservatives in support of the strikes. When the votes were counted MPs voted 397 to 223 in favour of sending RAF Tornados into the skies over Syria.

Corbyn was forced by divisions in his party to give his MPs a free vote, and a majority of his MPs and nearly half the shadow cabinet opposed the airstrikes.

But his foreign affairs spokesman, Hilary Benn, prompted applause from the Government benches when he gave an impassioned speech in favour of the bombing.

The debate was one of the first tests of Corbyn’s leadership and the voting publically showed those MPs who were prepared to go against him.

The bombing of Syria by US and UK planes between 2014 and 2019 has led to over 14,000 deaths on the ground – including an estimated 3,800 innocent civilians.

Now, exactly four years since that controversial House of Commons vote, it can be revealed that more than half of those pro bombing Labour MPs have gone.

While 10 of them lost their seats in last week’s General Election, the other 27 left Labour for other opportunities either in business or as members of centrist neo-liberal parties.

The full list is:

  1. Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich West) STOOD DOWN AS MP IN 2019
  2. Alan Campbell (Tynemouth)
  3. Alan Johnson (Kingston upon Hull West & Hessle) STOOD DOWN AS MP IN 2017
  4. Alison McGovern (Wirral South)
  5. Angela Eagle (Wallasey)
  6. Angela Smith (Penistone and Stocksbridge) LEFT FOR TIG
  7. Anna Turley (Redcar) LOST SEAT IN 2019
  8. Ann Coffey (Stockport) LEFT FOR CHANGE UK
  9. Ben Bradshaw (Exeter)
  10. Bridget Phillipson (Houghton & Sunderland South)
  11. Caroline Flint (Don Valley) LOST SEAT IN 2019
  12. Colleen Fletcher (Coventry North East)
  13. Chris Bryant (Rhondda)
  14. Chris Leslie (Nottingham East) LEFT FOR TIG
  15. Chuka Umunna (Streatham) LEFT FOR TIG
  16. Conor McGinn (St Helens North)
  17. Dan Jarvis (Barnsley Central)
  18. Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East) LOST SEAT IN 2019
  19. Frank Field (Birkenhead) LEFT TO BE INDEPENDENT
  20. Gareth Thomas (Harrow West)
  21. Gisela Stuart (Birmingham, Edgbaston) STOOD DOWN AS MP IN 2017
  22. Gloria De Piero (Ashfield) STOOD DOWN AS MP IN 2019
  23. George Howarth (Knowsley)
  24. Geoffrey Robinson (Coventry North West) STOOD DOWN AS MP IN 2019
  25. Graham Jones (Hyndburn) LOST SEAT IN 2019
  26. Harriet Harman (Camberwell & Peckham)
  27. Heidi Alexander (Lewisham East) STOOD DOWN AS MP IN 2018
  28. Helen Jones (Warrington North) STOOD DOWN AS MP IN 2019
  29. Hilary Benn (Leeds Central)
  30. Holly Lynch (Halifax)
  31. Ian Austin (Dudley North) LEFT TO TAKE UP JOB WITH THE TORIES
  32. Jamie Reed (Copeland) STOOD DOWN AS MP IN 2017
  33. Jenny Chapman (Darlington) LOST SEAT IN 2019
  34. Jim Dowd (Lewisham West) STOOD DOWN AS MP IN 2017
  35. Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar & Limehouse) STOOD DOWN AS MP IN 2019
  36. Joan Ryan (Enfield North) LEFT FOR CHANGE UK
  37. John Spellar (Warley)
  38. John Woodcock (Barrow and Furness) STOOD DOWN AS MP IN 2019
  39. Keith Vaz (Leicester East) STOOD DOWN AS MP IN 2019
  40. Kevan Jones (North Durham)
  41. Kevin Barron (Rother Valley) STOOD DOWN AS MP IN 2019
  42. Liz Kendall (Leicester West)
  43. Louise Ellman (Liverpool Riverside) LEFT TO BE INDEPENDENT
  44. Luciana Berger (Liverpool Wavertree) LEFT FOR TIG
  45. Lucy Powell (Manchester Central)
  46. Margaret Beckett (Derby South)
  47. Margaret Hodge (Barking)
  48. Maria Eagle (Garston and Halewood)
  49. Mary Creagh (Wakefield) LOST SEAT IN 2019
  50. Michael Dugher (Barnsley East) STOOD DOWN AS MP IN 2017
  51. Neil Coyle (Bermondsey & Old Southwark)
  52. Pat McFadden (Wolverhampton South East)
  53. Peter Kyle (Hove)
  54. Phil Wilson (Sedgefield) LOST SEAT IN 2019
  55. Ruth Smeeth (Stoke on Trent North) LOST SEAT IN 2019
  56. Simon Danczuk (Rochdale) RESIGNED FROM LABOUR IN 2017
  57. Siobhain McDonagh (Mitcham and Morden)
  58. Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South and Penarth)
  59. Stella Creasy (Walthamstow)
  60. Susan Elan Jones (Clwyd South) LOST SEAT IN 2019
  61. Tom Blenkinsop (Middlesbrough South) STOOD DOWN AS MP IN 2017
  62. Tom Watson (West Bromwich East) STOOD DOWN AS MP IN 2019
  63. Tristram Hunt (Stoke-on-Trent Central) STOOD DOWN AS MP IN 2017
  64. Vernon Coaker (Gedling) LOST SEAT IN 2019
  65. Wayne David (Caerphilly)
  66. Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford)

Corbyn’s chimes of freedom give hope beyond the Blairite lies

blair

YOU usually only get the true measure of a person when you meet them face to face.

And so it was for me when I first interviewed erstwhile Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, soon after his election victory in 1997.

I had briefly met Mr Blair two years earlier in Glasgow while he was celebrating Labour’s landslide wins in the local council elections. He was triumphant, beaming and pressing flesh in every direction. The Scottish faithful loved him.

I had helped elect him and his Labour Government on 1 May 1997, thus ending 18 years of Thatcherism and Majorism and the class-ridden Tory ruination of our country.

Like millions of others I was now hopeful for a brighter and more socially equal future… after all, things could only get better!

So when, in early December I was asked by my news editor at the Sunday Sun (a North of England Sunday tabloid, not to be confused with the poisonous rag the Sun on Sunday!) if I would like to interview the new Prime Minister on his return to his Sedgefield constituency, I jumped at the chance.

On a sunny Saturday morning, armed with a hand-held tape recorder and full of questions, I made my way to the Labour Club at Trimdon in County Durham.

The club was full with the local faithful and many more had gathered outside. Here was the return of the conquering hero.

Looking tall in a dark suit, white shirt and equally dark blue tie, Mr Blair addressed the audience inside the club about his hopes and plans for a New Labour Britain.

It was typical political rhetoric, the type I had heard many times from other party leaders. But Blair was convincing and comfortable in the knowledge that he was among friends.

He finished to a standing ovation and began to mingle with party activists.

I approached his agent John Burton and requested a few minutes of the PM’s time for an interview which I could guarantee we would run the next day.

Ten minutes later John tapped me on the shoulder and told me Mr Blair was ready for ‘a chat’.

So I faced our new leader, introduced myself and asked him about his proposed cuts in benefits to lone parents. He noticeably winced at this first question, and in words which would not be alien to David Cameron, he said: “I think most people understand that we have got to reform the system. Because if you are spending more on benefits than you are on schools, hospitals and law and order put together, there is a problem.”

Asked if stalwarts in his constituency shared many fellow Labour MPs’ fears over benefit cuts, he became slightly more agitated.

He said: “Look, I have always said that whenever you are doing change then it is always difficult to begin with. We have got to make these reforms and I think people will accept them as changes we have to make.”

Then in words which could have come straight from Conservative Central Office he gave a stark indication that the disabled and sick would be the next to face an overhaul of their benefits.

“We spend more on disabled and incapacity benefits than we do on the entire school system in the UK,” he told me, before adding: “Benefit fraud – estimated at £4 to £5 billion a year – is enough to build 100 large hospitals.

“If we achieve these reforms then it will be a magnificent legacy that the New Labour Government has left us in a new millennium.”

We talked for another ten minutes before the Prime Minister moved away to the safety of his constituency friends.

This was my political watershed.

Personally I felt my interview with Mr Blair was enlightening for many reasons.

Primarily because during the course of the conversation, Mr Blair avoided any eye contact and instead looked right through me, as if reading from an auto cue.

Secondly, because these were not the words, or message to the poorest in our society, that I was expecting from a new Labour Prime Minister. A Prime Minister charged with turning back almost two decades of Conservative pillage and division.

And finally, when all else failed, Mr Blair seemed to rely on cheap soundbites and a pre-learned script.

There was not one ounce of sincerity in anything he said.

He had lost me!

And over the next four years, the actions and policies of Mr Blair’s New Labour government confirmed my worst fears.

While I still voted Labour in the June 2001 General Election, I had lost all confidence in this light blue successor to Thatcher or any dreams of a more equitable Britain.

The events of post 9/11, Mr Blair’s unswerving support of the moronic George W Bush, the illegal invasion of Afghanistan and the lies over the justification for war against Saddam Hussein and Iraq, finally nailed it.

I felt that like many, I had been caught in a web of lies and propaganda and lost in a smokescreen of rhetoric and deceit.

The poor were poorer, the rich got richer, and the innocent victims of Blair’s wars lay charred and dead.

So by 2005, for the first time in my life I did NOT vote for any party or political leader.

Under Thatcher, Major, Blair and Cameron our country had been sleep walking into a world of personal greed, arrogance and self-importance with totems such as The X Factor, Top Gear, designer clothes labels and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Human kindness, gentleness, peace, society and social justice were jettisoned for a winner takes all mentality and a scapegoating of the homeless, those claiming benefits, Muslims, asylum seekers and the poor in general.

All of this was underpinned by our malicious gutter press who daily smeared and pilloried anyone who dared question the status quo or suggest alternatives.

And the Labour Party, which should have been standing and campaigning for a more just society crumpled into a Tory Lite modelled in the image of war monger Tony Blair.

Following Cameron’s election victory in May 2105 I published a lengthy report stating that the Left “must begin now to unify around a leader or leadership we can all trust, organise and start the fightback, or we wave farewell to any hope for a fairer and better future.”

Deep inside I cried a million tears as I thought it was a vain hope.

Then something dramatic, wonderful and unexpected happened.

Last September’s landslide election of Jeremy Corbyn as the first truly socialist leader of the Labour Party since Clement Atlee was a pivotal moment in British politics.

And profound moment for me personally.

Two months ago I re-joined the Labour Party.

Jeremy Corbyn’s messages of justice, care, peace and equality caught the hearts and minds of millions and a world away from the capitalist greed of Tony Blair and his minions.

The world was turning again and people became engaged with their own future and the power that collectively we can wage for a better tomorrow.

Now as Jeremy Corbyn is under daily assault from those same minions and their friends in the media, we must dig deep and ensure his re-election as leader on 24 September.

#Together4Corbyn

Far between sundown’s finish an’ midnight’s broken toll We ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds Seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight An’ for each an’ ev’ry underdog soldier in the night An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Through the mad mystic hammering of the wild ripping hail The sky cracked its poems in naked wonder That the clinging of the church bells blew far into the breeze Leaving only bells of lightning and its thunder Striking for the gentle, striking for the kind Striking for the guardians and protectors of the mind An’ the unpawned painter behind beyond his rightful time An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Through the wild cathedral evening the rain unraveled tales For the disrobed faceless forms of no position Tolling for the tongues with no place to bring their thoughts All down in taken-for-granted situations Tolling for the deaf an’ blind, tolling for the mute Tolling for the mistreated, mateless mother, the mistitled prostitute For the misdemeanor outlaw, chased an’ cheated by pursuit An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

Even though a cloud’s white curtain in a far-off corner flashed An’ the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting Electric light still struck like arrows, fired but for the ones Condemned to drift or else be kept from drifting Tolling for the searching ones, on their speechless, seeking trail For the lonesome-hearted lovers with too personal a tale An’ for each unharmful, gentle soul misplaced inside a jail An’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing

(Bob Dylan, 1964)