37 Labour MPs Walked Away with Syrian Blood on Their Hands


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)

Bombing Syria and Killing Innocence – Now is the Time to Stand Up and Be Counted

Blog pic War

AS Parliament prepares to debate air strikes in Syria, Prime Minister David Cameron will assure the Commons that such bombings are unlikely to lead to civilian casualties while he makes the case for immediate military intervention.

Who is he trying to kid?

Over the past few days Tory defence spokesmen have argued that British missiles are now so sophisticated that they don’t cause many civilian casualties as “collateral damage”.

What a sinister phrase that is – it is lawyer’s language for saying where hundreds of innocents would have been killed previously, now it is merely a few dozen.

But we already know the US led air campaign against ISIS in Iraq and Syria has killed more than 3,000 innocent civilians up to August this year. An estimated 460 further deaths have occurred since then.

So as a socialist and card carrying member of the Labour Party I ask why our official parliamentary opposition is suddenly not on the side of innocent people and humanity?

Twelve years ago, many Labour MPs disgracefully marched into the lobbies side by side with Iain Duncan Smith’s Tories to vote for an illegal war in Iraq.

Jeremy Corbyn and 138 other Labour MPs stood up for the membership of the Party and voted against them.

The war proved to be an absolute disaster for Iraq, for Britain and for The Labour Party and has forever tainted Tony Blair as a war criminal.

But now it seems some Labour MPs – including many in the Shadow Cabinet – are going to repeat their mistakes and vote with David Cameron to bomb Syria?

Do they have such scant regard for peoples’ lives.

As George Galloway wrote this morning: “The price will now be paid in Syrian blood, and not only their blood.”

And turning on the pro war members of the Labour Shadow Cabinet, he added: “No shadow cabinet members position is worth the bones of a single Syrian civilian or the blood of a single British serviceman or woman, or the lives of a single member of the public here in Britain.”

There appears to be something about launching bombs or missiles from afar onto cities and people that appeals to our military and political leaders.

Our leaders are careful to distinguish between the explosives we drop from the sky and “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD), which only the officially-designated enemies are depraved enough to use.

Our government speaks alarmingly of WMD, defining them as nuclear, chemical and biological in nature, and “indiscriminate” (meaning their use can’t be limited to military objectives) which they now spuriously claim ISIS is seeking, as opposed to the likes of US and British “precision” cruise missiles.

This is alarming, given the well-known extensive damage to non-military targets, including numerous residences, schools and hospitals, even from “smart” bombs, in every conflict from Afghanistan to Iraq and Libya over the past 12 years.

Moreover, our own warmongers do not apply the term “weapons of mass destruction” to other weapons we have regularly used, such as depleted uranium and cluster bombs, which can be, and often are, highly indiscriminate.

Advocacy groups have now highlighted the thousands of civilian casualties likely to result from airstrikes this year alone as Mr Cameron, prepares to make his case for attacking ISIS in Syria.

Airstrikes in populated areas of Syria and Iraq caused 3,165 civilian deaths and injuries in the year up to August, according to Action on Armed Violence (AOAV).

One of the attacks investigated was on Fadhiliya, Iraq, on 4 April where witnesses and local politicians said a family of five had died, including a pregnant woman and an eight-year-old girl.

It follows the widely reported US bombing of a hospital run by NGO Doctors Without Borders, killing 22 people and injuring dozens more.

Increasing scrutiny on civilian casualties may now hopefully impact the debate over whether Britain extends its bombing mission against ISIS from Iraq into Syria.

In 2013, David Cameron was humiliated when 30 Tory rebels joined with Labour and other parties to oppose bombing forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Yesterday Jeremy Corbyn, suffered a backlash after urging Labour activists to pressure MPs (including Shadow Cabinet members) against supporting airstrikes.

Despite this, Mr Corbyn continues to enjoy strong support among Labour’s grassroots membership with 75% of party members calling for the MPs not to vote for airstrikes in Syria.

This means those who have expressed support for bombings may find themselves at odds with their own constituency membership.

Labour MPs who still plan to support the Tories are courting deselection before the next election, to be replaced by candidates who more accurately reflect party policy (which is to block air strikes, let’s not forget).

But more to the point, our intervention and bombing in Syria is not aimed at alleviating the suffering of Syrians or addressing the root causes of the conflict, and it’s not even about ISIS.

The immense humanitarian crisis wrought by the civil war in Syria, says Middle East expert Samer Abboud, is lost in the discussion around the Syrian conflict.

Humanitarian conditions are getting worse, not better, as the conflict persists.

“There is such an obsession with ISIS and an irrational fear of Syrian refugees in the West that encourages us to ignore the very real suffering of Syrians who have to live while spectacular and exceptional violence surrounds them,” he says.

“While there seems to be international consensus around confronting ISIS and in the utility of military force to do so, the growth of the coalition fighting ISIS to include Russia, France, and potentially Germany and the UK, is not a positive development in the Syrian conflict.

“The expansion in the number of countries bombing Syria further internationalises the conflict and creates more layers to this already complicated and multilayered conflict.

“When France began its bombing campaign against ISIS in retaliation for the Paris attacks, its targets included a medical clinic and an uninhabited forest.

“One wonders why these were chosen as targets.

“There is no institutional or economic heartland that a bombing campaign could destroy that would have an immediate impact on the group’s ability to capture and retain control of territory.

“The aerial campaigns also avoid the heart of the problem, which is the material and ideological structure that sustains ISIL.

“ISIS does not acquire its wealth through large-scale development projects, nor is there a robust productive capacity in ISIS-controlled areas that is connected to regional markets.

“Most of their material resources come from donations and support from regional actors as well as a sophisticated system of predatory economic activity that encourages the group’s fighters to loot and tax the Syrian population to acquire the resources to sustain their activities.

“How can a bombing campaign undermine the material basis of ISIS when so much of it is structured around predatory behaviour?

“Let us not also forget that, for the most part, ISIS’s military strength is based on small arms.

“The reliance on small arms means that ISIS has expanded in Syria with relatively limited resources. Moreover, as we have seen in the attacks of the past two months, including the use of an improvised pop can as a bomb placed on the Russian plane [which crashed] in Sinai, ISIS relies on limited resources that are not susceptible or vulnerable to aerial bombardment,” he adds.

So where to now then Mr Cameron?

Already the most powerful air forces in the world are bombing the Islamic State. Even were it the right thing to do, the RAF could add little to their so-far ineffective efforts.

Everybody agrees that ISIS can only be defeated by a ground army which can secure some support from the people of the region itself.

Not finding one, Mr Cameron has invented a mythical 70,000-strong opposition army – his own version of Tony Blair’s infamous “45 minute warning” over Iraq.

This has rightly drawn widespread disbelief – to the extent that this “army” exists at all, it is largely fighters aligned with either al-Qaeda or the Turkish neo-fascist “Grey Wolves”, who are hardly “moderate” and will never turn against ISIS.

The truth is that there needs to be a peace agreement between the Assad regime and its opponents leading to a transitional administration which could then take on ISIS.

But for years, David Cameron has worked against such an agreement.

Former Tory MP and respected journalist Matthew Parris agrees.

He wrote in The Times: “Jeremy Corbyn is right. Joining the bombing in Syria will do nobody any good. And the funny thing is, I think that in its heart Britain knows that.”

We do, and now is the time to stand up and be counted.