Calder Valley MP supports airstrikes against ISIS in Syria

MP Craig Whittaker
MP Craig Whittaker

Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker says he supports the decision to extend British airstrikes in Syria.

Mr Whittaker said the move is an integral part of the strategy to reduce the threat ISIS poses to the country.

In a statement to constituents he said: “Deciding whether to engage our brave troops in battle is one of the hardest decisions we take as MPs and one that we consider with a heavy heart.

“I remember supporting the coalition Government only two years ago when they lost the vote to intervene in Syria.

“At that time, there were two million women and children in camps outside Syria, five million people displaced within Syria itself and over 100,000 people had been murdered by the Assad regime.

“At the time, I strongly believed that if countries such as ours weren’t willing to take action, then what hope did those women and children have.

“Today, there are four million people in the camps, ten million people displaced within Syria and almost 500,000 people have lost their lives in the civil war.

“In addition to this of course, we have seen hundreds of thousands of refugees risking their lives crossing the Mediterranean to get to Europe.

“I believe that we are now dealing with the consequences of our inaction two years ago.

“The current situation is incredibly complex and involves various different aspects.

“Like all of these situations, Britain is already playing a full role.

“Indeed, we should be proud of what we achieve overseas in trying to keep our own country safe and secure, whether it is trying to get a political solution through diplomacy; carrying out targeted bombing against Daesh (ISIS) in Iraq; supporting over four million refugees in camps outside of Syria with our International Aid budget; or playing our role in the humanitarian search and rescue missions in the Mediterranean.

“On the home front, we spend billions of pounds on security, whether it’s our frontline police, our Armed Forces or our intelligence services.

“Each one of these are the best in the world bar none. The sad truth of the matter, however, is that it only takes one small cell of terrorists to break through and we could easily have a repeat of the dreadful events in Paris in anyone of our cities. We have already seen British citizens massacred this year including in the Tunisian beach attack and more recently in Paris. These are only some of the attacks that have occurred around the world this year and represent a worrying trend that shows no signs of abating.

“For those who say that military action will see retaliation on British shores, we have to acknowledge that we are already a primary target for terrorists. We know that our intelligence services have stopped seven high-level terrorist plots over the last year, not to mention the many other plots and schemes that have been foiled by counter-terrorist operatives.

“Some people say that we should learn from history, I say that you are absolutely correct. It is wrong for the United Kingdom to sub-contract our security to other countries, and expect the aircrews of other nations to carry the burdens and the risks of striking Daesh in Syria to stop terrorism here in Britain.

“The current situation in many ways puts Europe in a position that we haven’t experienced since WWII and the risks to our own safety are huge. I don’t accept the argument that getting involved militarily will replace diplomacy and negotiations. That is an entirely false choice. We have been involved in that process now for over four years and that rightly will continue. Meanwhile, the refugee numbers increase and the threat to our way of life from Daesh continues to become ever more serious.

“It is for these reasons that we should now take the decision to extend British airstrikes against Daesh into Syria, as an integral part of our comprehensive strategy to degrade Daesh and reduce the threat it poses to us; as such, I will be supporting the Government’s proposals for military intervention when it brings proposals to the House of Commons.”

Meanwhile, Calder Valley Constituency Labour Party voted unanimously to oppose any plans of military intervention in Syria.

A statement read: “Calder Valley Constituency Labour Party voted unanimously at a meeting held last week to join with our leader Jeremy Corbyn in opposing the Prime Minister’s plans to bomb Syria.

“This decision followed a discussion on the lessons we should learn from previous involvement in the Middle East and the consequences of military action

“We share the worldwide horror at the atrocities committed by ISIL/ Daesh and recent tragic loss of life in Paris and brutal murders of thousands in Syria and beyond in recent years, but we do not believe this Government‘s strategy will do anything to make the world a safer place – it can only serve to radicalise and fuel fundamentalist terrorism.

“The experience of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya shows that Western military interventions lead to large scale casualties, devastating destruction and huge flows of refugees.

“We believe the case for UK involvement has not been thought through and will only increase the humanitarian crisis and increase loss of life. The current rush to bomb Syria following the terrible events in Paris risks a dangerous escalation which will inflame the war there and increase bitterness against the West.

“The US has been bombing Isis for a year and admits that Isis is as strong as ever and has continued recruiting.

“We also urge the Government to stop arming reactionary and aggressive regimes like Saudi Arabia and Qatar that sponsor terrorist groups and look for political solutions as the only viable way to end the conflict.”