Jo Stevens

A strong voice for Cardiff Central

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Air Strikes in Syria - Vote

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to contact me with their views about the Government's proposal to carry out air strikes in Syria and the likely vote in parliament.

We have all been horrified by the massacres in Paris, Beirut, Tunisia and elsewhere and are united in our desire to see the defeat of ISIL/Daesh.

Hundreds and hundreds of constituents have contacted me over the past few weeks, but particularly over the last few days after I published a request on my website for views via an on-line survey.

As your elected representative, I wanted to hear from as many people as possible and I have read every response received so far and considered all of the issues fully and carefully. I have also listened to colleagues in Parliament, considered the recommendations of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, read independent expert analysis and discussed the issues with Syrian nationals living here in Cardiff Central.

Before David Cameron's statement on 26th November, I had reached a provisional view that I could not support air strikes. On Thursday, nothing in that statement reassured me that air strikes would strengthen, rather than undermine, our national security which has to be the overriding test to apply to any proposal. In fact, I felt it added very little to what the Prime Minister had already told Parliament earlier in the week.

The overwhelming (96%) view of many Cardiff Central constituents who have contacted me and with whom I have had conversations about the issue, has reinforced my initial view.

I will be voting against air strikes.

We need a comprehensive and coherent strategy coordinated through the United Nations to defeat ISIL/Daesh. What is being proposed is neither a UN-led strategy nor an implementation plan by the international community coordinated by the UN, which must be much wider than the US, France and the UK and must include Syria's regional neighbours.

Political and diplomatic action to erode the ISIL/Daesh base of support must be prioritised and this has to include halting the flow of funds and weapons at source. The Government's plan does not address this and I have heard nothing to suggest that this is a priority.

The Prime Minister accepts that ground forces will be needed to capitalise on air strikes and defeat ISIL/Daesh. However, the suggestion that there are 70,000 troops of the Free Syria Army sufficiently organised to travel across Syria through Assad and jihadist held territory under air attack from Russia to join Kurdish fighters (who are being bombed by our NATO ally, Turkey) to re-take territory freed from ISIL/Daesh control, is neither credible nor plausible. I am extremely concerned that Parliament is being asked to vote on joining a war in Syria based on a paucity of convincing evidence about ground troops, which has echoes of the WMD evidence that led to our disastrous and erroneous war in Iraq.

A coordinated international humanitarian response to the existing population displacement and refugee crisis is also missing from the Government's proposal, never mind a comprehensive strategy for dealing with the additional displacement and support for the exodus of refugees that will inevitably occur. The "donor" conference being held in January 2016 by the Government is a woefully inadequate and belated proposal.

There is a lack of clear objectives on rebuilding and reconstruction post air strikes, which were major failings in the UK's interventions in Iraq and Libya. The lessons from those military interventions are clear, yet the Government appears not to have taken them on board.

Finally, I remain unconvinced that UK air strikes will reduce the threat of an ISIL/Daesh terror attack in the UK. I believe that air strikes may increase the threat. I am concerned that our involvement will lead to potential further radicalisation of young people when so much effort is being made by the Muslim community here to prevent this.

What is happening in Syria is grave and complex. I know that every MP will reach their decision on how they will vote with great care and responsibility. I fully respect the decision of colleagues who take a different view to mine on a matter which I believe is not a party political issue, but one of conscience.


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commented 2015-12-02 18:39:19 +0000
Well set out and clear Jo,
I’m also against, I’m a veteran member of HM forces.
We haven’t yet exhausted the other avenues…
The elephant in the room is funding from oil sales and Saudi Sufism support for Daesh
I do want Jeremy to lead us, glad it’s a free vote and not a whip.
The PM has disgraced his office by saying those who oppose his view are terrorist sympathisers.
No bombing.
commented 2015-12-02 11:11:12 +0000
Thank you for putting a hand up for us all.
commented 2015-12-02 10:49:48 +0000
Thank you for your thoughts. It is such a terrible dilemma.
commented 2015-12-01 20:41:23 +0000
Hawk or dove…the vote tomorrow‏

We don’t know each other! But I ’m one of your constituents and I even voted for you!!

I wish to express my hope that you do not vote in favour of bombing Syria. I am not necessarily a pacifist but I feel strongly that not enough time has been given to planning the peace. the argument put forward by the PM is not detailed enough. One expert suggested that the 70,000 people on the ground come from so many different factions it would be very hard to persuade them all to simultaneously fight ISIS……is that their proper name now? It’s also been suggested that of the 70,000 there will be some that are as nasty as ISIS.

The poor people of Syria have been forgotten until now when the war has been escalated….I don’t think the solution is to drop even more bombs on them. There are also the obvious risks of civilian casualties and marginalising the jihadists so they have a bigger appeal.

The defence of our country , ALL its citizens [ of whatever faith or colour ], our way of life and the principles we stand for are obviously extremely important . I think our energy and our money might be more wisely spent in a defence that is smart, inclusive, thought out and diplomatic.

Military action might be necessary but only as a last resort…and even then we need to be sure of winning the peace as well.

With best wishes and good luck,

Stewart Davies
commented 2015-12-01 20:01:32 +0000
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)
commented 2015-12-01 15:23:24 +0000
I really wish more Labour party MPs were like you, looking at this issue itself as opposed to playing spiteful games against a leader they don’t support, despite the wishes of the party membership. Good for you!
commented 2015-12-01 09:22:26 +0000
Very well said, in the wake of Iraq and the corruption that still prevails due to ousting a tyrant, the gaping whole of terrorism on mass has been born. the same will happen in Syria. it may be a case if better the devil you know with Assad, and America will hVe to lick their wounds.
commented 2015-11-30 21:16:01 +0000
I’m not your constituent but I support your position. Air strikes will kill many innocents as I do not accept there is such a thing as precision bombing, which if it did exist depends on faultless intelligence – another myth in the Middle East. Air strikes will not defeat ISIS and they wil play into the hands of Salafist propogandists.
commented 2015-11-30 20:20:42 +0000
I’m in the area and am very much against any kind of bombing in Syria there are still way to many unknowns. We have no idea how it is likely to play out between Turkey, Syria, Russia, USA, and France we appear to be getting hoodwinked into something which has the potential to become very much more. Further more I’m very unhappy that Labour would even consider dropping any bombs at all after Iraq! We have NOT been invaded nor was it us who was attacked and even if it had been we are not talking about Syrians we are talking about EU nationals responsible. It makes virtually no sense as to why go into Syria unless there is a ulterior motive we the public are not privy too. Which I more suspect as the case. I think if we had openly been attacked as a declaration of outright war by another country Id be saying ok but we are not fighting a country we are talking about some yes very bad people who are hiding out amongst those they are also hurting and harming. I can not watch the Syrian people suffer anymore we should be looking at ways to help these poor people and free them so that they may start again in their own country but do it in a compassionate way not one which means we create more extremists which is without a doubt a certainty! I don’t want my grandchildren being harmed because this generation didn’t listen or do what is right.
And as a final note I really dislike the stabbing in the back by MPs such as Simon Danzuk who for some reason seems to think he can play some kind of a moral high-ground despite the fact he and his love life are splayed across the papers daily. It’s not appropriate and its very off putting to voters who want to know when they are paid members and voters that their own MP is going to be signing off the same hymn sheet as the leader they themselves helped choose.
commented 2015-11-30 14:59:20 +0000
No to air strikes in Syria. We do not know who the enemy is this is a reaction to the Paris attacks and the hysteria whipped up by the right wing media. If its a matter of conscience then tbink about those civilians who will be killed or maimed. It cannot be justified. Full support for Jeremy Corbyn. No to air strikes in Syria. the majority of the membership are against it the Labour needs to be a party of opposition! Jo Burns

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