Constituents against air strikes says Galloway MP

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SNP MP Richard Arkless yesterday voted against David Cameron’s proposals for military escalation, including airstrikes, in Syria.

The House of Commons debated the subject for over 10 hours during the course of Wednesday and in the final vote MPs voted to support air strikes over Syria by 397 votes to 223.

All of the SNP MPs backed a cross-party amendment calling on the government to support a comprehensive strategy against Daesh rather than participate in further military intervention.

Of the 59 MPs that represent Scottish constituencies, 57 voted against UK participation in air strikes. In a recent poll 72% of Scots said they were against bombing Syria.

Mr Arkless said: “The Prime Minister did not make a convincing case for air strikes and I was proud to add my name to the cross-party amendment calling for the government to support a political solution rather than a military response to the situation in Syria.

“The SNP has always taken the position that we would not support the extension of military action in Syria if the Prime Minister failed to answer the key questions posed to him by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee. By a majority, the committee found that he had not addressed these concerns.”

“This issue has been hugely emotive for my constituents and over the last week I have been overwhelmed with letters, emails, telephone calls and messages from people all over Dumfries and Galloway expressing their concerns about military action in Syria. It was very clear to me that the vast majority of people wanted me to vote against the strikes and I support them in this view. Over 96% of the constituents who contacted me asked me to vote against air strikes and having looked at all the evidence, that is what I decided to do.

“We know from our previous experience in the Middle East that dropping bombs creates many more problems than it ever solves. In my view, UK participation in air strikes plays directly into the hands of extremists. It will create a surge of new recruits to Daesh who will be keen to find any justification for their horrific actions and support for their twisted ideology.

“The situation in Syria has already been responsible for the worst humanitarian crisis in recent memory and dropping yet more bombs will only make the situation worse.

“We are embarking on an ill-considered military intervention that has no long-term plan, no exit strategy and no credible way to win peace. Scotland has again been dragged into a war that it does not support and I fear the consequences that this increased military action will bring.

“There are better ways of disrupting Daesh’s operations in Syria. For example cutting off their supply of money and cutting off their supply of arms. I am disappointed that airstrikes are already underway without adequate consideration being given to other methods of disrupting Daesh’s activities.”

Spelling out the choice facing MPs, Mr Cameron said: “We face a fundamental threat to our security. Isil have brutally murdered British hostages, they have inspired the worst terrorist attack against British people since 7/7 on the beaches of Tunisia, and they have plotted atrocity after atrocity on the streets here at home.”

He called on MPs to “answer the call from our allies” and take action against the “woman-raping, Muslim-murdering, medieval monsters” of IS, who he warned were “plotting to kill us and to radicalise our children right now”.

He said MPs faced a simple question: “Do we work with our allies to degrade and destroy this threat and do we go after these terrorists in their heartlands from where they are plotting to kill British people, or do we sit back and wait for them to attack us?”

But Mr Cameron had earlier undermined his own attempts to make a statesman-like case for air strikes when it was reported that he had urged Conservative MPs not to side with “terrorist sympathisers” by voting against air strikes.