Talking Politics: Peace not war

Prime Minister David Cameron leads the debate on military action in Syria
Prime Minister David Cameron leads the debate on military action in Syria

Who says Parliament doesn’t matter?

Three weeks ago I voted on one of the most important issues since I was elected in 2005. The decision to send people to war is the biggest responsibility anyone could face. The debate was good, with some fine contributions from all sides of the house.

In the end, putting procedural issues to one side, the choice was simple. Should we be committing our armed services to military action in Syria?

I know there would have been a second vote, but passing this resolution would, in all probability, have sent us down a path to military action. It was not a journey I wanted us to begin.

Recent history has shown what can happen when military operations are made in the Middle East. There did not appear any convincing evidence that the Assad regime had used the chemical weapons. What would the endgame have been? Once we start taking action, who knows where it will all end. Why the rush?

As hideous as the chemical attacks were, and the pictures were truly horrific, we can’t unravel that. Could taking action have made things worse? Possibly, and the rebels hardly set a morally high standard themselves. I had made up my mind how I would vote in the days leading up to the debate.

The views of Halifax residents confirmed I was doing the right thing. In the many e-mails, letters and phone calls hardly any constituent supported military intervention.

Ten years on from the Iraq invasion, we may well have seen a turning point in British foreign policy. It is a changing situation, but any future decisions about Syria should respect the wishes of the United Nations. The main thing is to work with the International community and the UN to point the way to peace. I respect that other members of the Commons think the best way to achieve our goals was through military intervention.

However, without any clear evidence, no declared or detailed post military strategy, it was not a thought I shared. We know from Iraq that the consequences of rushed military interventions can reverberate for years.

The vote of the House has clearly led to a more diplomatic approach to dealing with the problems in Syria, as confirmed by the current discussions at the UN by key countries.

When it comes to matters of war and peace, I will always avoid voting for the former to try and achieve the latter.