Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson: Why I voted against mili

Bill Esterson


Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson said he voted against Tory-Lib Dem Government plans to "rush head-long into a war with no end".

Bill voted against Britain launching a military strike against Syria when Parliament was recalled last Thursday.

The MP said constituents had contacted expressing concerns about Tory-Lib Dem plans to launch the strike.

He said that neither David Cameron or Nick Clegg could convince either him, or the British public, that the Syrian people would be better off if Britain bombed their country.

Bill said: "Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron recalled parliament to debate going in to Syria last Thursday. But neither he nor his Lib Dem Deputy, Nick Clegg were able to persuade MPs, or the British public that Britain should attack Syria.

"I received a lot of email and phone calls from constituents in the run up to the debate. The vast majority urged me to oppose Cameron and Clegg's plans.

"So Labour MPs supported by small numbers of MPs from the other parties voted against the government's plan to support military intervention in Syria.

"Along with my Labour colleagues, I voted against the government and am relieved that the government was defeated. This means that this country will not be supporting military action in Syria at least for now.

"Let’s be quite clear. What is happening in Syria is terrible and the use of chemical weapons is sickening. The murder of people by the government and by the different opposition factions is a disaster.

"But my colleagues and I were not convinced that either the Tories and Lib Dems had a plan for striking the Assad regime with set objectives for a desired outcome. Nor were we convinced that a strike would make things better for either the Syrians or the wider Middle East region."

Bill said the fact that US President Barack Obama was now awaiting further evidence before taking any action showed that Labour was right to oppose Tory-Lib Dem plans to invade.

Bill said: "The Americans are now following the example of the Labour Party. We wanted there to be a democratic debate and vote on any plans to launch a strike. Barack Obama is now following our lead.

"Instead, the Conservatives, propped up by their Liberal Democrat friends, were willing to take action without waiting for most of the evidence needed for a sensible decision. Not least the vote was called before the weapons inspectors could even write their report and before finding out the view of the United Nations.

"In my view, we should be giving as much humanitarian support as possible to those in fear of their lives and those who are injured. We should also be trying to get United Nations agreement to put pressure on all sides in Syria.

"We should be working with Russia, China and Iran if possible to use their relationships with the Syrian government.

"However, I do not support military action as envisaged by both the Conservative and Lib Dem parts of the British government as I believe it would probably make matters worse. Without the United Nations, we will be seen as aggressors by many in Syria and across the Middle East including Iran."

Bill said he feared that bombing Damascus would simply make the situation worse.

Bill said: "Bombing can’t remove the chemical weapons and it will kill civilians.

"The rebels are a series of different groups. Some of these groups are as bad as the government and include Al Qaeda and groups who want to do what the Taliban have done in Afghanistan and I would be extremely worried by the prospect of supporting such groups.

"The sad reality is that we cannot on our own stop the killing. Not intervening has terrible consequences for the people of Syria. But I am afraid that intervening carries huge risks as well.

"We should only intervene if we are clear that doing so will improve the situation. We must keep the diplomatic work going and help the refugees. If we can get international support then we should consider supporting military intervention with the objective of stopping the fighting. But this can only happen through the United Nations.

"What is happening in Syria is hugely complex and I don’t have certainty about what is right. But we need to be cautious and if in doubt we should resist the temptation to attack Syria.

"That is why I voted against military action at this time and i would like to thank everyone who took the time to share their views with me on this very important issue."



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