Unfortunately I was not called to speak in this debate due to time constraints. I have copied below the speech that I would have liked to deliver. You can watch this speech here.
How many times are we going to support such folly?
What positive outcome has ever been achieved by following this path of engagement?
Are the munitions stores full to overflowing?
Is this why we are attempting to justify this planned action?
When the Chilcot enquiry was set up its primary remit was to define “lessons learned”. Its failure to report has left us high and dry to potentially make the same mistakes.
During the enquiry when asked whether the invasion of Iraq increased the threat of terrorism , Eliza Manningham-Buller, the head of MI5 at the time, told Chilcot that it had “radicalised British citizens who saw it as an attack on Islam”.
Alastair Campbell, chief spokesman for Tony Blair, the prime minister who took Britain into Iraq, was asked at the inquiry:
“Looking at the huge cost in loss of life,
at the effects on the stability of the Middle Eastern region,
at the development of international terrorism within Iraq,
do you consider that, overall, the policy has succeeded?”
“Could things have been done differently? Almost certainly.”
But What? By who? When and where and how? We still do not know.
General Frederick Viggers, Britain’s senior military figure in Iraq in 2003, told Chilcot that the situation after the invasion was
“rather like going to the theatre and realising you were watching a tragedy as the curtains came back”.
The Chilcott enquiry has not reported but the lessons are there if we go looking for them.
But we have not.
Instead we will spew death and destruction across Syria while pertaining to seek to destroy an unseen and often unknown enemy and we will improve nothing.
We will rightly praise our armed forces for their professionalism and courage. But we still forget many who have previously served, often returning home damaged physically, mentally or both, only to rely on charity.
Or priorities are seriously skewed.
We should be working to establish peace.
Helping to rebuild roads, buildings and bridges, both metaphorical and physical.
But our lack of courage stops us from having faith in humankind.
Fear comes easily.
Revenge at the stroke of a pen.
We should be trading goods with Syria. Facilitating the exchange of students and professors, learning from each other, opening up dialogue across society.
Instead we shall bomb Syria, killing innocent men, woman and children and in doing so we shall radicalise another generation of young men and woman, effectively doing Daesh’s job for them.
And 20 years from now, people in this place will validate the government of that days decision to kill more innocents.
This must stop somewhere.
We can take a step towards a better outcome.
By saying NO, not here, not now, not in my name.
A better future is possible and yes there will be set backs and challenges.
But we have tried this so many times before and it does not work.
Bombing will not bring peace.
It will bring death and destruction, misery and anger and ultimately retribution.
In the past I have heard people who support such action use phrases such as
“necessary evil” or “collateral damage”
Three-year-old Aylan Kurdi’s body was washed up dead on a Turkish beach. His death was caused by drowning but his fate was determined by bombing.
We work in this protected and privileged bubble with the power over other people’s right to life.
My honourable parliamentarians we can halt this but we must have the courage to do so.
I beseech you, please. Do not support this deadly and futile act of folly.