Last night on Question Time Matthew Hancock MP, Minister for the Cabinet Office articulated an enthusiastic case for the UK to bomb Syria to try to defeat ISIL. He argued that this view was despite the fact that he had opposed the Iraq war, at the time he was a special adviser for George Osborne who voted for us to wage war with Saddam Hussein so Matt’s opposition was not tested in Parliament. Matt did not make a comment about the war in Afghanistan but at a later part in the programme when the subject had turned to austerity measures he spoke very clearly about the need for the UK to live within its means. The cost of these two wars is estimated to have cost us some £20Bn. It remains to be seen if the UK will set a financial limit to the Syrian Campaign. Whilst it is unlikely to cost as these earlier conflicts, if we do decide to enter that conflict we can be certain that the cost will be significant. When challenged about boots on the ground of the British variety, Matt claimed that these boots would complicate matters. The suggestion that our boots would complicate matters, whilst our bombs and planes or drones will improve matters is hard to square. If we can bomb in an orderly fashion, surely we can invade in an orderly manner. The final piece of incoherence in Matthews argument came when he was questioned about the risk of innocent lives being lost as a result of the bombs and missiles we might launch. At this point Matthew’s eyes appeared to light up. The view he holds is that we have access to special equipment which uniquely allows us as a military power to bomb people, hitting the target with greater accuracy than other air forces can achieve. I have two questions which I raised in my lounge but sadly Matt did not hear. Firstly will he prove how accurate these munitions are and put his own life and his family into the sort of position that he imagines innocent Syrians will be placed, just so the rest of us can see this accuracy for ourselves? The second is who gets to select the people and places being targeted, and how good is their eyesight?
I appreciate that not all Conservative and Labour MPs will be as badly briefed as Matt Hancock appeared last night, but he is a member of the Privy Council which means he has access to the highest level of secrets and data. His confused arguments deserve no airing. It is clear that the case for bombing Syrian houses, schools and hospitals as well as the places where ISIS is operating from along the same street needs to be a great deal stronger before I could support such an action. To be fair my current view is that there is a need for a different type of intervention to defeat ISIS and that is unlikely to be changed by Government Ministers, even if they talk less nonsense than Mr Hancock. The concern I have is that every bomb dropped by America, France and Russia risks further strengthening the case for supporting ISIS in the eyes of men and women who are already sympathetic to their cause and who are a real threat to our national security. These men and women are based far from the killing grounds of Syria. They live in Brighton, Crawley, London, Liverpool and Manchester to name 5 locations. It is these men and women who place the UK at greatest risk. Some of them are already well known to the UK intelligence services and some are not. All of them could don a suicide vest if prompted to do so.
I still remember the tragic day when the twin towers were destroyed. A small group of my friends gathered to do what we could to help. All we could do was pray. I recall praying that whatever response the American and other Governments made, that this would not lead to more terrorism growing out of these counter responses. Sadly this prayer did not stay the hand of George Bush or Tony Blair. Equally my decision to join 2M others in London to ask our Government to not go to war had no impact. Moving forward it appears that the only thing I could do was vote Green in the General Election this year. That I did and I am confident that my MP will vote against air strikes in Syria.