Syria airstrikes case ‘not made’, say Scots Labour duo

LABOUR’s two most senior politicians in Scotland have said the case for bombing Syria has not been made.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 30th November 2015, 11:19 am
Ian Murray MP, left, and Kezia Dugdale, right, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Picture: John Devlin
Ian Murray MP, left, and Kezia Dugdale, right, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Picture: John Devlin

Shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said he does not think air strikes will have an impact on Islamic State (IS), also known as Isil and Daesh, and he said Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale shares his view.

Mr Murray acknowledged reports of women and children being raped and the persecution of homosexuals, but said the people living in IS’s Syrian heartland of Raqqa do not want air strikes and the free Syrian army does not have the capacity to support them.

Labour’s shadow cabinet will debate its response to the Prime Minister’s efforts to build parliamentary support for bombing on Monday afternoon.

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Leader Jeremy Corbyn has not ruled out ordering his MPs to vote against air strikes, but Mr Murray said the shadow cabinet may emerge with a free vote due to Mr Corbyn’s long record of defying the party whip.

Mr Murray told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “ I don’t think the case has been made because I don’t think the bombing of Syria will make any difference to the position of Isil/Daesh.”

He added: “Kez doesn’t think that the case has been made either.

“We have had long discussions about this at the weekend. We have shared the information that we had, and Kezia also doesn’t think that the case has been made for air strikes on Syria.”

Mr Murray said the case falls down on three grounds: a lack of capacity in the free Syrian army; uncertainty over the position of Russia and what to do with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, and the opposition from the people of Raqqa.

He said: “There are wide views on this particular issue, it’s an incredibly emotive issue.

“On the one hand you’ve got the killing and rape of children and women. You’ve got gay people being thrown off the top of buildings.

“We all know that Isil/Daesh is an evil terrorist force to be dealt with, and the question is how you deal with them.”

He added: “It may be that the shadow cabinet decides to have a free vote on this and allow people to express their views.

“The problem that I think Jeremy has got... is that he has never abided by the discipline of the leader or of the shadow cabinet.

“He may try and impose this on the shadow cabinet. I think that would be wrong in this particular instance because I think people have very strong views one way or another.

“I think it is incredibly important for us not to turn this into a question and debate about the inner workings and mechanisms of a shadow cabinet, which is 30 people sitting round a table in the bubble of Westminster.”