We joined #DontBombSyria activists pleading with parliament to vote against dropping bombs in a bid to wipe out Isis
Last night, the British parliament chose to begin air strikes on Syria. Parliament debated for around 11 hours but decided, 397 votes to 223, that Britain would join the allied forces in attempting to bomb Raqqa, with the endgame being the destruction of the terror group Isis.
Since Saturday, protesters have attempted to make their voices heard in a bid to stop the bombing. Members of the Stop the War Coalition, of which Jeremy Corbyn used to be chair, called an emergency protest this weekend that was attended by thousands. Yesterday, we joined protesters at Parliament Square as the decision was being made. Despite anti-war chants, the atmosphere was grim and resolute with most protesters murmuring that it was evident “the government had not learned from Iraq” and shouting “Cameron – shame on you”, while holding peace-promoting placards and staging ‘die-ins’.
Towards the end of the protest, we were joined by two MPs who had left the long debate going on inside. These two politicians had not been asked by the crowd to speak, but in the words of Mhairi Black MP for the Scottish National Party, “had come outside in show that our voices were being acknowledged” and that she was heartened by it. Her voice was powerful and she stood strong to say that “anyone who believes that bombing will not harm civilians is illogical”. Inspired by her presence, the crowd chanted “don’t bomb Syria” with a renewed energy and were shortly met by Diane Abbott MP. Abbott went on to warn that “this bombing is not a parliamentary game, it will only bring about more violence in the region”.
On television later that night, Abbott was asked whether there would be reprisals against Labour MPs such as Stella Creasy, who did not vote in the same way as party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Abbott firmly replied that there “of course would not be any sort of punishment” as Corbyn’s free vote meant that the Labour Party wanted their members to vote with their conscience. Those in the Stop the War coalition called this ‘deplorable’.
One of the most disturbing things about the decision to bomb Syria is the potential to incur more violence. Not only will innocent civilians most likely be harmed, there is very little evidence that this move will help national security. In fact, especially compared to the Paris attacks, our first airstrike which left its Cyprus base this morning could easily be the motivation required for people already indoctrinated by the Isis ideology. It feels like we’re making the same mistakes we’ve made a thousand times.