Syria – Lord Tony Greaves has his say

Below are the views of Lib Dem Lord Tony Greaves – I agree with him entirely.

Tony Greaves

My Lords, if we had the Motion in front of us to vote on tonight I would vote against it. In doing so, I would be voting for the views of the majority of members of my party. Last night, when the Liberal Democrat MPs said they were going to support the Government, with various caveats, a ripple of surprise and shock went through the party. Some of us spent a great deal of time last night talking to people who were angry and felt they had been let down by our MPs.

British bombing will have little effect in practice. On its own it will not make any real difference. In that and many other respects I associate myself with the remarks that have just been made by the noble Lord, Lord Judd. The danger of ‘mission creep’ is a real problem.

The main impact of the Government’s Motion, this debate and the debate in the past few days has not been on international politics but on British politics. I have tried to understand why the Government have brought this forward at this time but I find it difficult to do so. My noble friend Lord Taverne may have some ideas.

Last week, the Liberal Democrats and Tim Farron, as leader, stated five conditions for supporting the Government today. He wrote to members of the party and said:

“We are writing to outline the criteria against which we will judge our response”.

He referred to five conditions. I emphasise the word “conditions”. The first was legal and I do not want to say anything more than my noble friend Lord Thomas of Gresford has said because he is an expert on these matters and I am not. The second was a wider diplomatic framework,

“including efforts towards a no-bomb zone to protect civilians.”

I see no evidence that there has been any progress on that.

The third was the United Kingdom to lead—I underline the word “lead”—a concerted international effort to put pressure on Gulf states, specifically Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, to stop the funding of jihadi groups and to do much more to assist in the effort to defeat ISIL, establish peace in Syria and help with the refugee situation. It was added:

“They are currently doing very little”.

I think that was a reference to the Government. I see no progress whatever on that or any commitments given. The fifth was domestic. Among other things he said:

“We call on the Government to step up its acceptance of Syrian refugees, and opt in to Save the Children’s proposal to re-home 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children from within Europe”.

The chances of this Government agreeing to that are close to zero. If I am wrong, I will hold my hand up and praise them to the heavens.

We are also told that things have changed because the Vienna talks are taking place and that this means there will be co-ordinated international action, a plan for the future, plans for the regeneration of Syria, rebuilding and so on. That seems to be an argument for waiting until that is in place before taking the kind of action now being proposed.

I do not believe that what is being put forward by the Government will work. In three or four or six months’ time we will be debating this issue again and people will want to do more. There is an old maxim: if you are in doubt about things and not completely convinced, first do no harm. Bombing at this time in Syria and Raqqa will do more harm than good.

With thanks to Tony Dawson for the lead to this posting

Syria – I am on a different page to the majority of MP’s

Looking at the complicated situation in Syria I can’t for the life of me see how the RAF dropping more bombs on it will do any good. Indeed, it will probably do more harm as innocent people will die as a consequence.

Sadly it seems that I am branded as a terrorist sympathiser (as is everyone else who opposes the bombing), by David Cameron, as I am highly sceptical of his plan and support those MP’s who oppose him. He has probably succeeded in gravely insulting a third or more of the British people by his crass and child-like remark in my opinion.

I am no pacifist yet I can’t support what seems to be a muddle-headed plan with little or no clear and potentially achievable military objective.

I am no socialist but the treatment of Jeremy Corbyn, who is a pacifist, has been appalling. How can you hate a man who promotes peace?

I know that the terrorists need to be confronted and defeated but please put a credible plan before us that stands a chance of achieving such a noble aim.

And as for Tim Farron, does he know something that the rest of his party, outside of the MP’s, do not? For all the world I would have expected Tim to have taken a similar position to that of the late great Charles Kennedy who stood against the Iraq war when no other political leader would do so.

The vote tonight will be not be a victory for anyone but it could well escalate tensions in the Middle East, ensure that innocent civilians are killed and it might even help the terrorists recruit more of their kind.

Oh, and don’t forget, the risks that our brave RAF crews will be running as we sit back and watch the unfolding story on our TV screens. They are already running those risks in Iraq of course.