Stewart McDonald MP

Member of Parliament for Glasgow South

Like all Glaswegians, I was appalled at the butchery we saw in Paris a couple of weeks ago, and it is clear that we must redouble our efforts to deal with Da’esh. I am, however, totally unconvinced by the case for airstrikes the Prime Minister has given so far, and will vote against today.

As I said in the House of Commons on Monday, the point is not just to attack Da’esh, it is to defeat it: not just in Syria, but across the Middle East.

On Monday I outlined the historical reasons why we should think very carefully before committing to military action in the Middle East. Memories are fresh of the invasion of Iraq, and while that operation was an initial military success, it has become the biggest Foreign Policy mistake of the modern era because there was little or no attention paid to post-war reconstruction.

Syria has been torn apart by four years of civil war. Da’esh thrives among such anarchy, and I would have to be satisfied that the condition that allowed them to thrive would not be left after British invasion: the Prime Minister has done very little to address this vital issue

Britain spent 13 times as much in the bombardment of Libya than it did on reconstruction: funds need to put in place to ensure that the Syrian economy can begin to function again in a way which the Libyan one could not. Syrian people must be able to return to a functioning economy, with the rule of law.

There are also questions about the 70,000 Syrian opposition fighters who the Prime Minister promised would step in to provide security on the ground: this number has proven to be very vulnerable under questioning, and it seems many of that 70,000 are themselves Islamists who only look moderate in comparison to Da’esh. We must not remove that despicable organisation only to deliver it into the hands of something worse.

It is on this last point that I think the Prime Minister’s argument is weakest. I cannot disagree with him that something must be done to stop these barbarians: that just isn’t a good enough reason to go to war. As I said on Monday, I want to see the Prime Minister apply the lessons from history, show us what has been learned, and give us a proper plan for reconstruction. Until then, I simply cannot vote for his plans.