Commons vote on air strikes against ISIL

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07 Dec 2015
Last week the House of Commons voted in favour of extending the British air strikes being carried out against ISIL in Iraq to Syria.

After carefully weighing the arguments on either side, Paul decided to vote against the extended military action and has written to the hundreds of constituents who contacted him on this issue to explain his decision.

You can read Paul's letter here:

Re. Extending Air Strikes into Syria

Thank you for getting in touch about the situation in Syria and, as you will already know by now, on Wednesday the House of Commons voted by 397 to 223, a majority of 174, to extend RAF air strikes into the country against the terrorists of ISIL-Daesh.

After careful consideration, not least after the recent atrocities in Paris, I decided to vote against the action and it was not a decision I reached lightly.

After Paris, my heart found it really tough to answer the question ‘What would the decision be, had it been London, Manchester, Stoke or somewhere else this side of the Channel?’ and difficult, too, not to heed with a ‘yes’ vote the appeal for help from our friends in France.

This was the case even though two years ago I argued with French Socialist MPs that they and President Hollande clearly did not bear the scars of Iraq in going into Syria as they did.

My head, however, said that in a multi-sided civil war, with ISIL-Daesh dug into heavily populated Raqqa, no political accord on the ground still and David Cameron clearly magicking a mythical 70,000 moderate Sunni fighters out of thin air, there was still no real strategy - while we were still seeking regime change, too, something which had disastrous consequences in Iraq, Libya and now Syria, however despicable their former leaders were.

We have good friends in Paris, whom we saw only in the summer and whose 12 year old son was at the Stade de France, while they were naturally worried sick, on that terrible evening.

They told me that escalation with civilian casualties is what the terrorists want and, without a wider Syrian peace agreement to focus on this one enemy, more bombing was not the answer.

This was a difficult decision, however, and no-one has a monopoly of conscience. So I completely understand that some of my colleagues on the Labour side this time took a different view following the deaths of so many people in Paris.

Now the vote has been held, we need to hold the government to account and it has promised quarterly updates to Parliament. We must also do all we can to ensure progress with the political talks in Vienna, so that the international community can be united in trying to bring a lasting settlement in Syria and they can drive out this murderous menace themselves.

With best regards and yours sincerely

Paul Farrelly
Member of Parliament for Newcastle-under-Lyme