AFTER a long, passionate, and at times ill-tempered debate, on Thursday (Dec 2), MP’s voted on the Government’s motion on the beginning of airstrikes in Syria.
By 397 votes to 223, the House of Commons voted in favour of airstrikes.
The Herald asked each of our local MP’s to comment on the debate and the reasoning behind their personal votes.
In an open letter to his constituents, Simon Hart (Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire) said: “Having listened carefully to the debate I supported the motion. But I would like to draw your readers’ attention to the speech made by Hilary Benn (Shadow Foreign Secretary) at the conclusion of the debate. The reasons I supported the debate are two-fold:
“Firstly, the threat to Britain’s national security. ISIS are motivated by an extremist religious philosophy which they wish to impose on the West. Their fighters have targeted and killed UK and other European citizens and they have tried to launch Paris style attacks on British soil – there have been 7 attacks foiled in the last 6 months alone. Innocent UK citizens are being targeted and killed now.
“Secondly, the UK, in coalition with others at the request of the Iraqi government, has for some time been taking action against ISIS in Iraq. What we voted to do was to extend our activity over Iraq (which has been happening for some time) across the border into Syria.
“Apart from the issue of national security, millions of refugees have fled Syria. Britain has been fulfilling a moral obligation to help them, both through paying for safe refugee camps in Turkey and the Middle East and by taking in thousands of refugees. If we have a moral obligation to look after Syrian refugees, then we have the moral obligation to intervene and take action to prevent more coming.
“We are already involved as we are attacking ISIS in Iraq. We have a high level of expertise in the use of targeted missiles and drones. In particular, we have missiles that are highly accurate against moving vehicles. In addition we have been asked by many of the UK’s most important allies to help. Defeating IS is a global challenge and we cannot stand back and expect our allies to defend our interests without any input from the UK.”
Stephen Crabb’s office directed us to comments made by the Secretary of State before the debate: “Having spent months reflecting on the increasing threat that ISIL poses to us both at home and abroad, I believe we must take action to eradicate this evil organisation.
“I have received a large amount of correspondence from my constituents on this issue. Many people have got in touch to let me know that they are in favour of action, and many people have told me that they are against. Those who are against are concerned primarily with the legality of military action, and the risk of civilian casualties.
“A number of people have also raised concerns that the extension of British air strikes will make Britain a target for ISIL terrorist attacks. Unfortunately, we are already a top-tier target for ISIL. The security services have foiled seven terrorist attacks in the UK in the last year alone. The threat is already here, and we must take action to tackle the source of that threat.
“Of course, air strikes alone aren’t going to solve this issue, which is why we want to take action as part of a wider diplomatic and humanitarian strategy, one which achieves a political solution to the conflict.
“There are no easy options here, and all carry risk. I believe that standing back and not taking action at this time is the worst option of all.”
Nia Griffith (Llanelli), Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, told The Herald: “I am disappointed at the outcome of the Syria vote, as I am fearful for innocent Syrian civilians, and still feel that the Prime Minister has no effective follow-up strategy. I sincerely hope however that he and the Foreign Secretary will have listened to the arguments, and will make sure that the UK really uses its influential position in the world to bring countries together to push for progress on cutting off the flow of resources to Daesh and finding a lasting political settlement for the area.
“It is understandable that in the wake of appalling atrocities in Paris, that we should want to do something urgently to combat Daesh / Isis and show solidarity with our allies, but we should beware of simply bombing places like Raqqa in Syria as a knee-jerk reaction, which, as fleeing Syrians have pointed out, would inevitably lead to civilian casualties.
“We all abhor Daesh with their barbaric acts, and their murdering of innocent people including many Muslims, but military experts have warned that air strikes alone are not sufficient to drive Daesh out of the territory it holds.
“Far more needs to be done to cut off their supplies of oil and weapons, and to prevent more young people being drawn into their hateful propaganda and radicalisation. But in terms of re-taking the parts of Syria they control, we need to have a strategy which includes how and by whom the peace can be secured. The Prime Minister talked vaguely about some 70,000 rebel forces, but they are scattered geographically, and composed of many disparate groups. The Prime Minister could not give us details about their commitment or capacity for taking and holding territory.”
Jonathan Edwards (Carmarthen East & Dinefwr) was at pains to spell out his opposition to UK engagement in the region: “The Prime Minister and others believe that an immediate airborne military response is required in Syria from UK forces to help defeat Daesh. I believe that it is likely to have little effect and could exacerbate the strategic problems western powers face.
“Speaking on December 2, the Prime Minister said nothing new that persuaded me to change my views. The big danger now is the absence of a clear exit strategy for UK forces.
“Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell told George Bush junior: ‘You break it, you own it’. It is a responsibility we will have to deal with.”
On the deployment of UK forces, Mr Edwards told our reporter: “We offer our full support to our forces, they are there as a result of a political decision. However, we will continue to scrutinise and challenge the government – as we did in the cases of Afghanistan and Iraq.
“Where Mr Cameron’s case fell apart was on his 70,000 figure for forces on the ground. Nobody takes that seriously and what I – and others – are wary of is mission creep leading to the deployment of ground forces.”
Mr Edwards concluded: “If this is a new British foreign policy strategy – to intervene against Daesh wherever it is – where do we stop? The Sinai? Egypt? Tunisia?
“We could face perpetual war across the Middle East and North Africa.”
Global Litter Charity has announced the date of its next Welsh litter picking event
THE UOCEAN Project, part of the Vayyu Foundation, which has set itself the target of removing 1 billion kilos of waste from the world’s oceans by 2030, will be holding its next litter collection taskforce event at Pembrey Country Park in Carmarthenshire.
Everyone is invited to join The UOcean Project volunteers and to make a difference by collecting litter, especially plastics, which are polluting our environment and ending up in the world’s oceans. The UOcean Project has highlighted the dramatic increase in litter from plastic bags to face masks since lockdown restrictions were lifted, making it even more important to clean-up and reduce waste pollution.
Chris Desai, head of The UOcean Project commented. “Picking up one plastic bottle or single use face mask may not appear to be significant, but at each event we are collecting many kilos of plastic because more and more individuals are joining our litter picking teams.
The combined collections here and overseas are the only way to make a difference and start fighting back against pollution.”
The UOcean Project organises litter pick-up teams who work across the UK, especially around coastlines, as well as internationally. By organising volunteers into Chapters and providing them with the tools and equipment to pick up litter, they have already collected 53,000 kilos of waste which would have ended up in the seas.
All volunteers are provided with the equipment needed to safely pick up litter so that it can be disposed of in the right way. For more information about The UOcean Project please go to the website www.theuoceanproject.com
Warning! Dangerous Valium circulating in Llanelli
Warning! Dangerous Valium circulating in
POLICE are warning drug users in Llanelli to take extra care following information received that dangerous valium is circulating in the area.
A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesperson said: “We have reasons to believe that the drugs being distributed and used in the Llanelli area at present could be extremely dangerous for anyone taking them.
“We would also appeal to drug users to seek medical attention immediately should they become unwell.
“Please share this information with anyone that you believe could come into contact with these drugs.”
To seek advice and support, visit https://barod.cymru/where-to-get-help/west-wales-services/ddas-dyfed-drug-and-alcohol-service/
Please be aware that some services may operate an automated service outside office hours.
In an emergency, or if you think someone’s life is at risk, always dial 999.
Parents warned to look out for respiratory illness in children
RESPIRATORY Syncytial Virus (RSV) is circulating amongst children and toddlers in the Hywel Dda area (Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire)
Hywel Dda UHB Medical Director and Deputy Chief Executive Dr Philip Kloer said: “Because of the COVID restrictions, there have been few cases of RSV during the pandemic, but this virus has returned and in higher numbers now people are mixing more.
“RSV is a common respiratory illness which is usually picked up by children during the winter season, and causes very few problems to the majority of children. However, very young babies, particularly those born prematurely, and children with heart or lung conditions, can be seriously affected and it’s important that parents are aware of the actions to take.”
Parents are being encouraged to look out for symptoms of severe infection in at-risk children, including:
*a high temperature of 37.8°C or above (fever)
*a dry and persistent cough, difficulty feeding, rapid or noisy breathing (wheezing).
The best way to prevent RSV is to wash hands with soap and water or hand sanitiser regularly, dispose of used tissues correctly, and to keep surfaces clean and sanitised.
Most cases of bronchiolitis are not serious and clear up within 2 to 3 weeks, but you should contact your GP or call NHS 111 if:
- You are worried about your child.
- Your child has taken less than half their usual amount during the last two or three feeds, or they have had a dry nappy for 12 hours or more.
- Your child has a persistent high temperature of 37.8C or above.
- Your child seems very tired or irritable.
Dial 999 for an ambulance if:
- your baby is having difficulty breathing
- your baby’s tongue or lips are blue
- there are long pauses in your baby’s breathing
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