How did your MP vote on Syria air strikes? Stevenage MP explains why he was one of seven Conservatives to vote against the government

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland was one of seven Conservative MPs to vote against air strikes in Syr

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland was one of seven Conservative MPs to vote against air strikes in Syria. - Credit: Archant

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland was the only Conservative MP in our area to vote against air strikes in Syria, which were approved after 10 hours of debate last night in the House of Commons.

Mr McPartland was one of seven Tories across the UK to not back their own government, but Prime Minister David Cameron got the mandate he required for action after 397 MPs voted in favour, and 223 against.

His fellow Conservatives from the surrounding area – North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald, Hitchin MP Peter Lilley, Mid Beds MP Nadine Dorries and North East Beds MP Alistair Burt – all backed the air strikes, which targeted ISIS in Syria within hours of the motion being passed.

About his decision to vote against, Mr McPartland said: “The last Parliament saw a terrible day for democracy when the Labour Party tried to create political capital out of the suffering of innocent children, women and men in Syria.

“I voted against the Labour motion, which set out a road map to war with the Syrian government and I voted against the Coalition Government’s motion also.

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“No one is winning and millions of innocent civilians in Syria are suffering, our efforts should be focused on reconciliation rather than firing a few missiles to salve international consciences.

In fact, the Dual-mode Brimstone missile our allies want us to deploy, was developed in Stevenage and is manufactured near Bolton. It is very, very accurate, but the resulting explosion and debris are not and it is implausible to suggest it will guarantee no civilian casualties.

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“I voted against military intervention in Syria, because I believed it would just prolong an already dreadful civil war. I continue to believe this is the case and will not support such military interventions.”

Sir Oliver said: “Our allies want RAF precision bombing because it reduces civilian casualties, as in Iraq where there have been none, but where ISIL have lost a third of their territory.

“The terrorists are planning their attacks on Britain from their base in Syria, so it is right in self-defence to try to stop them.

“We are already top of their target list, so the UK is not taking on extra risk by attacking them. They attack us because the UK stands for the things they hold in contempt such as democracy, liberty, equality for women and the rule of law.

“It will help the peace process in Vienna if ISIL is weakened and the moderate opposition strengthened.

“Air strikes alone will not finish ISIL, but it will weaken them, save civilian lives, make it more difficult to plan attacks against the UK, stop them attacking the moderates, and support the peace process.”

Mr Burt said: “I supported the Prime Minister last night in the vote on Syria.

“It is important to know what the vote is, and what it is not.

“It is to extend the effort that the RAF is making in Iraq, as part of a coalition of many countries, to tackle the danger to us and to others of the terrorist group Daesh, or ISIL.

“It will target leaders of Daesh, and those responsible for the capture, enslavement and brutal treatment of men, women and children in areas they have captured, and make it more difficult for them to launch attacks on mainland Europe and the UK.

“It will help existing ground forces recover land, and free people.

“It is not a war on Syria, it is not a civilian bombing campaign. It is as the Prime Minister and Hilary Benn set out, a standing up against fascism in our time.”

Hitchin MP Peter Lilley said: “I have great doubts about the whole thing which I expressed to our Prime Minister David Cameron in a parliamentary debate on Monday – in particular the issue of the so-called ‘moderate’ 70,000 troops on the ground who I must say seem anything but moderate.

“David Cameron accepted my point saying he very much respected my point of view in doubting the 70,000 would protect possible territory seized from ISIL.

“I feel all that air power will achieve is to degrade rather than defeat ISIL. During yesterday’s debate no-one persuaded me that it would not be good for us if we did carry out air strikes – and therefore reluctantly I agreed to vote in favour of the motion.”

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