After a great deal of thought, my stance on bombing in Syria is detailed below.
I continue to hold the view that a Syrian Government of National Unity – GNU (ultimately without Assad) has to be formed before all else. Once formed, the GNU would then become the vehicle for the pursuit and comprehensive defeat of ISIL in Syria.
My thoughts and proposals are outlined in greater detail in this piece http://www.stephenkinnock.co.uk/winning_the_game_of_shadows that was published in the Huffington Post on 15 October, and also in this statement that I issued on Friday:
**The Prime Minister’s Proposal for Bombing ISIL in Syria is Putting the Cart Before the Horse**
The British government’s approach to the Syria crisis should be seeking to secure two strategic objectives:
1. Stability and peace in Syria, on the basis of a power-sharing arrangement: President Assad must be part of the transition to power-sharing, but a 2016 date must also be set for his departure.
2. The comprehensive and permanent military defeat of ISIL by the Syrian army (commanded through the aforementioned power-sharing structure), with a multi-national coalition providing air cover and special forces support.
Securing the first of these objectives is the pre-condition for securing the second.
The Prime Minister’s statement to the House provided extensive commentary on objective 2, but was severely lacking in detail around objective 1. Unfortunately, I have therefore concluded that the Prime Minister’s proposal for Bombing ISIL in Syria is putting the cart before the horse.
President Assad is the number one recruiting sergeant for ISIL in Syria. As long as he is in power with no transition plan in sight, then ISIL will continue its murderous operations.
I will support the aerial bombardment of ISIL, if and when it is part of a comprehensive political strategy. At this point in time such a strategy does not exist, and I am therefore not persuaded by the Prime Minister’s arguments.
My final point is that I see this as a matter of individual conscience, and am therefore of the view that Labour MPs should be given a free vote, ie that the whip should not apply on this occasion.