Joe Cullinane

Scottish Labour Councillor for Kilwinning

Bombing Syria is the wrong response to threat of ISIL

Joe outlines his opposition to David Cameron's plan for air strikes in Syria and challenges the far rights use of the Paris attacks to fuel their intolerances.


129 ordinary people, spending time with friends and family, in locations similar to where we may find ourselves on a Friday night, have had their lives ended in the cruellest of ways.


My heart goes out to the family and friends of those who lost their lives in Paris almost two weeks ago, just as it does to the victims of recent ISIS bombings in Beirut and Ankaria, in Turkey, and last week’s attack in Mali.


The perpetrators of these attacks must be held to account but I am concerned that the solutions are not as simple as some would have you believe.


The issue of air strikes against Syria has returned and it is likely that David Cameron will call a vote on the matter in the coming weeks. It is important to remember that Cameron lost a vote on Syrian air strikes two years ago but it is unlikely that he will suffer the same level of rebellion from his own benches this time around. Furthermore, the SNP’s stance has softened from outright opposition to air strikes to one of consideration of the United Nations Resolution on the issue. Similarly, as I write this, my own party has yet to decide whether Labour MP’s will be whipped to support Jeremy Corbyn’s position against air strikes or to have a free vote on the matter.


Personally, I can’t envisage a scenario where dropping bombs on Syria will help dispel the threat of terrorism, a threat which saw the city of Brussels in lock down over the weekend as the Belgians fear a similar attack to the one in Paris.


I firmly believe we need to develop a new approach to foreign policy, one where war is always a last resort.


Previous military interventions in the Middle East haven’t made our world safer or quelled the threat of terrorism. President Obama himself recently described ISIS as an “unintended consequence” of the Iraq war (a war I opposed from the outset).


I believe we must stop making the same mistakes over and over again and instead work with the United Nations to secure a peaceful, political resolution to the current problem. If, when David Cameron calls one, I had a vote on air strikes I would be using it to oppose them.


Similarly, I feel we must challenge attempts by the far right to use these heinous attacks as fuel for their intolerances.


These attacks were nothing to do with refugees. In fact, these attacks were carried out by the sort of people that Syrian refugees, and others across the globe, are fleeing from.


I am proud that North Ayrshire has welcomed the first Syrian refugees to our area. We are witnessing the greatest level of human suffering for generations and it gives me hope for a better, more peaceful world to see local people doing so much to offer assistance through groups such as Ayrshire Support for Refugees and hundreds countering the hatred of the Scottish Defence League by turning out on a rainy Sunday afternoon in Monkton to welcome the asylum seekers who the Home Office have placed in the village. It is this solidarity, with all the victims of the atrocities that are being committed across the world, that will make a lasting difference.


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