Eric Ollerenshaw column: Diplomacy alone has clearly failed with Syria

Eric Ollerenshaw MP
Eric Ollerenshaw MP
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Given recent events concerning Syria I have decided to break with my usual, locally focused style for this column.

As you will know by now, the Prime Minister recalled Parliament early to debate the chemical weapon attacks in Syria. The motion debated did not ask Parliament to make a decision about whether to authorise the use of UK troops.

Instead, Parliament was asked to:

*Condemn the use of chemical weapons, recognising it is a war crime and a crime against humanity;

*Agree that a strong humanitarian response is required from the international community, which may require ‘military action that is legal [and] proportionate’.

*Call on the UN Weapons Inspectors to brief the Security Council as soon as possible

*Agree that ‘in spite of the difficulties at the UN, that a UN process must be followed as far as possible;’

*And, significantly, it required that ‘before any direct British involvement in such [military] action a further vote of the House of Commons will take place’.

I supported that motion, given its clear condemnation of the use of chemical weapons, its commitment to continue to try to use the UN route, and its firm guarantee that Parliament would be given an additional and separate vote on any specific move towards military action.

I have previously been opposed to any military action by the West in Syria as I wanted to give the diplomatic process the fullest chance to succeed and did not want to commit our military to yet another conflict.

However, I must admit that diplomacy alone has clearly failed – notably because both Russia and China’s protection has emboldened the Assad regime – and I am also appalled at the use of chemical weapons.

As such, I was disappointed that the limited motion outlined above failed.

It had sought to keep options open and required compelling evidence and progress through the UN before any specific military action would even be considered.

I do not know how I would have voted if a second motion detailing a military response was put to the Commons: I would have had to study the evidence and rationale in support of such action closely. However, to totally rule out any response before all the facts have been made known seems to me to be odd.

That being said, Parliament has now spoken and I freely accept that outcome; and the Prime Minister has now made clear that Britain will not take part in any military strikes against Syria.

Finally, and as always, please contact me if I can be of any help. I represent everyone who lives in Lancaster, south of the River Lune, regardless of how or whether you vote. My contact details are below:

Email: eric.ollerenshaw.mp@parliament.uk Phone: 0207 219 7096 or 01995 672975

Write: House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA or 59 High Street, Great Eccleston, Lancs, PR3 0YB. Web: www.ericollerenshaw.com”.