“The question must now be whether extending the UK bombing from Iraq to Syria is likely to reduce, or increase, that threat and whether it will counter, or spread, the terror campaign ISIS is waging in the Middle East.
“With that in mind, I would like to put seven questions to the Prime Minister.
“First, does the Prime Minister believe that extending air strikes to Syria - which is already being bombed by the US, France, Russia and other powers - will make a significant military impact on a campaign which has so far seen ISIS gain, as well as lose, territory?
“Does he expect it will be a war-winning strategy? And why does he think other members of the original coalition - including the Gulf States, Canada and Australia - have halted their participation?
“Second, is the Prime Minister’s view that the air campaign against ISIS-held areas can be successful without ground forces?
“If not, does he believe that Kurdish forces or the relatively marginal and remote Free Syrian Army would be in a position to take back ISIS-held territory if the air campaign were successful?
“Is it not more likely that other stronger jihadist and radical Salafist forces would take over?
“Third, without credible or acceptable ground forces, isn’t the logic of an intensified air campaign mission creep and western boots on the ground? Can he today rule out the deployment of British ground forces to Syria?
“Fourth, does the Prime Minister believe that UN security council resolution 2249 gives “clear and unambiguous authorisation” for UK air strikes?
“And what coordinated action with other UN member states has there been under the terms of the resolution to cut off funding, oil revenues and arms supplies from ISIS in the territory it currently holds?
“And in the absence of any coordinated UN military or diplomatic strategy, does he believe that more military forces over Syria could increase the risks of dangerous incidents, such as the shooting down of a Russian military aircraft by Turkish forces this week?
“Fifth, how does the Prime Minister think an extension of UK bombing would contribute to a comprehensive negotiated political settlement of the Syrian civil war, which is widely believed to be the only way to ensure the defeat of ISIS in the country?
“Sixth, what assessment has the Prime Minister been given about the likely impact of British air strikes in Syria on the threat of terrorist attacks in the UK?
“And what impact does he believe an intensified air campaign will have on civilian casualties in ISIS-held Syrian territory and the wider Syrian refugee crisis?
“Finally, in the light of the record of western military interventions in recent years, including in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya does the Prime Minister accept that UK bombing of Syria could risk more of what President Obama called ‘unintended consequences’ – and that a lasting defeat of ISIS can only be secured by Syrians and forces from within the region?”
[Mr Corbyn has included a link to the above, which were his questions to David Cameron Thursday in the House of Commons after Cameron set out what he believes to be his case for UK airstrikes in Syria, in an email to party members]
The email from Mr Corbyn says - "As early as next week, MPs could be asked to vote on extending UK bombing to Syria. I do not believe that the Prime Minister made a convincing case that British air strikes on Syria would strengthen our national security or reduce the threat from ISIS. When I was elected I said I wanted Labour to become a more inclusive and democratic party. So I am writing to consult you on what you think Britain should do. Should Parliament vote to authorise the bombing of Syria?"
Civil liberties groups are concerned about a number of powers in the draft IPB, including: the legalisation of the automated hacking of smartphones for people who may be innocent of any crime; a significant expansion of the ability of the government to intercept the content data of ordinary citizens who are not suspected of any crime and the logging of all web addresses visited by internet users giving GCHQ an picture of the browsing habits of the UK population at large.
One of the Peers on the Committee, Lord Strasburger, who sat on the joint committee on the draft Communications Data Bill and who will sit on the new joint select committee, has criticised the decision to curtail scrutiny of the Bill tweeting:
“Ridiculous. Committee scrutinising massive Investigatory Powers Bill given just 2 weeks to hear witnesses. Govt turning it into rubber stamp”
There have already been questions about the neutrality of the Joint Committee when it was leaked that its Chair would be Ann Taylor, a former security minister with connections to the defence industry. It has since been announced that Paul Murphy, a former Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee will now chair the Joint Committee.
Members of the Don’t Spy on Us coalition have responded to the decision:
Thomas Hughes, Executive Director, Article 19 said: "Rushing the passage of the Investigatory Powers Bill, in order to put snooping powers on a statutory footing, shows contempt for the British public, and for civil liberties. This Bill has huge implications on the security of our communications, and our freedom to express ourselves online. The UK government has a unique opportunity, as well as a duty, to ensure that this Bill is fit for purpose, clear, and transparent, and that people’s rights to free expression and privacy are not unduly restricted in the name of security. Without meaningful consultation and proper scrutiny, no law can have democratic legitimacy."
Renate Samson, Chief Executive, Big Brother Watch said: “Repeatedly we have been told that the draft Investigatory Powers Bill will be subject to full scrutiny. The timetable given to the Joint Committee to report on the draft Bill by the 11th February gives little more than 7 weeks for them to consider almost 300 pages of proposals. Yet again, like RIPA and DRIPA before it, legislation which will impact on the security and privacy of the British public is being raced through Parliament at break neck speed.”
Eric King, Director, Don’t Spy On Us said: “This timetable is inhospitable to informed consideration of extraordinary powers. It is a fraction of the time previous versions of the Snoopers Charter received, which had just a fraction of the issues to consider. How are the committee to weigh the proportionality of bulk interception powers, the intrusiveness of bulk hacking powers, or scrutinise the evidence base for internet connection records in just a matter of weeks? This is a once in a generation chance to create a world class legal framework. Rushing to hear evidence before Christmas, jeopardises the chance to get it right.”
Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, said: “We all agree new legislation is needed because public discourse and parliamentary scrutiny have lagged behind spying practices in recent years. We welcomed pre-legislative scrutiny of this important and complex Bill. Why undermine this now? Nearly 300 pages in three weeks – is the Home Secretary serious?”
Jim Killock, Executive Director, Open Rights Group said: “We’ve been told there should be a ‘mature debate’ but when it comes down to it, the Government seems intent on pushing through one of the most important Bills of this parliament at any cost. This is short sighted and undemocratic.”
Sara Nelson, Communications Officer, Privacy International said: “An utter lack of regard for the democratic process and rule of law has been shown by fast-tracking the draft Investigatory Powers Bill through the Parliamentary process. The draft Bill attempts to enshrine in law dramatically wide-ranging surveillance powers of British intelligence agencies and the police, while simultaneously requiring telecommunications and service providers to become complicit in violating British citizens' privacy en masse. Touted as “a gold standard”, the draft Bill sets a deeply concerning precedent by proposing bulk Government hacking, which will be leveraged by foreign governments to replicate similar legislation. The fast-tracking shows a shameful disregard for the need to have an informed debate on the Bill and for MPs to fully understand the implications of all its complex provisions, in order to have an opportunity to meaningfully assess the significant powers of surveillance proposed."
[Don't Spy On Us is a coalition of the most influential organisations who defend privacy, free expression and digital rights in the UK and in Europe. Its members include ARTICLE 19, Big Brother Watch, English PEN, Liberty, Open Rights Group and Privacy International.
Contact For more information please contact Eric King, Campaign Director, Don’t Spy On Us. firstname.lastname@example.org / 07986 860013]
Hunt wants to claim that the public are happy with the way he's running the NHS. So the last thing he wants is a huge public rejection of his latest plan.
We've got until the end of Tuesday to send our objections to the Department of Health. Let's tell them that we want an NHS that is properly funded and available to everyone, and that we don't want privatisation or to have to pay to get an appointment.
Please can you send a quick message now?
The NHS Mandate, which Jeremy Hunt is trying to sneak out, is a big deal. It "sets the government's objectives for NHS England, as well as its budget." These plans mean continuing privatisation policies and a dangerous funding squeeze.
It would obviously suit Jeremy Hunt to be able to claim that no one objected to these plans!
But Jeremy Hunt has been found out - and luckily we still have until Tuesday evening to protest against his destruction of the NHS. Let's respond in our hundreds of thousands. Then when the results come out, they'll be embarrassing for Jeremy Hunt because they'll prove that the public don't like what he's doing to our health service.
Please click here to spoil Jeremy Hunt's attempt to sneak his plans through - you've got just over 24 hours until the deadline, and it will only take you two minutes:
Name and job title and ideally your post nominal qualifications, place of work and if you can remember it your Professional number (but don't worry if you can't). if you are an ex NHS worker you can also sign - just make it clear in the comment section
Please do NOT put anything else in the comment sections. Please note that this is a letter from all NHS workers in support of our junior doctors. As such, it is NOT to be signed by junior doctors as we think that this will enhance the impact. (but juniors -please help by spreading the word)
Thanks very much for your help. Please share, like and sign by writing your details in the comment section!
The Right Honourable Jeremy Hunt MP,
Secretary of State for Health
Department of Health
London SW1A 2NS
Dear Secretary of State,
We write to you as NHS workers across the spectrum of staff from Porters to Managers, GPs to Consultants and Nurses to Paramedics. We write asking for your help to stop the unwanted Junior Doctor strike. None of us signing this letter are Junior Doctors and so we are not affected personally or financially by the contract changes. Our only priority is patient care and it is with this in mind that we are writing to you.
Everyday we see the amazing work that our Junior Doctors do. They are the backbone and the future of the NHS. We respect and thank them for their dedication to the NHS and deplore the spin and mistruths being thrown at them.
Their relationship with you has deteriorated to such an extent that 98% voted for a strike; something none of them wanted to do.
In addition, thousands are looking to leave the NHS and with this we lose their skills and expertise. Unless a solution is found to this contract dispute, then irretrievable damage will be done to the NHS.
They have been forced to vote for industrial action because you are not listening to their legitimate concerns. They have no other way of making you listen.
The BMA have said they would call off the strike if you attended independent arbitration through ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration service) and so far you have refused. We do not understand why you would not attend these meetings, as this would avert the strike.
We ask you, for the sake of our patients, please attend independent arbitration. There is a complete lack of trust in you by the Junior Doctors therefore independent arbitration is the only way to try and resolve this situation.
A militant is someone who refuses to change his or her opinion despite evidence to the contrary. You say that you do not want a strike but then refuse to go to independent arbitration via ACAS, an action which would lead to the strike being called off. This, by definition, shows that it is indeed you who is the militant and not the Junior Doctors.
If you cannot find it within yourself to enter arbitration, then we ask you to resign so that a new Secretary of state can be appointed and enter arbitration to avert the strike and try and solve this situation.
For the sake of our patients we ask you to listen to what we have said and act acordingly
Yours sincerely on behalf of the staff of the NHS,
(p.s. TO SIGN YOU MUST PUT YOUR DETAILS IN AS A COMMENT. NAME & JOB TITLE.PLEASE SIGN THE LETTER ON ROBERT GALLOWAY FACEBOOK PAGE AND NOT A SHARED VERSION OF THE LETTER ON SOMEONE ELSE'S HOMEPAGE AS OTHERWISE CAN NOT GET A LIST OF SIGNEES)
p.p.s Please please help spread the letter. Please tag friends. Please post on forums. Please tweet out and link to people with big followings. I believe we will get a a lot of PR if we get massive numbers signing up to this. I also have had information that JH is under an incredible amount of pressure to back down and that this letter could make a big impact
Dr Rob Galloway Twitter
Rob Galloway Facebook
Mr Dowling’s article informed us that the lady was an only child and her surviving parent, who is elderly, is being sheltered from the comments by friends and family members. It is indeed heart-breaking to think that a mother may be subjected to unkind comments about the child she has just lost, and had those comments remained only on FaceBook where they originated, it is extremely unlikely that she would ever have known of their existence.
However in their eagerness to score points against the anti-hunt movement as a whole, the pros have once again ridden over the sensibilities of others proving they have one agenda, and that agenda has nothing to do with empathy or compassion.
The pro-hunters who supplied the information claimed to have seen a thousand comments on FaceBook, which they say continued to be posted after the huntswoman died. Rick Jones, from the FaceBook group ‘Ban Hunt Saboteurs’ was especially vocal, although he did not mention the abusive comments made at an earlier time by some of his group members when they expressed their regret that saboteurs trying to prevent illegal hunting had not been run over by a Landrover or harmed by galloping riders!
On a separate occasion, pro-hunting Internet trolls were particularly vicious about a 40-year-old saboteur known as Nid, who was allegedly deliberately ridden down by a rider from the Blackmore and Sparkford Vale hunt.
The rider didn’t stop, and the saboteur was left lying semi-conscious, with seven broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder and a punctured lung.
It was alleged that the attending ambulance was blocked by the hunt support and the severely injured saboteur was air lifted to hospital by helicopter. Some of the commentators even went so far as to express regret that the incident had not been fatal.
Others prayed that the pain was excruciating, and one offered to buy the huntsman, Mark Doggrell, a case of wine.
Hunting is an emotive issue, and it is particularly despicable that the pro-hunt lobby should use the death of a leading huntswoman to try to score political points in their fight against those who risk their lives every week to try to save our wildlife from being torn apart in the name of entertainment.
Perhaps if the hunters were more respectful of the family of the lady who died they would not have contacted a national newspaper where the comments were printed in their entirety for the grieving family to see.
It is obvious to any bystander that the article is sensationalism, written to shock and not written out of consideration or respect. Nico Morgan, a photographer friend of the deceased, even attempted to bring up the ‘class issue’, which is a favourite ploy among the hunting set as they cannot refute the evidence of animal cruelty in a traditional fox hunt.
The pros went further and contacted the places of work of those who had left the comments. There followed several posts claiming gleefully that the commentators had been sacked.
Revenge is obviously a dish best served cold, but to use the death of an innocent lady in order to further their pro-hunting agenda is more in keeping with spiteful brinkmanship than any desire to show genuine concern.
You can view the full Sunday Times article here
Of course a leader wants to unite a country against the enemy and show he is not weak: this is all understandable and I sympathise completely.
What worries me however is what this “ruthless” “fight against ISIS” will entail because, as raised on BBC Question Time on the 5th of November by journalist Peter Hitchens, it was arguably our Western interventionism in the Middle East that destabilised the region in the first place several decades ago and created the resentful attitude towards us that we fear today. This in turn gave birth to extremist groups on a much bigger scale.
What concerns me and several others therefore is that our governments will once again go in with more bombs and guns, fuelling the resentment already evident toward them and us in that region.
Airwars, a project by a team of leading journalists, published in the summer (so four months ago), concludes that after 5,700 Western airstrikes on ISIS, 459 non-combatants, including 100 children, had been killed by Western bombs.
This number has probably gone up a lot since then.
Just like those innocents killed in Paris, the innocents killed by airstrikes also had brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, husbands and wives; all of whom, just like we have against those who attacked us, probably hold a newfound resentment against those that killed their loved ones and attacked their nation.
I am sorry but I fail to see how the killing of innocent civilians is justifiable anywhere in the world: I do not understand how some governments and people think that such major collateral damage on helpless citizens is okay. It makes me wonder whether they think it is okay because the victims look different, speak differently or worship a different god.
Or perhaps it’s simply because you can’t hear their screams and cries from half-way around the globe…
I would just like to clarify I have absolutely no sympathy or respect for those that carry out any revenge attacks against people; absolutely none. I am equally as disgusted by the murdering of Parisians this weekend as everyone else.
What I am saying is that our Western intervention in the Middle East has caused instability in the region and I have sympathy for those who have been unlucky enough to have lived right under the flightpath of a bomber jet.
During the summer I had the privilege of attending a talk by Stephen Kinzer.
Mr Kinzer is a journalist who now works for the Boston Globe, but was previously a foreign correspondent for the New York Times and was stationed in places where the USA deposed unsympathetic leaders and staged coup d’états.
From what I gathered he is very critical of American Foreign policy which he says worsens the stability of a region in the long run because with the majority of their interventions, the consequences have come back to haunt the USA several decades later. This is what the CIA calls “blowback”.
He talked about Guatemala, Iran, Afghanistan, Libya and many more episodes of US-led intervention and by now we have all seen the effects of such action.
In Guatemala the land reform (Decree 900) was passed by Guatemalan congress in June 1952 and authorised the redistribution of unused land larger than 224 acres to local peasants and compensating land owners with government bonds. The reform, which was aimed to make the country move from the feudal system to a more capitalist system, helped raise the country’s agricultural output and also help the locals find autonomy and dignity. This was seen as hostile by several corporations, including the United Fruit Company.
The USA interpreted the transition as a communist threat and hence they initiated the coup d’état of 1954. Due to this coup, a civil war broke out. This shows how here the American intervention led to something much worse and that the politicians on the Hill did not consider the ramifications of a forced coup.
Furthermore, Iran is meant to be a country with rich history and culture.
It had a democracy until the West funded a coup to remove the leader Mosaddeq because they felt the British owned oil fields were under threat.
The CIA ultimately concluded that Iran’s leader had Communist leanings and could not be trusted. Ultimately the blowback was when the US Embassy was occupied by anti-Shah (‘king’) and anti-USA protestors in 1979, ending the mutual Cold War respect. It turned out it was nationalism, not communism, that was the greatest threat to the US’s power in Iran.
This replacement of a democratic leader gave the message that the USA did not want democracy.
Interestingly, this event is not widely published or talked about, unlike World War II, which has been published extensively. This is because World War II portrayed the west in a fairly good light: marching into a troubled country, and leaving it in a better shape.
I don’t want to sound like I dislike America, because really I don’t. America has several strengths that the majority of other countries lack but their foreign policy, along with their allies’ ones, actually do more harm than good on the world stage.
Maybe in the short run they do good, but in the long run the consequences are dire.
Therefore what concerns me is that the west will rush into things once again by acting in rage and revenge. I think it is as important, if not more so, now as before to take the time to think about the long term consequences of a “ruthless” fight. As we saw in Iraq and Afghanistan, where we had no exit strategy, we could once again leave behind a power vacuum and resentment.
If we go into Syria and Iraq in the same way, why won’t it be any different?
A perfect example is the Vietnam War. Then, the enemy was the Communists, now it is extremists. Both are reported to have been, and are respectively “threats to our way of life”.
When the USA went into Vietnam, they couldn’t win – it was impossible for them. They were unable to cope with Vietcong guerrilla tactics (a tactic later employed by the Taliban) and after their bombing campaigns along the whole Vietnam border with Laos and Cambodia they actually strengthened the anti-American feelings and gave the Vietcong more propaganda.
This scenario has been repeated throughout interventionist history all the way through to modern day conflicts, so if we did the same now, why would anything be anything different? Why would we not give people in those countries more of an incentive to join our enemy this time? What makes this situation so much more different to the others? The thing is it will not be any different. Simply by looking at history we can predict what will happen.
I hope the governments we elected do the right thing and realise the long-term consequences that could arise long after their final term in office if they do not plan ahead and think carefully.
My thoughts are with those affected by the brutal attacks on Paris. I, along with everyone else, am truly horrified by what has happened. We all look on with empathy.
Remember, as George Santayana once said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
For those interested in Stephen Kinzer, I recommend his book ‘Overthrow’ which highlights the main events of American foreign policy’s interventions.
About the author; Carl is an A-level student in London currently studying politics and economics. The purpose of his blog is simply to serve as a creative outlet; however what he finds most interesting about politics and economics is global engagement and foreign policy; it’s a fascinating branch of politics that is always evolving.
Once Carl has completed his formal education he hopes to become a journalist.
Please do not hesitate to contact Carl - thanks!
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