Peace campaigners: Syria bombing will “strengthen calls for Scottish independence”


Vast majority of Scottish MPs opposed to bombing – but war likely to get the go ahead

WESTMINSTER IS SET to push ahead for another Middle Eastern bombing campaign in a war that will strengthen the case for Scottish independence, according to peace campaigners.

At least 57 (97 per cent) of Scotland’s 59 MPs are set to vote against bombing in Syria – but enough Labour and Tory MPs are expected to provide a majority in favour of military action.

Campaigners claim that the vote identifies contrasting approaches to foreign policy between politicians in Scotland and the rest of the UK, presenting both a democratic and political case for a distinct Scottish foreign policy.

John Ainslie, coordinator of the Scottish CND, told CommonSpace: “It looks as if the vote on Syria, like the debate over Trident, will show how Scotland’s voice is ignored when it comes to crucial life-and-death issues. This can only strengthen calls for Scottish independence.

“David Cameron has failed to learn lessons from the past. Bombs have not solved the problems of Afghanistan, Iraq or Libya. The prime minister should focus on how Daesh (Islamic State) are funded. He should look for political and economic solutions rather than placing his faith in high explosive dropped from the sky.”

The SNP is united in its opposition to joining the 15 month old bombing campaign in Syria, which has led to military chaos in a nation beset with a four year civil war.

Labour’s sole MP in Scotland, Ian Murray, is also opposed as is party leader Kezia Dugdale.

Brian Larkin, coordinator for the Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre, added: “There is perhaps no more clear example of the extent to which Scotland wants a different kind of foreign policy than what we are seeing now in response to David Cameron’s ill-conceived desire to bomb Syria.

“The people of Scotland understand that bombing Syria will only lead to greater numbers of civilian casualties and a still greater increase in the flow of refugees from the country.

“And the fact that all but one or two of Scotland’s MPs will be standing firm against Cameron’s plan to bomb Syria while clear majorities of Unionist parties are backing him highlights Scotland’s clear departure from the UK’s tendency to rely on military solutions to conflict. This, taken together with the firm opposition of our MPs to Trident and the absence of support for that from MPs from south of the border strongly suggests that Scotland will sooner or later need to once again consider going its own way.”

The rejection of the view of Scottish MPs – echoing previous votes on the Scotland Bill, the anti-Trade Union Bill, the UK budget and other issues – should act as a wake up call to those who seek a distinct Scottish approach to foreign policy, according to independence campaigner Pat Kane.

Kane, who sat on the board of referendum campaign group Yes Scotland, told CommonSpace that the “drip, drip effect” of being out-voted would make Scotland’s position “untenable within the union”.

However, he said there was currently a “deficit in the positive case for an independent Scotland in the wider world. It’s not being articulated.”

“This is a negative strategy, saying we don’t want to get involved in vainglorious, big military engagements, trident and the whole approach to our military budget. We want to be projecting power in an entirely different way, pursuing soft power rather than hard power – with peaceful and humanitarian endeavours,” Kane said.

Kane cited examples such as aid cooperation with Malawi and the recently announcement of women’s peace building efforts in Syria as cases where the Scottish Government can take a leadership role in foreign policy rather than Scottish positioning acting only “as a differentiator with the unionist position”.

“I think ultimately the question of our security in the wider world is more than just a military perspective. It’s about economic and environmental stability and peace making.”

The Scottish Green Party has launched a petition opposing the bombing campaign .

It states: “If the Westminster government truly wishes to see peace in the region they should instead stop the UK’s multi-billion pound arms exports and support progressive, democratic forces such as the Kurds.”

The branch secretary of the Berwickshire Labour Party has said that a vote to bomb Syria would increase the likelihood of a second referendum on independence .

A full day debate is taking place in the house of commons today [Wednesday 2 December] on proposals to join the 15 month old bombing of Syria.

CommonSpace journalism is completely free from the influence of advertisers and is only possible with your continued support. Please contribute a monthly amount towards our costs. Build the Scotland you want to live in – support our new media.

Pictures courtesy of Defence Images