Dissenting MPs voice doubts as Britain backs air strikes

26th September 2014, Comments 0 comments

British lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on Friday to join US-led air strikes on Islamic State (IS) targets in Iraq, but 43 MPs including two prominent opposition Labour party members dissented with many saying the plan was poorly thought-out.

The debate has evoked memories of Britain's role in the deeply unpopular US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 under then-prime minister Tony Blair, which led to the death of 179 British personnel over six years.

The vote, which was approved by 524 votes in favour, came after a sometimes heated debate in which lawmakers repeatedly questioned Prime Minister David Cameron and the government over the duration and precise aims of the air campaign.

Labour MP Rashanara Ali, a spokeswoman on education who represents the multi-ethnic Bethnal Green and Bow constituency in east London, said she was stepping down from her post in the shadow cabinet in order to abstain from the vote.

"Too many mistakes have been made over the last decade and far too many people in conflict zones have had to pay a high price for misconceived actions by the UK and other countries," Ali said in a letter to party leader Ed Miliband.

"I am not confident that this military action will be effective in the short-term in just targeting the terrorists and not harming innocent civilians.

"Nor can I pretend to have any confidence that there is a credible long-term strategy to build up the capacity of the Iraqi army or that the potential impact on radicalisation in the UK has been properly thought through," she said.

Labour MP Iain McKenzie was also sacked as parliamentary aide to shadow defence minister Vernon Coaker after he voted against military action.

They were joined by outspoken MPs like Dennis Skinner also from the Labour party and George Galloway from the Respect party.

"ISIL (another name for IS) is a death cult, it's a gang of terrorist murderers. It's not an army and it's certainly not an army that's going to be destroyed by aerial bombardment," Galloway said.

© 2014 AFP

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