As the Labour Party announces this morning that it will not be supporting the government’s motion in the Commons today on their approach to the on-going crisis in Syria, the position of the smaller parties could be vital to deciding the outcome today. So where do they stand?
As the Labour Party announces this morning that it will not be supporting the government’s motion in the Commons today on their approach to the on-going crisis in Syria, the position of the smaller parties could be vital to deciding the outcome today.
So where do they stand?
Speaking on the situation yesterday, SNP Leader and Scottish first minister Alex Salmond, whilst condemning unreservedly any use of chemical warfare, called for more time for UN weapon inspectors in the country to be given more time. Warning that military action needs to be “approached carefully” he explained:
“The Scottish government condemns unreservedly the actions of the Assad regime over recent months and years. In particular, we condemn and deplore any use of chemical weapons by any party as a crime against humanity. If the findings of UN inspectors do point to this appalling attack having been perpetrated by the Syrian regime, Assad and those responsible should face the full accountability of the International Criminal Court.
“Any resort to military action should always be approached carefully, on an evidential base, and within a clear legal framework – and only after full consideration of the aims, objectives and consequences. At this stage, we consider that these criteria have not been met and therefore that the case for military action in Syria – or the UK’s participation in it – has not yet been made.
“The Scottish government believes that the UN inspectors should be given the time and the full support of the international community to complete their investigations.”
In a sign that the SNP are not minded to support the government’s motion today, the party’s leader at Westminster Angus Robertson has this morning tweeted:
“UK government still proposing Syria strategy without clear aims, objectives and assessment of consequences. Need safeguards.”
For the Welsh nationalists, it is clear that any moves that edge the country closer to military engagement in Syria will receive fairly short shrift. Calling for mistakes from the past not to be repeated again, the party’s leader in Westminster Elfyn Llwyd has explained:
“Plaid Cymru firmly believes that military action would prolong the conflict and lead to further bloodshed.
“The fact that the intervention has received the backing of former prime minister Tony Blair – a man with so much blood on his hands – should set alarm bells ringing as far as the likely outcome of such action is concerned.”
Referring to the UN Security Council resolution tabled by the UK yesterday, he continued:
“The proposed language of the resolution put to the UN Security Council by the prime minister also gives cause for concern with “authorising necessary measures to protect civilians” offering little indication of his true intentions.
“The last decade has seen the UK embroiled in bloody wars and paying a very high price for failing to prepare for peace. The same mistakes must not be made again.”
Across Northern Ireland, those parties that take their seats in Westminster have called for restraint.
Urging the government to “tread carefully” the SDLP MP, Margaret Ritchie has spoken of the “unestimable bloodshed and impact on the Syrian nation that a UK-backed military action could provoke.” Calling instead for a major humanitarian effort, she continued:
“I talked in June about humanitarian aid being the key in all of this in not going the road of military action. Whilst none of us could help but be moved by the harrowing scenes of the poor dead children and the 2.1m displaced Syrians, we would not be supporting military action, but we really won’t know what the options will be until the PM speaks.”
For the Alliance, its only MP, Naomi Long has made clear that she remains “unconvinced” by any calls for military intervention. She has argued:
“I share the horror and revulsion of the vast majority of people when they see the humanitarian crisis which has been unfolding in Syria and particularly the images of civilians being subjected to chemical weapons.
“However, I remain unconvinced that military intervention is the right course of action in this case and will be listening carefully to the arguments put forward on Thursday.”
The DUP’s defence spokesperson Jeffrey Donaldson meanwhile has called on the government to outline a clear set of strategic objectives concerning Syria, with an emphasis especially on protecting Christians in the country. Welcoming today’s recall of Parliament, he has commented:
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“Our support for military action cannot be taken for granted, but we are not ruling anything in or out at this stage.
“We are very wary of supporting any action to put troops on the ground at this stage but may take the view to support taking some limited military action to take out chemical weapons capacity from the Syrian regime in a way that does not place civilian lives at risk.
“But we are keeping an open mind and will listen very carefully to what the prime minister has to say in Parliament before coming to a decision on this as a party.”