Norman Lamb: As Lib Dem leader I would oppose air strikes on IS in Syria

The Lib Dem leadership hopeful has told Left Foot Forward that if he becomes leader he will oppose airstrikes on Islamic State positions in Syria


Liberal Democrat leadership hopeful Norman Lamb has told Left Foot Forward that as leader of the party he would oppose airstrikes on Islamic State positions in Syria.

During a live Q&A session with Left Foot Forward readers on Monday, Lamb said that while we should be in “no doubt” about the threat from IS, Britain must “avoid creating the conditions where more alienated young people get recruited”:

I would oppose air-strikes on Syria. I do not believe that this is the way to defeat ISIL. The US has been bombing over Syria for some time. I do not see any particular evidence of progress. We should be in no doubt that ISIL poses a very serious threat – brutal treatment of dissent and opponents, raping of women.”

Along with the United States, France and others, Britain is currently taking part in airstrikes on IS in Iraq in support of the Iraqi government and Kurdish forces. However Britain has not so far been targetting IS in Syria. When military action against IS went to a Commons vote last year, it is thought that prime minister David Cameron kept airstrikes on IS in Syria out of the motion because he feared Labour would vote against it.

With Miliband gone, however, Labour has indicated that it would now be willing to back airstrikes on IS in Syria.

Last September both Norman Lamb and his rival for the Lib Dem leadership Tim Farron voted in favour of UK air strikes in Iraq to support Iraqi forces’ efforts against IS. In the vote on military intervention against Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s use of chemical weapons in August 2013, Lamb voted in favour of action while his rival for the leadership Tim Farrron was absent.

Speaking to LFF yesterday, Lamb said Britain’s strategy in taking on IS “must be to isolate them by building alliances with others”. “We must avoid creating the conditions where more alienated young people get recruited,” he added.

A poll last year for Liberal Democrat Voice found a two to one majority of Lib Dem members supported British participation in airstrikes on IS in Iraq. According to the poll, Lib Dem members were also in favour of air strikes against IS in Syria, by 48 per cent to 37 per cent.

James Bloodworth is the editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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