A pre-warning before you choose to read on (or not): This blog is not generally a political one, but my conscience will not let me stay silent on this. So if you don’t want to hear a bit of a politically-infused rant, I do suggest just closing the window and waiting for me to write a post that features a fun video or an inspirational quote or something else a little more mundane. Or you can choose to never engage with me again, that is your choice and you have a right to that choice. We are living in a world of where we have free will after all. 🙂
When I went to a Ranger meeting last night, with a group of drained teenagers who are trying not to stress out about all the tests and coursework they have to get done before the end of term, they talked about the debate going on in parliament. “More bombs aren’t the answer” they said to me. I told them I agreed. We are part of a 100+ year old organisation that stands for peace and friendship so perhaps that’s not surprising.
When I came home to a twitter feed full of applause for Hilary Benn’s speech in parliament, I began to feel angry. To me it’s not about how well you speak, it’s the content of your message that counts. As the votes came in and I saw MPs laughing and cheering, I felt sick to my stomach. Because I have watched Tony Benn’s speech countless times as he stood against invading Iraq. Perhaps it’s unfair because it’s difficult when you stand in the shadow of your relatives when they were so greatly admired. But I did automatically wonder what Tony Benn would say to his son about what he chose to stand for.
If my brain looks anything like the Inside Out headquarters, it’s fair to say that Anger was running the show last night, but it’s Sadness who is running the show this morning.
I’ve seen MPs writing to stand up for their fellow party members who voted for the airstrikes this morning. I commend them for doing so in one way. Being a member of Parliament is not an easy task, it is a huge responsibility as you represent your constituency (many of whom probably didn’t even vote for you) and the votes you make will change lives for better or worse. One MP said she didn’t like the hyperbole of MPs having blood on their hands. Well, though I get where she’s coming from, the reason it is so difficult, the reason that I hope you spent 11 hours in the House of Commons debating this yesterday is because the decision made will have an effect. When you decide to drop bombs that are intended to kill people, you need to own that decision and live with that decision. You will be killing other human beings. There’s no nice way to dress that up. And I should hope that having to make those kind of decisions do cause anxiety and keep you awake at night. If it’s not, then you have become less human. There’s a reason so many of our veterans struggle after experiencing war. There’s a reason why my friend who has been travelling all over Europe to give Aid to refugees was going to bed in tears last night haunted by what he’s already seen and knowing that more and worse than that is probably going to come now…
As a politically engaged citizen, as a human being, I will use my voice to stand up for what I think is right. Yes, I will call people out when I think they are wrong. And yes I go to the polling stations. Yes, I write to my MP even though I didn’t vote for her. I have joined protest marches and signed petitions for all kinds of causes over the years. I have encouraged others to do the same.
There are a few reasons why I’m disgusted at the decision made by so many of England and Wales (and one Scottish) MP last night.
- It wasn’t Syrians who attacked parts of Paris.
- France sent air strikes to Syria before a group of EUROPEAN citizens walked into places with bombs and guns one evening.
- How can we justify denying help to refugees at the same time as putting them in even more danger
- From everything I’ve heard and learned about IS, this is playing right into what they want.
- Why just Syria? IS are not just in Syria.
- Why fight evil with more evil? Surely there needs to a more holistic, complex response based on what we know about how IS recruit, their reasoning, their intentions. It wasn’t happenstance that they flung a fake Syrian passport down before they unleashed violence on innocent (see number 4).
Lastly, I want to remind you what you all did, what I and my Guides and Rangers did, on Sunday 9th November. We stood. We stood and remembered the cost of war – the lives that were snuffed out prematurely for a war that should have never happened for the first place, where we took advantage of impoverished families and sent their boys to the slaughter with the promise they’d be home by Christmas, the promise of never again, the regret we have that we never accepted more refugees because years later we discovered mass graves in camps across Europe. How we killed a man who threatened to reveal the truth about Iraq war. How we started a war to look for weapons that didn’t even exist. How could we forget so quickly the mistakes we made in the past?
So yes, to the 397 men and women who last night voted to spend money and lives on war. I am angry, disgusted and furious with your decision today. I question your intentions. I do. But that does not mean I think you are incapable of thought, learning or beyond redemption. You have been given a great responsibility, and the decisions that you make have great burdens as a result – you won’t see me denying that and making out like your job is easy. You need support with those decisions, but you also need to be held to account too. People’s lives are in your hands, and it perhaps is too easy to not fully realise the reality of that when you make your decisions in an opulent building away from the locations of the people who are going to most adversely affected.