Why I’m voting with Cameron in support of bombing Libya

by Tom Watson

Now that we know what we know about Iraq I vowed I’d never take a prime minister on trust again. Yet this is what I’m going to have to do tomorrow. My vote will be with Sarkozy and Cameron – and the united nations.

I have huge reservations. I have little choice. I have to believe that they’ll be true to their words: there won’t be a ground war. There won’t be an occupation. There has to be a plan, right? Parliament will be consulted regularly.

Cameron assured the House that the arab league states want this. I have to believe him.

And given that allied forces are already shooting out tanks, airfields and strategic targets, a vote against military intervention on Monday only undermines our country’s political strength on the world stage.

I have an ominous déjà vu feeling though. I asked the PM to say which countries were providing military assets to the coalition. He couldn’t tell me, or perhaps chose not to. Either way, it doesn’t instill confidence that this mission is entirely thought through. But I also understand the need for speed. When innocents are getting bombed there is little time for debate.

The UN resolution wasn’t supported by our key allies the Germans. It’s a cause for concern.

I’m extremely concerned that other dictators will use the focus onLibya to brutalise peaceful protests in their country. 45 protestors were shot dead in Yemen on Friday, for example.

We don’t know what Libya will look like if we can’t rid the country of Gaddafi. We don’t know what it will look like if we do.

There are hazardous times ahead. The future is uncertain. Cameron gets my vote tomorrow, but please God let this be over swiftly.

Tom Watson is Labour MP for West Bromwich East.

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12 Responses to “Why I’m voting with Cameron in support of bombing Libya”

  1. Jane says:

    I agree with your decision and just wish that the UN Resolution had taken place weeks ago. I too am concerned about other countries in the region – the latest Syria who are brutally dealing with protestors.

    As to Germany I really feel bewildered by their decision. I did read the German newspapers and it appears that some are critical of the Chancellor. Many say that her decision was because of elections and that of all past Chancellors she worries more about such issues rather than her leadership. On CNBC last week one of the regular financial correspondents quoted the German constitution which does not permit military action unless the state is challenged? She also commented that Germany is more interested in her relationships to the East? Gerard Schroeder was very close to the Russians and I believe he now works for a Russian Energy Company. A further comment was that the German people felt the Foreign Minister was not up to the job. I hope to do some further reading on the subject as like you I acknowledge and indeed welcome that Germany is one of our key allies.

    A difficult time for us all again. My concern is alleviated somewhat by the Arab League’s involvement as well as many other countries. I felt for the Libyan people and our responsibility not to see them butchered.

  2. doreen ogden says:

    And then who will be next ?

  3. Toby Barnes says:

    He has been killing his own people for decades. Why now.
    Fighting force with force NEVER helped anyone. What does it teach people.
    Just because we need to look big shouldn’t be a reason.
    Look at Germany.
    Now is not the time to spend $84,000,000 in one night on a ‘blow out’
    If the problem is galdafi. Special forces? Not bombs.
    I know nothing about this really.
    But it feels wrong.
    It always does.
    And we Have been here before.

  4. Tom, you don’t have to believe the word of participating nations or Cameron, nor do you have to trust his word or that of participating nations.

    To do so is a bit of an abdication of responsibility. In saying that you ‘have to believe Cameron’, it gives you a get out clause if it all goes wrong. 

    Do you also believe and trust in Cameron over the NHS, CSR, pensions, cuts to child benefit?

    What your saying is that you put the onus firmly on the decision of others and negate all personal responsibility for your own decision on the issue when in fact you do have a choice, you do have free will and you do have the ability to exercise your vote in the manner you believe in your head and heart to be right.

    I’ve heard all the usual arguments as to why we shouldn’t get involved in Libya and I have no more idea as to the outcome as anyone else. I’ve also read the usual comments about “if Libya why not also Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain”. 

    But on balance I’m 100% in agreement with our participation.

    I’d much rather we acted to stop the shooting of kids like 7 year old Mohammed, who is today clinging on to his precious little life in a Benghazi hospital because yesterday Gaddafi’s soldiers entered his home and shot him along with his mother and father. 

    The footage of Mohammed and his father lying unconscious, side by side in a hospital bed, his father and mother reported to be unlikely to survive, convinced me beyond doubt that trying something, despite the very real potential of failure, is much more preferable than doing nothing and knowing that in doing nothing our decision will cost the lives of many more kids like Mohammed, and his parents. 

    No, thats not a choice that I’m prepared to support. What we are trying to do is give those innocents who can’t protect themselves a chance to survive and live with the dignity they deserve and be able to fight for their own freedom. 

    I’m focused solely on that because it overrides everything else and I’m damn well happy to shout it from the rooftops.  And so too should you, Tom.

  5. Pete B says:

    Tom, yourself and all MPs have a hard call to make on the basis of necessarily incomplete information against a national mood which has become more and more pro-intervention, driven in large part by near unanimous press headlines and editorials. As you suggest, you will be judged right or wrong largely on a final outcome which is certain to be different from any imagined now and over which you will have very little influence. So no criticism from me.

    But I’m more with Toby on this. To his BUTs I would add:
    We have been flogging weapons to people like Qadafi for decades and still are. Our PM has just come back from an arms marketing tour of the mid-east for pity’s sake.
    Will we step in if a popular uprising in Saudi is brutally put down? Really?
    Will we step in again if whoever replaces Qadafi carries out similar reprisals against those who supported him or don’t deliver the outcome we want? (I note that the current situation in Egypt is that a military dictator who promised to hand over power by September has been replaced by a dictatorship of the military who have promised to hand over power in 6 months – are we ready to impose a no-fly zone there?)
    And what exactly will you be voting for? Isn’t the UN resolution to impose a “no fly zone”? Yet the first attacks seem to have been on ground vehicles like APCs and tanks – beware mission creep.

    And on a different tack – doesn’t this put Tony Blair in a completely different light? Not just for Iraq, but in using diplomacy (and no doubt secret deals, and maybe involving Lockerbie) to get Qadafi to relinquish his WMD? Would we be doing this if he still had a nuclear capability? And if not – what lesson will Iran learn from our intervention in Libya?

    Pete B

  6. Doreen – dictators comitting genocide.

    Toby Now because he has started committing genocide.
    Force does help people. not all jews, gay and lesbian people. Roma etc were exterminated because Hitler didn’t have enough time to do it. Not because we need to look big. It is the time to spend it if its needed. The Libyan people did not ask for Special Forces, who are you to overide them? We can see you know nothing about it. We will keep being here until leaders accept the responsibility to protect their citizens not to kill them.

  7. Ian P says:

    > “Cameron assured the House that the arab league states want this. I have to believe him.”

    Why? Have the Arab league state leaders not been rather vocal about this issue and how they’d rather a ‘no-fly zone’ means “don’t let anyone fly” rather than “take out targets on the ground’?

  8. Richard says:

    So even Tom Watson is now willing to be part of the double standards confederacy. The world truly has been stood in its head.

  9. Robert says:

    A PC Fletcher lies dead in the street, Government does nothing about the scum who did this, a plane crashes into Lockerbie nothing, a few years later a person who was found guilty of murder is released while Tony Blair is in Libya kissing both cheeks of a MASS MURDERING PIECE OF SHIT.

    But all of a sudden Oil reaches £7.00 a gallon the threat to higher oil prices and all of a sudden the credit card we were informed was empty has been found with enough cash to fight another war.

    No of course this is not about oil, it’s about the nice people who are battling for freedom, but hold on so are others, yes it’s oil again.

  10. Henrik says:

    Just for a bracing note of realism here – in order for there to be a no-fly zone, it’s really rather important that the folk you wish to prevent from flying don’t have the air defences necessary to prevent you prevent them from flying, if you follow me.

    All the operations to date (with the arguable exception of the French Air Force’s demolition of a self-propelled artillery battery somewhere on the coast road) have been SEAD – Suppression of Enemy Air Defence – missions.

  11. Adrian says:

    I don’t think I would have voted for or against myself. My gut feeling would be yes but I have major reservations. The US stand is that there is no way we should be helping Gaddafi’s opponents and we should just stick to protecting civilians. I agree because to do something else is a dangerous precedent and I don’t think the UN voted for anything more than protecting civilians and I think this is in danger of becoming ‘lets help the opponents in their quest to take out Gaddafi’. I can see this going on for years and no-one has even given the end game any thought at all or already realise there is no end-game. Interesting to see how the population feel about it in a months time. Although there is broad support now I think this will rapidly change. When the unemployed, students and unions in the UK are protesting about cutbacks and grants and job losses and petrol is £3 a litre I have a feeling that the cost of this campaign will soon wear thin.

  12. Dee says:

    You should be ashamed of yourself, I think you’re in the wrong party, I have no idea how you got to where you are today within the labour party with your political outlook, what an insult to your voters.

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