02/12/2015 Newsnight


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Evan Davis.

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The debate has run for about 11 hours today,


We will bring you the result of the vote on air strikes in Syria.


So many questions have been asked today,


We will be speaking to the Foreign Secretary and getting lots of


As MPs emerge from the chamber, I'll be crunching the numbers


What does this mean for military action?


And what do the politics of the vote tell us


What do British Muslims think about the possibility of air strikes in


Syria, I have been speaking with people in high Wycombe.


Good evening from Westminster where the results of that key vote,


on Britiain's military intervention in Syria have just come through.


397 votes, in favour of David Cameron's argument, 223 against. 223


against, but winning by the upper end of what we imagine. That is the


upper end of their expectation, Labour whips were saying it might be


as high as 50 to 60, what the prime ministers spokesman has said, it


looked like it may have picked people off, saying that anybody


opposed to it was a terrorist sympathiser, but fiercely that has


not happened, we are going to look at the Commons chamber right now.


David Cameron told us he was not going to bring this vote unless he


was certain to win it, that is exactly what has happened, what they


have done is limited the rebellion on the Tory side to about ten, last


time around it was 30, they have reduced that. They have got the


Liberal Democrats, they have the day you p, and to get up to 397 they


have got 50 to 60 Labour MPs. When we were talking about this on Monday


night, we were trying to make sense of what that number could be. -- the


DUP. There was protection projections of over 100... 50 to 60,


internally, is what whips were saying, and what else has been


suggested, the speech by Hilary Benn, very powerful, a lot of people


inside the Commons chamber, they gave him a standing ovation, he has


taken a different perspective from his leader. That speech by Hilary


Benn may have persuaded as many as 15 MPs. In the last ten, five


minutes of the debate. I have spoken with Labour MPs, senior figures, who


were going to vote in favour, who did not. So actually, the reports I


was getting earlier in the day, looks like something has shifted


later this evening. What about the extensions, there were people, for


instance, Joel Cox, who thought... The significant thing, the Prime


Minister has got the numbers he had, but somebody who has said this, Jo


Cox, very informed, she said she did not been the Prime Minister made the


case, a lot of people said they were not won over by the specifics of


what he had to say. -- Jo Cox. Even so, he got the numbers he got. We


can take you to a dramatic moment that was coming through the Commons,


a couple of moments ago. Order, order.


397, as we have said, 223 against. Talk us through some of the parties,


much more clear-cut, the SNP, whipped vote, they were all against


as far as we know. The Liberal Democrats have a strong proud


tradition, particularly with Iraq, in 2003, Tim Farren stood up and


said that he was going to be leading his party in supporting strikes, he


stood up today and said that, I know that Labour MPs were persuaded by


Tim Farren, Tim Farren gave Labour MPs the reason and permission to go


over and support the Prime Minister. It is a very pathetic picture. In


the fullness of time, the role played by Tim Fallon is going to be


very interesting. I think that if we go back to you, we have a sense of


the numbers as a whole. -- Tim Farron.


Six RAF Typhoons and a couple of extra Tornados


From that, you could say this is a military decision


of a modest kind, we are already involved in Iraq anyway, and already


But that Britain is taking a decision to bomb a country, without


the consent of its government, does make this an important moment.


All the more important given the mixed track record


I'm here with three guests, military historian, journalist and


writer, Max Hastings, Times defence correspondent, Deborah Haynes,


Perhaps a bigger majority than you would have expected? You would not


be surprised, the Prime Minister has staked an enormous amount, it is an


enormous disappointment to me that it was hijacked about the soul of


the Labour Party, rather than the merits of what is happening, the key


thing that Jimmy has not been said loudly enough, that this is not what


the Prime Minister... He said it is effective action to keep streets


safe, it is nothing of the sort, this is a political gesture, it may


be necessary but it is a small political gesture and rather a


dangerous one. Briefly, the debate, over the course of the week, since


the Prime Minister made his statement, feels like ages ago, only


last Thursday, which weighed you think the argument has gone? Have


you heard anything to persuade you? A lot of people in the country


except the fact that something terrible has happened in Paris and


something must be done but since 2001, we have had far too many


gestures in response to situations. Far too little analysis of what are


the objectives and are they attainable? I do not believe that


these debates have seen the questions answered or asked. Do you


feel the debate has in no way answered those questions that people


were asking days ago, months ago, have we got answers? It is not


answer the question, however, it is dangerous to allow ourselves to be


caught up in the emotion of past disastrous campaigns, and use that


as a justification not to act this time, when there is clearly a huge


threat. There is a danger of doing something for the sake of doing


something. But I think we are at a point, we need to be a part of this


coalition properly, completely in all completely out, the situation we


have been in for the last year, half in, half out, that is illogical, as


the government says I welcome this decision. You said you would have


abstained. This was a diplomatic gesture, not just political, they


can have a place in sound strategy, I was struck by how many MPs were


focused, understandably so, on standing with France, and on the


importance of Britain being a sound reliable, dependable ally. Of


course, that is not an entirely unreasonable concern, but there was


a central question throughout these 11 hours, and the last week, who is


going to retake Raqqa and other ices held cities? That question, we are


still looking for the full answer to that question. -- Isis-held cities.


We have heard the government strategy... We have heard they are


determined to get rid of Bashar al-Assad and they want Iraq and


Syria to be unitary state, many do not believe that is possible, and


they want to crush Isis, all of us want to crush Isis, but the


objections are not moral or legal, they are, can what they are


proposing to do work? You to share some of those worries. What is


interesting is how important the Vienna process, the diplomacy was,


in making it possible for the Prime Minister to argue that there is a


diplomatic end in sight which may allow a transitional government of


Armed Forces to take this on. How long is this military intervention


going to last? My goodness... Years! Potentially, depends upon what


happens on the ground, if we have action on the ground, it could be


over in months. 11 hour debate in the Commons, at times rather noisy,


speeches often interrupted by interventions but nobody can say


that the audience were not deployed. There is a simple question at the


heart of the debate today, we face a fundamental threat to security, Isis


have brutally murdered Ridgers hostages, inspired the worst


terrorist attack against British people since 7/7 on the beaches of


Tunisia and plodded atrocity after atrocity on streets at home, since


November last year, we have foiled no more than seven different plots


against our people, so this threat is very real. -- plotted. The


question is this, do we work with allies to degrade and destroy this


threat, do we go after these terrorists in their heartlands, from


where they are plotting to kill British people? Do we sit back and


wait for them to attack us? VOICEOVER: Good intentions were


ruined last night when the Prime Minister himself branded those


opposed to air strikes " terrorist sympathisers". If we got up and


said, whoever does not walk with me through the division lobby is not a


terrorist sympathiser... He would improve his standing in this house,


enormously. I'm very happy to repeat what he has


said, able who voted... They do so with an... Dustup, the opposition,


and... Is it wrong for us in Westminster to see a problem, pass a


motion, drop bombs and pretend we are doing something to solve it?


That is what we did in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya... I ask the question of


the house, has terrorism increased or decreased as a result of all of


that? Conservative Rebels zoned in on one claim in particular. What is


stopping these moderates, once the common enemy, once they have been


somehow miraculously told to swing around, stop fighting Bashar


al-Assad and take on Daesh, what is stopping them from splintering into


100, or even 1000 militias, as we saw in Libya. One appeal was made


time and time again, that France had asked for help. Our French allies


have exquisitely asked for such support, and I ask the house to


consider how we would feel, and what we would say, if what took place in


Paris had happened in London, if we had explicitly asked France for


support, and France had refused? Many made the humanitarian case,


perhaps the most interesting were the Liberal Democrats, who so


famously opposed bombing Iraq in 2003. I cannot stand in this house


and castigate the Prime Minister for not taking enough refugees and for


Britain not standing as tall as it should do in the world and opening


its arms to the desperate as we have done so for many decades and


throughout history, if we do not also do everything in our power to


eradicate that which is the source of these people fleeing from that


terrorist up what many Labour MPs stood up to challenge their leader,


not only for opposing the strike but also the actions of his support


group, Momentum. Frankly I wish I had the self-righteous attitude of


the finger jabbing representatives of our new and Chindit type of


politics... LAUGHTER Will no doubt soon be contacting


those of us who support this motion tonight! The debate is now done, for


many bespoke with, the most difficult decision they have ever


had to take while they were in Parliament.


The Foreign Secretary is down in Westminster and joins us now.


Good evening. Rather than rehearsing the debate, I think it might be


worth asking you what constitutes success or failure in the campaign


we are about to embark on? Would you consider it a failure if we were


still there in four years' time, potentially? I hope it won't be four


years, but I caution it isn't going to be months. I have said this


evening in the debate that while we are using air strikes to contain and


degrade Isil in Raqqa, we will be pursuing a political track, trying


to resolve the Syrian civil war. It is only when those two things come


together, when the degradation of Isil in Raqqa and the creation of a


transitional Syrian government are both happening that we can then


actually utilise the forces that are currently fighting each other, the


Syrian government forces, the Syrian opposition forces, the Kurdish


forces, and get them turned around facing towards Isil and able to


finish off the job in Raqqa, reclaiming what will then be the


territory of the new free Syria from the evil empire of Daesh. Give us a


sense of your timescale on how long you think it might take to reach


that political settlement? Would it be a failure if there was no


political settlement of that kind say within 18 months? Well, that's


the target that we've set out. We have said six months to create a


transitional government, 18 months to internationally supervised


elections. That is an ambitious target. It is the one that all 19


country, including Russia, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, China,


as well as the US, France and Britain have all agreed to work to a


target of 18 months to an election supervised by the UN that will


include Syrians in the diaspora, those who have been displaced into


refugee camps, they must have a right to vote in this election. If


it doesn't happen, or if it has no prospect of happening after 18


months, or two years, do we just stay there and just carry on bombing


Raqqa until something else happens? What is the plan there? We are


determined to make this happen. And all the powers involved, including


Russia, want to see Isil degraded and ultimately destroyed. Isil


represents a huge threat to all of us. We are doing two things with


these air strikes. We are delivering an immediate benefit by degrading


Isil's ability to mount external attacks, to plan and execute


external attacks, so just starting those air strikes, even before we


get anywhere near a ground assault on Raqqa will improve the safety of


Britain, of France, of Europe, and of British and French people and


others wherever they are in the world. We have heard that. You must


have some Plan B if the ground force doesn't materialise and there isn't


a political settlement of the type you are talking about, and the


decision will then be we either stay or we leave. Can you imagine us


leaving while IS still control Raqqa? I cannot believe us stopping


air strikes against Daesh in Raqqa for so long as they represent a


threat to us, a threat to British citizens and a threat to the UK


homeland, no, we would have to continue with those air strikes.


Look, there will be a political settlement in Syria. I sincerely


hope that it is achieved within the timescale that we have set out at


Vienna. If it isn't, that won't mean we give up and go home. We have got


to find a political solution to the civil war in Syria. There is no


military solution. There can only be a political solution to that civil


war. As we stand on the eve of Britain entering this arena, what is


it that is going to make you lose sleep? What are you most afraid of?


I'm most afraid of the threat that Isil represents to our security here


in Britain, to our citizens travelling abroad. That plane over


Sharm el-Sheikh could have been a British plane. The attacks on the


streets of Paris could so easily have been attacks on the streets of


London. If Syrian forces, who you hope, opposition forces, who you


hope will join the assault on Isis, if they say we will join that


assault, but we need you to protect us against al-Assad, will you give


them that protection, no-fly zones? Let me be clear about this. The time


for a ground assault against Raqqa will be when a transitional


government is in place in Syria. All these people that we need to focus


on Isil are busy fighting each other in the civil war, the rump of the


Syrian Army, the Free Syrian Army, the opposition forces, the Kurds,


they are all engaged in a civil war. We have to settle that civil war. We


have got to get those people working alongside each other, not


necessarily together, but alongside each other, to reclaim the territory


of their country, Syria, from these occupiers of Isil. There won't be


any ground offensive that only - on this scenario - it doesn't involve


the 70,000 opposition forces. You are talking about a political


settlement that leads to the final assault? That is what we have always


been talking about. We are degrading Isil now. We are preventing them


from attacking us by keeping them under pressure now. To finish Isil


off, we have to finish the Syrian civil war. We have been clear about


that. The two things go hand in hand. So long as al-Assad is there


and fighting this civil war, we will not be able to finish Isil off


because the opposition in Syria will be trying to fight two battles at


once. One last quick one. Do you respect the people who voted against


the Government tonight and do you regret the talk of terrorist


sympathisers and the like? I have said in the debate today that I


recognise that there are people in the House of Commons with


strongly-held, long-established pacifist views who do not believe in


military action in any case. I believe for many of them, I believe


for the Leader of the Opposition, that is a genuinely and


sincerely-held view and I respect that. But there is a difference


between an individual back bench member holding a conscientious view


on something and the Leader of the Opposition seeking to impose that


view on a great political party that aspires to be a party of Government.


That is a very different thing. Thank you very much indeed. The


panel here in the studio. Any comment on that interview and I


suppose what the endgame is and how we get out of this mess? Half of


what the Foreign Secretary said seemed sensible. The bits that we


all have to be cautious about, I cannot accept what he said that our


bombing in Syria is going to make the streets of Britain safer. This


is nonsense. But also, the big question which is are the Russians


on side? Nobody mentioned al-Assad in that conversation. Are the


Russians on side for this great new transitional government? So far, I


think we have heard from the Russians, the British Government


keeps telling us they are. I haven't heard anything from Moscow that the


Russians agree that al-Assad has to go. It is massively complicated.


There are no easy answers. The understatement of the night! The


problem is that the people who are against military action fixate on


the problems and understandably so. I just think that bemoaning the fact


it is complicated is not a solution and I think at least now that we


have had a decision, we will be a full part of the coalition that


gives us greater influence to try and make something good come out of


all this chaos. Shashank Joshi, I thought the first rule was you were


not meant to go into war unless you could see your way out of it? In '91


we were still there when we invaded in 2003 in Iraq. I'm sceptical of


Phil Hammond's confidence that we will be done in four years, given


how much he is relying on a successful political process. I am


delighted he's managed to get Iran and Saudi Arabia around the same


table, that is fantastic, a real achievement. If you listen what Iran


says when it is at the table, if you consider the fact that the


opposition groups are not at that table, Turkey and Russia are at


loggerheads after the downing of the jet, I'm more sceptical that the


transition will operate as smoothly as he hopes. It is complicated. We


can go to the Commons, we will talk to - I tell you what, the debate in


recent days has been a painful one for the Labour Party.


If Jeremy Corbyn believes in anything,


it is in voting down military action of the kind now proposed.


And he has party members on his side.


Well, because we've had confirmation today that tens of his MPs have


taken a different view, including his own Shadow Foreign Secretary.


And the debate today was a moment for the non-Corbyn wing


of the party - including some of the big beasts - to have their say.


Our French allies have explicitly asked us for such support and I


invite the House to consider how we would feel, and what we would say,


if what took place in Paris had happened in London, if we had asked


France for support and France had refused. I wish I had the


self-righteous certitude of the finger-jabbing representatives of


our new and kinder type of politics who will no doubt soon be contacting


those of us who support this motion tonight. I think some of the people


on the front bench now, and the people who are heckling behind me,


need to think carefully about the way in which they have conducted


themselves over recent weeks. We need to do better than this to be a


credible official opposition. Some of the voices in support of the war.


We can talk to Diane Abbott, who was not among those supporting the war.


Good evening. I know Margaret Beckett is with you. Margaret


Beckett gave a barnstorming speech in favour of the war, people thought


it was quite decisive. Can you be friends with Margaret Beckett now


this vote is over? Of course, we have known each other for many


years. Hilary Benn made a magnificent speech, it was just


wrong. The most telling thing about this debate is, at the end of the


debate, although ever since Paris there has been a drum beat for war


in the media, the vast majority of the Labour Party, the majority of


Labour MPs, and a substantial number the Labour Party, the majority of


of Shadow Cabinet members, are in the same position as Jeremy. I think


that public opinion very soon will tire of Cameron's war. Months after


an election, you can get away with this kind of division, in which the


Foreign Secretary and the Shadow Foreign Secretary, and the leader


are disagreeing. If this was months before a General Election, you


wouldn't be able to get away with this, would you? First of all, I


would argue the party as a whole is not divided. The party as a whole,


members, the NEC, MPs take Jeremy's position. This has been a tragic


vote tonight. We should be thinking of the people of Raqqa when those


bombers fly over them in the next 24 hours. To be honest, it doesn't seem


credible to say the party isn't divided. Very senior people in the


party clearly are divided and the members are divided. It may not be


split down the middle. You have a big wing who are not reconciled to


the point of view you have on this. I think you will find that the


majority, the vast majority of party members, and the majority of MPs,


support Jeremy's position. The thing they aren't reconciled to is the


fact their candidate lost the election. You are disagreeing on


something that I guess is one of the things on which you feel most


strongly, is that correct? What is difficult for me is journalists want


to make this a story about Labour splits rather than what I think has


been a very tragic decision tonight. Diane Abbott, would you encourage


members of the party, or members of pressure groups within the party,


there is one called Momentum, would you encourage them to punish the


MPs, like Margaret Beckett who supported today's Government motion?


Of course not. That would be absurd. Jeremy deliberately allowed a free


vote so people should feel free to voice their opinion and vote the way


they wanted. There will be no question of anybody being punished


or marginalised because of the way they spoke or voted tonight. I'm


sure many will be very pleased to hear that. Thank you. Let's go back


to Emily on the Green. I have a couple more noes here. You


tabled that amendment against the vote. The numbers stacked up against


you, but what was the message you took away from that? The message was


the House of Commons is divided on this issue. OK, we lost by 150, but


there was still 200-plus who said we don't think there is a comprehensive


strategy here, we have real concerns about the so-called 70,000 moderates


that are going to be the land force, and we have many questions


unanswered about things like absence of challenging Daesh on social


media, on business and financial interests so still lots of questions


unanswered. The task for the Government is to put this strategy


into place because I'm not convinced they have got it at the moment.


You have been here before with numbers that may not have spelt the


end of the story, Libya, curious bedfellows, Dennis Skinner, Jeremy


Corbyn, you think history has proved you right on that one. Only history


will tell, small number on Libya, ten voted against it, a small


lumber, but what it teaches you is that numbers alone does not


necessarily mean the right decision has been made. A number of us are


saying, all that we are saying, look at the previous interventions, the


previous errors, there is one common denominator, a lack of a strategic


plan that's all you through to the end, including an exit strategy, and


a lack of local knowledge. This looks very similar, I am afraid. On


paper, you too could not be more different, you said you did not even


need to whip the vote against for the SNP, complete uniformity. What


is it, when you look at all of the factors, military experience, last


vote on Iraq, I'm trying to work out if there is anything that you think


unites the no position now? I think there is a number of things, John


has just outlined most of them, briefly, the lack of strategy for


winning the peace, no plan at all for stabilisation all


reconstruction. -- stabilisation and reconstruction. The efficacy of the


bombing, even though supporting it, Tories on the government side, have


said, this will probably make little difference. Others voted against it


saying, this will make no difference. That and... Are those


questions we would not have asked before Iraq, the depth and precision


of that kind of questioning. Indeed, but in the aftermath of Iraq, we are


writes to ask them, what did we do, we created a vacuum which was filled


by IS of this world, and I fear, in the absence of a proper strategic


comprehensive international plan, to win the peace, as well as any


conflict, we will create an even bigger vacuum in Syria, then we


created in Iraq. To be brutally honest, although the government won


the vote, they did not answer a single one of those fundamental


question. John, how do you see the position of Jeremy Corbyn, we see


that the Shadow Cabinet voted with him, we view, against, does he now


look like a bigger figure, after tonight? In matters like this, it is


a matter of conscience, the greatest responsibility that Parliament has,


committing troops to battle, that is what we are talking about, lives on


the line, both those who are in the Armed Forces but also those on the


receiving end of the bombs. A great responsibility to have, should be a


matter of conscience, I suppose I would say that, my whips would agree


with me. As far as I'm concerned, he did what he had to do. If you went


back you think the majority of people in Scotland against military


action of this kind, if you go back and face questions of, why are you


not doing anything about possibly the worst enemy we have faced since


the Second World War, how do you look people in the eye? We have 100


things that we want to do, we should follow the money from the oil


supplies... We should look at the funding for Daesh... The supply of


ammunition, who is supplying it and who is paying for it? All of these


actions can be taken right now, not least challenging the corrupt


ideology which leads people to follow this stuff in the first


place, many, many, many things we could have done which do not involve


going to war in a way, in the absence of a plan for exit, which


may end up being a bigger problem. The reason we are asking these


questions, you will write to refer to it, Parliament has set the bar


higher for intervention, look at the previous errors, whether it is Iraq,


Helmand Libya, even two years ago, when we stop the government from


signing with the other side, in the Civil War, it is right that


Parliament asks these questions and hold the executive to account. Some


of the names and numbers have been filtering through, Rosie Winterton


Labour Chief Whip, has abstained, that is what we understand so far,


we think that nine other Labour MPs voted. -- abstained, along with her.


That starts to show you some of the pictures are merging.


Let's go to Damascus now. Lyce Doucet is there.


Is anybody taking any notice of this British decision in the Syrian


capital? I think that we have got to see it in perspective, the day began


here, in Syria, with the newspapers not making a single mention about


this debate in Britain, which unfolded, as we have seen throughout


the day, with such intensity and symbolism, and most people that we


spoke to today did not know about it, when we asked them about whether


they care, whether they supported, whether Britain would join the air


campaign, most of them said, they would welcome any action against the


so-called Islamic State. The centre of Damascus is under Syrian and


control, president Bashar al-Assad has his greatest supporter here,


many were scathing, they said this is too little, too late, and it is


not going to work unless the coalition, now that Britain has now


joined it in the air campaign, ordinate actions with president


Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian army. That is not going to happen, even


though Russia has been calling for it. The real problem in this, now


that the war is intensifying, the air strikes have started, they have


gone on for more than a year, they have not stop the advance of Islamic


state, president Bashar al-Assad were scathing about that, but there


is another war that he's been going on for five years, the war between


the forces of a growing array of Syrian opposition forces and the


forces of Bashar al-Assad, fundamentally most of them believe


this is the war that matters. For all of the statement and symbolism


in London, what matters in a country where a life everyday is a matter of


life or death, where hardship grows by the day, a country ravaged, where


one third of the people here, 6.3 million people are dependent upon


food aid in order to survive, they want results, they want this war to


end, not to intensify, and make life even worse and cause even more


Syrians to take that Trail heading to Europe. Thank you very much


indeed. How much, housing, and to what


effect will we have military action? -- how soon. It could start


straight, we have eight Tornado ground attack aircraft based in


Cyprus, aircraft that have ground attack aircraft based in


bombing Iraq already, we are already plugged into the targeting analysis


centre in Qatar, and so theoretically, these jets could be


redirected to Syria, almost immediately. We will be sending out


more jets, that is really so that we can conduct missions simultaneously


in Iraq and in Syria, at the same time, when will this happen? Well,


probably not tomorrow, but I reckon it'll probably be in the next 48 72


hours, we will see this operation having started. As for the likely


effect, even the British military do not want to exaggerate the impact,


as one had said to me earlier today, an officer, Britain is getting


involved with a maximum amount of knowledge but with an economy of


military effort. One of the most interesting and contentious claims


in the whole debate has been the issue of 70,000 potential fighters


who are not jihadists and not supporters of Bashar al-Assad, we


have been looking at that claim and who they are. Ever since David


Cameron mentioned this in a debate on Thursday, last week, it has been


a bone of contention. That is because the great unknown in all of


this is who is going to fight the ground war? Who is going to be in


hand to hand combat with Islamic State? What David Cameron appeared


to be doing last week was providing us with an answer. MPs from all


sides of the house have raised concerns about this, it was


certainly one of the most contentious issues in today's


debate. VOICEOVER: We know that there is


Syrian rebel fighters. Delay number 70,000? With a fight for us? Where


did that figure come from? -- are there are 70,000? Today, David


Cameron stuck to his guns, with qualification. I am not arguing,


this is crucial, that all of the 70,000 are somehow ideal partners,


some have left the Syrian army because of the brutality of Bashar


al-Assad, they clearly can play a role in the future of Syria. This


analyst, Charles Lister, thinks the number is about right, he defines


moderates as being both opposed to Isil, and the group that the


coalition wants to work with, it is complicated, but he cites 25,000


members belonging to 58 factions of the free Syrian Army boss southern


front, in areas like Damascus. He says another 20,000 FSA fighters


from 14 factions are found in the North, in Homs, Hama and it live and


Aleppo. Another 40,000, belonging of -- another 30,000 have been


identified. -- Idlib. This makes a total of 75,000. As Charles Lister


excepts, even if the maths adds up, another problem, experts we have


spoken to say that there is just no way that that many Rebels would take


up arms against Islamic State, their focus at the moment is defending the


civilian population against the forces of Bashar al-Assad, Islamic


State just is not a priority. In fact, in areas where the Rebels have


managed to push back Islamic State, they have then been pounded by


president Bashar al-Assad's air force, even if they had the


wherewithal to do it, they have very little incentive to do so. Were you


surprised that David Cameron used that 70,000 figure? I was, the


problem is it was not put into context and not broken down into


what these groups represent, what their actual power base is in the


country and what change they could affect on the ground if a UK


strategy were to openly back them. The same as the 70,000 group, it is


not really explaining how they are able to assist us in fighting Isis,


to some of these fighters have almost no power on the ground


whatsoever, because they are aligned to much more powerful groups that do


not fight Isis, and some are sectarian and Islamist, not the kind


of people you would like to be in alliance with. In the Commons today,


scorn from the Tory chair of the defence committee, he drew a


comparison with history. Instead of having dodgy dossiers, we now have


bogus battalions, of " moderate fighters"! SHOUTING


Iraq in 2003, Syria in 2015, different wars, with different


dossiers, but a reminder of the perils of overstating the case. Some


unease in Whitehall about the use of this 70,000 figure, no other


government relies upon it. Officials privately whisper, it was probably a


mistake for the Prime Minister to be so precise. Whether he meant it or


not, this is the figure against which David Cameron will now be


judged. If the Rebels to emerge in their tens of thousands to banish


Isil, he will be vindicated, if they do not, 70,000 is the number that


will come back to haunt him. STUDIO: Until January this year,


Hadi Al-Bahra was President of the National Coalition for Syrian


Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. Your reaction to the decision of the


British Parliament to enter this action against Isil. Thank God! I


think they have taken the right decision, although it was late,


better late than never! They acted responsibly, and wisely, and we hope


to have a successful campaign against combating all terrorism, and


extremism, in that area. However, you would really like the British to


be involved against Bashar al-Assad, as well? Shaw, winning the campaign


against terrorism, it cannot be won only by military means. We have


really to deal with the root causes of extremism, and terrorism, in the


area, and mainly, the tyranny of the regime, the Richie McCaw Bashar


al-Assad, the corruption, in the area, and also the poverty in the


area. We have to deal on all fronts in order for us to have a successful


campaign against terrorism, we have been acting against Al-Qaeda for


more than 15 years. What have we got? We have got Isis, more extreme,


the organisation, more extreme than Al-Qaeda, a horrible terrorist


organisation. That is why, because we acted only on military front, we


did not act really on the social and economic reasons. Which created


terrorism and extremism in the area. A lot has been said about the


process which began in Vienna, hopefully leading to some political


solution, everybody here is talking about how this might work, they are


suggesting there might be a political settlement involving


Bashar al-Assad. Stepping aside, but perhaps in a transitional way, can


you work with the Vienna process, as I understand it, none of the Syrians


are in the process, it is all the foreign powers, can you work within


the Vienna process? For us we have acted responsibly. With all of the


United Nations efforts, since the previous regime. -- since the


previous conferences, Geneva one and Geneva two, now we are ready to act


very positively, and actively, with the current efforts of the


international community, through Vienna, and through the


reactivation, really, of the Geneva conference, to comply and implement


the communique from the first Geneva conference. Many people will regard


that as helpful. Last question, 70,000, non-jihadists, non-Bashar


al-Assad fighters, who could potentially go in and help in a


ground war against Isil... ? Yes, we have moderate forces on the


ground ready to fight Isis, they have been fighting Isis. We fought


Isis since 2013 without receiving really the proper aid and assistance


from the international community. We have been through this battle alone.


We fought two fronts, one front against the tyranny of al-Assad


regime and the second front against Isil. So now we are ready to


continue our fight but it has to be an organised fight, it has to be


assisted by the international community. This is not Syrian


problem alone. It's international problem. These fighters they came to


Syria from all the country from all over the world, they came from the


US, from England, from France, from the Arab world, from every corner on


the Earth. So all of us, we have to act really in unity against


terrorism and extremism. Hadi Al-Bahra, thank you. Let's go back


to College Green and get the latest there. Emily?


Since we have been on air, some of the protesters that have been


gathering in Parliament Square have started to bring their banners and


their chants down closer behind the cameras, perhaps you can hear them.


They are saying, "Shame on you, don't bomb Syria." We think it is


mostly the Stop The War Coalition. We saw the momentum of the Stop The


War campaigners over the weekend, so that has been something that they


are now feeling incredibly strongly about, given those vote numbers,


that are stacking up, which seem to indicate, which really do indicate


that David Cameron has the mandate to extend those air strikes into


Syria, which, as we have been hearing, could be any time in 72


hours. The curious thing is, the place behind me is accused of Punch


and Judy politics. Today it was anything but that. There was real


soul-searching, rigorous questioning and there was heart-felt argument


and debate. Perhaps one of the finest pieces of oratory came at the


end of that marathon ten-hour session and it came from the Shadow


Foreign Secretary, Hilary Benn, who seemed to grow in stature as he


spoke, always courteous, but very, very impassioned with what he said


and he was cheered from all sides. Curious to see the Government front


bench clapping him on as he took to his feet and spoke. This is what he


said. They hold our values in contempt, they hold our belief in


tolerance and decency in contempt, they hold our democracy, the means


by which we will make our decision tonight in contempt! What we know


about fascists is that they need to be defeated. Hilary Benn speaking


there right at the very end of the ten-hour debate. Our political


editor is with me. That seemed to be something of a game-changer, or a


moment, people are saying that he really sort of grew in the eyes of


many listening there? For many people, he has during the week, so


67 Labour people voted with the Government, to give you the detail.


Seven Conservative rebels have voted against their leader, but it is down


on what we were talking about earlier. It is lower and then seven


abstentions. Let's go back to that Labour number. I have been texted


already to say that people who have been organising against Jeremy


Corbyn and this group Momentum, these people who have been e-mailing


Labour MPs, who were wavering, to say this is how you need to vote,


you need to be anti this war. They think 67 is amazing. Against this,


Jeremy Corbyn's team is putting out this evening that firstly a majority


of the Shadow Cabinet supported the Labour Leader, which is quite


extraordinary given... 16, we have just had that number, 16 supporting


Jeremy Corbyn. 11 against him. You would struggle to find 16 who you


would say would vote in that way. He has inspired some kind of loyalty.


The other thing that Jeremy Corbyn's team is saying that over 150 MPs


supporting him, he is enhanced this evening. Even though this evening


David Cameron has won this vote, he of all people will know that support


in this country for military intervention is very, very hard-won


and evaporates very quickly. If there is any "mission creep" or any


sense that it is going on too long, then things will turn against David


Cameron. It could be that Jeremy Corbyn is prophetic. Once you have


been through those numbers, we will be crunching them to work out who


took whose side and how they fell. I think what will be remembered most


of all is some of the speeches that we have heard, that real sense of


MPs asking themselves the questions that perhaps they didn't ask last


time round, there has been a ghost of Iraq on many of the shoulders,


the poignancy, the precision, the depth of the questioning this time


round seems to undermine a sense that many of those questions weren't


asked properly last time around. So, you have heard a few of the speeches


that have come through and it will be interesting to look back over the


years and just see what has come to what many spoke about this evening.


Back to Evan. Thank you. The voice of British Muslims is


important in the arguments over military action - although we


shouldn't assume there is only one Secunder Kermani has spent the day


in High Wycombe - a community that's been in the spotlight after


at least two young men It's a typical commuter town, but on


these suburban streets foreign policy matters. High Wycombe has a


large British Muslim population and many here are unhappy with Western


governments. People have given up hope nowadays, the community doesn't


have that much hope anymore. They do stuff like this, to share their


thoughts with everyone, every day you walk past, you will see these


same things. There had been a picture of Osama


Bin Laden here, statements of resistance, if not support, perhaps.


Zayn has been following the debate on air strikes in Syria. I'm not in


favour of them. There is a small part of me which is not against them


either in the sense that I think that I believe that those bombs are


going to go and hit Isis and they will hit the terrorists that are


giving us Muslims the bad name. They should be destroyed, not the


innocents. This confuses me. Like I said, you can go and you can bomb


Syria as much as you like, but you are killing innocent people. Down


the road, there is a sense of anger at the prospect of more bombs in a


Muslim country. They shouldn't do it. They will kill innocent people.


How do you think the Government should be fighting against Isis if


they are not doing air strikes? I don't know. Bombing is not, it is


not worth bombing because you will kill a lot of innocent people. They


should do it another way. In the mosques, they are aware that a


number of young men from the area have joined Isis. Some people would


say foreign policy is used as an excuse, it is not the real reason.


Half of their targets are Shias, or other Muslims. If you analyse the


statements of jihadis that have killed themselves, more and one have


cited their reasons, and they include foreign policy. This is one


area of concern that every jihadist has said and then they have blown


themselves and others up. We need to take it seriously. This man was


friends with one of those from the area now with Isis. We are


protecting his identity. How does it feel thinking they could be on the


receiving end of British bombs in Syria? That is a choice they have


made. I'm not concerned about them. My main concern is the innocent men,


women and children that can't get to refuge. More concern should be going


over them than people who are going into that situation. You have seen


the Isis ideology, does there need to be a military solution to


defeating them? Is any other way to be a military solution to


possible? Most people would say it seems like there isn't? I think it's


gone too far. There is an issue that has to be faced. But does that


justify increasing a humanitarian crisis? These guys, they don't just


give up because you are throwing bombs on their heads. Everyone we


spoke to opposes Isis, but for some, angry at Government policies


affecting Muslims here and abroad, there is a perception the air


strikes are the latest Western mistake. Secunder Kermani there. You


heard from Lyse Doucet that people weren't aware we were having this


vote in Syria. I was interested to see the


New York Times report on today's It described the vote as -


and I quote - one that's "become a wider test of British


willingness to play an active role The issue has always been more


about alliance solidarity and leadership than about strict


military or strategic utility". The piece didn't mention


our famed Brimstone missiles. And that may get to the heart


of it - the decision is as much about top-table places, as it is


about extra military firepower. To finish the programme, I'm still


with my panel of three. First, let's reflect, if this fails, or if it


appears to have failed, Max Hastings that, is the end of it for votes


like this on future military interventions for decades? I don't


think this has been a great day for democracy. A lot of what was said in


the House of Commons was tosh. Hilary Benn substituted intense


emotion and passion for intense discussion. I'm strongly in favour


of military action. If one is convinced it is going to work. I


think we are wading into a hell of a mess in Syria. We will end up having


ground troops there and a lot of what David Cameron has said in


defence of this policy is for the fairies. I don't think it will


happen. I think it will have to be Western ground troops and it will be


a hell of a mess unless the Russians change their spots dramatically.


That must really depress you for someone who does believe in the


power of intervention? I do. I think this is a mistaken one. It will be


hard to make the case again if this one fails? I'm amazed that David


Cameron can make many of the arguments he used for that


disastrous intervention in Libya and most of the House of Commons is


willing to go with him and they are bonkers. You are bonkers in his view


as well, Deborah? The issue is, we have already committed, it is not


like we have embarked on a new war today. We were already at war, we


already decided last year that we were with the United States, with


France. It's all very well thinking how we can get to the endgame. We


are here, we are acting. The 2013 vote when Britain said no to air


strikes against President al-Assad's regime, you can argue the rights and


wrongs of that. It undermined our confidence, it undermined our status


in the world, as a military power. You are saying the Alliance, right


or wrong? I'm not saying the Alliance is right or wrong, we are


in the Alliance. If we are in the Alliance, which we have been for the


last year, we should be fully in, as we are at the moment. It gets to


what the New York Times said, Shashank Joshi. What was the phrase


you used, diplomatic gesture? One of the interesting things is the


precedent that has been set over the last several years on going to


Parliament for matters of War and Peace in this way and how tense, how


finely balanced it has been. One of the interesting effects of this in


the long run will be NATO allies in Eastern Europe, Baltic countries


like Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, wondering if there is an Article 5


issue at stake, are we going to have weeks of debate in the House of


Commons about this every time the UK wishes to intervene in this way? It


is not just the outcome, it is not just exorcising the ghost of 2013,


where does this leave us? If we go into this escapade because we are


part of a team, it means we are not sub-contracting our defence, as some


people have said we would be doing, but it does mean we will be


sub-contracting our thinking, we are saying, we are doing it because you


are doing it. Is that the way we should make these decisions? It is


more than we are doing it because you are doing it. The fact is,


America and France are fundamental to our security and in a world which


is so unstable, when you have got threats like Isis, you have got the


actions of Russia, which are so unpredictable and Russia exploits


the fact that we have this democratic process that means we


need to have these crazy debates. It is really important to be unified. I


do understand that - maybe I sound idealistic and with the fairies.


Doing something together is better than thinking it is too difficult we


can't do it. I will give you one example... That is the problem with


this whole debate. It's been fixated on air power and it is so much more


than that. The fact that we have committed to air power in Syria, it


means we have a greater ability to influence the wider campaign. Our


contribution is - the Americans have flown 56,000 sorties in Syria and


Iraq. The idea that Isis will be trembling tomorrow morning because


the RAF's eight Tornados are joining in, this is an example of how we


delude ourselves. It is symbolic, but it is important because we are


participating in the Alliance. Is this an Iraq moment? Will we look


back on this vote as one of those decisive, defining votes? I don't


think so. Iraq was the shattering of a large army and a state. Here,


millions have fled, hundreds of thousands have died, there is a war


already going on and I'm - that is why I'm dismayed by the arguments


against this being civilians will die. Hundreds of thousands have died


already. In that sense, it is not Libya, it is not Iraq. Thank you all


very much. Although Jeremy Corbyn managed to


keep his Shadow Cabinet with him, but Andy Burnham voted against,


apparently influenced by the Prime Minister calling opponents


"terrorist sympathisers". Well, that's it


for this very important evening. The country is not entering this new


military arena with any unity around the strategy -


but despite a robust argument, there


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