Labour conference sets terms for supporting UK military action in Syria
Labour’s annual conference has voted not to support military action in unless four strict conditions are met by the international community.
While conference motions are advisory rather than binding, the decision will increase pressure upon , the shadow foreign secretary, not to support military action if David Cameron puts forward a proposal to parliament next month.
The emergency motion, proposed by the Unite union on the final day of the conference, was carried without a vote, on just a show of hands.
The conditions will be difficult, if not impossible, to meet in the short term. They are: authorisation from the United Nations; a comprehensive plan for humanitarian assistance for any refugees who may be displaced by the action; assurances that the bombing is directed exclusively at military targets associated with (Isis); and that any military action is subordinated to international diplomatic efforts to end the war in Syria.
The conference this week has exposed rifts between senior party members over the issue.
told delegates on Monday that Labour would support effective action in Syria, but ruled out backing the deployment of UK troops on the ground.
, the shadow chancellor, has suggested Labour MPs may be given a free vote if Cameron brings a fresh motion to the Commons supporting airstrikes in .
, the shadow international development secretary, departed from the script for her conference speech to say explicitly that she opposed airstrikes.
Corbyn has not commented directly on the issue of military action, saying he would want to see the proposals for action and humanitarian relief first.
Ivan Monckton, the Unite member proposing the motion, said it was likely that Cameron would ask parliament to authorise Britain to take military action and that the party should not be seen to blunder into “another illegal war”.
“The repeated British interventions into the Middle East at the behest of the US have seen huge resources ploughed into conflicts – each of which has further destabilised the region, creating still more refugees and led to uncounted civilian deaths.
“It is time to break this cycle of war, which is why this party must tell Cameron to pause for thought,” he said. “Over the past year, there have been some 6,000 airstrikes on Iraq and Syria by the US and its allies. They have dropped over 20,000 bombs.
“The outcome has been that Isis has expanded the territory that it controls still further. There is no evidence that more bombing will lead to a different outcome,” he said.