Local MPs who voted against the wishes of party leader Jeremy Corbyn to extend British military action into Syria last night have faced abuse online.
Parliament overwhelmingly passed the motion thanks to the support of Labour MPs including Heidi Alexander, MP for Lewisham East, Jim Dowd, MP for Lewisham West and Penge and Jim Fitzpatrick, MP for Poplar and Limehouse who all voted in favour of the motion.
However, the MPs’ constituents have not been shy in voicing their displeasure with how their MPs voted:
Jim Fitzpatrick MP has betrayed tens of thousands of constituents of Poplar and Limehouse tonight — George Galloway (@georgegalloway) December 3, 2015
In response to the online attacks Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn released a statement on Facebook. Corbyn said: “I want to be very clear – there is no place in the Labour Party or from those that support us – for bullying of any sort, from any side of the debate. It flies in the face of everything I believe and everything I stand for.”
Momentum, a grassroots network that rose out of the Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader campaign, said: “Momentum strongly disapproves of anyone who engages in abusive behaviour towards MPs or anyone else.”
The group has been accused of trying to intimidate and, potentially, campaign for candidates to be de-selected if they voted for airstrikes. However, Momentum has said that it is “not a threat to MPs who voted for bombing”.
The vote has led to deep divisions within the Labour party. Explaining her decision, Alexander said: “The threat posed to the UK by ISIL/Daesh is real and significant. There is no doubt that the attacks on Paris could have happened in any city in the UK. I am appalled by the brutality of ISIL/Daesh in the region and do not believe there should be any safe haven for their fighters, their supporters or their perverted use of Islam to justify ethnic cleansing and mass slaughter.”
“When Jeremy asked me to join his Shadow Cabinet, I was explicit with him that should the Prime Minister come forward with a limited proposal to extend UK airstrikes to ISIL/Daesh targets in Syria, I would be minded to support such action”, she added.
Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, who voted against the motion, spoke after the vote: “I respect the sincerely-held beliefs which many Members – both voting for and against the Government’s motion – have put forward today in the debate in Parliament.”
“I remain unconvinced by the credibility of the current Government case put forward – and especially by the confidence it places in the capability of the 70,000 regional troops to carry out this objective,” said Ali.
In his speech to the House, Dowd said he voted for the motion because of the “weasel words and the sophistry it [the case against airstrikes] employs in saying ‘the case has not been made’. It is almost the impression that those who say the case has not been made have a higher moral standard.”
Gavin Barwell, Conservative MP for Croydon Central, tweeted:
Particular respect to those Labour MPs who defied intimidation to vote for action that they believe is in the national interest — Gavin Barwell MP (@GavinBarwellMP) December 3, 2015
The motion passed with 397 votes in favour and 223 against the motion. Sixty six Labour MPs voted against their party lead.
Croydon’s Labour MP Steve Reed voted against the bombing while Conservative MPs Gavin Barwell and Chris Philp voted in favour of military action.
Note: 66 Labours MPs voted for bombing in Syria
On the day of the vote ELL took to the streets to capture the opinion of constituents, MPs and Councillors and asked them: Should we bomb Syria? See what they said here.