Yvette Cooper MP

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Yvette Cooper's speech in debate on extending air strikes against Isil in Syria

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Thank you, Mr Speaker.


We know that no parliament ever takes a more serious decision than what we should do to protect the security and safety of our nation, and whether to put our forces in harms way. I know that every member of the House will be weighing that decision very seriously not least because the truth is we have got those decisions wrong before when we went into Iraq in 2003, and when we failed to intervene in Bosnia early enough a decade before that.



And so since the Prime Minister made his case last Thursday, I have sought for a series of assurances. Some of which I have received, some of which I have not. And I do not believe that the Prime Minister has made the most effective case, and so I understand why many in this House feel that they are not yet convinced. But I also feel that I cannot say that the coalition airstrikes that are underway already – in both in Syria and Iraq - should somehow stop. And if they are not to stop and France has asked for our help I do not think that we can say no.


So I think there are changes that need to be made to the government’s approach and I will argue for them. And I think there are more limits on the approach they need to take, but I will also vote with the Government on this motion tonight, even though I recognise how difficult that is for so many of us.


The whole House I think agrees that we need a strategy that delivers peace and defeats ISIL/Daesh, but I disagree with any suggestion that this can be done as "ISIL first" or "Daesh first". Because I think that will simply not work. In the end we know that it is the Vienna process, that it is the process which is to replace the Assad regime – which is dropping barrel bombs on so many innocent people across Syria - which is crucial for preventing the recruitment of ISIL as well.


And if we or the coalition are to seen to be siding with Assad or strengthening him that will increase recruitment for Daesh as well.


I also disagree with the suggestion that somehow there are 70,000 troops who are going to step in and that the purpose of these air strikes is to provide air cover for these troops to take on and defeat Daesh because we know that’s not going to happen any time soon, we know there aren’t such forces anywhere near Raqqa and these forces are divided.


We know that the airstrikes won’t be part of an imminent decisive military campaign. But I also disagree with those who say that instead of ISIL first we should somehow have "Vienna first" and we should therefore wait until the peace process is completed before we take airstrike action against Daesh.


And that’s why I think the coalition airstrikes are still needed. We know that ISIL is not going to be part of the peace process, they won’t negotiate, and they are a death cult that glorifies suicide and slaughter.


And we know too that they have continuous ambitions to expand, and continuous ambitions to attack us, our allies, and to have terror threats not just in Paris, not just in Tunisia, but all over the world and anywhere that they get the chance.


They hold oil, territory, communications that they want to use to expand, and I don’t think that the coalition can simply stand back and give them free reign while we work on that vital peace process.


When coalition airstrikes are already in place involving France, Turkey, Jordan, the US, Morocco, Bahrain, Australia – if we have evidence that there are communication networks that are being used in order to plan attacks in Paris, or Berlin, Brussels or London – can we really say that those coalition airstrikes should not take place to take those communication networks out?


If we have evidence that there are supply routes being used to plan an expansion to take over more territory, to increase their barbaric regime into wider spaces do we really think that coalition airstrikes should not be able to take those supply routes out? And if we think that the coalition airstrikes should continue can we really say no, when France having gone through the terrible ordeal of Paris say they want our help in continuing those airstrikes now?


I have argued in this place and elsewhere continually for our country to do far more to share in the international support for refugees that are fleeing the conflict. I still think that we should do much more and not leave it to other countries alone. But that same argument about sanctuary also applies to security. And I don’t think we can leave it to other countries to take the strain.


I cannot ignore the advice of security experts that without coalition airstrikes over the next twelve months the threat from Daesh in the region but also in Europe and in Britain will be much greater. And I think we have to do our bit to try and contain that threat, not to promise that we can defeat or overthrow it in the short term because we cannot, but at least to contain what they do.


I also think it’s important to degrade their capacity to obliterate the remaining moderate and opposition forces however big they are because when Vienna does get properly moving there has to be some opposition forces, it cannot simply be a peace debate involving Assad and Daesh as the only forces left standing because that will never bring peace and security to the region.


So if we are to do our bit and to take the strain I think we also need to have more limited objectives than the Prime Minister has set out.


In self-defence, to support the peace process, but not just to create a vacuum for Assad to sweep into.


It makes the imperative of avoiding civilian casualties even greater, because where there is any risk that people are being used as human shields to cover targets however important those targets might be those airstrikes should not go ahead.


It makes the imperative of civilian protection even greater and that’s not mentioned in the government’s motion. It should be the central objective not just for humanitarian reasons to prevent an escalation of the refugee crisis but also to prevent the recruitment that fuels ISIL.


And I think time limits are needed too because I don’t support an open ended commitment to airstrikes until Daesh are defeated as I know the Foreign Secretary raised yesterday. Because if it isn’t working in six months or if it proves counterproductive we should be ready to review and we should also be ready to withdraw.


Because we will need to review this and I think tonight we should lend the Government support and keep that under review- not give them an open ended commitment that this should carry on whatever the consequences might be.


And I would say finally to the Government that I have accepted their argument that if we want coalition airstrikes to continue on an international basis we should be part of that, but I would also urge them to accept my argument that we should be doing more to be part of supporting sanctuary for refugees who are fleeing that conflict too.


There are no easy answers here, but I would say in the interests of cohesion in our politics and our country the way we conduct this debate is immensely important. None of us however we vote tonight are "terrorist sympathisers", and none of us will have "blood on our hands". The blood has been drawn by ISIL / Daesh in Paris and across the world and that is who we must stand against.


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commented 2016-01-29 19:51:43 +0000
Our Freedom is at stake & therefore Your approach is the correct one. The world is totally joined up in the digital Age . My Uncle Sir William Kennedy Reid the ex Ombudsman would no doubt agree with you as I do as the Man who energised 3000 Englishmen to Triple production on a PVC
plant in Wloclawek to bring Freedom to the Poles!! 6 months later " Solidarnosc" happened!!
We, the British, sowed the seeds & we deserve the thanks of the whole of the EEC for what we did
Churchill, my Hero, as a Boy described the severing of the arteries of Europe as the "Descending of an “Iron Curtain” across Europe. Now is the Time to extend the Hand of Friendship to Russia!!
Life is never Perfect & Russia lost 20 Million People in World War II so no wonder they never wanted that to happen again!! Trade with Russia would energise The West completely & we could all Enjoy " The Sunlit Uplands" of Economic Prosperity!! as Churchill put it. Petty point scoring at PMQ’s does no service to this Country………David Cameron, a friend of my Nephew, is a formidable opponent & he has an amazing grasp of the brief. I wrote to Him asking for an audience to tell him of Poland . He rejected me!!……………..I do not take Rejection well!!
I knew what to do in Poland after Auschwitz it has left its scars on me but I would do the same again in a minute!!

I am a Proud Scot but ENGLAND my Home & it was the ENGLISH that helped me reverse Yalta!
When Churchill has to sign away all the Warsaw Pact Countries!!

Jeremy Corbyn thinks he is so clever……………..& indeed He is but be has no idea of risking your Life to bring about Peace throughout Europe as I did!!

The KGB met with me & drank Vodka with me because they knew that I was trying to bring Prosperity to All……………..I voted for Tony Blair in 1997, a Fettes Man & a very clever Statesman
because I agreed with " Education, Education & Education"

This Mantra is still “relevant”!! & we must regain it!!…………Lurching to the Left will do Labour no service whatsoever & relying on new Young recruits & CND activists to run your Party is folly in the extreme it is an aberration. REAL Labour Party Members are those who should direct

The Shadow Chancellor is a joke………………& Labour will be out of Power for a Generation if they do not listen to Tony Blair……………..Corbyn is not a natural Leader as He has been sniping from the backbenches his whole Political Career.

Yvette Cooper or Andy Burnham would have done a far more inclusive job!!
but youngsters skewed the Vote!!

I am a Civil Engineer & I understand MEN & I understand How to get things done!!
like Sir John Harvey Jones the Best Industrialist since the War sadly departed.

Until Britain realises that Engineering is used for everything & it this they who should run businesses & not Accontants who only add up we will languish behind Germany & Japan who do this!!

I am 62 now & I don’t see anything changing PPE is not the training for a successful economy

442 of the 650 MP’s went to Oxford or Cambridge that is a National Scandal!!

but there it is in Jeremy Paxman’s book “The English”………..He doesn’t like the Scots like

Blair or Me !!

I could have upped sticks & gone to the USA ……….they loved me for my " can do" attitude

but " NO……….I wanted to come back from Saudi & try to help ENGLAND & SCOTLAND

fulfil their true potential

I was Born a Tory I suppose in a way I still am One but I cannot walk on the other side when some of our most vulnerable people are hurting.

Yvette is Right to call for 3000 children to be admitted…………….We face massive pressure due
to the Syrian Conflict & we must remember that we have a Proud History of assimilation in this Country.

I stood in the 2005 General Election for SAVE Bristol North Baths Party formed by me to draw attention to our plight.

The only person to listen to me was HRH Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales……………….
He put me onto SAVE Britain’s Heritage & they stayed with me for 4.5 Years!! so I know a bit about

Britain needs a Nuclear Deterrent because “Rogue States” like Iran may eventually have a nuclear capability……………….unpalatable though that may seem are we to be DEFENCELESS!!

& sending submarines to sea with Tomahawk Cruise Missiles which can inflict minimal damage

is quite frankly pointless !!

Thangam Debbonaire is my Labour MP & she has suffered from Breast Cancer which hopefully
is now in remission. She tried to help me help a beggar who sells “The Big Issue” who was freezing
& near Death……….“There but for the Grace of God go You or I”

Let’s have Good Politics!!…………………………..Lively Debate!!

Set out Your stall!!………………….Never deviate!!

When I walked under the gate of Auschwitz " Arbeit Macht Frei" I looked up & I vowed
that I would dedicate every day of my Life to those Who perished there!!

To my knowledge this is what I have done!

Margaret Thatcher decimated Scotland & the Mining Areas of England

She cancelled “School Milk” though my Uncle told her not to!

She is known by the Children in skipping songs in Scotland
as “Margaret Thatcher Milk Snatcher!!”

She gambled on a Falklands adventure & Won with 246 Men Dead!

& was swept to Power again in 1983 thus allowing Her to destroy British Manufacturing


Scotland did not like being guinea pigs for her ill fated Poll tax!!

They rebelled!!!……………..& after it was introduced South of the Border Her fate was sealed

by Geoffrey Howe…………….who savaged Her like a Wolf!!..Not a Dead Sheep!

Yvette…………………..Carry On!! & Do Good Works!

I study ALL Politicians!! & I met Jimmy Reid @ the Duck Bay Marina overlooking

Loch Lomond He had led the John Brown Shipyard Work In!!…………………..

he was a Communist & had left School at 14

I was a dyed in the wool Tory but we had the most animated conversation for 2.5 hours!!

he had taught Himself Engels & Marx & Lenin but He was a practical Man

& when I hit Him with the “clincher” " Why did you Sell the Men out by accepting The Marathon

deal from the States to build “Top side Jackets” for Oil Platforms rather than SHIPS!!

He said " Pragmatism Dougie, Pragmatism, Pragmatism"

“We preserved the MEN’s Jobs!”

That was the correct answer !!………………….At His Funeral Sir Alec Ferguson & Billy Connolly

both gave very good Eulogies……………….

Who knows whether deep in my Psyche his “Work In”" helped me to Triple Production in

Poland to show the Poles the Way to FREEDOM!!

I LOVE this Country!!……………..that is why I’m still here!!

Accountants or Lawyers don’t make ANYTHING!!

I have Dedicated Myself to this Country!! & all of My Structures & Roads have been successes!

I have always sought the accolade “Sir” like my Uncle but Fat Chance here in this Country.

ENGINEERING is the Key to success of any Country

Read the Book “Making it Happen” by Sir John Harvey Jones the boss of my Best Friends Dad

He turned ICI ( Imperial Chemical Industries") from a “basket case” into a World Beater in

10 years!!!!

He did it by instigating " RESPECT" from Top to Bottom

I wanted to meet Him but He is Dead Now!!

But if every Undergraduate was asked to read that book then it would Revolutionise Britain!!

No wonder The Prince of Wales gets frustrated!!…………………He sees the potential of Britain

which is not fulfilled!!

I hope that when He is King he will still speak out & that the Law will be changed to allow

Him to do so!!…………..His Books " A Vision of Britain!" & “Harmony” are cries from the

Heart about our Country…………………..

His Uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten knew ALL His MEN & once met a Subaltern asked Him

his name & did he have any children……………..He said " Joe & Gregor"

Two Years later when Mountbatten was reviewing the same ship He came across the same

Subaltern & said " How are Joe & Gregor!!!!!"

THAT is Leadership!!

He was so cruelly taken from Us by the IRA at the age of 79 at least He felt no pain.

But HRH Prince Charles & HRH The Duchess of Cornwall went to Mulligamore to pay their

respects. They were very Brave to do so!! & also offered the Hand of Reconciliation to

Gerry Adams & Martin McGuinness…………………….

Many Years ago all the MEN on Sites were IRISH I spent many lovely Years with them.

They do not suffer Fools gladly!………………………..

Now we have Poles, Latvians & Lithuanians

To depress wages!!

Where is that Publicised?

Please look up " Violette Szabo" She was British & She inspired me to Free Poland

Her & Spartacus!!

Her Film is " Carve Her Name with Pride" & is on Youtube

My Father was in the RAF , radio operator, on an Air Sea Rescue Launch………………..

picking up Spitfire pilots & Navy personnel from the Med.

I always thought that I would never surpass His Bravery!!

But , in Poland, the chance emerged & I grasped it with both Hands!!

Forget this Comrade crap…………………if you continue with it you will be out of Office

for a Generation!!


Douglas James Reid BSc (Civ Eng) Hons (Glasgow) C. Eng. MICE.

Charetered Civil Engineer
commented 2016-01-06 16:44:26 +0000
I have to disagree profoundly with Chris Reid and the others who attacked Yvette Cooper’s clearly thought-out, and closely-argued statement, and I am particularly concerned at their vitriolic language. It seems odd that those who are professing peace should use such violent language.
commented 2015-12-15 10:53:13 +0000
This must be the poorest judgement for murdering innocent civillians I have ever heard. I actually thought you were leadership material. Sorry Yvette you have let the side down badly, The Tories had enough votes without you adding yours. I am bitterly dissapointed with your decision.
commented 2015-12-15 10:17:55 +0000
Perhaps you should in future try to guage what your constituents feel .
You have betrayed your party and us locally. Do us a favour and go sit on the other side of the house.

Disgrace !
commented 2015-12-03 14:38:46 +0000
Well done. Well thought out in the end the right thing to do..
commented 2015-12-02 23:58:25 +0000
This is the poorest excuse for defying the leader and voting with the Tories, Bitterly disappointed with your decision Yvette. If you think our smart bombs are so safe then take the family on holiday to Syria for a few days. You have walked right into mission creep without even realising what you have done. What did Cameron offer labour MPs as a sweetener to be so sure he had the numbers because this stinks, As for Hilary Benns speech it was completely ignored by cameron and company until he spoke their language. I do hopr Alan Johnson is sacked for his remarks in the house against the leader. I could go on but I am convinced this has damaged the party beyond repair.

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