I am urging the government to be a force for peace in both Europe and the Middle East.
I not like the way the EU and the USA have escalated the trade war and the war of words with Russia over the Ukraine. I want to see the Kiev government stop shelling and bombing its own country in response to the pro Russian rebels, and get on with the patient task of talking to them and seeking a way of governing the country that meet the aspirations of more of the people. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the government and rebel positon, and whoever started it, it does not look good in a western democracy to see the scale of violence and destruction.
I think NATO should turn down the application from the Ukraine to join. It is inconceivable the Ukraine can join on its old borders, as Russia has taken over Crimea. NATO would not wish to begin its relationship by having to fight against the Russian military there. Nor can Ukraine on its new de facto borders without Crimea claim to be stable and easily defended by NATO members. NATO should not take on military tasks that are either too difficult or could only be done at disproportionate cost in lives.
I do not have any time for the advisors who want the West to become new friends of Assad and fight alongside him against ISIL forces in Syria. When I joined with other MPs to oppose going to war in Syria against Assad, one of my main reasons was I did not like the company we would have to keep given the nature of the opposition forces to Assad. We won that argument. I do not wish the west to make the opposite mistake by now siding with the very man they wished to overthrow.
The unfolding tragedy in Libya reminds us how difficult it is to support and help set up a stable democracy to replace a former tyrant in the Middle East. It should be a warning to all those who want us to use our power to topple more unpleasant regimes. I have no more time for the violence and tyranny meted out in the name of ISIL than any other western democrat. I do, however, recognise that there are many differing violent and extremist terrorist groups in the Middle East. There is also a major Sunni/Shia civil war underway. I do not think it is in the UK’s power to settle these disputes by our own military means.
Meanwhile our concentration needs to be given to righting more of the wrongs in our own society. The Rotherham child care scandal reveals we have much to do to create a caring and protective environment for many children in our own country. Those senior people who failed in their tasks should resign or face disciplinary actions. The criminals involved should be prosecuted. Every Council social service department, good and bad, needs to read the Rotherham Report and make sure they cannot make the same mistakes.