As one of the Deputy Speakers I cannot vote when it comes to deciding whether the UK should take part in airstrikes in Syria but I do know how I would vote and that, on balance, would be for airstrikes.
But I would do it not with any certainty because the fact is, whatever we do – whether we bomb, send in ground troops, or not take part at all – none of us knows the consequences of our action or inaction. That is why it is important that opinions and reasons on both sides of the debate are allowed to be heard.
These are terrible decisions we make because they result in death. Both ways.
ISL-Daesh are responsible not just for suicide bombs but for the promotion of vile values that include the enslavement and murder of women and young girls, summary executions of thousands of people who refuse to “convert”, throwing gay people blindfolded and their hands tied behind their backs off buildings. They burn people alive.
Whatever side of the debate people are on, everyone recognises that ISL-Daesh are the enemy. We disagree only on how best they should be dealt with.
The calculation of those people who would vote for airstrikes is that by dealing with the problem in Syria, we strike at their heart and thereby diminish deaths in the long-run, that we are dealing with a death-cult that must be destroyed or it will try to destroy us, that by doing nothing we will see more Paris-style attacks in our European cities.
But as we know, there are hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians living in Syria who would all be in danger of losing their lives if we drop bombs.
For that reason alone, there are many MPs who oppose airstrikes. Some people also believe that airstrikes will make attacks on us more likely, not less.
I don’t suppose many of the people who have contacted their MPs nor even many MPs themselves are military experts or have had access to military intelligence. Our decision whether to support or oppose airstrikes comes down to weighing up the information we read in the press and the opinions we hold.
No-one can be sure that they are right and the others are wrong, however deeply-held our opinions might be.
What matters, though, while we are having this debate – not just in the Labour Party but especially in the Labour Party – is that we hear the other side’s views with understanding and mutual respect and don’t forget that people who disagree with us are not the enemy. The real enemy is ISL-Daesh. They are deadly and do not respect opposing views and ideas. They do not negotiate, persuade or listen.
That is what separates all of us from them.