RAF Tornados have already returned from their first bombing raid against Isil in Syria, just hours after MPs authorised by an emphatic majority of 174. Michael Fallon has confirmed on the Today programme that he approved six targets, with the planes attacking the Omar oil fields in Eastern Syria in order to strike “a very real blow to the oil and the revenue on which Daesh depend”. After last night’s parliamentary cut-and-thrust, military operations are now underway. Anti-war activists like the Stop the War group have tried to argue that MPs rode roughshod over voters in a “rush to war”. “Rage away,” says James Kirkup, “but please accept that yes, this is being done in your name too.”
Hilary Benn captured the mood of the House with his impassioned closing speech for the Opposition, receiving rapturous applause (not something MPs are supposed to do) after he made the case for extending military action against Isil. “We must now confront this evil. It is now time for us to do our bit in Syria,” he told MPs. “His party, which for the past few days has appeared broken and beaten, looked like the government,” Dan Hodges wrote. Benn’s speech, forensically making the case for strikes as his anti-war boss Jeremy Corbyn sat behind him, was praised by his opposite number Philip Hammond, who said it would “go down as one of the truly great speeches made in this House of Commons”. John McDonnell has been on the Today programme praising Benn’s “excellent” speech, but stuck the knife in by comparing him to Tony Blair – a deadly insult for Corbynites – saying: “I’m always anxious that the greatest oratory can lead us to the greatest mistakes, that’s what we did in Iraq”.
Benn’s speech helped persuade many Labour MPs to back strikes, like Stella Creasy, who had until then been undecided (but still had her office targeted by protesters). She then found herself swiftly on the receiving end of vile abuse online. “Enjoying sleeping when the first child dies,” is how just one of the messages begin. Creasy is not alone, as the Shadow Foreign Secretary has attracted particular vitriol from anti-war activists online, with one swiftly writing after his speech: “Hilary Benn will never walk the streets of Leeds unprotected again #shameonhisfamily”. The “Left Unity” party published a list of the 66 Labour MPs who voted for action, calling them “warmongers”, adding the caption: “DESELECT THEM NOW”. Ken Livingstone has echoed this tone, telling LBC that there “might be a few” attempts to deselect Labour MPs.
This backlash has sparked calls on Jeremy Corbyn to expel party members who abuse and threaten parliamentarians, with John Mann calling the vitriol “appalling”. The Labour leader has previously tried to rein in activists, telling them in his party conference address: “Cut out the abuse, cut out the cyber bullying, cut out the misogyny. Let’s get back to the real politics”. But in the run-up to the vote, he was decidedly more menacing, telling MPs toying with voting for action that they have no “hiding place”. “There must be no reprisals against the dozens of Labour MPs such as Mr Benn who sided with the Government, and no “not-in-my-name” attempts to question the legitimacy of the decision,” we say. “Mr Corbyn has scant regard for Britain’s security, but even he must acknowledge the democratic process and the clear decision it has produced.” And if last night wasn’t dramatic enough for Labour, today sees a tricky by-election in Oldham.
“What we know about fascists is that they need to be defeated…It is why our party has always stood up against the denial of human rights and for justice. And my view is that we must now confront this evil.”
Jeremy Corbyn will stay away from Oldham West and Royton on Thursday as voters head to the polls amid fears his views on the military and monarchy are harming Labour’s chances. We’ve looked at what it would mean if Labour lost here. “Today we can do what until recently would have been considered impossible – overturn Labour’s huge majority in Oldham,” Ukip leader Nigel Farage writes in today’s paper. “If we do, believe me, Labour dominoes in the north of England will begin to fall.”
Cameron’s Welfare Ultimatum
David Cameron has told European leaders that he will campaign to leave the European Union unless they cave in to demands to curb in-work benefits for newly arrived EU workers for four years, the Telegraph can reveal. This comes as Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council warned that he was running a “very, very clear” risk of failure by forcing the issue. Meanwhile, Leave.EU have taken down a spoof video which jokes about “foreign johnnies” who “end up in pieces” thanks to UK military action overseas.
Anti-Terror IT Faults
A crucial IT system designed to stop terrorists and criminals getting into Britain is breaking down twice a week amid a £1 billion fiasco at the Home Office, spending watchdogs have warned.
EU Recycling Targets
UK households will be forced to recycle two-thirds of their rubbish while countries that recycle the least will be “let off the hook” with easier targets, under European Commission proposals. The Government said it was “seriously concerned” about the EC’s plans, unveiled on Wednesday, to impose a legally-binding target on most EU member states of recycling 65 per cent of all household waste by 2030.
Plans to scrap the Human Rights Act have been delayed for a second time, Michael Gove has revealed. The prime minister’s request for a consultation on whether the UK should set up a constitutional court to block EU laws has triggered a “complex” process, the Justice Secretary warned.