Today the shadow cabinet is meeting to make a decision about the impending vote on whether Britain should join France and the US in extending military air strikes. Last night Jeremy Corbyn emailed members of the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee, myself included, asking for our views.
I responded, copying in other shadow cabinet members, explaining why I did not feel this was a decision for me as an NEC member. As with our NEC meetings, I expect correspondence sent between NEC members and the shadow cabinet to remain confidential. However, this is clearly not the case.
Given that my views have already been published in part, and in the interests of continuing to remain accountable to the young party members and young trade unionists who elected me, I have published the letter I sent to Jeremy and the shadow cabinet in full below. I hope that this clearly sets out my position on this important matter.
Thank you for getting in touch to ask for my views, as a member of the party’s NEC, on extending military air strikes into Syria.
While I appreciate you asking me my opinion, I do not believe this is a decision for the NEC. Our job is to look after the Labour Party and uphold the constitution. That is what young members and young trade unionists elected me to do. Decisions on issues such as extending military air strikes into Syria were not in my remit – or that of any other NEC member – when I was elected.
9.3 million people voted for the Labour Party in 2015, electing 232 MPs from all wings of the Labour Party to make decisions on matters including those of war and peace. It is those MPs who should be making this decision, not the few of us who were elected by a relatively small number of Labour Party members. The mandate of our MPs – elected only a matter of months ago – should be respected.
While I like to feel that I would be able to make the right decision in this situation, I am acutely aware that I do not have available to me the same information and intelligence that is being provided to MPs, and that my judgement therefore will inevitably be less well-informed. I have neither Syrian refugees attending my surgery, nor direct accountability to Labour voters or the wider public.
It would seem to me, having looked very carefully at the information available, that the terms of the emergency resolution passed at the 2015 Labour Party conference have been met. It should now be up to MPs – not the NEC – to make the decision about whether Britain joins France and the US in extending military air strikes in Syria.
With best wishes,