The Great Benn speech on military intervention in the Middle East

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 14.40.15 (25th Nov 2015)


“Aren’t Arabs terrified? Aren’t Iraqis terrified? Don’t Arab and Iraqi women weep when their children die?

“Doesn’t bombings strengthen their determination?

“What fools we are to live in a generation for which war is a computer game for our children, and just an interesting little Channel 4 news item.

“Every Member of Parliament tonight who votes for the government motion will be consciously and deliberate accepting the responsibility for the deaths of innocent people if the war begins, as I fear it will.

“In my parliamentary experience we were asked to share responsibility for a decision we won’t really be taking with consequence for people who have no part to play in the brutality of the regime which we are dealing with.”

The words above are from the House of Commons debate on Middle East military intervention. These were Benn’s words. The words of a true statesman, a true humanitarian, a true socialist. Hear them from the man’s mouth direct here to get a real sense of the man’s passion and integrity.

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 14.37.27Yes, these were the words of the late, great Benn the Elder, and what he would have made of his offspring’s effort this week would be very interesting indeed! Hilary Benn’s speech in the Syria bombing debate was certainly a good piece of oratory, and I suspect Tony may have a approved of Hilary’s advocacy of calling the enemy Daesh rather than any of the other acronyms more commonly used to date. But it’s content was surely lamentable. The best analysis of it that I have seen has been from Brendan O’Neill, not someone I always agree with for sure, whose blog piece in the Spectator nails it.

Read the whole article, but to give you a flavour of it, here is section that identifies Hilary Benn and the rest of the Labour hawks as establishment neoliberals:

Benn’s speech, and the feverish reaction to it, confirms that British politicians, especially Labourite ones, really, really miss the Second World War. They crave the moral certainty of that conflict that pitted Us against the worst Them imaginable: a vast, murderous system of Nazism.

This is why Benn madly talked about the decision to fire a few rockets at the godforsaken city of Raqqa in the same breath as Britain’s long slog of a war against Hitler and Mussolini. Such a comparison is the height of historical illiteracy.

As for Cameron’s contemptible ‘terrorist sympathisers’ slur, it is just that. Contemptible, and made more so by his steadfast refusal to apologise it.

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 14.39.41

Air strikes on Raqqa after the Paris attacks kill 80 or so people – mostly civilians, including numerous children – and destroy a popular market and mosque.



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