Alan Whitehead MP

Member of Parliament for Southampton Test

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As you are no doubt aware, on Friday Parliament voted on whether to approve air strikes against IS militants in Iraq. 

Over the past few months we have seen what a brutal and murderous regime IS is. Despite their title they are neither Islamic nor a state. They are a group of international pirates, making claims about the justification for their actions through Islam that are repudiated by Muslims across the world.  Their campaign of atrocities against people of all religions and nationalities has shocked us all. They are a hated and barbarous group committing atrocities against Muslims, Christians and other faiths in equal measure and employing abduction and sale of women, mass executions and ethnic cleansing as routine elements of their military activity.

The threat from IS cannot be ignored because of their barbaric actions and because their inherent expansionist ideology represents a real threat, not just to the region, but to global security.

Following a request from the Iraqi Prime Minister, The Government of Iraq has formally asked the UK to join international efforts to strike IS sites and military strongholds to end the continuing attacks on Iraq, and to protect Iraqi citizens. It is therefore right that the UK now joins other nations in air strikes against ISIL extremists in Iraq.

In 2003 I opposed the Iraq war as I am of the view that military action against a sovereign state should always be used as a last resort and not unless all other means of action have been exhausted. On this occasion there is no sovereign state involved. On the contrary a sovereign state is at threat. And it is absolutely clear that negotiation with IS is not an option.

Therefore my support for the Government’s proposed military action is based on the same criteria that Labour has set out to Parliament in the past, including in 2011 over Libya: that proposed military action is a last resort; is proportional; has a reasonable prospect of success; a legal base; broad regional support; and is a just cause.

The motion passed today in the House of Commons severely limits the level of military action which can be undertaken by UK forces. The government is not proposing that any military action within Syria will be undertaken. If the Government was to subsequently propose UK Military action in Syria this would require the Government to seek endorsement from the House of Commons in a separate motion. I would also urge that before any military action takes place in Syria that a Resolution would have to be passed by the UN Security Council.

I also accept that air strikes in themselves are not solutions to the existence of IS. Air strikes have and may curtail the advancement of the group and provide the ability for regional organisations and bodies to both defend themselves and to recover territory from IS. Any long term solution depends on the actions of those organisations and adding troops on the ground to this mix would almost certainly make such solutions less achievable. 

Vote on air strikes against IS in Iraq

As you are no doubt aware, on Friday Parliament voted on whether to approve air strikes against IS militants in Iraq. 

You may have read the recent article about me on the Mail Online which stated that I was calling on the Government to ban private car ownership.

I have never thought and do not believe that individual car ownership should be banned. I was asked to write an article for the Guardian which explored long-term, future scenarios in transport policy. In the article I said that we need massive investment in public transport and a modal shift to cycling and walking. I also said that in the long term people might lease cars or use car clubs rather than predominantly pre-purchasing vehicles.

The Mail Online then published two articles which (amongst other spurious claims) stated that I was calling on the government to ban private car ownership. This article selectively quoted from the Guardian article, taking my initial thoughts wholly out of context. 

Following a complaint by me to the editor of the Mail Online, the website has now amended the articles and has removed some of the worst of their claims. There is still much to disagree about in articles but at least the Mail Online have acknowledged that the article is its previous state was misleading.

MPs such as me who have campaigned on green issues are regularly targeted by the right-wing media. Although their smear tactics are unpleasant, I will certainly not be silenced on the issues that I am passionate about and I will continue to stand up for what I believe in. 

 

Daily Mail climb down on future of transport article

You may have read the recent article about me on the Mail Online which stated that I was calling on the Government to ban private car ownership.

I’ve spoken to many people in Southampton who have told me that they are struggling to cope with the hated bedroom tax, introduced by the Tories and Liberal Democrats in Westminster. In the South alone over 33,000 people have been affected.

This is a policy that unfairly hits hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people, such as those with disabilities or who are carers, and it threatens to cost more than it saves which is why the next Labour government will abolish it.

The Liberal Democrats have repeatedly backed the Tories to keep the Bedroom Tax in place and have refused to join previous Labour attempts to scrap the policy. Yet today the Liberal Democrats joined me and other Labour MPs by voting against their own policy in Parliament.

Unfortunately this vote will not abolish the bedroom tax, as Labour will do if elected next year, but it is a step in the right direction and a glimmer of hope for many.

The Labour Party has been clear and consistent in its opposition to the Bedroom Tax. It is an unfair and unworkable policy that causes misery to hundreds of thousands of people by forcing them out of their homes, most of whom have nowhere else to move to.

I’m glad the Liberal Democrats voted with us today but sadly it’s come too late for the thousands of people who've been forced into debt as a result of the Bedroom Tax and thousands more who have been forced to rely on food banks to survive. The truth is you can’t trust a word that Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats say.

The only sure way to get the Bedroom Tax repealed will be to elect a Labour government next year.

 

Misery of the Coalition's Bedroom Tax continues despite vote in Parliament

I’ve spoken to many people in Southampton who have told me that they are struggling to cope with the hated bedroom tax, introduced by the Tories and Liberal Democrats in...


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