I had initially thought that my first column after the referendum would be a reflection on what had happened.
It was a long and sometimes acrimonious campaign. However the level of participation was exceptional and a credit to the whole of Scotland.
I would like to thank the whole team of Labour workers and everyone who contributed to the campaign.
We must now all come together and work to take Scotland forward to a better future.
I look forward with enthusiasm to playing my part in legislating for the further devolution powers promised by the party leaders within the agreed timetable. However, when I called for everyone to accept the clear result and move on, I did not anticipate that we would be turning our attention so soon to a matter of UK military action.
It is hardly surprising that there would be concern about further military action by the UK in Iraq given previous history but this is a totally different situation and has to be considered in the light of circumstances now and the continuing threats and barbaric actions by the so called Islamic State It is far too important for knee jerk reaction or to make party political capital
For those of us with the responsibility to vote as MPs on deploying our Armed Forces there is no graver decision. There is no question that a war has been ongoing for some considerable time in both Iraq and Syria with Islamic State now controlling an area the size of Great Britain including Mosul Iraq’s third largest city. Everyone agrees that they must be stopped but it is a question of how this can be done.
Last Friday Ed Miliband set out the criteria by which we as Labour colleagues assessed the UK Government’s case for action. This is proportionate action with a clear legal base involving six Tornado aircraft from the UK at the request of the Iraqi Government and joins all 28 EU member states, the Arab League and a Regional coalition of Arab States as well as the US who are supporting the action.
Its purpose is to support the Iraqi Army and Kurdish Peshmerga in their ground campaign and does not involve UK ground troops.
I share the deep unease among many in our country about the UK committing military force once again to the Middle East but by this decision we will be supporting action to prevent the foreseeable and certain killing of Sunni, Shia, Kurdish, Christian , and Yezedi Iraqis.
The true parallel here is Kosova and Sierra Leone and the prevention of genocide.
The action is specific, has broad international support and is about supporting a democratic state. It is for reasons of supporting Britain’s national interests and protecting innocent civilians at home and abroad that we supported this action .
It is being taken as part of a wider strategy to promote political stability in the region by the countries of that region and containing the spread of a perversion of Islam throughout the world which is deplored by the vast majority of Muslim opinion.
The Labour Party opposed any UK involvement in Syria at this time as it is an even more complicated scenario and any further pre emptive action must be brought back to Parliament for a further vote.