South Norfolk MP explains support for British airstrikes in Syria

The reopening of Diss museum for 2015.  MP Richard Bacon with Margaret Ecclestone chair of museum . ANL-150315-161532006
The reopening of Diss museum for 2015. MP Richard Bacon with Margaret Ecclestone chair of museum . ANL-150315-161532006

A Norfolk MP who previously opposed several military interventions in the Middle East supported the government’s motion this week to bomb ISIS strongholds in Syria, stating they are a threat that “have to be eliminated.”

Richard Bacon, MP for South Norfolk, was one of 397 MPs to vote in favour of Britain’s airstrike campaign against Daesh, more widely known as Islamic State, at the House of Commons yesterday evening.

This is in contrast to the Conservative MP’s past voting record - he opposed a motion to bomb ISIS targets in Iraq last year, and in 2003, voted against the Iraq War.

Mr Bacon, who lives in Pulham St Mary, said: “As an opponent of previous military attacks on Saddam’s Iraq and on Assad’s Syria, I have thought very carefully about this.

“Neither Saddam nor Assad were recruiting people from Britain to go to the Middle East to train in terrorist camps and then to return to the UK to kill our citizens. But this is precisely what Daesh is doing.

“It is a clear and present danger to us and it needs to be destroyed.

“To those who say that extending the current conflict into Syria would increase the chances of our being attacked, I would reply that we are already being attacked.

“British citizens have been beheaded. British citizens have been machine-gunned while relaxing on a beach.

“Our friends in France have suffered a huge massacre in the heart of Paris and have asked us for our help.

“Daesh would do more if it could. They have to be eliminated.”

Mr Bacon, who is currently serving in his fourth parliamentary term, argued not all of the necessary pieces were in place for “a neat political solution”, but this was no reason not to start.

He also drew an analogy with Britain’s response during the Second World War, despite widespread uncertainty about Germany’s political solution, which he stated had resulted in a “startlingly successful” outcome for Europe.

Mr Bacon added: “There is now a real opportunity to bring together the required global coalition to deliver a military and a political solution

“Anyone who thinks air strikes alone will do the job has simply not understood what is happening.

“But air strikes can make a contribution. Plainly, there need to be boots on the ground and an imposed peace.”

The other representatives for the Diss Express area - Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, and Elizabeth Truss, MP for South West Norfolk - also supported British military action in Syria, which began almost immediately after last night’s vote.

Dr Poulter, a former Health Minister, told BBC’s Look East programme earlier this week: “ISIS presents a clear and present danger to the UK’s security, and if there is a fundamental threat, it is in our interest to strike at it.”