Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Newspaper column 8 July 2015 - The Tunisian tragedy

As we were celebrating local community events here in Cornwall on Friday 26 June, a terrible tragedy was unfolding on a Tunisian beach.   Holidays are something we look forward to and the last thing we expect is for a welcome period of relaxation to be blighted by horror and death.  That this incident impacted a couple from Bodmin only served to bring it even closer to home.

My thoughts and prayers are with Cheryl Mellor as she recovers, and with the rest of Stephen Mellor’s family.  I am deeply sorry for their loss and trust that the support of family, friends and the local community can give them some level of comfort.

When faced with such horror, our immediate reaction is disbelief and then anger; we want to react swiftly and fight back against the enemy, even if that enemy is not easily identifiable.

As a new MP, the responsibility that Parliament has towards the people of this country to make fair and rational decisions has been brought home to me more than ever this week.  I am taking the necessary time and counsel before reaching my opinion on the course of action that the UK should take. 

Of some things I am certain; the first duty of any government is to protect its citizens. We cannot sit back and allow our citizens to be murdered either at home or abroad without standing up and defending our liberty. Secondly, we should respond, but not with a knee-jerk reaction.  We need a carefully thought-through response that will be effective.

There is currently a groundswell of support growing for the UK joining the airstrikes into Syria, but I remain to be convinced that such a move would be effective as a deterrent of future terror acts, but could potentially bring about the suffering of more innocent people.  We need to careful consider whether such a move could serve to escalate, rather than dampen, further attacks against the UK and our people.

There are many factors that need to be weighed in the next few weeks; the safety of our citizens, the impact that any intervention will have to further inflame the situation in the region and the role that our servicemen and women will have to take.  The decision to send our military personnel into harms way is not a decision that should be taken lightly. 

I am very aware of the responsibility of making a decision of this nature. The one thing I commit to do is continue to listen to the views of local people as well as the debate in Parliament and ensure that, if there is a vote, I will make my decision based on what I believe to be right for our country.

My team and I are here to serve the whole constituency and seek to make a real difference to the lives of everyone who needs help and support in any way.

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