War and/or Peace

Scotland didn’t have to be at war today. Granted, the situation would be different if we were independent already, and we don’t necessarily know what it would have been. But we didn’t have to be.

I’m not going to get into the arguments for or against military action against IS – there are arguments on either side, and I wouldn’t pretend to be an expert on the situation. In fact, I’ll openly admit that I probably know less about the current situation than a large proportion of the population.

If we’d voted Yes last week, could the UK Government have sent Scottish air force personnel to bomb IS targets? The legitimacy of the whole thing is already questionable, but how would that have panned out, using the defence forces and people of a soon-to-be foreign country?

But we are at war. Again. As part of the nation which throws itself into every conflict it can, more than any other in history. Having accidentally seen a ‘Britain First’ post on the subject yesterday, it’s clear that some are almost dripping with ‘pride’ at the thought. Imbeciles, every one of them. War is the ending of people’s lives, not a game.

The question people in Scotland should be asking themselves isn’t whether or not ‘Islamic State’ is a legitimate target. It should be why did we not take the opportunity to make up our own minds?

An independent Scotland could contribute to international missions, but would it not be better if we actually had more of a say, and had a greater ability to more directly hold our politicians to account if we feel they got it wrong?

It’s unlikely that many pilots will die over Iraq and Syria over the coming weeks and months – such is the nature of modern warfare these days. Fly in, bomb, fly out again – no matter how much backing IS does or does not have, they don’t have the same level of technology as the Western powers. They may take down one or two jets, but it’s effectively shooting fish in a barrel for the UK, US and others. And that’s the kind of wars we are taken into – not the places where our troops and hardware would actually be pushed to the very limits, but the areas where we can get in, use loads of ammunition, get out again in one piece and then order more bombs, missiles and bullets.

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The sad truth is that modern warfare, for countries like the UK and US in particular, is more about boosting sales of military hardware and keeping the arms trade happy than it is any more noble, human reason. If it wasn’t, why are our troops only ever involved in certain conflicts when there are loads of other crises around the globe that could warrant intervention, if an interventionist stance is what your government claims to have? But those are further away and probably harder – let’s just stick to the ‘easy’ ones…

Anyway, I’m not arguing for or against the current military operations, rather highlighting the situation we find ourselves in now, after Friday’s vote in the House of Commons.

I’ve broken down the vote below, and invite you to make up your own minds on where we are…

For:
Con: 276 (91 .1% of party)
Lab: 190 (74.8%)
LD: 48 (85.7%)
DUP: 8 (100%)
Alliance: 1 (100%)
Ind: 2 (n/a)
TOTAL: 525 (82.2%) [includes 2 tellers, minus 1 active abstention]

Against:
Con: 6 (2%)
Lab: 24 (9.4%)
LD: 1 (1.8%)
SNP: 6 (100%)
SDLP: 3 (100%)
Plaid: 2 (66.7%)
Green: 1 (100%)
Respect: 1 (100%)
TOTAL: 44 (6.9%) [includes 2 tellers, minus 1 active abstention]

Abstentions:
Con: 21 (6.9%)
Lab: 40 (15.7%)
LD: 7 (12.5%)
Plaid: 1 (33.3%)
Ind: 1 (n/a)
TOTAL: 70 (10.9%)

——

Results for the 59 MPs representing Scottish seats:

For:
Con: 1 (100%)
Lab: 23 (57.5%)
LD: 9 (81.8%)
Ind: 1 (n/a)
TOTAL: 34 (57.6%)

Against:
Lab: 5 (12.5%)
SNP: 6 (100%)
TOTAL: 11 (18.6%)

Abstentions:
Lab: 12 (30%)
LD: 2 (18.2%)
TOTAL: 14 (23.7%)

——

UK totals minus Scottish votes [580]
for: 491 (84.6%)
against: 33 (5.7%)
abstentions: 56 (9.6%)

Here are those percentages again, for comparison…

Scotland
for: 57.6%
against: 18.6%
abstentions: 23.7%

Rest of the UK
for: 84.6%
against: 5.7%
abstentions: 9.6%

So Scottish MPs still voted to go to war – I’m not disputing that. But it was on a very significantly reduced majority of 57.6% compared to the rest of the UK’s 84.6%. Four fewer votes and Scotland would not have voted for it. Four.

Votes against are also significantly different, with over three times more in Scotland than rUK. Similarly, the abstentions are significantly higher amongst Scottish MPs, more than doubling.

What I find rather interesting is that it’s not just the SNP MPs who made those figures so dramatically different – Labour’s Scottish MPs voted considerably more cautiously than their rUK party colleagues. Even the Lib Dem’s did too.

Of course, the situation would be completely different if Westminster politicians were elected using a system of proportional representation too. And would we even be voting for war if we’d voted Yes on the 18th?

Speculative? Yes, of course it is. I’m only highlighting the figures.

You make up your own minds and consider the possibility that we might not now be sending people to kill other people in some far off foreign land – whether that’s the right thing to do or not.