Home / Community / #Dissent: British-Bangladeshi MP Rushanara Ali quits as Shadow Minister over Iraq vote

#Dissent: British-Bangladeshi MP Rushanara Ali quits as Shadow Minister over Iraq vote

British-Bangladeshi Labour Party MP Rushanara Ali has quit as a shadow minister because she was unwilling to vote for British air strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq.

Ms Ali said she, like many other Muslims, were against the “barbaric” acts committed by IS – also known as ISIS and ISIL – but was concerned that military action would make matters worse for the people of Iraq.

The Bethnal Green and Bow MP was appointed a frontbench spokeswoman on education last year, having previously served as shadow minister for international development.

In a letter to Labour leader Ed Miliband ahead of Friday’s vote on Iraq, Ms Ali said: “I understand the case that has been made and will not be voting against the motion. But I am unable in conscience to support the motion and I will make a deliberate abstention.”

Ms Ali said she was most concerned about the lack of a “credible long-term strategy” that would see the Iraqi army ensure the security of the people of Iraq.

She also warned the potential that air strikes might radicalise British Muslims had not been “thought through”.

She said in her letter: “There can be no doubt that the actions of ISIL are horrific and barbaric.

“However, I am not confident that this military action will be effective in the short-term in just targeting the terrorists and not harming innocent civilians.  Nor can I pretend to have any confidence that there is a credible long-term strategy to build up the capacity of the Iraqi army or that the potential impact on radicalisation in the UK has been properly thought through.

“Despite good intentions, too many mistakes have been made over the last decade and far too many people in conflict zones have had to pay a high price for misconceived actions by the UK and other countries.

“I appreciate the sincerity of Members of Parliament from all sides of the House who today support military action against ISIL. I know that British Muslims stand united in the total condemnation of the murders that Isil have committed.

“However, there is a genuine belief in Muslim and non-Muslim communities that military action will only create further bloodshed and further pain for the people of Iraq.”

Ms Ali, who was elected to Parliament in 2010 for a constituency with a large Muslim population, said she was standing down “with great regret” and assured Mr Miliband she remained committed to his leadership and the party. 

In a letter of reply, Mr Miliband praised Ms Ali as “someone with great ability and talent” and said he regretted her departure from his frontbench team, but added: “I respect your decision and accept your resignation.”

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