As the drums of war were steadily sounding across Europe, the House of Commons was engaged in debate as to whether we should strike ISIS with increased furore. This was an important decision and members on both sides of the Commons recognised that lives were at stake.
So, it’d be easy to conclude that in a House founded on democratic values, the debates would be reasoned and mature. This was far from the case. Before the debate even began, Prime Minister David Cameron decided to brand his opponents as "terrorist sympathisers" in what I can only imagine was a pathetic attempt to create an ‘us vs. them’ feeling amongst the public.
These are tactics akin to playground bullying; those who oppose air strikes in Syria are tacitly sympathetic to Daesh, so says the Prime Minister. Far from being the people’s PM, Cameron has become the playground PM. Through one arrogant statement, the Conservative leader trivialised an incredibly sombre topic. Moreover, it appears as though Cameron is letting pride come first and he has so far refused to apologise for his ridiculous claim.
However, this flippant way of arguing isn’t just confined to the House and the pro-war side of the debate. Ever since Corbyn’s victory in the Labour leadership election he has developed a very loyal following – but some Corbynites, particularly on social media, attempt to shut down their rivals (particularly on the issue of Syria) at every verse end. Despite the fact that Corbyn has proclaimed that these aggressive Twitter trolls are a disgrace to the party, some still persist. Many Labour MPs who voted in favour of the strikes were met with a bombardment of comments haranguing them as a ‘Red Tory’ or some sort of blood-crazed war monger.
Be they Twitter trolls or the leader of a western nation, contributors to political debate should recognise the value of diversity. The opinions of both sides of a debate need to be heard if sound and just conclusions are to be reached. This is particularly pertinent when the topic being debated is military action. We shouldn’t shut down views – we should listen, debate, and critique. Peoples' lives will be affected, but it seems that many can’t rise above petty name calling when they realise that, shockingly, people may disagree with them.