“In the House: Nicky Morgan MP on Britain’s air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq”
(Courtesy of Leicester Mercury)
“I am writing this column having just heard the opening speeches by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons debate on whether or not Britain should take part in the air strikes being carried out in Iraq against ISIL.
I sincerely hope that by the time this column is published the House of Commons will have given their backing to the motion before the House and supported the request by the Iraqi Government for Britain to help with efforts to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.
Both Party Leaders made it very clear that this is not a war on Islam. ISIL are a group of murderous, barbaric terrorists who offer a perverted version of Islam which has nothing to do with the vast majority of Muslims living in the UK and around the world. The public condemnation of the threats to UK hostages by groups such as the Federation of Muslim Organisations is welcome and important. And President Obama specifically mentioned the “Not in my name” campaign which is organised in the UK.
At its heart every Government and, I believe every Member of Parliament, believes that our fundamental duty is to keep the British public safe – more often this means pursuing policies such as ensuring we have a strong economy, good jobs, well-run public services and a proper welfare system.
But sometimes that duty has to be taken very literally. ISIL threaten, directly, the people of Britain. As the Prime Minister has just said – inaction is not an option and Britain cannot just “walk-on by” in the face of this threat.
However, military action and air strikes in Iraq are not our only response to this threat. As well as taking tougher action against our citizens who go to join the terrorists, the UK is the second largest donor of aid in the region to support those dealing with the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the region – including in Syria.
We are also conscious that there is work that can be done to stop our young people, particularly young men, from being radicalised to such an extent that they then threaten the security of the UK. It is essential that we are clear about the fundamental values which every school should be teaching its pupils. Malign influence can start very early and having a common heritage and understanding of fundamental British values such as democracy, the rule of law, mutual respect and tolerance is extremely important. We might feel it isn’t very British to talk about our core values – but we need to overcome that feeling and be clear about why they matter and what they are.
Next week will see the final Conservative Party Conference before the May 2015 General Election. It will be my privilege to speak from the main platform as Secretary of State for Education. Our conference will make it clear how this Government has tackled the problems we encountered in May 2010 in our country, what steps we have taken to secure a brighter future for everyone in Britain but also what more we would like to do and why we need a majority Conservative government to achieve these aims.”