Sometimes global affairs seem a million miles from our daily lives here in Tameside but I want to dedicate my column this week to the problems in the Middle East.
The world said, after the atrocities in Rwanda and Srebrenica, “never again” – yet it is happening again in a land we have a considerable interest in through our historical and contemporary actions.
ISIS is a hideous organisation. Its terrorists have been beheading and shooting Muslims at point blank, crucifying Christians and burying Yazidi alive.
This has never been something we have ignored before. This is still very much the case.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of historic conflicts in the Middle East, the threat ISIS and their Islamic Caliphate pose to the region and the wider world is very real and very dangerous.
This conflict, like so many others, does not end at any national border. It is a threat to the stability of the region, and it is a threat to our trade routes and wellbeing. We can impose sanctions on rogue states like North Korea. We can hold dictators to account. But when the state system breaks down like it has in Iraq, evil can run amok with impunity.
The cost of that failure is death, destruction and the removal of everything that defines a society.
I am not, by any means, calling for another invasion – I was opposed to the operation in 2003 – but a proper international effort to support Iraq and the people who live there is absolutely necessary to re-establish order. Humanitarian aid, backed up if necessary by air strikes and UN support, is absolutely crucial.
This is why I am publicly calling for Parliament to be recalled. Only the Government have the power to recall MPs to Westminster over the summer. The Prime Minister has, so far, indicated that he will refuse to request a recall.
It is lunacy to ignore groups of Islamic extremists overrunning swathes of the Middle East and committing atrocities that make the Taliban look like amateurs.
We would of course also have the chance to discuss the dire situation in Gaza. We need to ensure we supply aid to help with rebuilding and we need to contribute to a concerted effort for an end to the hostilities. It is just as much in Israel’s interest as it is in the Palestinian interest.
Ordinary Gazans have lost their faith in the international community to deliver them an equitable solution. We need to show that we are actually serious about a two-state solution, and we need a proper discussion in Westminster about illegal Israeli settlements as well as Hamas’ rocket attacks from schools.
Only with a Parliamentary recall can we properly weigh our options as a country and allow our elected representatives to authorise the actions necessary to contribute to an international solution to these dreadful crises. I fear that a vacuum will only be filled by more death, destruction, unnecessary suffering and regional and global instability.