Angry anti-war protesters challenged shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn for voting for war outside his surgery in Leeds last Saturday.
Around 50 protesters rallied to show their opposition to bombing Syria.
Ejaz Hussain, one of Benn’s constituents, told Socialist Worker, “Western governments create the problems and we need to stand against them. The West created the Taliban to fight against the Russians—and that backfired. The same thing is happening today.”
Saim came to the protest as he was worried about civilian casualties in Syria. “I’ve seen pictures of children hurt in Syria and I’ve got little ones,” he said.
“The parents in Syria can’t protect their kids. And European governments are closing the gates to refugees while they’re bombing them. It’s almost like they don’t care.”
Benn told protesters he was standing up for what he believed in.
He refused to apologise for the casualties from Labour’s war in Iraq in 2003, which Benn also supported. Instead he said, “I do not regret the fact that Saddam Hussein is no longer in charge of Iraq.”
Benn refused to accept that he was wrong to compare bombing Syria to fighting fascism in Spain during the 1930s.
Protester Mike McGrath said it was “shameful” to make such a comparison. “It shows how politicians are deeply distant from ordinary people like us,” he said.
Another protester, Louie, told Benn, “You’re a murderer and a spin doctor.” He added, “I haven’t seen one protest telling you to drop bombs. I’ve seen lots of protests saying don’t drop bombs. How can you say you represent people?”
Benn replied, “I know there are a lot of people who don’t support the stance I took.”