Bursting the Bubble Week 7

Should the UK attack ISIS in Syria?

National

  • An SNP motion to stop the renewal of Trident was defeated easily in the House of Commons. The government is in favour of renewing the nuclear weapons system, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn urged his MPs to abstain, as his party has so far been unable to agree on a definite position on the issue. SNP defence spokesman Brendan O’Hara said that the decision to abstain showed Labour’s “moral bankruptcy in the trident debate”, while shadow defence minister Toby Perkins claimed that the SNP were trying to score “cheap political points”. The motion was defeated by 330 votes to 64.
  • The Sun newspaper faced heavy criticism for its headline proclaiming that “1 in 5 Brit Muslims” had sympathy for jihadis. The claim was based on a poll carried out by Survation, but the market research company distanced itself from the headline, pointing out that the poll question simply asked whether respondents had “some sympathy with young Muslims who leave the UK to join fighters in Syria”, which could include people fighting for non-jihadist groups. The Sun’s article also did not mention that 14% of the general population also professed “sympathy” with the fighters, although it did stress that the “survey’s findings show a clear majority of the 2.7 million Brits who follow Islam are moderate”.
  • The chancellor George Osborne read out the Autumn Statement in Parliament. In it he announced that he would abandon planned cuts to tax credits and give the NHS a £3.8billion cash injection, with no real terms budget cuts to education or policing, but a tax increase for buy to let landlords. The statement was less austere than expected due to the Office for Budget Responsibility’s claim that the nation’s finances are better off than previously forecast by £27 billion.
  • David Cameron has promised a “proper” inquiry into claims of bullying in the Conservative Party’s youth wing. The issue was highlighted by the apparent suicide of a young activist, Elliott Johnson. Mark Clarke, once a rising star of the party, has been accused of bullying, harassment, assault and attempted blackmail. He denies all of the allegations and has promised legal action. Former Tory chairman Grant Shapps resigned on Saturday after claims that he repeatedly ignored warnings about Clarke’s behaviour.
  • The debate over whether the UK should carry out air strikes in Syria intensified, with signs there could be a Commons vote on the issue soon. Cameron has made his case to parliament, answering questions for three hours in a bid to persuade MPs to support military action. A Labour shadow cabinet meeting failed to resolve the opposition’s position on the issue but Jeremy Corbyn has made it clear that he cannot support the plans, leading to accusations from within his party that he was “trying to pre-empt” a final decision. Thousands protested outside Downing Street against the potential air strikes, but the French president, Francois Hollande, called on MPs to back action.

International

  • Turkish jets shot down a Russian Warplane near the Syrian border. Turkey claims that the Russian aircraft received multiple warnings after entering Turkish airspace, but Russia says that it was flying over Syria throughout its mission, and never received warning. Russia has been conducting an air campaign in Syria in support of Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad, whom Turkey opposes. The pilot of the aircraft was killed, but its navigator rescued.
  • Donald Trump’s support has dropped twelve percentage points in under a week, according to an Ipsos/Reuters poll. The slump comes after Trump lent support to a plan to create a database on which to register all American Muslims, claimed that “thousands of people were cheering” in New Jersey as the twin towers were brought down, and appeared to mock New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski’s disability. He remains the front runner with 31% support.
  • A man who killed three and injured nine more in a gun attack on a family planning clinic in Colorado Springs said “No more baby parts” as he was arrested, according to US media. Robert Lewis Dear was likely referring to videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, which they say shows that Planned Parenthood, the biggest single provider of abortion in the US, were profiting from the sale of foetal body parts. Planned Parenthood denies this. The CMP were quick to condemn the attack, describing them as the actions of a “madman”. A neighbour of Dear said that “[i]f you talked to him, nothing with him was very cognitive – topics all over the place.”

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