Benn lobbied by campaigners over airstrikes

Anti-war campaigners have challenged Hilary Benn today over his backing for airstrikes in Syria.

Hilary Benn
Hilary Benn

A delegation from Leeds Coalition Against The War took part in a peaceful demonstration at the Shadow Foreign Secretary’s Saturday surgery in Beeston this morning.

It comes after RAF fighter jets targeted another Syrian oilfield during the second combat sortie from the British base in Cyprus last night.

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Typhoons from RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland and unmanned Reaper aircraft were used for the first time last night, alongside the RAF’s Tornados, in an effort to cut off the financial supply to Islamic State, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon confirmed during a visit to RAF Akrotiri.

Benn, the son of left-winger Tony Benn, was lauded for his impassioned speech this week in favour of war.

But campaigners said he had ignored the “overwhelming majority” of local residents by backing bombing and need to hold him to account for help taking the UK into a fourth war in 14 years.

Steve Johnston, the group’s treasurer, said: “The main issue is on behalf of whom did he vote for War? I know there were hundreds of people who implored him to vote against bombing; 274 academics and students at Leeds University wrote to him on the eve of war, explaining why they are opposed. “Clearly the Labour Party is against, 70 per cent voted against; I would say constituents are clearly against.

“Leeds Central covers two major hospitals, three Universities and a big working class area of South Leeds.

“My feeling is the overwhelming majority of constituents would be against bombing.