‘I don’t want my daughter bombed to bits’: Anti-war protestors urge Chuka Umunna to vote against Syria strikes

Angry anti-war protestors staged a protest outside Streatham library this week in a bid to convince MP Chuka Umunna to vote against bombing in Syria.

The protest was organised by Streatham resident Jim Brann after he claimed Mr Umunna failed to respond to his enquiry about Syria, which he sent on October 28.

Mr Brann, along with fellow Stop The War Coalition campaigners, are urging Mr Umunna to vote against bombing Syria.

He said: “Issue number one is the potential bombing of Syria. The second issue is that I contacted Chuka Umunna four weeks ago but have heard nothing back.

“I know he has received at least two requests to talk to him about Syria, and both of us have not heard a response.”

Mr Brann and many of the other protestors argued that in failing to engage with their concerns the Labour MP is contradicting comments made in a BBC Radio 4 interview last week.

don't bomb syria placardPLACARD: The message to Mr Umunna was to vote ‘no’ against Syria strikes

Mr Umunna argued that MPs should be granted a free vote on how to respond to ISIS in Syria.

He said: “Each individual MP has a mandate from those who elected them, we are primarily representatives of our constituents.”

Constituents are informed by an automated email response that it may take up two weeks to reply, however according to mySociety’s MP Responsiveness League Table 2014 Mr Umunna was ranked 611 out of 653 MPs for responsiveness.

His ranking the year before was even lower.

With David Cameron urging MPs to back military action in Syria in the House of Commons yesterday, and a parliamentary vote expected within weeks, protestors want to ensure Mr Umunna takes their views into consideration when he votes.

anti-war protestor campaigning
CAMPAIGNING: Protestors speak to members of the public to share their views

Campaigner Bahar Hynes, from Wandsworth, said: “I think his decision on Syria is going to decide the debate.”

Ms Hynes, who is originally from Turkey, said that people should exercise their democratic responsibilities.

“Everybody should write to their MP and express their opinion,” she said.

Several protestors argued that if Mr Umunna voted to bomb Syria it could put constituents at risk.

Rahul Patel said: “I don’t want my daughter to be bombed to bits.”

Herne Hill resident Gemma Guerrero was at the protest with a hand-painted sign along with her two-year-old daughter Mia.

Ms Guerrero said: “I’m unhappy because Chuka Umunna has a duty to respond to his constituents.

“He should take time to meet with us and listen to our views.”

After an hour of holding banners and handing out flyers, the protestors were met outside the library by two case workers from Mr Umunna’s office.

anti-war protestor dont bomb syriaPROTEST: Members of Stop The War Coalition staged a demonstration outside the library

The case workers, who had been holding a weekly drop-in advice surgery in the library, said they were unable to respond directly to questions on Syria as their job was to provide advice on housing and welfare to constituents.

When asked by protestors when they would hear from Mr Umunna, case worker Pippa Bore said: “I am sure you will get a response.”

The protestors then made it clear they would be happy to meet with Mr Umunna so they could discuss the issues.

Mr Umunna voted for military action against ISIS in Iraq in September 2014, but in August 2013 he voted that certain requirements should be fulfilled, including a vote of the UN Security Council before any military involving UK forces.

anti-war protestor banner chuka umunnaDEMO: Campaigners held hand-painted signs outside the library to voice their opinions

Mr Umunna said in his letter to constituents: “I do not have a blanket objection to military action.

“I believe there are cases where military action is both right and necessary.”

Stop the War launched a campaign to lobby MPs to vote against any move in parliament for the UK to join in the bombing of Syria and says thousands of people have written to their MPs using Stop the War’s online lobbying tool.

The group is organising a mass protest tomorrow to oppose the bombing of Syria, several days before a vote is expected to place in parliament on military action in Syria.

Mr Umunna’s spokesman said that all constituents who have contacted him about military action in Syria have now received a reply.

He said: “The ongoing situation in Syria and possible UK military action against the so-called Islamic State is extremely serious and Chuka will continue to listen and reflect on all the views put to him.

“The decision on UK military action is a matter of conscience, and Chuka will make his decision primarily based on what he believes is in the best interests of our national security; he also will take in to account what is most likely to assist the plight of the Syrian people and lead to a resolution of the conflict.”

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