East Lothian Courier – 26 August 2021


Westminster was focused on Afghanistan last week, as the world has been with the tragedy unfolding there. Sadly, despite the Prime Ministers statement there remains little clarity on the three issues that have arisen from the debacle. They are why we went in 20 years ago, how it collapsed so suddenly and most importantly of all, what’s to be done for the Afghani people, especially those imperilled by the Taliban’s return.

The immediate priority has to be to get as many Afghanis out as possible. But the circumstances aren’t making that easy. There are contact numbers that MPs have been given for UK nationals and also Afghan citizens. If anyone has friends or relatives contact my office and enquiries can be made though it could still take some time.

More worryingly that offers no assurance in what’s an altogether dreadful situation. Pressure must be brought to bear on the Taliban to get as many out as is possible. There’s a moral obligation on the UK to offer sanctuary and the current despicable policy on refugees must be changed. That needs applied both now and in coming years as desperate people will be fleeing for years to come. I’ve been working with Refugee charities to press for that.

An inquiry will be needed as to how this wasn’t anticipated. But there must also be consideration of just what was the purpose of the invasion all those years ago. As with Iraq it was Tony Blair who took us into the conflict. Ostensibly it was to be tackling international terrorism. But that has patently failed and when Osama Bin Laden was finally tracked down and killed he was in Pakistan not Afghanistan.

Those who’ve lost loved ones or have been injured in the conflict are entitled to no less.

I was unable to participate in the debate as I’d been pinged as the term seems to be. Contacted late at night I had a test the following day and the all clear the day after. It was reassuring to see the system operating so efficiently, if frustrating in requiring to self isolate.