EXCLUSIVE: Scottish Secretary of State David Mundell explains why he thinks bombing Syria is the right thing to do

David Mundell, Scottish Secretary, with reporter Laura Sturrock
David Mundell, Scottish Secretary, with reporter Laura Sturrock

While he admits that the war in Syria “can’t guarantee a perfect outcome” the Scottish Secretary of State David Mundell still believes that bombing the country is the right thing to do.

Mr Mundell, the only Conservative MP in Scotland who represents Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale, admits that it’s not a decision to be taken lightly - but he says doing nothing is not an option.

He said: “I understand why people are reticent about getting involved with something that they feel doesn’t have a direct relevance to the UK.

“The Iraq war has cast a long shadow and people felt that the facts weren’t truthfully represented at that time.

“That’s why the Prime Minister has gone about this completely differently this time and he’s attempted to present all the facts.

“Seven attacks have already been foiled in the UK and there’s no reason why ISIS won’t plan more.

“I don’t buy the argument that bombing Syria will increase our chances of being attacked - the UK is already a target.

“It’s been a very difficult decision to make, the situation is not straightforward and we can’t guarantee a perfect outcome, but for me the overwhelming factor is we can’t do nothing either.”

He continued: “We are already taking action in Iraq and this is simply an extension of that existing commitment.

“I don’t think we should allow people to plot against our country with no consequences.

“Britain’s equipment capability will allow specific targeting of identified locations and on that basis we could reduce civilian casualties.

“Inevitably there will still be some civilian casualties but this is happening at the moment anyway.

“When ISIS takes over a community in Syria they are killing men, women and children and 130 innocent people were killed in the Paris bombings.”

Mr Mundell acknowledges that bombing alone will not get rid of the so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria’ (ISIS), saying that the UK also needs to have better security and intelligence and the Government is investing in this.

He says the Government also needs to continue to support refugees fleeing the horrors of war and insists that they have a strategy in place to help the post-war reconstruction of Syria.

Mr Mundell also points out that the Government is engaged in the Vienna Peace process, although he admits that will take time, and that the Government needs to act to stop the supply of oil which will cut off funding for ISIS.

He added: “I hope ground troops won’t need to be sent in but we do face real challenges.

“We need to strengthen the capability of local forces such as the Free Syria Army who are trying to overthrow Assad, however these forces are disparate and not trained well.

“There’s no short term resolution, taking one step won’t make everything alright but it’s one step on the road to dealing with our security against this brutal regime.

“There’s an immediate need to address this threat and an exit strategy needs to be deployed once we have eliminated that threat.”

This interview took place at East Dunbartonshire Council Headquarters in Kirkintilloch on Thursday (December 3) the day after MPs voted whether to bomb Syria.

Mr Mundell was visiting East Dunbartonshire as part of a tour of all the councils in Scotland to discuss the implications of the Scotland Bill for local authorities.