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House of Commons 10 November 2014

 

I am very honoured to be asked to speak at this event to commemorate the tremendous Sikh contribution to the allied war effort during World War 1.

 

As Remembrance Sunday was observed around the country yesterday there was a special poignancy on this, the one hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of World War 1.

 

The millions who have flocked to see the poppy display at the Tower of London are testament to the enduring debt we owe to those who fought in World War 1.  They gave their today that we may enjoy our tomorrow.

 

The scale of the Sikh contribution bears laying out.  Of the 161,000 troops of the Indian Army, 35,000 were Sikh. 

 

From a community making up just 2% of the Indian population they made up around 22% of the army.  By the end of the war 100,000 Sikhs had joined up.

 

And their contribution on the battlefield was legendary.  Ypres. Flanders.  The Somme.  Gallipoli and many others.  These places and names which have passed down through the years as defining battles of the war were arenas of brave Sikh sacrifice and fighting too.

 

In this year, the 100th anniversary of the beginning, we honour their memory and their sacrifice.

 

Earlier this year I took my young son to the Imperial War Museum and we looked at the special exhibition to mark the centenary of World War 1.  He is only five and of course as yet does not fully understand about war and what it means.  And as a parent we also sometimes want to protect children from understanding some things before they are ready.  Children’s innocence is precious and we should always be careful with it.

 

But I tried to explain to him gently why 2014 was important and about the World War that had begun 100 years before.  I was pleased to see as part of the exhibition a special section devoted to the Sikh contribution.  I also explained to my son how brave the Sikhs were and what a record they had as a fighting force in the army.

 

And as an MP representing a constituency with a large Sikh population, I know this anniversary is of huge importance to the Sikh community today.  It is a source of pride and of course of reflection on the many young lives cut short by war.  Of what they gave and of the futures they may have had.

 

They did give their today that we might have our tomorrow.  We honour their memory, their sacrifice and the brave record of the Sikh contribution to World War 1.

Speech by Pat McFadden to House of Commons event to commemorate the Sikh contribution to World War 1

House of Commons 10 November 2014   I am very honoured to be asked to speak at this event to commemorate the tremendous Sikh contribution to the allied war effort...

With constituent Darso Devi

I was delighted to be invited to the official opening of Jaguar Land Rover's all new Engine Manufacturing Centre in Wolverhampton.
 

 

Opening of JLR Engine Manufacturing Centre

With constituent Darso Devi I was delighted to be invited to the official opening of Jaguar Land Rover's all new Engine Manufacturing Centre in Wolverhampton.   

As the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries struggle to put together a strategy to combat Isis the question arises, has the West lost the will to implement the Powell doctrine of overwhelming force and is it by default reverting to the Vietnam doctrine of escalation in steps, with the danger that the steps are not big enough or decisive enough?

The question matters because the decision to engage in military action In Iraq and (for the US) Syria has been characterised as much by what is ruled out as what is ruled in. Haunted by recent long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, both Britain and the US have emphasised at all times their unwillingness to put “boots on the ground”.

What does ruling out boots on the ground mean in practical terms? There should be little doubt that the leaders of both the US and UK would sanction special forces operations to hunt down the Isis killing squad who are beheading innocent hostages if they knew where they were. Those special forces would be wearing boots. And, for a time at least, they would be on the ground.

By talking about no boots on the ground our leaders don’t actually therefore mean no boots on the ground. They mean something that doesn’t look like an army as in the long and visible military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years.

But when we consider special forces, advisers and other means of co-ordinating military action from the air, and the imperative of stopping Isis establishing a caliphate, it is possible that these lines could become more blurred.

Philip Bobbit, the highly respected US author and academic wrote recently that ruling out boots on the ground was a necessary price for President Obama to pay to get approval for the action from the air that he sanctioned.

Perhaps, but two questions arise. First, will the line between what is actually happening and what has become ruled out become more blurred as the action escalates? And if it does, what questions will that raise about honesty and treating the public as adults? Secondly, if the goal is to do serious damage to Isis and impair its ability to act, does the politics of ruling out boots on the ground conflict with the action necessary to make this goal more achievable?

In other words, is war weariness pushing the West back into an unwitting adoption of the Vietnam doctrine of escalation by degree rather than Powell doctrine of using overwhelming force which replaced it?

This article first appeared in Labour Uncut on 7th October. http://labour-uncut.co.uk/

 

THE VIETNAM DOCTRINE AND THE POWELL DOCTRINE

As the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries struggle to put together a strategy to combat Isis the question arises, has the West lost the will to implement...

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