Wales politics

Syria air strikes: MP surgery cancelled over protest

Stephen Doughty

A Labour MP who backed air strikes on Syria has seen his Friday surgery for constituents called off over plans for an anti-war protest.

Stephen Doughty, MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, said managers of Moorland Community Centre in Splott cancelled it amid concerns for other visitors.

He said he offered to meet protesters away from the venue, with no reply.

Stop the War Coalition said it was keen to ensure other day-to-day activities at the centre were not obstructed.

Mr Doughty said the cancellation was a shame for people who needed to see him.

Writing on his website, Mr Doughty said: "Although I have no issue with the protesters making their case, the staff at the centre were understandably not at all comfortable with a protest picket taking place outside a venue that caters specifically for older and vulnerable people.

"The wellbeing of the centre users must be the main consideration and I fully understand their decision."

A Stop the War spokesman said he welcomed Mr Doughty's decision to meet with constituents about the intervention in Syria, adding: "However, this argument should also be aired in public."

Mr Doughty and three Welsh Labour colleagues - Chris Bryant, Wayne David and Susan Elan Jones - joined the 11 Welsh Conservative MPs in voting for air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria in a Commons vote earlier in December.

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Media caption'Compelling case' - how Stephen Doughty defended his support for air strikes

He said: "Regrettably therefore, the surgery has had to be cancelled - and I sincerely apologise to any constituents who had planned to visit me there to seek assistance. They can of course contact my office to make alternative arrangements.

"I offered, in public, to meet with the protesters away from the surgery so as not to cause disruption to the Moorland centre and to those constituents who planned to attend - but the organisers did not respond.

"It's a shame that this will now have a knock-on effect on people who might have needed urgent assistance."

A total of 66 Labour MPs from across the UK backed the extension of military action, despite the opposition of their party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Doughty defended his decision to vote for air strikes, saying he believed "the first responsibility of government and the opposition is to defend the national interest, and meet our international obligations".

"These issues go well above internal party politics, and cross party political lines," he added.

The day after the vote, Mr Bryant told the Commons many MPs had been subjected to abuse and intimidation for their views on air strikes.

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