Members of Parliament are expected to comment, have a view and take action on every issue from potholes to war. We cannot force local authorities to fill in a particular hole in the ground any more than we can will peace into being.
MPs have a certain level of influence on decision makers and other authorities, but backbench MPs as individuals do not have the power to compel action. This is unlike Ministers that make many of the decisions that affect or lives. MPs vote to make and change the law of the land but then use their influence to make sure that outcomes are in keeping with the initial intent and current need.
One of the most difficult areas for MPs is in international affairs. When listening to colleagues from across the political spectrum I am often struck by their almost imperialist tone – their demand that “Something must be done”! Every problem in the world must be solved by Britain and an ever-expanding aid budget or other intervention.
Well, if we see an injustice in a British Overseas Territory, it would be fair for Britain and her Government to act. This is why we intervened to regain the Falkland Island’s following an invasion by Argentina. More broadly, we have to work with friendly countries and those who are not so friendly for the reduction of conflict, the greater good and, of course, national interest.
Some constituents have demanded that I work to carve up parts of India to give to Pakistan. I can guess that most of my constituents across Bolton West and Atherton would think that it is none of my business and that I should be concentrating on domestic matters that I can influence. Other constituents would tell me that they would prefer the status quo in a region where territorial control is currently disputed between India, Pakistan as well as China.
There are many conflicts and crisis that barely feature in my mail bag despite death and destruction on a terrible scale. We only have to look to parts of the Sahel, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Burma. This is aside from internal repression as happens in countries such as Iran and Russia.
The invasion of Ukraine was a global shock. Few expected Vladimir Putin’s sabre rattling to actually result in an invasion and fewer still anticipated the resilience of the Ukrainian people. Obviously, the first state-on-state war in Europe since the Second World War is of great consequence to the British Government and British people. This is not because Russia and Ukraine are two largely or nominally Christian countries but because of the wider implications for conflict in Europe as well as raising questions over the Chinese relationship with Taiwan.
Obviously, a great many people contacted me about the invasion of Ukraine and wanted the British Government to do all it could to support and defend the victim against the aggressor. No one has suggested that Ukraine was attacking Russia or the Russian people so the rights and wrongs of this conflict are simple and clear cut.
Israel, the West Bank and Gaza their peoples’ and history is far more complex and ancient than that of Russia, Crimea and Ukraine – which I know are deep and old - and tensions and violence has been a regular part of life for local people.
Politics, money and power are always the fundamental causes of conflict but religion is often overlayed and there is nowhere with such an involved religious history as this part of the Levant.
Judaism can trace its history in the region for centuries before Christ, and Christianity which in turn came centuries before Islam.
The cultural and religious complexities of this crossroad between Europe, Asia and Africa are immense and the tensions and conflicts that have developed over centuries is something that any sensible person or politician ought to be circumspect about. That is not to say that MPs should not take a view on how to build, maintain or restore peace but we can hardly say that the answers are simple even when those are the answers that are often sought.
The current situation in the region has caused a great many people to write to me to express their concern as well as to inform me of the actions they want from me. The purpose of this and a short series of further posts in the coming days will be to openly communicate to all of my constituents my views and those being debated amongst Members of Parliament.