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Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:03 pm on 16th April 1986.

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Photo of Mr Neil Kinnock Mr Neil Kinnock Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 4:03 pm, 16th April 1986

This House is united and firm in its view that terrorism is evil and cowardly and a completely unjustified and unjustifiable way of advancing any cause, whether it be political, religious, or any other cause. [Interruption.] The question before the House today, therefore, is not one of competitive loathing for Mu'ammar Gaddafi or any other supporter and sponsor of terrorism. It is not a question of who hates terrorism the most. The real question is not how we describe terrorism but what we do about it.

Faced by the terrorist menace which has emanated from Libya and many other countries over past years we must answer the question, what is the effective response to be made to terrorism and terrorists? The effective response is what today's debate is and should be about, because it is the benchmark against which we have to judge the actions of the President of the United States and our own Prime Minister and because it is the only way to answer the question of where we and our allies, on both sides of the Atlantic, go from here. Therefore, we must judge the President and the Prime Minister on the effectiveness of the action which they have jointly taken.

The purpose of the bombing raid on Tripoli and Benghazi on Monday night was said by President Reagan to be to bring down the curtain on Gaddafi's reign of terror. I do not believe that anyone can seriously believe that that objective has been or will be achieved by bombing. The use of such force does not punish terrorism. The use of such force will not prevent terrorism. Indeed, the use of such force is much more likely to provoke and expand terrorism. In any case, the strategy of using military force for the purpose of teaching Gaddafi a lesson is fundamentally flawed for, as the Daily Telegraph said this morning, it presumes a degree of rationality in Tripoli about cause and effect, which is palpably lacking". There are some who would say that the evidence—[Interruption.]