It was the 14-minute-long speech that stood out in a day that overflowed with rhetoric of varying quality. Hilary Benn’s contribution to the House of Commons’ debate on airstrikes ended in a round of applause from lawmakers on both sides of the chamber a highly unusual display from Members of Parliament. Video after the Cut….
The Labour Party’s Shadow Foreign Secretary spoke towards the end of the more than 10-hour-long debate over whether Britain should extend its military action against the Islamic State (ISIS) from Iraq to Syria. MPs voted after 10:30 p.m. to back David Cameron’s proposal by 397 votes to 223.
Benn’s rousing speech in favour of airstrikes went against party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s earlier call for MPs to reject the move. The Labour Party were given a free vote allowing them to vote with their consciences.
“We are here faced by fascists – not just their calculated brutality, but their belief that they are superior to every single one of us in the chamber tonight, and the people we represent,” he said to a chamber that sat silently listening. “They hold us in contempt. They hold our values in contempt. They hold our belief in tolerance and decency in contempt. They hold our democracy, the means by which we will make our decision tonight, in contempt. And what we know about fascists is that they need to be defeated.”
Benn is reported to have written the speech while sitting in the Commons. It was widely received as one of the best speeches in the House of Commons in years, although others noted that it sounded like the start of a bid for the Labour leadership. Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.