Letter to Alan Mak, MP for Havant on Afghanistan

18 Aug 2021
Paul Gray

"Dear Alan,

I write to you as a matter of utmost urgency, and sincerely hope you will be good enough to put aside any political allegiances and stand with me in calling for your government to revisit its policy of abandoning the Afghan people.

We have all watched in horror as the people of Afghanistan have rapidly seen relative freedom turn into rule by theocracy. And you will have noted I’m sure just how widespread the condemnation is, from all sides of the political spectrum, over this withdrawal. You will note, for example, that I am rarely in agreement with your colleagues such as Tobias Ellwood MP and Tom Tugendhat MP. And yet on a military matter such as this, clearly there is a common humanity we three share, which I sincerely hope you share too.

The plight of women in Afghanistan, if you and I are both absolutely honest, is probably not something which as men in a Western nation we can fully appreciate. What we can however both do is recognise the horror and do all we can to reverse it. It is no exaggeration to say that 20 years of female education, female empowerment, is being thrown away at this very second. It is perhaps the biggest betrayal of Western liberal values I can imagine. If we do not act now, we lose the right to ever claim to be defenders of freedom. We will have shown ourselves, as a nation, to utterly lack any moral fibre. We will expose ourselves as frauds, as angry chest thumpers, with no real commitment to the rights of ordinary human beings.

Let me also draw your attention to the futility of cutting international aid. It is a short-sighted policy born of ignorance. If Afghanistan teaches us anything, surely it teaches us that those who moan most about immigration need to be the first to fund solutions. It is a simple and true logic that less international aid results in greater displacement of innocent people. Never again can it be claimed that those from Afghanistan or Syria, or any other nation currently ruled by a totalitarian regime, are simply making their way to our shores for an easy life. The British public can now clearly see that those who flee do so through fear, not through any desire to exploit anyone or any nation. In a few short weeks there will be more Afghans in Calais. Remember that please, Alan. Remember what they are fleeing and how a civilized nation should respond to that.

To return to my original point, I am calling on you to unequivocally denounce Britain’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. Some of your Conservative colleagues have managed to speak up. Do you have the capacity to be so outspoken?

I do hope to hear from you very shortly.


Paul Gray
Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Havant"

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