REBEL Labour MPs considering voting for air strikes in Syria were last night told the bombs would “kill countless innocent people”, spark retaliation attacks – and hasten a second independence referendum.

The arguments were put after opponents of the missions said the prospect of Scotland being dragged into a conflict despite the likelihood of just one or two of its 59 MPs voting in favour of bombing missions raised fresh concerns about the UK’s democratic deficit.

The issue came to the fore in last year’s referendum campaign and describes the state of affairs that UK policies can be imposed on Scotland even if a majority of Scottish MPs oppose them.

“If this motion goes ahead you will certainly get people saying Scotland is being dragged into a costly, unnecessary and indiscriminate attack in which thousands of people will die and which only possibly one of the 59 MPs north of the Border supports,” said senior Labour activist Barrie Cunning.

“I don’t see how it cannot not be a trigger for a second independence referendum which I personally do not want to see.” Cunning, who is branch secretary of Berwickshire Labour Party and is on the party’s approved list of candidates for next year Holyrood elections, pleaded with all Labour MPs to support Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-war stance and not back David Cameron.

“I fear that this could be a car crash for Labour. If Labour MPs give Cameron the support he needs we will be seen again as the party of the establishment,” he said.

“If the Government’s motion is backed by Labour MPs we will see a repeat of the criticisms levelled at us in the aftermath of the referendum that we back the establishment and are not on the side of the people. That will have severe consequences for Labour at the 2016 elections.”

His comments on the democrat deficit were echoed by the Scottish Greens who said the air strikes vote could again underline the flaws in the current political settlement. “If all but one or two of Scotland’s MPs vote against bombing Syria but the motion to bomb is carried it shows how flawed our political settlement is,” a spokesman said.

As anti-war groups lobbied MPs not to back RAF bombing missions over Syria, Labour veteran Tam Dalyell, the former Father of the House and a high-profile critic of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, also intervened.

He said attacks on Daesh in Syria would weaken national security – in contrast to Cameron’s argument in favour of the air attacks that it would make the country safer.

“I am totally against air strikes on Syria,” he said. “Air strikes on Iraq have been futile and counter-productive... of course there will be vengeance,” he said.

“Violence breeds violence. This war will not be a flicker on our television screens, there will be blood all around. When people vote for war, they will vote for the deaths of countless children and old people. When we vote to kill our enemies we will inspire thousands more people to join them.”

He added: “I pleaded with Blair not to go to war in Iraq, and I’m pleading now for the Government not to bomb Syria. Labour MPs who vote in favour may regret it in a year’s time. Some constituency parties will be saying ‘we want a different MP’.”

The votes of Labour MPs who are considering backing Cameron’s air strike plan today are crucial. Without backing from a considerable number of Labour MPs Cameron cannot get the big majority he needs to put the case that the House of Commons is significantly united behind him.

Syrians living in Scotland and the Church of Scotland also added their voices to the arguments against air strikes. “Air strikes are proved to be ineffective so far,” said one 31-year-old Syrian woman from Damascus.