The row on Gaza in the commons yesterday

No party covered itself with glory in the House of Commons yesterday during the debate about Gaza.

We have limited influence as a country on the tragic events in the Middle East: we should be using what we have to work for a fair and lasting peace in which the lives of both Jewish people and Palestinians are valued and protected.

I agree with the Conservative government statement on this, which reads as follows:

  • "Yesterday, we made clear that our position on Israel and Gaza remains unchanged – we are calling for an immediate pause to fighting in Gaza, to get humanitarian aid in and get the hostages out.
  • Israel has suffered the worst terror attack in its history at the hands of Hamas. Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas in line with international humanitarian law but we know Palestinian civilians are facing a devastating and growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. We want the fighting to stop now which is why we tabled an amendment to the SNP’s motion yesterday setting out our position. 
  • We are calling for an immediate pause to get aid in and hostages out, then progress towards a sustainable, permanent ceasefire, without a return to destruction, fighting and loss of life."
There are all sorts of allegations floating around about what parliamentary games various parties were playing yesterday. 

This all took place in the context of a tragic situation which began with despicable attack by Hamas terrorists who tortured, raped and murdered innocent Jewish women and children, and has continued with ghastly consequences for Palestinian and Jewish people alike including the deaths of thousands more innocent people who have become collateral damage in an awful war. I think we all need to remember this.

I am not going to repeat any allegations that the people involved have denied, but the Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsey Hoyle, appeared to confirm that his decision about which amendments should be allowed was driven by concerns about the safety of MPs. The speaker said that he had held meetings with police yesterday about threats posed to MPs, and that.

"I will defend every member in this House. Both sides, I never ever want to go through a situation where I pick up a phone to find a friend, whatever side, has been murdered by terrorists."

"I also don't want an attack on this House."

Sir Lindsay said "the details of the things that have been brought to me are absolutely frightening".

Appearing emotional, he added: "I am guilty because I have a duty of care that I will carry out to protect people. It is the protection that led me to make the wrong decision."

I don't like the idea of threats to politicians either, but what I find absolutely frightening is the suggestion that what motions were put to MPs or how any MP voted might have been influenced in any way by concerns about MP's safety resulting from threats.

If anyone is threatening MPs as a result of how they voted, the answer to that is not to change the way MPs vote, it is to put the people making the threats behind bars.


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