Yet most of what Robin Day rightly and memorably called here today and gone tomorrow politicians did not seem overly concerned about such details, and that has included the Labour leadership, one of whose representatives rocked up on TV this week and declared that calls for an immediate ceasefire were “performative”. Another one arguing in his spare time.
There is nothing “performative”, to use the happy characterisation of another career creep, about wanting to end the death and suffering resulting from pumping the equivalent of more than two Hiroshima bombs into a densely populated enclave, including the use of white phosphorus, and fragmentation rounds, the kind that tear through flesh and amputate limbs.
The Government mindset was no better, as Grant “Spiv” Shapps showed: “Voting for a ceasefire is essentially voting to give Hamas the green light to commit further terrorist atrocities. If Britain had been attacked on October 7, and we knew exactly where the murderers were, would any MP seriously be voting not to go after them?” Did we flatten West Belfast? Away with you.
One Labour MP supportive of a ceasefire found the Tories sniggering at her across the chamber. A few of The Blue Team did, though, vote for a ceasefire, but rather more Labour representatives - 56 of them, including several from the front bench who stood down in order to do so - registered their dissent, along with the SNP, several Lib Dems, and Green MP Caroline Lucas.
One of those Lib Dems was Layla Moran, who had just received the news that one of her extended family had been killed in Gaza. Still, as Philip Proudfoot observed, “Labour’s amendment today calls for a ‘humanitarian pause.’ They’ll suggest it’s ‘sensible’ and aligned with the international community … But EVERY head of the UN humanitarian agencies is calling for a ceasefire … Labour is gaslighting us”. Centro-Sensiblism again.
As for our free and fearless press, the only reason the right-leaning titles even mention the ceasefire vote is because of Keir Starmer’s discomfort in losing several of his front bench team. Their main focus is dishonestly claiming that the Tories’ Supreme Court Rwanda reverse was down to The Forrins.
It’s as if pointless culture wars are more important than the destruction, and mounting death toll, in Gaza. Another example of Palestinian lives not being of equal merit with those of everyone else. What, though, was motivating the Labour leadership to show so little empathy with those being bombed, rocketed and targeted with all those fragmentation munitions?
The Oh What A Giveaway moment came from the singularly unpleasant Luke Akehurst: “There's a certain post-colonial arrogance to British MPs thinking they can tell the elected government of another democracy that it has to stop fighting to defend its people after the worst terrorist atrocities since 9/11. The former mandatory power should stay in its lane”. Two things here.
The IDF is not “fighting to defend its people” by pulverising Gaza into dust and recklessly murdering a five-figure number of civilians. And Two, a vote in the Commons is not an instruction to the Government of another country. It is an expression of solidarity and empathy. It is not an attempt to tell the Israeli Government what to do. Akehurst is indulging in sophistry and spin.
But people like him have the ear of the Labour leadership, for better or worse. People like him who respond to the use of free speech with the mildly threatening demand “Name and CLP?” People who appear to conflate Israel with “The Jewish People”, which the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism calls an anti-Semitic trope. But he believes in Israel, so that’s all right, then.
Meanwhile, more defenceless civilians are being killed and maimed while the Labour party makes the calculation that they’ll win the next election anyway.
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