by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

It has been an interesting week in the House of Commons, a place which masquerades as the home of democracy.

First of all, we had the Supreme Court ruling that the Tory Government’s Rwanda scheme was illegal, immediately followed by the Tories insisting they would amend the law to make it legal. It will be interesting to see how they do that, considering that once UK law has been changed, international treaties and the ECHR need to be altered. Given that the ECHR is a fundamental part of the Good Friday Agreement, I wonder whether the Tories will be prepared to sacrifice peace in Northern Ireland for the sake of deporting a couple of hundred asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Another alleged Tory achievement was to bring inflation down to less than half of what it was earlier. Rishi Sunak is claiming that he has achieved one of his five key pledges, apparently hoping that the majority of the UK population is so ill-informed or stupid that they don’t realise that he achieved this by doing nothing proactive, but simply waiting until the huge price rises in energy costs were dropped from the annual inflation calculation by virtue of taking place 13 months ago. Now we hear that energy prices are likely to increase significantly again in 2024. Will Rishi Sunak accept responsibility when inflation leaps up again? Somehow, I doubt it.

But the big news of the week, unless you are part of the Scottish media which is obsessed with a bill run up on an iPad by a Scottish Government Minister, is that nearly 60 Labour MPs defied Sir Kid Starver and voted to call for a cease fire in Gaza.

Now, it must be said that the vote really didn’t matter in the overall scheme of things because neither Hamas nor the Israeli Government was ever going to pay much attention to what was voted for in the House of Commons. It must also be acknowledged that Hamas, who have vowed to destroy Israel, are unlikely to observe a cease fire even if the whole of the world agrees that it is necessary. However, the vote was symbolically important in setting out the stance of the UK Parliament, and anyone who argues against stopping the slaughter of innocent civilians, including women and children, really needs to take a good look in the mirror. Whether those civilians are Palestinians or Israelis is beside the point. Anyone with a modicum of humanity must want the killing to stop.

As is becoming normal these days, Sir Kid Starver decided to side with the Tories. Some of his MPs showed a bit of backbone and voted with their conscience, earning them the sack if they were on the front bench. It may have been a symbolic vote, but Starmer has symbolically demonstrated his lack of humanity. He may be trying to present himself as a statesman, but even he must have known that the result of the vote would make no difference to what is happening on the ground in Gaza, so why not vote to call for a cease fire? Instead, he’d rather align himself with the USA and the Tories. That, in my view, was reprehensible.

Naturally, the media in Scotland was happy to headline the result as a defeat for the SNP, and it was interesting to note that even the Newsagents Podcast kept referring to the call for a cease fire to be the SNP amendment. That was technically correct, but the media do love to portray things as being SNP this or that, and to claim that the rebel Labour MPs were voting with the SNP as if that was a bad thing. It really shouldn’t have mattered which Party called for a vote supporting a cease fire, wanting to stop innocent people dying should surely be the most important issue. Sadly, as so often, the UK media managed to drag it down to a Party political level as they tried to portray the SNP’s call as somehow being less than humanitarian. And don’t get me started on Jackie Baillie’s claim that, by calling for a cease fire, the SNP were playing Punch & Judy politics. I’m not even sure what that means except that it shows Jackie Baillie is happy for people to die if it means she can score a cheap point against the SNP. Since when was wanting to prevent people dying a sign that you are playing at politics? Quite frankly, I found her comments extremely distasteful.

Finally, I must mention MP Michael Shanks, recent victor in the Rutherglen & Hamilton West by-election. He made a great play during his election campaign of being a new voice for Scotland, who would not kow-tow to Westminster Labour. Yet, at this first opportunity to demonstrate that his thinking is in line with the majority of Scots, he immediately followed the official Party line and refused to vote for a cease fire. I do hope the voters of Rutherglen & Hamilton West were paying attention to his decision. Labour’s Scottish Branch Office Manager, Anas Sarwar, was almost certainly paying attention. You’d think by now he would have realised that his views are unimportant to Westminster Labour, yet still he clings to the ridiculous claim that he runs an independent Party.

So there we are. The Tories can get away with callously deciding to change the law as long as it allows them to persecute helpless refugees; Labour can refuse to do the right thing from a humanitarian perspective; but it’s the SNP who are bad for wanting to stop innocent people being massacred. The UK really is a weird place. It’s long past time that Scotland left this Ruritania and became a normal country.