by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

X / Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

I am no expert on Westminster parliamentary procedures, but from what I can gather, Labour have used, or perhaps misused, those procedures in order to maintain their slavish adherence to the Bain Principle which was established many years ago and which, as outlined by former Labour MP Willie Bain, demands that Labour must never agree with the SNP on any policy. I did wonder how their recent conversion to calling for a cease fire in Gaza could be reconciled with the Bain Principle, but now we know.

Of course, there is a lot more going on here, and the most important issue, that of the thousands of deaths in Gaza, has been rather overshadowed by the farce of Westminster procedural customs. Not that Israel and Hamas would have paid much attention to the UK Government, but a vote calling for a cease fire would at least have symbolically put the UK where it should be on the world stage, even if, under those same customs, the Tory Government is not obliged to pay any attention to the vote either.

It also occurs to me that no political commentators flagged this potential issue prior to the debacle in the House of Commons. The texts of the SNP motion and the proposed amendments by Labour, the Lib Dems and the Tories were all available, and all said more or less the same thing but with the emphasis on different aspects of the horror taking place in Gaza. As so often in politics, the arguments were over semantics rather than outcome.

But if, as we now understand, the debate was set aside as an SNP opposition day, why did Labour bother drafting an amendment at all? As has been pointed out, they could easily have proposed their own motion on one of their days for doing so. Instead, they hijacked the SNP motion by allegedly coercing the speaker into breaching the parliamentary rules. Now, I have some sympathy with the Speaker because, on a matter like this, I would have thought that all parties should be able to propose motions for the debate, but it seems that Westminster’s arcane rules mean he should not have allowed this to happen. So we end up with the SNP motion being completely ignored, the SNP walking out, along with some Tories, and Labour congratulating themselves on having got their amendment through while still adhering to the Bain Principle. There are, however, some casualties, albeit not the same as the actual casualties suffering in Gaza. In Westminster, the Speaker’s position now looks almost untenable, while the SNP’s position there must now be in real doubt. Once again, they have experienced being completely dismissed by the Westminster establishment, and many people must now be asking what is the point of them staying there? In terms of advancing Scotland’s right to become a normal, self-governing country, they have achieved nothing in nine years. They may have had some minor successes in things like challenging the unlawful suspension of Parliament, but that was really a solo success by Joanna Cherry, and even then she needed support from other Parties, the House of Lords, and the Good Law Project. But any small successes they have had can be counted on the fingers of one hand, and this latest insult serves as a reminder of just how much contempt Labour has for Scotland. If anything good comes out of this farce, it might just be that more Scots will wake up to the futility of voting for Labour.