East Lothian Courier – 23 November 2023


Gaza was the major issue in Westminster last week. I supported the call for a ceasefire as I have from the very start. The carnage is worsening and the need for an end to the slaughter never more vital. Both families from those attacked or kidnapped by Hamas and from Palestinians suffering in Gaza were there and their testimony heart breaking. The strain etched was also etched on the face of Palestinian Ambassador who has himself lost family. The pain’s on both sides.

But raising Gaza to the ground won’t secure the return the of the hostages and babies on incubators aren’t combatants. What’s happening now’s a war crime. There must be dialogue and the prelude to that’s a ceasefire. A humanitarian pause is inadequate. What are over 2 million Palestinians meant to do. What can they do when their homes and communities have been flattened.

I’m saddened that the motion for a ceasefire failed. But I pay tribute to colleagues especially those who went against their party whip to stand by their conscience. As with the invasion of Iraq some two decades ago the Labour leadership has been found wanting. This time supine not only to the USA but to the Tory Government. Israel needs told to stop this slaughter.

I’ll continue to work with colleagues in all parties to mitigate the horror and seek peace. I’ll also maintain my links with the Palestinian Embassy and with organisations such as Medical Aid for Palestine who do such good work in dreadful and in such dangerous circumstances.

A brighter note amidst the gloom was the Supreme Court’s rejection of the Rwanda policy. It’s heartless and as the court said flouts international laws and conventions. There needs to be an immigration policy, and many may well have to be returned. But every state has an obligation to treat refugees and asylum seekers with dignity and to carry out due process.

The solution’s not to parrot a mantra of stop the boats but providing assistance to lands these people are fleeing whether in securing peace or supporting their economies and societies. That’s also humanity.