Labour’s Westminster stitch-up denied the chance for a full and proper ceasefire vote

On Wednesday 21st February, during a moment when MPs should have been focused on calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, the Speaker of the House of Commons chose to break parliamentary rules.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who was formerly a Labour MP, made the unprecedented move of allowing both Tory and Labour amendments to the SNP’s parliamentary motion on its opposition day.

In doing so, he tore up decades of convention and violated his impartiality – and all to save Sir Keir Starmer some political embarrassment.

The SNP had hoped to put a ceasefire in Gaza, one aimed at saving civilian lives, at the top of the agenda, giving a voice to the voiceless during this terrible conflict.

Over 100 Labour MPs were said to have been prepared to defy Sir Keir Starmer and join us in doing the right thing and calling for a ceasefire.

Reports have since emerged that Starmer and his chief whip pressured the Speaker to accept Labour’s watered down amendment, and even threatened the Speaker’s position. And the Speaker evidently buckled to Starmer’s selfish demands.

Why is this so important?

This shameful saga doesn’t simply bring the role of Speaker into disrepute, it places huge question marks over Starmer’s integrity and the democratic processes that supposedly underpin this creaking Westminster system.

Opposition days are intended to allow parties not in government to bring their business to the House of Commons.

A ceasefire in Gaza is a vitally important issue for so many – and people are quite rightly outraged by the deafening silence for months from this toxic Tory government and Labour’s impotent lack of leadership on the issue.

Voters across Scotland, and the rest of the UK, deserve better than this Westminster pantomime. And so do the innocent people of Gaza.

In following Sir Keir Starmer’s orders, the Speaker made a mockery of democractic process and made turned what was the SNP’s right to make our voices heard into a Labour Party stitch-up – all because he wanted to save Starmer the embarrassment of a backbench rebellion.

Westminster last night attempted to make it so that SNP MPs were not getting a say, that our opinions weren’t valid and that our voice needn’t be heard.

But we refused to be silenced by Westminster dirty tricks.

Labour’s fudged amendment – carefully crafted to avoid criticism of Israel’s much maligned military tactics that are costing the lives of innocent women and children – should never needed to have been written.

If Starmer had a backbone he’d have voted for a ceasefire in November last year, when the SNP last gave the House the opportunity.

And to answer the critics – it’s true that a vote for a ceasefire wouldn’t bring one about immediately. But it would ensure the UK lives up to its international obligations and stands by our countless allies who have already taken that principled decision.

An immediate ceasefire

Last night’s farce meant that the Speaker compromised his authority and SNP MPs were denied a say. But most importantly of all, it meant that Sir Keir managed to sweep the crisis in Gaza off the table. There should have been votes last night.

We were glad when Labour finally got to the point where they were ready to back an immediate ceasefire. But thanks to shameless politics of the Westminster circus and the scheming of Keir Starmer, Westminster once again failed the people it is supposed to represent.

This spectacle has robbed the people of Gaza of the focus they deserve, and instead shines a light on how redundant Westminster truly is.

The Speaker’s mistake is shocking enough – but that he was put in that position by the leader of the Labour Party is even more so. He must explain himself; why he chose to play politics with an issue as grave as Gaza, why he thought he had the right to pressure the Speaker and how he can justify Labour’s naked political point scoring during one of the most violent conflicts in the world right now.

This sorry tale speaks volumes

The power and responsibility of the Speaker’s position can’t be overstated. If it can be abused for party political purposes, then the democratic system is brought into disrepute and is vulnerable to naked party political manipulation.

It is clear the Speaker’s position is now untenable and must resign. SNP MPs have made this clear to the Speaker, and the First Minister has called on the Speaker to do the honourable thing and resign.

And Starmer has shown his true colours – he will obviously be no different from the long line of failed Tory prime ministers who abused the instruments of the broken and corrupt Westminster system to dodge their responsibilities.

Of all the issues to play politics with, Sir Keir Starmer chose a ceasefire in Gaza. He chose to abandon Labour’s values and the concerns of voters across this country. He chose to ignore the people of Gaza and put his own political concerns first.

It’s nothing short of shameful.

It’s beyond doubt – Westminster is utterly broken

There simply has to be an immediate ceasefire; 30,000 people have lost their lives, 70,000 have been injured and 1.4 million are trapped in Rafah waiting to be attacked. No amount of political games in Westminster can be allowed to pull focus from that. Yesterday should have been about those people in Gaza and showing the country that our democracy was on the right side of history.

Instead, the Speaker treated the SNP with contempt and Sir Keir Starmer dragged our democratic process into the gutter to save his own skin.

Sir Lindsay’s position is no longer tenable – and the scenes in the House of Commons last night will have wider ramifications for people’s faith in the Westminster ability to deliver a fair democratic process.

The Speaker’s shocking decision is an indictment of just how broken Westminster truely is. Westminster reeks of cronyism, contempt and self interest – so much so that it cannot be fixed.