There were outrageous scenes in the House of Commons yesterday, and the career of the Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle is now seriously in doubt. 

Yesterday afternoon MPs were due to begin a debate on the SNP's motion calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, which described Israel's actions in the territory as a form of “collective” punishment of the population of Gaza for the actions of Hamas on October 7. 

Yet no matter how atrocious the crimes committed by Hamas might have been, that does not give Israel the right to commit war crimes in retribution, and that is exactly what the government of Netanyahu has been doing. 

Moments before the debate was due to take place the Speaker announced that he was going to break with precedent and allow a Labour amendment to the SNP motion, effectively turning what ought to have been an SNP opposition day debate into a Labour opposition day debate and, due to the arcane workings of the Commons, preventing serious debate on the SNP motion. 

The National: Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle (House of Commons/UK Parliament/PA)

Hoyle's decision was greeted with fury from MPs, and Tory minister Penny Mordaunt gave a special statement where she claimed Hoyle had “undermined” the House of Commons and said the Government would be boycotting the vote on a Gaza ceasefire as a result. 

The shock move meant that the SNP's motion was rendered moot, and since the government had announced that it was withdrawing its own motion calling for a humanitarian pause in the attacks and would ignore the Labour amendment which would now a pass without debate, the entire proceedings were rendered meaningless. 

Hoyle's decision came despite his chief adviser on parliamentary procedure, clerk of the House Tom Goldsmith, warning that allowing the Labour amendment would be a departure from the norm and risked a situation where the SNP motion was not even voted on.  

Goldsmith had warned Hoyle that allowing Labour's amendment would constitute a "substantial breach of the Standing Orders or a departure from long-established conventions". Nevertheless, Hoyle decided to allow the Labour amendment, in doing so pulling the rug from underneath the SNP. 

It later transpired that Hoyle, who had been a Labour MP for decades before becoming Speaker, had reached his decision after meeting with Keir Starmer, who was very keen to avoid MPs being given a vote on the SNP motion as a significant number – including a number of frontbenchers – were likely to rebel and vote for the SNP motion. 

The National: Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer during a visit to Siemens

Starmer deemed the motion unacceptable because it described Israel's destructive and lethal assault on Gaza as the collective punishment of Palestinians for the crimes of Hamas. 

It is widely believed amongst the public in Scotland that Israel is committing war crimes in Gaza and is carrying out an obscene and indefensible mass slaughter and the destruction of civilian infrastructure with the aim of making life in Gaza unsustainable for the Palestinians, yet Starmer continues to provide political cover to a far right Israeli government which has made little secret of its genocidal intent. 

Starmer was desperate to avoid a potentially highly damaging split in his party on an issue on which discontent with the line he has taken is threatening to expose cracks in the united Labour front Starmer seeks to present. 

It is rumoured that he and his team exerted considerable pressure on Hoyle to break with precedent and allow Starmer's face-saving amendment with rumours running rife that Starmer had threatened to replace Hoyle as Speaker should Labour be returned as the majority government following the next general election. 

Starmer has denied he exerted pressure on Hoyle: But he would say that, wouldn't he? Starmer has repeatedly lied before, his words are meaningless now. Starmer has proven he's a nasty and undemocratic authoritarian, every bit as vile as the Tories he claims so desperately to be a change from. This grubby and sordid episode is a foretaste of what we are in for with a Starmer government. 

A cynical and self-serving move 

Hoyle has claimed that he reached his decision out of concern for the safety of MPs who might be confronted by angry protest if they fail to condemn the genocidal actions of the Netanyahu regime. You might think that if a British politician fails to condemn the mass destruction of a civilian population by a government which is armed in part by the UK, then they deserve to become the object of protest, protests which have been overwhelmingly peaceful and law abiding. 

Those MPs who refuse to call out Israel's war crimes are now trying to protect themselves from scrutiny by claiming it puts their safety at risk. It's a cynical and self-serving move. It's telling that Starmer does not show equal concern for the safety of Palestinian civilians. 

The National: SNP Westminster group leader Stephen Flynn speaking during Prime Minister's Questions

The SNP is rightly furious. SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn angrily accused Hoyle of treating the SNP with contempt. He then led the SNP cohort out of the chamber. He took to Twitter to say: "Today should have been about something much bigger, and more important, than all of us. But Westminster did what it always does, and made it about Westminster. The SNP will continue to be a voice for the voiceless." 

Multiple SNP MPs have now called for Lindsay Hoyle to resign his position, and he is facing a no-confidence motion tabled by a Tory MP. A total of 67 MPs (at the time of writing) have so far signed the motion, and Stephen Flynn made a statement in the House saying that the SNP no longer has confidence in Hoyle as Speaker. 

The next 48 hours will see whether the now discredited Speaker can save his skin. 

These twisted and underhand machinations of Westminster are more proof that Scotland will never get a hearing in that corrupt and dysfunctional place.