NO amount of grovelling apologies from Lindsay Hoyle will stop anyone who harbours any last vestige of respect for the House of Commons’ brand of politics from hanging their head in shame this week.

Instead of hearing a clear message that the killing in Gaza must stop immediately the world was left on Wednesday scratching its head trying to work out why one of the worst humanitarian crises in living memory was overshadowed by senseless arguments over points of order and parliamentary process.

It should have been so different. After shamefully sitting on their hands for weeks, Labour MPs were at last looking likely to do the right thing and vote in support of a ceasefire. It had been a long time coming. For weeks Keir Starmer had stymied the chance of such a vote being passed.

As Labour leader, Starmer was simply incapable of coming up with a consistent line on the tragedy and sticking to it. He initially insisted that Israel’s right to defend itself justified stopping water, food and medicine from reaching the civilian population in Gaza.

Then he denied saying that but continued to refuse to call for an immediate ceasefire and deflected attention by following Rishi Sunak’s argument against an “immediate ceasefire” and for something called a “sustainable ceasefire”, a phrase that has consistently defied definition.

It’s impossible to understand the events of this week without understanding how deeply Starmer’s flip-flopping has infuriated many within his own party, particularly those in Scotland who saw its potential to derail the revival in its fortunes which was being forecast.

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Labour’s leader in Scotland Anas Sawar must have felt humiliated his calls for a ceasefire in Gaza were slapped down by his boss.

The SNP are the only mainstream British political party with the moral backbone to consistently call for a ceasefire. It first did so in the Commons back in November, when senior Labour figures urged the party’s MPs not to “undermine” the UK leader in Scotland by supporting it. At that time Starmer faced a significant rebellion when 56 Labour MPs defied him to vote for the SNP’s motion.

There was a very real risk that even more would do the same on Wednesday when the SNP were due to put forward its opposition amendment calling for an immediate ceasefire. Starmer seemed to hint that he backed the immediate ceasefire proposed in the SNP Commons amendment, which was also supported by Sarwar.

But at the last minute Labour proposed its own amendment, adding that the ceasefire should be enacted by Hamas as well as Israel and urging the delivery of “a safe and secure Israel alongside a viable Palestinian state”.

When Hoyle threw precedent out the window and accepted the Labour amendment for debate, he did nothing to bring an immediate ceasefire through any motion passed by Westminster.

The only possible consequence of his decision was that the Labour amendment would pass and the SNP amendment would therefore not be voted on. He can squeal all he wants that the events which subsequently unravelled were not intended but that story makes absolutely no sense.

Hoyle’s action sacrificed Commons unity on the altar of naked party politics and at a stroke quelled the prospect of a significant Labour rebellion by giving its MPs the chance to back an immediate ceasefire without – shock horror – voting SNP and giving Starmer a bloody nose.

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It was the very definition of putting the internal machinations of British politics above the very urgent need to show support for an end to the killing.

Of course anyone pointing out that the SNP have been consistently on the right side of this argument is immediately accused of playing politics. It seems perfectly acceptable to stand against moves to save innocent lives while trying to work out how a ceasefire can be “sustainable”.

It seems perfectly acceptable to accept a blanket punishment on every citizen of Gaza while thousands are slaughtered; perfectly acceptable to pressure the speaker of the House of Commons to ditch the SNP’s motion in favour of a very similar Labour amendment just to keep Starmer happy.

And when the SNP had the temerity to question why the Speaker caved, it was the Scots who were accused of “playing politics”. It was outrageous. Some reports even suggested Labour had gone as far as threatening to replace Hoyle as Commons Speaker if it came to power at the next General Election. It was unprecedented and outrageous.

Despite this blatant power play, the SNP’s leader at Westminster Stephen Flynn had stated he was willing to vote for the Labour amendment. That doesn’t sound much like playing politics to me.

In truth it should have mattered less which amendment MPs voted for just as long as they voted in support of a ceasefire. And in the event that is what they did. But the headlines after the event predictably buried its importance. We did not read of the terrible plight of those trapped in Rafah as Israel threatened to bring a murderous slaughter.

We did not read of thousands more children about to be killed in the name of revenge. We did not read of the “incredible level of desperation” as the UN World Food Programme described the derailment of humanitarian effort to avert a famine in Gaza.

Instead we are supposed to care about the Commons “descending into chaos” or why the Commons was incapable of presenting a sensible portrait of British politicians behaving like grown-ups.

At the same time we are expected to believe Hoyle’s abject apology for the role he played during a day which showed the Commons at its very worst. A role which saw the SNP amendment virtually abandoned by the House of Commons because the Government refused to take part in the vote and Labour’s amendment was ruled to have passed without even a vote.

Even worse, it allowed Tories such as Jacob Rees-Mogg to even cast doubt that the Labour amendment had passed because the result was predicated on the level of noise generated by the aye lobby rather than an actual vote. It was a farce. Hoyle’s apology does not change the fact that the damage is done.

Yesterday morning the top story on the BBC website was “Speaker under pressure after chaotic Gaza vote”. The same story was on the front pages of most UK national newspapers. As usual, there is nothing in the world deemed more important than the puerile politicking within Westminster.

And so it continued yesterday. You can understand Flynn’s fury. He had to listen as Hoyle blamed his decision on vague fears that extremist threats – from Palestinian supporters, of course, who are always demonised by violent rabble-rousers – could have placed Labour MPs in danger if they had failed to summon the wherewithal to vote for an SNP ceasefire motion.

He had to listen as one of Labour’s two Scottish MPs Ian Murray urged radio listeners to celebrate the Commons passing a ceasefire call when he refused to back the SNP’s call for a ceasefire last November.

It was not “playing politics” when Flynn said yesterday that he had lost confidence in Hoyle as Commons Speaker, or when more than 60 MPs sign a parliamentary motion of no confidence.

It’s simply a statement that it is untenable to accept that the supposedly impartial speaker can with impunity act so obviously in the interests of one party. And that statement is correct.