LAST Wednesday, MPs spoke passionately in parliament about what is happening in Palestine. I wasn’t one of them. I had committed to something else and the vagaries of parliamentary procedures meant I couldn’t do both despite being in the chamber for much of the debate. I was disappointed because I wanted to talk specifically about women in Palestine.

I recently hosted a meeting in parliament arranged by Care International who told MPs that sanitary products are non-existent in Palestine now. Rather they exist but because of the bombardment, they cannot reach the women who need them. I don’t know a woman alive who didn’t, as a teenager, live with the fear that their period would come early and seep through their clothing. Palestinian women are losing their dignity each month to add to the countless other losses. We heard that women are giving birth without pain relief and often without medical care. They told us some are having to do it in the street, among the rubble. Can you imagine? Can you bear to imagine?

So I wasn’t able to speak but the most important thing for my constituents was that the SNP motion calling for an immediate ceasefire be voted on.

What the Speaker of the House then did on Wednesday has sadly destroyed his credibility, called into question his own integrity and abandoned the supposed impartiality of his role. Worst of all, he turned what should have been an opportunity for parliament to stand up and demand that immediate ceasefire and an end to the collective punishment of the Palestinian people into a total farce.

For those still unclear as to what exactly he did, basically this was SNP Opposition Day and we drafted a motion calling for an immediate ceasefire – let’s keep reminding ourselves the ceasefire for Palestinians was the single most important thing that day.

Normal procedure is that the if the Government or the Opposition don’t like what you’re calling for, they will ask the Speaker if they can amend the wording. The Speaker decides which amendment to allow to be debated and voted on and normally he accepts one amendment. On Wednesday, he accepted both the Government’s and Labour’s. Normally, after the debate, he will call a vote on the original motion because it is, after all, that party’s Opposition Day debate, and after that, he will call a vote on the amendment.

In an incredible and unprecedented move, he decided the Labour amendment would be voted on before the SNP one. Why does that matter? Well, first of all, it matters because their calls were for a conditional ceasefire, ours was for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire. But the order matters because if their amendment was voted through, our motion would fall and we would not be able to vote on it. So MPs would be – and we were – denied the chance to vote for an immediate ceasefire.

The Tories then decided they were having nothing more to do with it and wouldn’t be voting at all. So Labour’s amendment was guaranteed to go through.

Their amendment wasn’t so much amending ours, it was more deleting it altogether and replacing it with their watered-down version.

So our motion, our wording, was deleted and replaced with Labour’s wording but because of the changed order of votes, nobody in parliament got to vote on the SNP wording. There were at least 100 Labour MPs set to support it.

Now I understand why Keir Starmer (below) would want to avoid that – even if I am shocked at his involvement – but why on earth would the supposedly impartial Speaker do this, you might wonder. Why would a man so steeped in the traditions, practices and standing orders of the Commons that he becomes furious should we breach them by, for example, daring to clap, take such unprecedented steps to favour one party over another?

The National: LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 19: Labour leader Keir Starmer speaks at the Ukrainian welcome reception at their offices on February 19, 2024 in London, England. The event was dedicated to and attended by Ukrainian families who have been re-housed in the UK,

That is a question I imagine he will be asking himself for quite some time and one I can only guess at.

My guess, however, is based on the fact that almost immediately after he did it, Labour sources were briefing that they had threatened him with losing his job if he didn’t play ball. Let that sink in – they were openly admitting to have blackmailed the Speaker of the House to sabotage an SNP motion on a ceasefire and end to a potential genocide, and he capitulated.

It is common knowledge that Sir Keir Starmer had a phone call with the president of Israel and then decided to meet with Lindsay Hoyle before the debate began and it was clear that the Labour Party were doing everything they could to delay its start. Various shenanigans did indeed buy them a significant amount of time – time that we wanted to spend talking about the people who should have been at the forefront of all of our minds – the people of Palestine.

OF course, all of this resulted in an uproar and people rightly questioning whatever happened to that supposed bastion of democracy. The Speaker then claimed he was doing it for MPs’ safety. That makes no sense but would’ve been more credible had he said that in his original statement.

It also feeds into this narrative where legitimate protest is conflated with violence – which is not just unfair, it’s dangerous. And you can always rely on Paul Sweeney MSP to jump in to try and impress his London bosses but this boy has cried wolf once too often and when Police Scotland had to refute his claims of a mob storming his office, I realised how very different our politics are. But then I also wouldn’t sponsor an arms company to visit parliament while their products are being used in a potential genocide.

Nor would I have used a precious and rare Opposition Day debate to talk about severance pay for government ministers as Labour did recently.

I have nothing left in common with the Labour Party.

I do, however, have something in common with many of their members, particularly those at the Scottish conference last week and some great backbench MPs who wanted more than anything for the UK Parliament to be allowed to vote for an immediate ceasefire and against the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.

We in the SNP and those so-called “rebels” will keep going because none of us want to look back in years to come and be anything other than content that we did everything we could to stop this nightmare. A nightmare we are bearing witness to but that innocent Palestinians are having to live and die through. Keep them in your thoughts.