The Vote for a ceasefire in Gaza and the shameful events that followed show Westminster is now utterly broken.

This should have been the chance for the UK Parliament to do the right thing and vote for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and Israel – instead, it turned into a Westminster circus.

It is a disgrace that Sir Keir Starmer and the Speaker allegedly colluded to block Parliament voting on the SNP motion for an immediate ceasefire and against the collective punishment of the Palestinian people. More than 29,000 Palestinian children, women and men have been killed – and huge swathes of Gaza have been obliterated while Westminster equivocates.

People in Gaza and Israel, and voters in Scotland, have been badly let down – they deserve so much better than this. So what rattled Westminster and its MPs? And how did the Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, find himself at the centre of the furore, As the third largest party in the Commons, the SNP is entitled to just three opposition days in parliament every session – letting them pick the topic to be debated on the floor of the chamber. As the official opposition, Labour gets to control most of these days, but on this occasion, the day’s business was set aside for the SNP.

Wednesday was one of those days, and the party chose the Israel-Hamas war, laying down a motion calling for an “immediate ceasefire” in the Middle East. This has been a long-held position of the SNP, so the proposal came as no surprise.


But it did lead to mounting pressure on the Labour Party to shift its position – which had, until this point, echoed the government’s calls for a “pause” – as the last time a ceasefire vote took place, there was a raft of resignations from their front bench So, on Tuesday – and after days of speculation – shadow foreign secretary David Lammy announce that Labour would be putting forward its own amendment to the motion, calling for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire”.

There were still caveats in place, including ensuring both sides laid down their weapons and that all the Israeli hostages were released, but it was seen as a big shift for Labour. Come Wednesday, the stage was set for the debate – but little did we know about the chaos that was coming The Government had also proposed its own amendment emphasising support for Israel’s right to self-defence in compliance with international humanitarian law and highlighting and condemning the slaughter, abuse and gender-based violence perpetrated on October 2023

At the start of a debate on a motion, it is down to the Speaker to decide if any amendments to it can be debated and voted on. But parliamentary convention says that if the motion has been put forward by an opposition party, like the SNP, it cannot be amended by another opposition party, like Labour – only by the government.


Despite anger from his clerk, and feathers being spat by a number of MPs, the Speaker decided that both the government and Labour’s amendments to the SNP’s motion could and would be voted on, claiming he wanted to give the House as many options as possible when debating such an emotive topic.

Conservative MPs accused the Speaker – a Labour MP before taking on the role – of making an “overtly political decision” to help Sir Keir Starmer fend off a rebellion from his own MPs, who could back the SNP motion without a Labour alternative to support. Then came a curve ball from the Tory Leader of the House, Penny Mordaunt, who decided to pull the government’s amendment from the floor. She announced her party would “play no further part” in proceedings in protest at the actions of Sir Lindsay – something she claimed “undermined the confidence” of MPs in the House’s procedures. And with that amendment gone – and Tories abstaining from any votes – Labour’s amendment was able to pass without a vote.

But that meant the original SNP motion had been changed to Labour’s form of words, and the Scottish MPs never got a chance to vote on their own proposal, leading to fury from their benches.MPs from the SNP and the Conservatives staged a walkout in protest to what had played out and demanded Sir Lindsay come to the Commons to explain himself. And eventually, he did, apologising to all sides over what had happened. The Speaker reiterated his earlier justifications for selecting the Labour amendment, saying he had been trying to ensure all options were on the table for MPs to vote on – as well as protecting MPs’ safety.


“I thought I was doing the right thing and the best thing, and I regret it, and I apologise for how it’s ended up,” he said. “I do take responsibility for my actions.” But Tory MPs were heard shouting “resign” throughout his apology, and SNP leader Stephen Flynn said he would “take significant convincing” that his position was “not now intolerable”.

This Motion was far too important to be playing Party politics with and now shows Westminster no longer has time for Scotland.