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RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Self-obsessed. Grandstanding. Our political class has lost the plot and tried to make the tragedy of Israel and Gaza all about THEM


To paraphrase the 19th-century historian Thomas Babington Macaulay, there is no spectacle more absurd than the British political class in one of its periodic fits of self-righteousness.

Macaulay was writing about the British tendency to fall prey to ‘sudden gusts of kitschy sentimentality followed by vehement outrage’. He concluded that that it was ‘sinister as well as absurd’.

Though he aimed his remarks in at the wider public, were he around today he could have been describing the ludicrous behaviour in the House of Commons, where he once sat as a Whig MP.

Not for the first time, the politicians have taken complete leave of their senses. They have managed to make the human tragedy unfolding in Israel and Gaza all about them.

It has become yet another tiresome, navel-gazing Westminster Bubble story, an arcane argument about Parliamentary procedure and the future of the Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle.

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle presides over a shambles in the House of Commons yesterday

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle presides over a shambles in the House of Commons yesterday

Goodness knows what the majority of voters make of this self-obsessed grandstanding about a war over which British politicians have absolutely no influence whatsoever.

At best it’s displacement activity designed to distract attention from the fact that none of the MPs shouting about Israel has a clue what to do about the real problems we face here in Britain, most of which have been created by the politicos themselves – mass immigration, rising crime, housing shortages, sky-high energy costs, the failing NHS, poor productivity caused by WFH, an indolent and disobedient civil service, the highest taxes in 70 years, potholes, you name it.

Far too many of them are callously exploiting for their own, selfish domestic purposes the suffering of the Palestinian people and denying Israel’s incontestable right to self-defence by eliminating Hamas.

This cynical showboating is designed simply to make themselves look and feel good, score political points, and — in the case of Labour — to appease militant Muslim sentiment in the run-up to the next General Election.

It is also about craven surrender to the anti-Israel mob. While MPs were squabbling in the Chamber, pro-Palestinian/Hamas demonstrators were massing outside in Parliament Square.

At one stage, the vile slogan ‘From the River to the Sea’, calling for Israel to be wiped off the face of the Earth, was projected on to the side of Big Ben.

As Andrew Percy, MP for Brigg and Goole and Vice Chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel, said: ‘Members will not vote with their hearts . . . they are frightened and they are scared [of] people on our streets demanding death to Jews, demanding jihad, demanding intifada, while the police stand by and allow this to happen.’

This column has been making exactly the same argument since the anti-Semites crawled out from under their stones in the immediate aftermath of the October 7 pogrom, even before Israel responded.

Percy also had the perfect riposte to those MPs demanding an unconditional ceasefire. ‘Nobody in this House has any agency or business in telling the State of Israel where it is able to operate to seek to rescue hostages who are being raped by Islamist terrorists.’

The Boys In The Bubble can pick the bones out of what went on between Keir Starmer and Hoyle in the broom cupboard behind the Speaker’s Chair to their hearts’ content. Was Hoyle blackmailed into ripping up Parliamentary protocol and defying the Clerk’s advice to do Starmer a favour? Frankly, in the scheme of things, who cares?

Hoyle’s excuse is that he was only trying to ensure the safety of all MPs being threatened by pro-Hamas extremists. Given the murder of David Amess by an Islamist headbanger and the hounding of Mike Freer, MP for a constituency with a substantial Jewish population, his concerns are warranted.

Pro-Palestinian protesters gathered at Parliament Square as MPs debated a motion on calling a ceasefire in Gaza

Pro-Palestinian protesters gathered at Parliament Square as MPs debated a motion on calling a ceasefire in Gaza 

For elected representatives and their families to be subjected to death threats in order to influence policy and votes in the Commons is utterly intolerable.

But we could be forgiven for forming the impression that MPs are more worried about their own security than the safety of British Jews being harassed and menaced every day.

Yet rather than confront the pro-Hamas activists head-on, they have chosen to take the path of appeasement and submission.

Labour’s call for a ‘humanitarian’ ceasefire is at least nuanced, even though Starmer has been spooked by events in Rochdale and the rise of Muslim militancy in other constituencies.

The SNP’s stance is shameful. There’s nothing subtle about the Toytown Tartanistas’ effective demand for Israel to surrender.

On Wednesday, the party’s political pygmy leader at Westminster Stephen Flynn ostentatiously read out the latest Palestinian death toll — claimed by Hamas — without bothering to mention the Israeli dead or calling on Hamas to release Jewish hostages.

He then threw his toys out of the pram because Hoyle allowed a Labour amendment to the SNP’s motion calling for an immediate ceasefire.

Scottish voters might ask why the SNP was wasting one of the handful of opportunities it gets to set the Westminster agenda by debating Gaza.

It’s not as if Israel could give a monkeys about the opinion of a humourless, jumped-up former Aberdeen councillor and his sidekick, who once played the piano in the pop group Big Country.

We’re deep in Skibbereen Eagle territory here. That’s the famous editorial in a West Cork newspaper in 1898 which warned the Russian Tsar over his imperialist ambitions: ‘The Skibbereen Eagle is watching you.’

Today, Aberdeen’s Bald Eagle is watching Israel. You couldn’t, etc.

Flynn’s indignation is ridiculous. For a start, the SNP don’t even want to be at Westminster. Their goal is Scottish independence.

He’d have been better employed explaining why the SNP wants to abandon North Sea oil production, in vainglorious pursuit of the Net Zero chimera, crashing the economy and throwing 100,000 Scottish workers onto the dole queue.

This week, Flynn had the opportunity to rail against spending limits imposed by Westminster which are allegedly preventing the Scottish government’s new hospitals programme.

But he’s more concerned with Israel destroying Hamas tunnels under hospitals in Gaza than with building hospitals in Scotland.

Meanwhile, on the streets and in the bien-pensant salons of Islington and beyond, the flood of anti-Israel, anti-Semitic activity swells unabated.

Most Saturdays, Central London is turned into a No-Go area for British Jews. Andrew Percy MP, who converted to Judaism in 2017, said that after a recent visit he now felt safer on the streets of Israel than he did in London.

William Shawcross, author of a report into Islamist extremism in Britain last year, said that many of his recommendations for tackling the threat had been ignored by the Government. Meanwhile, the Prevent anti-terrorism programme prefers to concentrate on the perceived threat from the ‘Far-Right’.

But what are the pro-Hamas anti-Semites on the streets of Britain if not fascists? They might wear fashionable intifada scarves but they are no different to Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts who targeted Jews in the 1930s.

Why is their anger directed solely at Israel’s ‘genocide’ and not at Hamas, or Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China’s persecution of Uyghur Muslims, or Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen?

These genuine extremists are given succour by useful idiots who couldn’t point to Gaza on a map. Prince William’s ill-advised intervention this week didn’t help either.

Speaking of useful idiots, Richard Eden’s diary column this week featured superannuated fashionista Katharine Hamnett filming herself chucking her CBE in the dustbin over Gaza.

She was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with ‘Disgusted to be British’. It was an echo of the anti-nuclear slogan she wore to a meeting with Mrs Thatcher in Downing Street in 1984 at the height of the Greenham Common missiles protests.

Mrs T rightly took absolutely no notice of her vacuous T-shirt diplomacy and Hamnett was reduced to flogging FRANKIE SAYS RELAX and WHAM! merchandise. Wake us up before you go-go, pet.

Nor should anyone take seriously Hamnett’s latest publicity stunt. But it speaks to the stupidity of so many on the agitprop Left in Britain, who wittingly or otherwise have never come across a terrorist they didn’t worship.

Thomas Babington Macaulay would have recognised this ‘kitsch sentimentality’ and dismissed it as absurd.

But the self-righteous shenanigans in Parliament over the past couple of days, and the anti-Jewish hatred being spewed on the streets, isn’t just absurd — it’s seriously sinister.



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