Shanks’s pony falls at the first hurdle

On Wednesday in the House of Commons the SNP tabled an amendment to the King’s Speech calling for an immediate ceasefire in the conflict in Israel and Gaza which by Wednesday evening had claimed almost 13,000 lives, 1200 in Israel and over 11,500 in Gaza, including at least 4,710 children and 3,160 women.

56 Labour MPs including eleven front benchers defied Starmer’s instructions and voted in favour of the SNP amendment. 129 MPs voted in favour of the amendment. Neither of the party’s two Scottish MPs were among them. If it wasn’t for Starmer’s nonsensical position, the Conservatives could have been defeated. . Starmer suffered a major rebellion, front bencher Jess Phillips quit her role in the shadow Home Office team in order to back the ceasefire motion.

Phillips, Afzal Khan, Yasmin Qureshi and Paula Barker also quit their frontbench roles on Wednesday night after voting for the SNP amendment and defying the Labour whip. Rachel Hopkins, Sarah Owen, Naz Shah, and Andy Slaughter were sacked by the Labour leader after the vote. Mary Foy, Angela Rayner’s parliamentary private secretary (PPS), and Dan Carden, another PPS, have also left the frontbench.

Ian Murray and Michael Shanks obeyed Starmer’s orders and abstained. “I hope I have the confidence to stand up for those who are too often voiceless in our society,” said Shanks in his maiden speech in the Commons, then just hours later he abstained on a motion calling for a ceasefire.Yeah. Right.

The truth is this spineless obedience to his London boss was to be fully expected of Murray, who has always been an enthusiastic Westminster lackey, a hardline British nationalist and a creature of the right wing of the Labour party, but Michael Shanks had the opportunity to do the right thing and to demonstrate that Labour has learned the lessons of its decade long exile in the Scottish political wilderness. He decided not to do so. He should absolutely be ashamed of himself. Just hours after his first speech in the Commons and he’s already keeping company with the Conservatives.

It’s been six weeks since Michael Shanks won Rutherglen and Hamilton West, promising a “fresh start” for Scotland. This is what his “fresh start” has entailed: Abstaining on employment laws being devolved to Scotland, moaning about an independence supporter over a picture of a sunset, and now toeing Starmer’s line on the war crimes being committed in Gaza.

This is what you get if you vote Labour in Scotland, you get spineless party hacks who obediently do what Keir Starmer tells them in his single minded pursuit of Tory voters. You get Labour MPs who lack the moral courage to vote to put an end to the killing of innocent people, including children and babies. That’s what Labour’s newest Scottish MP Michael Shanks has done, for all his insistence prior to the by-election that saw him returned to Parliament that “Scottish Labour” was different and the authentic voice of Scotland. Shanks has failed his first big test. The voters of Rutherglen and Hamilton West got a Shanks’s pony in harness, with Keir Starmer wielding the whip.

On 3 October Anas Sarwar tweeted “Michael Shanks will stand up for you, your community, and will be a local champion for Rutherglen and Hamilton West.” During the by-election campaign Shanks made great play about how he was his own man, he’s fallen at the first hurdle.  He’s just like all those discredited Labour MPs Scotland rejected in 2015. He deceived us.

It didn’t take long for the truth to be revealed. All that Michael Shanks stands for is whatever Keir Starmer orders him to do. Just as we saw under Tony Blair, vote Labour get war crimes. This, apparently, is the ‘change’ that Labour promised to deliver for Scotland.

Vote Labour in Scotland and you won’t just get MPs who claim to be opposed to nationalism while wrapping themselves in British flags, you won’t just get MPs who collude in gaslighting the people of Scotland about the supposedly voluntary nature of this so-called union while they conspire to deny any democratic route to another independence referendum. You also get Labour MPs who mindlessly vote to inflict Conservative policies on Scotland. You get the same British nationalism, the same gung ho moral blindness when it comes to following the White House’s policy on the Middle East. And if, may all the gods forbid, a wider war breaks out in that seething cauldron of hatred in the Middle East, Keir Starmer’s Scottish contingent will compliantly line up behind him in the Commons lobby should his conservative British nationalist instincts lead him to call for British military involvement. You should vote for a jellyfish instead, it has more of a backbone.

The moral bankruptcy of Scotland’s two Labour MPs was defended by branch office manager Anas Sarwar who talks big on Palestine when it suits him but meekly backs down when his London boss tells him to. On 27 October Sarwar called for an immediate ceasefire, by 15 November he had dutifully fallen in line with what Starmer told him to do. But we shouldn’t be surprised, it was only a few weeks ago that Starmer said that what he says, Sarwar says too.

Any shred of credibility that Anas Sarwar had achieved in recent weeks on this issue has been completely erased with this humiliating climb down which for all his talk of the policy independence of “Scottish Labour” has revealed him to be an obedient poodle for his Westminster bosses.

Meanwhile in other news the UK Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Wednesday that the Conservatives’ Rwanda policy is unlawful. Sunak has vowed that he will stop foreign courts from blocking the Rwanda flights and will bring in new legislation to make them happen. There are a couple of things worth pointing out here, first of which is that it’s not a foreign court which has ruled this policy is unlawful, it’s a British court. Secondly, in a democracy, bound by the rule of law, a government will change its policy to fit the law. What we have with the Tories is a Prime Minister no one voted for changing the law to fit his policy. That looks suspiciously like a dictatorship.



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