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I ventured out of Parliament on Thursday evening into the milling crowds of Pro-Palestinian protestors mobbing the Old Palace Yard where only a week ago the Guards stood to attention and saluted as the King’s carriage rumbled by. Passionate and noisy they were but also very polite and courteous making way for a suit-clad and pretty obvious MP. I must have stood out like a sore thumb. One of them kindly gave me their poster. “Socialist Party. Mass United Workers Struggle to End Israeli State Terror. For A Socialist Intifada.” it read, perhaps mistakenly aligning their cause with Socialism. I wonder which part of his poster he thought I might find convincing.  I abstained on the Government’s efforts to vote down the Labour Party amendment to their motion (which seemed to me so anodyne as to make it absurd to vote against it), and then of course I supported the Government Motion to welcome the Kings’ Speech without which the Parliament could not function. Losing a motion on the ‘Loyal Address’ would result in the Government falling. Those who accuse me of being some kind of mass murderer sympathiser as a result of that vote are getting carried away with the velocity of their own hyperbole. Suella Braverman had some sensible things to say, but she demonstrably said them the wrong way. The pro-Palestinian march on Armistice Day passed off without serious incident, and I very much support the great British tradition of protesting. The act of protesting is a good pressure valve for the passions. Suella also breached the essential principle of Collective Cabinet Responsibility and openly defied her boss, the Prime Minister, so she warmly deserved her sacking. It probably plays very well to her own agenda- right wing martyrdom, and doubtless another leadership challenge at some stage in the future.

Suella (and Priti Patel) were right about Rwanda, and the Supreme Court judgement is a disappointment. I will be supporting the PM’s Plan B. If we don’t have Rwanda or something similar how on earth are we supposed to stop these people arriving in small boats on the beach in Dover and save the millions spent on housing them in hotels? Incidentally leaving the European Court of Human Rights as many people are advocating would have no effect on this judgement which was based on UK law rather than any possible ruling from ECHR. Meanwhile Dave Cameron has been made a Lord and Foreign Secretary. I do have worries about how the elected Chamber will be able to scrutinise what the Foreign Secretary is doing when he cannot himself appear at the despatch box. It has not happened since the days of Lord Carington and Alec Douglas-Home and is most certainly a constitutional anomaly of which I am by no means certain that I approve. Leaving that on one side, Lord Cameron certainly has the status and connections and foreign affairs experience to be a great advocate for the UK. We need it at a time like this and it is noticeable that he is in Ukraine within days of his appointment.  A fair degree of chaos nationally and internationally calls for a cool head and great wisdom.  If you can keep your head when all around are losing theirs…. In no time you’ll be a Peer of the Realm, a Privy Councillor and Foreign Secretary, my son.

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James Gray
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November 17, 2023