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We're All Mad Here?

Updated: Mar 7

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Voters can be forgiven for wondering what tops MPs’ priority lists these days. The truncated prosperity of people at home? The threatened lives of millions overseas? Or simply their own narrow electoral gain?

As our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, scenes witnessed in the commons chamber last week make Alice’s Wonderland look quite sensible.

Vast hordes of defenceless Palestinian people are currently cowering in the southern Gazan city of Rafah, terrified they’re about to be slaughtered.

So, even though the British parliament has no say at all in what happens next, it’s right and proper for it to call for an end to the fighting.

And it’s also not to be wondered at that views vary between the parties about exactly how this plea should be worded.

But what makes the lot of them look, at best a bit silly and at worst shamefully exploitative, is the way they got so absurdly het up during the last few days.

The air turning blue on the green benches does, however, conceal the cold and calculated struggle going on for potentially swing votes in Scotland in the forthcoming general election.

Remember, the place was a Labour heartland until the nationalists captured forty of its forty-one seats just under a decade ago.

Now that the Scot Nats’ star is showing signs of waning, a fair chunk of that territory is up for grabs again.

Which is why the SNP was licking its lips last week at the thought of wrongfooting Labour in the debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Because its own ceasefire call was marginally the more strident, it was hoping to get Labour MPs to break ranks and back it, thus sorely embarrassing party leader Keir Starmer.

Confused? Yup, you’re allowed.

Anyway, the commons Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, bent the rules a bit in a way that got Starmer off the hook, and mayhem ensued.

There’s no dispute that Sir Keir did bend his ear first, and, given that the Speaker is a former Labour MP, both SNP and Tories immediately cried foul.

Chances of their actually getting him chucked out, however, look to be receding, as many of them start to calm down and realise they’re making proper Charlies of themselves.

Another factor that’s helping Hoyle is the resonance of his defence. That the physical safety of Labour MPs who failed to vote for the SNP motion was at risk.

Evidence that tensions in the Middle East are violently spilling over to our shores is there for all to see.

Reports of abuse directed at Muslims in Britain have more than trebled since the hideous Hamas killing spree of last October, that sparked the conflict.

And this mirrors the huge upsurge in antisemitic hate crimes to its highest level in forty years, as the Palestinian death toll rises to some twenty times the number of Israelis slaughtered.

All of which shrinks the ructions and rumpus in parliament to something closer to a line from Macbeth: ‘Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.’

Still, while we’re on about beastly things happening in the world, it’s worth alighting for a moment on what was almost certainly the murder of the Russian opposition leader.

Just about everyone with any say in the west is pointing the finger at the Kremlin, the only notable exception being Donald Trump.

He paired the sudden death of Alexei Navalny with a good rant about how rubbish he reckons America is under Joe Biden, while making no mention whatever of the Russian President.

This has caused many to wonder, given the manifest evidence of the man’s evil intent, whether Trump could one day become Putin’s Mussolini, or just his useful idiot.

Of course The Donald has in the past called Putin a ‘good guy’, while Biden says he’s a ‘crazy SOB’. Food for thought there, as America chooses its Commander-in-Chief later this year.

Meantime, this side of The Pond, Rishi Sunak continues to wear a jolly smile/whistle to keep his spirits up as our own make-your-mind-up time draws closer.

Notwithstanding his party’s two shuddering by-election defeats earlier this month, and another likely setback on the way, he had been hoping for a budget boost in a week or so.

Fat hope, as it turns out, as the Chancellor’s room for manoeuvre’s been curtailed by the UK economy slipping into recession.

There’s also the small matter of what Jeremy Hunt won’t be so keen to natter about. The fact that his promised tax giveaways look set to be an illusion.

Yes, he is likely to freeze fuel duty and cut income tax on March the sixth, but no, we won’t really feel the benefit.

That’s because, according to respected think tank The Resolution Foundation, the giveaways will be sandwiched between huge rises already announced, and huge spending cuts on the way.

These, the foundation notes, have been officially scheduled for after the general election.

This is an unusual move, but not daft politically. As, assuming Labour does get in, Prime Minister Starmer will be stuck with the immediate problem of whether to reverse them.

He may be way ahead in the polls now, to a point pointing to a maybe landslide victory, but will that lead last when he’s grappling with same old same old problems? Discuss.

Still, at least the Tories will be having a rare old time, slugging it out with one another in a bare-knuckle fight for who gets to replace Rishi Sunak.

Point of fact, it’s already under way, with Liz ‘Loony’ Truss suddenly cuddling up with the Tory moderates’ nemesis, one-time UKIP leader Nigel Farage.

Thus far he’s got no further than showing a bit of ankle, but there’s no telling which way he’ll eventually jump.

It is just about possible that he could end up as Conservative leader. And absolutely certain that if he did they’d have a standard bearer who knocks everyone else into a cocked hat.

Not even his fiercest political detractors would deny that he’s far and away the most fearsome attack dog in the kennel.

Then again, such creatures can go too far, while the sloppy ones can have their uses too.

In the scary corner is Joe Biden’s German Shepherd, Commander. He’s finally been exiled from the White House because he’s far too fond of biting people.

Seems he scared, and possibly half ripped, the pants off loads of Secret Service chappies, who haven’t even been able to protect themselves, let alone the prez.

One cautionary email read: ‘The recent dog bites have challenged us to adjust our operational tactics when Commander is present.’

Another, written in classic Yankee spook speak, exhorts colleagues to be: ‘Creative to ensure our own personal safety.’

All the farthest possible cry from a Belgian Malinois named Vesper.

She’s been put up for a Kennel Club Hero Dog award for helping to rescue eight people trapped under rubble during an earthquake in Turkey last year.

Her owners originally named her Venom, but had to give up on the career they had in mind for her, because she was simply too nice.

The Kennel Club insisted that while she: ‘Excelled in all other respects, running at criminals for a cuddle is not the expectation of a police dog.’

Oh, bless her …


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