The war in Gaza is tearing apart British political life

The war in Gaza is tearing apart British political life

LondonLast Friday, when pubs across the UK were full of people finishing their work thinking only about the pints of beer in front of them, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appeared on television in an unusual but worrying appearance. With the tone and attitude of a statesman who, in a few months, will face a very difficult election campaign, with all opinion polls against him, Sunak warned against extremism in British political life, “which has made democracy itself a target.” According to his words.

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One of the symptoms is the threats that representatives receive from all parliamentary blocs, whether through or with networks You doodle At his home because of his position, both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian, regarding the October 7 Hamas attack and the brutal Israeli response against the Palestinians, which during five months of war has killed at least 30,000 people, and which It killed at least 30,000 people. Hundreds of thousands of people were condemned to death by starvation. Sunak said all of this amounted to “an extreme attempt to separate us.” But what he did not say is that the tense climate highlights the inability or unwillingness of the two main parties in the British political system, the Conservatives and Labour, to critically distance themselves from Washington's unconditional support for Benjamin Netanyahu's devastating military campaign.

The deficit is particularly striking on the labor issue. Paralyzed by the fear that the party would be accused of anti-Semitism – as was usual during the Corbyn era (2015-19), and which was amplified by the agreement of the pro-Blair right to end leader Jeremy Corbyn, too far to the left – in the first four and a half months of the war, he did not want His successor, Keir Starmer, in calling for an “immediate” ceasefire in Gaza.

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Only the SNP's parliamentary maneuver, which promoted two motions in this regard, in November and the last on 21 February, was not finally put to a vote through Starmer's pressure on the Speaker of Parliament (Parliament).Loudspeaker)- They forced him to talk, first, about a “permanent ceasefire,” without explaining further. Finally, to avoid a widespread revolt on the part of his deputies, he presented his own proposal in which he spoke of an “immediate ceasefire on humanitarian grounds.” The Scottish National Party does not include this term Humanity In addition, the positionLoudspeakerHis choice to vote for Labour's motion, rather than the SNP's, caused him to lose the confidence of nationalists, who saw it as a hand by the opposition leader to avoid an embarrassing revolt due to his lukewarm stance on Gaza.

North Manchester area

But what precipitated last weekend's events can be explained by the fact that less than twenty-four hours before Sunak's unexpected appearance on the podium at major events, an almost unprecedented electoral shock occurred. During the early hours of the same Friday morning, the results of the by-elections were announced for the Rochdale constituency, located 17 kilometers north of Manchester, which has a Muslim population of 30%.

The winner of the seat was the controversial and eccentric former Labor MP George Galloway, 69, who was returning to the House of Commons for the fourth time. In this case as a Labor Party candidate. The first time he got there was in 1987, when he was Labor candidate for the Glasgow area. He was expelled from the party in 2003 because of his stance against the Iraq War.

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Galloway, who interviewed Saddam Hussein in 1994 and praised his “courage and fortitude,” and who in 2006 participated in the program Celebrity Big Brother By pretending to be a cat and leaving behind some offensive images for posterity, he demonstrated last week that he knows how to target his message to a specific constituency: in this case, the Muslims of Rochdale, who are fed up with the apathy of politicians – especially Labour. Because the region is traditionally feudal exhaustion– Regarding the Israeli aggression against Gaza. It is no coincidence that the first words of this politician, a manual populist who leans verbally to the left, when he was announced as a member of Parliament were “Keir Starmer, this is for Gaza!”

But Starmer's bad week in Rochdale cannot be explained without the party's blunders in selecting candidates and the fear of Labor being accused, rightly or wrongly, of anti-Semitism. Because Galloway's victory came after the party was left without an official candidate, since his combat activity was suspended a week before Election Day, when he could no longer be replaced. The candidate, Azhar Ali, a Muslim from northern England, was recorded shortly after the October 7 attack saying that Netanyahu had “deliberately suspended security” in the Hamas-invaded area “to allow the carnage.” [perquè] This gives them the green light to do whatever they want [a Gaza]”.

The recording was broadcast on daily Mail i al Mail on Sunday In mid-February. Starmer initially tried to look the other way, but the spread of more controversial comments ultimately led to the candidate's downfall. This opened the door to victory for Galloway, who attracted many Muslim votes through his outcry against injustice in Gaza. The other thing is that the veteran parliamentarian is more concerned with his desire for fame than the tragedy taking place in Palestine.

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Logo on Big Ben

The Prime Minister's advisers read the opportunity to project him as a statesman in supposedly dangerous circumstances for a populist Galloway victory, and here is the reason for the unexpected speech, from which he hopes to extract some electoral income. In any case, Al-Sanak was unable to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, and limited himself to talking about an “immediate humanitarian truce.”

That Gaza has caused a break in British policy is also shown by the fact that the former chairman of the Conservative Party, Lee Anderson, was suspended last week for saying that the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, a Muslim, had gone to synagogues to accompany Jews in Gaza as they mourned crimes The murder that occurred on October 7, he handed over the city to the jihadists, and he himself a little less. All because the logo “” has been projected onto the Big Ben TowerFrom the river to the sea, Palestine will be liberated“(From the river to the sea, Palestine will be liberated).

Sunak and Starmer, who supported him after Friday's speech, may have got the diagnosis right – a clear extremism that is, in the vast majority of cases, verbal – but they don't want to see why. In response, some conservative voices have already begun calling for further restrictions on the freedoms to protest and demonstrate.

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